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UNU’s Activities in and on Africa


Ethiopia, Kunchamedeb village, Central Highlands — Farmer Abra Rejani in his barley field. Photographer © Crispin Hughes

Completed projects appear below those ongoing.

Integrating GIS and remote sensing to assess the rate, causes and impact of land cover changes in the regions of Ghana

UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP)

Contact: Effah Kwabena Antwi

Timeframe: September 2009 - September 2012

This is a UNU-ISP post-doctoral research. It is grouped into five major objective areas as follows: (a) Monitoring the effect of land use change on carbon stock (changing carbon density) in different land use types; (b) Assessing the rate, causes and impact of land use change on resource security; (c) Evaluation of existing land use policy and offer sustainable alternative livelihood support options; (d) Develop resilient and vulnerability assessment model for farms and famer groups against events of social, climate and agro-ecological changes (e) Study the effect of land use change on food security in the regions of Ghana.

This project is being undertaken in cooperation with the Center for Geographic Information Service, Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, University of Development Studies, Tamale and Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Recent field activities in Ghana on the project focused on establishing joint research initiative with project partners, acquire field data, discuss research collaborations with research partners; review the environmental section of the ESDA curriculum, and organize joint land use change workshop with UNU-Education for Sustainability in Africa.

Locations: Ghana

Tags: biodiversity, food security, land use change, impact assessment, resource security, climate change, resiliencevulnerability

Suitability of carbonate rocks at Matanda in Luapula province and Nkombwa hill in northern province of Zambia for agricultural lime

UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA Mineral Resources Unit)

Soil acidity is a major constraint to sustained crop production in Zambia. The purpose of this study was to assess the suitability of carbonate rock deposits at Matanda in Luapula Province and at Nkombwa Hill in Northern Province for making agricultural lime.

Northern and Luapula Provinces which have serious problems of soil acidity currently do not produce agricultural lime, despite the existence of carbonate rock deposits in these provinces. Carbonate rock samples were collected from these deposits for chemical and mineralogical analyses. Results of mineralogical analyses confirmed the presence of the carbonate minerals dolomite and ankerite in samples from Matanda and the presence of the ferroan dolomite, ankerite, and magnesite in samples from Nkombwa Hill. The samples from Nkombwa, further contained significant amounts of the phosphate mineral fluorapatite and the iron oxide mineral goethite. Carbonate rocks from Matanda were found to have mean Neutrolizing Value (NV) of 92%, while, carbonate rocks from Nkombwa had a NV of 76%. Samples from Nkombwa also contained a relatively high phosphate content of about 3.67% P2O5. On account of their high P content the carbonate rocks from Nkombwa are a potential phosphate fertilizer.

We conclude that carbonate rocks from Matanda are very suitable for making agricultural lime, while those from Nkombwa are moderately suitable for making agricultural lime, but are also a potential source of P to crops when applied to acid soils.

Locations: Lusaka, Zambia

Tags: food production, soil acidity, small scale farmers

Completed Projects

Sustainable land management for mitigating land degradation, enhancing agrobiodiversity and poverty reduction in Ghana (SLaM)

UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP)

Contact: Luohui Liang

Time frame: 2005-2008

UNU-ISP and UNU-INRA have backstopped the University of Ghana in a national consortium to promote agrodiversity approaches to countering biodiversity loss and land degradation in Ghana since 1998. The recent GEF-funded Sustainable Land Management for Mitigating Land Degradation, Enhancing Agrobiodiversity and Poverty Reduction in Ghana (SLaM) Project (2005-2008) sought to find sustainable ways of stemming the accelerated land degradation, which threatens the environment and the very livelihoods of humankind in Ghana and in the world as a whole. The project developed and followed a participatory methodology that involved scientists working in collaboration with farmers and other stakeholders including government agricultural extension agents in selected focal village communities, enhanced local capacity and mainstreamed good practices in sustainable land management.

Location: Ghana

Tags: conservation, rural, biodiversity

Publications: Gyasi, et al (eds.), Sustainable Land Management for Mitigating Land Degradation: Lessons from the SlaM Project Experience in Ghana, in press

Brookfield, H. and E. A. Gyasi, “Academics among farmers: Linking intervention to research”, Geoforum, Volume 40, Issue 2, March 2009, pp 217-227

Gyasi, et al (eds.), Managing Agrodiversity the Traditional Way: Lessons from West Africa in Sustainable Use of Biodiversity and Related Natural Resources, UNU Press, 2004

China-Africa: new types of exchange, cultural identity and emerging relations in a globalized world

UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP)

Contact: Obijiofor Aginam

Time frame: 24-25 May 2010

UNU-ISP delivered a keynote lecture at the annual Africa studies conference by the Centre for African Research and Development Studies at the University of St. Joseph, Macau SAR on 24-25 May, 2010. The conference was attended by prominent Chinese and African scholars.

Tags: diplomacy, economic growth, FDI, sustainability/sustainable development, trade

The role of innovation and technology transfer in the Ethiopian cut-flower export sector

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Mulu Gebreeyesus

Timeframe: 2008–2009

In less than 7 years, Ethiopia has become the second largest cut-flower exporter in Africa, behind the much more established flower sector in Kenya. In 2007 the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) carried out a comprehensive survey of all operational cut-flower farms in the country. This study builds on the result to analyse the triggering factor for the rapid growth of the flower sector in Ethiopia and to investigate how this success translates to the country’s overall industrial strategy and institutional environment.

