Welcome to “Development-in-Context”. We have dedicated this space to exchange practical and useful debates on development practice. It is not a space for vendetta nor unpolished language. All such postings will be removed.

We are interested in proactive issues, successful stories, debates and solutions to the many challenges facing communities. For practical reasons, we suggest that technical papers and commentaries are limited.

 We have seen and heard about many organisations and communities attempting to promote community wellbeing in different areas of community life yet most of these communities remain poor according to national and international poverty index. What are development agencies doing wrongly, how has development practice affected communities (positively or negatively)? Where should development be placed in the national or community agenda? Should communities change development focus, if so why? These questions are guides to drive and stimulate our discussions in this new and interactive site.

 We acknowledge that development issues are limitless just as its debates can be wide but as we go along we hope to synthesise the various ideas and practical ways of implementing them. We hope that this forum will in deed reflect its very objective, which is, Development-in-Context. We want to read and hear from you. Keep blogging.


June 13, 2010 at 6:25 pm 3 comments

Leadership in Africa

What kind of leaders do we need in Africa? There is so much talk, complaint and concerns about African leaders. From your perspective why do you perceive as the problem of leadership in Africa? Is the challenge a micro or macro problem and how can it be dealt with for the continent to move forward?

December 8, 2014 at 10:17 am 2 comments

Social Housing vs. Affordable Housing in Africa

ImageMost African countries housing policies are steeped in Colonial history. Throughout the years after independence the main policy directions have been the direct supply of quite small numbers of dwellings and a number of measures to influence demand. State housing sector in many countries fail to meet targets and absorbed more resources and attention than its output should have merited. We propose that what African countries need is an enabling shelter strategy and a realistic sector wide strategy which is appropriate to local norms and directed at scaling up supply to a level adequate to meet demand.

ImageSince the past decade or so, the housing sector in many African countries  have  fundamentally changed as donor-led reform policies have shifted away from direct state provision and strongly towards active participation by the private sector in housing production, financing and the production of building materials.

Governments have taken on supporting roles by creating the required legal, regulatory and economic framework for the private sector to operate, with support from multinational organizations, such as the World Bank and international aid agencies. These organizations agree with governments that housing and related services can be more efficiently provided when the state retreats and responsibilities are devolved to the private sector. This policy has led to the housing sector being market-driven to the detriment of the poor. The high rate of poverty in a large swathe of African populations means that market-driven demand for housing stock will be based on ability to pay. This neo-liberal policy automatically excludes people. It also has the potential of breeding and sustaining corruption because everyone will do what it takes to afford a ‘decent’ house. It is certain that Africa’s population is growing faster than available housing stock. This resonate debates about Social housing vs. Affordable housing. Do we need (more affordable) social housing? How should such housing provision be funded and managed? Do African governments need to re-define social housing within its own context?



May 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

Editorial Comment

The World Bank post is not a direct response to the UNECD discussion on Rio +20. It is however an interesting parallel to the issues facing Africa as a region hence our decision to reproduce portions of it in this forum. Whilst these efforts are unfolding, many searching questions remain on our minds. For instance, are the Bank’s financial commitment grants or loans? (b) Since when have these projects been in place and what lessons have been learnt so far? (c) The World Bank acknowledges that the projects mentioned are short term solutions to the challenges; what long term plans are there to stop the desert from extending? (d) Can we learn lessons from UAE, Saudi Arabia etc who have succeeded in taming the desert and turning vast lands into habitable and productive green lands? Were the ‘experts’ who helped achieve these feats not supported by Western donor and financial institutions? Why is it that Sahel regions in Africa can’t be turned around with the same resources and expertise? We will like some pragmatic answers to these mind searching questions.

 We have also noted some enthusiastic responses on social network which need commendation. What we seek in addition to these discourses are pragmatic and practical ways of dealing with the issues under discussion. We are hopeful that this will open new chapters in our search for lasting solutions to the many and sometimes antiquated issues facing the continent.


May 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm

World Bank push to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa and Sahel

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2012 – The World Bank says it was working to alleviate the development impact of two simultaneous droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. It said a $1.8 billion Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa is underway to meet immediate food needs while looking at a broad, longer-term approach that combines investments in health and nutrition, with better weather forecasting, early warning systems, drought resilience, and other risk management measures.

