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27th July 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the fourth edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - A round-up of the news and stories from across the continent that captivated our hearts and minds this past week.

We hope you enjoy these stories. We look forward to your feedback.


Happy reading! 

1. Preventing pandemics through halting deforestation & regulating wildlife trade could save trillions: A groundbreaking study co-authored by scientists from WWF and others revealed that the associated costs of limiting zoonoses through preventing deforestation & regulating wildlife trade would be substantially less than the economic & mortality costs of responding to pandemics once they have emerged! - US $17.7- US$ 26.9 billion investments to prevent tropical deforestation and to limit wildlife trade will save $8.1-15.8 trillion of damage.  The news comes as a comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 in Africa shows the pandemic is gaining momentum.  Check out the up to date COVID-19 tracker showing the status of the pandemic across Africa including the number of cases, deaths, and recoveries. 

2. Three indigenous community organisations from Africa were among the 10 winners of the 2020 Equator Prize.
The Nashulai Maasai Conservancy in Kenya has secured a 5000-acre triangle and created the most critical connecting corridor for elephants, lions, and others migrating the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. In a remote part of the Congo Basin, Vie Sauvage has pioneered a holistic model for community development, conservation, and peace-building, helping create and manage a 4,875 square kilometer reserve for the “bonobo” (a great ape), and other endangered species. Vie Sauvage also supports sustainable development projects in the areas of agriculture, health, and education; and Vondron’Olona Ifotony Tatamo Miray an’Andranobe in Madagascar has restored the 90-hectare Andranobe Lake which provides the base of local fishing and agriculture livelihoods for four communities by removing invasive aquatic species, repopulating fish stocks,  planting trees on the adjacent hillsides, the communities reduced silting of the lake by 50%. 


3. In order to ensure that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) reach their potential to address societal challenges, IUCN has developed the Global Standards for Nature-based Solutions for use by governments, businesses, investors, communities, and NGOs. The new Standard will help governments, businesses, and civil society ensures the effectiveness of nature-based solutions and maximizes their potential to help address climate change, biodiversity loss, and other societal challenges on a global scale. Nature-Based Solutions(NBS) are increasingly accepted and being implemented to address our societal challenges listed above. They can provide over a third of our climate mitigation needs while benefiting people and nature.
Africa’s Nature-Based Solutions were the subject of multiple stories this week including a groundbreaking study mapping the values of South Africa’s wild spaces which found that ecosystems played an important role in storing carbon, retaining soil, preventing floods, improving water quality, promoting pollination, and providing recreational value’ and Miombo woodlands: the vast southern African dryland forests hiding in plain sight published by the Global Landscapes Forum.  These dryland forests and woodlands form a broad belt from Angola in the west to Tanzania in the east, and down to the northern edge of South Africa. Over 65 million people rely on these woodlands, spanning an estimated total area of around 2.7 million square kilometers (1 million square miles),  for fuelwood, timber, charcoal production, fruits, honey, mushrooms, medicinal plants, and fodder for livestock.

4. The 2020 Global forest assessment was released by FAO this week. For the first time ever, contains an online interactive platform with detailed regional and global analyses for nearly 240 countries and territories; the assessment found that Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss between 2010–2020, at 3.9 million ha, followed by South America, at 2.6 million ha. The rate of net forest loss has increased in Africa in each of the three decades since 1990. About 98 million ha of forest were affected by fire in 2015; this was mainly in the tropical domain, where the fire burned about 4 percent of the total forest area in that year. More than two-thirds of the total forest area affected was in Africa and South America. 