Locations: Ethiopia

Tags: innovation, technology, policy, sustainable development

Promotion of use of agricultural lime

UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA)

Contact: S. Simukanga; Vincent Kawamya; Victor Shitumbanuma

Timeframe: 2008–2009

Soil acidity is a major constraint to soil productivity in Zambia. The problem continues to grow especially with intensification of agriculture with use of inorganic nitrogenous fertilizers without complementary liming of soils. Other soils in the high rainfall areas of the country are inherently acid due to leaching of basic ions and accumulation of acid–causing ions.

This workshop is a continuation of efforts to encourage small scale farmers to adopt and appreciate the importance of continuously using agricultural lime for improved crop production especially at the household level. For many years, efforts by various stakeholders to promote agricultural lime in small scale farming have yielded mixed reactions from the farmers but have generally not yielded a visibly significant shift towards acceptance of the consistent application of agricultural lime as an important aspect of improvement in crop yield.

Locations: Zambia

Tags: food security, mitigation, poverty, rural, sustainability/sustainable development

“Pro-poor” innovation strategies in the agricultural and rural sectors

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Through its Learning, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) network, UNU-MERIT carried out more than 10 projects over the 2006-2008 period that contributed new empirically based research and policy advice to address poverty reduction and sustainable development goals in East and West Africa.

Process monitoring, policy dialogue and interactive learning activities for the IGAD livestock policy initiative in Eastern Africa

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Andy Hall

Process Monitoring, Policy Dialogue and Interactive Learning Activities for the IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative in Eastern Africa: A 3-year comparative research and capacity building project undertaken in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners in India. The project investigated the nature of innovation capacity required to address the perennial problem of livestock fodder scarcity. The study also aimed to develop principles that will help others stimulate the institutional and policy changes needed to strengthen fodder innovation capacity in different situations where livestock is important to the livelihoods of poor people.

In late 2007 two main activities were completed under this project:

(1) the design of a conceptual framework that addresses the problem of animal fodder shortages from the perspective of innovation capacity scarcity, rather than the traditional focus on information and technology scarcity; and (2) organizing the first innovation systems diagnosis and action planning exercise with local partners — including the IFAD-Community-based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (CBARDP) and the Confederation of Traditional Stockbreeders Organizations in Africa (CORET) — in Nigeria.

Tags: Africa, agriculture, rural, innovation, livestock, action planning, Eastern Africa, Nigeria

Building Innovation Capacity: Adapting and responding to drought and livestock disease emergencies in the IGAD region (Eastern Africa)

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Andy Hall

The study focused on innovation response capacity in Eastern Africa of the livestock products (pork and poultry) processing sector, and more specifically in Kenya. The research highlighted how local companies are responding positively to changing market conditions – for example the introduction of food safety (HACCP) quality measures or tapping into international sources of technology - although it is unlikely that this can be sustained under more intense competition.

The study concluded that policy and institutional support interventions will be required to ensure that the sector contributes to poverty reduction goals, and to enhance linkages between livestock companies, local research organizations and other sources of technical support.

Tags: Africa, agriculture, rural, innovation, horticulture, linkages, Eastern Africa, Kenya

Innovation response capacity in East Africa

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Andy Hall

The study explored how Kenya’s horticultural industry was adjusting to a series of external pressures, including increased competition from other countries, quality and photo-sanitary standards demands from its main market in Europe, and ethical concerns about the welfare of employees. The study found that while the sector has been relatively successful in innovating around these challenges, innovation has often involved moving away from the small-holder production base and favouring more intensive plantation modes of production.

The study concludes that while the Kenyan horticultural sector does have an innovation response capacity, it does not, however, always meet social objectives. In this case, as in many others, the State has a responsibility to intervene and ensure that modes of innovation not only maintain Kenya’s international competitiveness, but do so in a way that also achieves social development goals. A book which publication is foreseen in 2008, points to some options on how this could be achieved.

Tags: Africa, innovation, horticulture, adaptation, capacity, state responsibility, social responsibility, development goals, Eastern Africa, Kenya

Lessons from Self-Organizing Systems of Innovation: The Trajectory of Nerica Rice in West Africa

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Daniel Dalohoun

Time frame: 2006–2008

The research analyzing the spread of the NERICA rice variety in Guinea and Benin was completed in 2007. The project found that while Guinea adopted a large-scale technology promotion approach focused on farmer training, Benin had no such programme, yet it has achieved more innovations in rice production and consumption patterns. The achievements in Benin were found to be the result of complementary actions of the different players, that included: new links between rice growers and the processing industry; new links between different elements of the rice seed system, including both private sector organizations and the extension services (even though these are rather weak); and new credit arrangements to allow the bulking up of seed.

It has also taken the involvement of political actors to make changes in the seed system possible. The net result of these developments is that NERICA rice is starting to be produced, processed and consumed quite widely in Benin, unlike the case of Guinea. A particularly interesting conclusion of the study is that the emergence of an informal – at first - network of players has enabled the widespread adoption and spread of this technology through a ‘self-organizing’ process.

Tags: Africa, agriculture, NERICA rice, comparative study, informal sector, West Africa, Benin, Guinea

UNU-MERIT (LINK) training programme

UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

Contact: Andy Hall

Time frame: 2007

LINK Programme

Through its decentralized Learning, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) programme, UNU-MERIT facilitated three capacity building workshops for Action Research on Agricultural Innovation Capacity in 2007. The workshops were co-organized with the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme (SSA CP) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The first workshop, held in Kano, Nigeria in January, 2007, introduced the innovation systems concept and explained the implications of using this concept for project design, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment.

The second workshop, conducted in Accra, Ghana in May, developed a research plan for SSA CP to adopt in the 2008-2010 period. In the third workshop, researchers from the SSA CP developed a set of guidelines for conducting action research on how to strengthen agricultural innovation capacity.

Tags: capacity development, Africa, agriculture, innovation, LINK


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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