 How the Bank is helping people in the Horn of Africa and Sahel

World Bank assessments show that the drought is having a significant, adverse impact on the region s economic development. Financial losses for Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda alone could amount to as much as $13.6 billion. The outlook is sobering. Below average rainfall is predicted for the Horn of Africa throughout 2012.

Ethiopia: A new safety net program is supporting three million transitory, food-insecure people, and work is underway to strengthen social safety nets as well as to increase investments for boosting production and improving rural infrastructure to enable poor people to have better access to food.

Somalia: A $9 million Grant from Global Fund for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is providing 97,000 people with temporary employment through a Cash for Work program and supporting the recovery of food production through rehabilitation of productive assets such as land, livestock and water.

The drought in Horn of Africa and the unfolding events in the Sahel are having an enormous impact on the poor and those made homeless by conflict. Communities are simply unable to find food because it s either too expensive, or they are forced to live on the run after being forced out of their refugee camps because of violence, says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. Droughts always affect poor people the most.

 Niger: $15 million in supplemental budget support was provided to the Government to address the fiscal shortfall caused by the food crisis and the Libyan crisis, also four active investment lending operation were retrofitted to provide cash transfer, micro-projects and cash-for-work opportunities to the repatriates.

Chad: The Agriculture Production Support Project (PAPA) pipeline project is being reviewed to help improve the food security situation through accelerated financing of small-scale infrastructure.

Working in partnership

The World Bank is working closely with the UN system, the European Union, and regional institutions such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to foster cooperation across all sectors.

The work is benefiting from cutting-edge satellite surveillance and data-intensive efforts by leading organizations such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the new Information Technology for Humanitarian Assistance, Cooperation and Action (ITHACA) program which mobilizes ICT technology to tackle climatic problems.

May 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Is Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development another talk shop?

From 20 – 22 June 2012, the World will celebrate 20th anniversary of 1998 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which has now become known as the Rio Conference on the Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. In this conference a declaration was made by world leaders to affirm earlier decisions held at Stockholm on 16 June 1972 to protect the environment and to ensure human development.  

 Being the 20th milestone, this year’s conference is dubbed Rio +20. The two themes chosen for the conference are: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development, poverty eradication and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. These themes are further broken down into seven ‘priority’ areas by the UNCED – decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

 It is twenty years since world leaders started talking and discussing about challenging issues in Africa’s development since Rio +1, still the continent remains a global hotbed for Sustainable Development policy implementation. For how long can the world pretend to be dealing with the same issues without examining the fundamental issues that hinder the achievement of so-called ‘priority’ areas set by the UNCED Conference? The fact that the world recognises certain areas of Africa’s social, economic and political life means that she knows too well the challenges confronting the continent. The key question is (a) what is preventing the world from solving these identified issues (b) what do Africans themselves want? (c) What are ‘our’ priorities? (d) What are the issues that stand in the way of meeting national priorities and how endemic are these bottlenecks? (e) To what extent are individual and national orientations a hindering factor?

 From our perspective as a development agency, we acknowledge that two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is made up of arid or semi-arid lands; it is therefore not surprising that environmental policies in countries within the continent are underpinned by discourses contesting control of natural resources, rather than by objectively measured trends and causalities. Policies addressing land degradation are subject to similar challenges.

 What do African Countries Expect from Rio +20?

 The questions of what constitute good environmental policy, for whom, and how best to design and evaluate such policies remains unresolved. International environmental policies are expected to translate into National Environmental Action Plans which are in most cases driven by donor conditionality that do not often coincide directly with international agreements. What policy alternatives are there to mitigate or evaluate African environmental challenges?

 We are primarily concerned about what happens in practice under different policies? Given that most countries in Africa are suffering from a paucity of state resources resulting in erratic implementation of programmes, it is time major stakeholders evaluate how policy is achieving its goal within national or regional social and political contexts and the evidence used as a fundamental precondition in formulating more implementable policies.

 Sustainable Development has many trajectories which in themselves are made up of complex meshes that can lead to an ecological climax by degrading environments and people. The danger here is a resulting effect of overexploitation of resources. A key challenge to Africa is desertification. Experts say the Sahara desert is extending South wards, meaning decline in productivity, damaging soil fertility, soil physical structure and water bodies. How do African leaders intend to use Rio +20 to address these issues? If these are not carefully addressed it is vain exercise in attempting to ensure decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness in a large swathe of Africa.

 It is SDF’s expectation that outcomes of the various plenary sessions, workshops and informal group sessions at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Climate Change will not be another talk shop.


May 11, 2012 at 12:57 am

Will the September 20th – 22nd 2010 MDG Summit Make any Difference?

This years Millennium Development Goals Summit is scheduled to take place in New York where World Leaders and INGOs are expected to gather to deliberate on development issues and to strategise ways by which UN development goals can be met. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki- Moon, is expected to say that “the Summit is an opportunity to keep our promise to billions, yes, billions, of poor and vulnerable people. This is our common responsibility: Governments, civil society, the private sector, social and religious movements and the UN itself. It is a practical necessity and a moral imperative. The Millennium Declaration gave us the promise — the pledge by world leaders to spare no effort to build a fairer, more sustainable world”.

 On March 16th, Mr. Ki-Moon outlining the UN ‘action agenda’, said that it “should be specific, practical, and results-oriented, with concrete steps and timelines. And it must set out who does what, so that we can monitor our efforts and promote accountability for individuals and institutions alike.”

 This is what developing countries lack. Countries worse hit by poverty lack implementable policies i.e. development policies are badly written making it difficult to achieve their objectives.  What we call development policy in the south are mere frameworks; they lack the needed impetus, let alone talking about its implementation challenges.  

 In Keeping the Promise, Mr. Ban notes that “our world possesses the knowledge and the resources to achieve the MDGs.” Any reasonable man accepts this thinking but for how long and how many times will this slogan be repeated before real action is seen. There have been many broken promises and clichés in global forums of this nature. It is almost as if such forums have become talking shops where organisations and heads of governments gather to do their own business.

 I am not very sure on what the UN Secretary-General means by ‘numerous success stories’. It is not sufficient to point at national ownership of development strategies as a success factor. Almost all governments promote national development so ownership at national level is not the issue. How can local communities be empowered beyond the usual political rhetoric and slogans to one that confront development challenges in the local community where development starts from?  

 I am more comfortable with Mr. Moon coming out of his technocrat shell to remind the world about lack of progress in achieving development goals being ‘inextricably linked to inadequate levels of investment, international support and accountability’. Donor support has shrunk in recent years; western donors are adopting austerity measures (directly or indirectly) to their own benefit. As the noose gets tightened developing countries are forced into extreme beggar-my-neighbour position to the point of accepting conditionalities. If the UN has no enforcement powers, how practicable is it to suggest enforcement of pledges? The question thus remain, that, will the 2010 MDG Summit make any Difference? If so what difference will it make?

T. Gokah

August 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Mechanised vs. Wind Propelled Water Pumps for Communities

 My interest is in the stated topic. Many village communities around the world, especially, in developing countries lack good drinking water. They either drink directly from the stream or from unconventional boreholes. These water sources are often far away from environmental and public health checks. This exposes the community to many water bourne diseases and serious consequences for productivity and community wellbeing. Communities fortunate to have government or NGO intervention may be provided with boreholes.

 I have seen in recent times such boreholes fixed with different mechanisms but what fascinates me is what is called the bush pump. Whereas the intent of providing good drinking water to deprived communities is good, the mechanism in my opinion is not simplistic enough. I guess the bush pump approach for instance, does not take into consideration vulnerable and frail people in the community. Its usage entails expanse of energy and strength to get a bucket of water. Unlike the bush pump and other similar mechanisms, I am of the opinion that wind propelled boreholes will be more productive in communities than the latter. The benefits of wind propelled boreholes are enormous and better sustainable than the mechanised boreholes. I see wind propelled borehole programmes stretching community development by, providing other useful projects to the community unlike mechanised boreholes and wells which are partial-development oriented in practice.   

I hope we can discuss this topic at greater depth and to find acceptable ways of improving rural water schemes to say the least. Thank you.


June 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm 1 comment

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