5. A new Blue Paper commissioned by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (composed of leaders from 14 countries including  Kenya, & Namibia in Africa) has called for The National Accounting for the Ocean and Ocean Economy. The paper highlights the critical role of national accounting in achieving a sustainable ocean economy, and major gaps in how the ocean, ocean services, and ocean assets are currently treated in national accounts. The paper outlines a new economic model that would enable governments to build their ocean economies in a way that enhances both ocean wealth and ocean health and offers four principles for national ocean accounting and discusses methods for measuring and valuing ocean assets and their rise and decline. One excellent example of countries harnessing their ocean wealth is Seychelles, the tiny African island nation that is proving its ability to pay back debt holders with the money raised from their unique blue bonds. They’ve made 30% of their exclusive economic zone marine protected areas, and have been able to use the blue bonds to ride the waves towards lowering the national debt. (Forbes); 

6. A first of its kind global analysis “Breaking the Plastic Wave” - released this past week by Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that adopting system-wide changes to curb ocean plastic pollution offers social, economic, and environmental benefits, from reducing projected greenhouse gas emissions to creating 700,000 jobs around the globe. Among those whose health and livelihoods would benefit are the 11 million waste pickers in developing countries who collect about 60% of plastic waste for recycling and play a critical role in keeping plastics out of the ocean. (The Guardian).  (Pew Trust);. Africa has been at the forefront of fighting plastic pollution with 34 countries having introduced bans of plastic bags. Other local organizations are creating groundbreaking innovations to eliminate plastics in Africa; such as the  Flip Flopi Project which is leading an African revolution against plastic pollution; and also other community entrepreneurs in Cameroon. This is in line with the  AMCEN Plastics treaty which stands to support this shared vision of a prosperous Africa which ensures the well-being of both people and the environment.

7. A new US-Africa Energy Initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa has taken off with the U.S. Export-Import Bank offering a $4.7 billion loan to fund a Mozambican gas project (read the latest report here). Another project ready to take off is The East African Crude Oil Pipeline - the world’s longest heated oil pipeline that will stretch 900 miles from Lake Albert in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean and make  Uganda sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth-biggest oil producer.  Several civil society organizations have, however, expressed concerns that the pipeline “is likely to lead to significant disturbance, fragmentation and increased poaching within important biodiversity and natural habitats” populated by elephants, lions, and chimpanzees that are on the international Red List of threatened species. Total energy production across 21 sub-Saharan African nations is expected to increase by almost 28 percent by 2025 (Africa Energy Outlook 2020).
8. The 2020 Global Humanitarian Assistance Report released this past week reveals that over one billion people were living in countries affected by long-term humanitarian crises such as conflict, displacement, and natural disasters. In Africa, South Sudan and the Central Africa Republic fit in this category.  In the same period, international UN appeals hit a record high but international humanitarian funding dropped by $1.6 billion and Covid-19 is compounding these existing humanitarian challenges. One possible solution could be the introduction of an immediate Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people proposed by UNDP in a report released this past week. The report estimates that it would cost from $199 billion per month to provide a time-bound, guaranteed basic income to the 2.7 billion people living below or just above the poverty line in 132 developing countries. Another welcome development could be the “People’s Coalition for the Sahelalso announced this past week. The coalition which brings together a group of civil society actors from the Sahel, with backing from across the continent and across the globe, aims to help promote four “People’s Pillars” including (i) putting the protection of civilians and human security at the heart of the response in the Sahel (ii)creating a comprehensive political strategy to address the root causes of insecurity (iii) responding to humanitarian emergencies and ensure that aid is responsive to development and (iv) ensuring access to justice for all. (Africa Report ). 


Women prepare meals for celebrations marking the Yennayer, or Amazigh New Year,  in a street of Sahel, a village near Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers. (AP Photo/Fateh Guidoum)

9. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a US $15 million support for the new Center for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain-Africa (CARISCA) through a partnership between Arizona State University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and University Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. CARISCA will leverage a local and international network of governmental, civil society, and industry partners to connect African researchers, practitioners, and businesses to supply chain assets around the world is to supply chain assets around the world. The global economy is dependent on the efficiencies of the various interlinked supply chains and the transformation of supply chains is expected around the world in a post-COVID world. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is seen as the best opportunity to create larger markets and make regional manufacturing economically more feasible. Already the Africa Union is making huge steps in connecting African entrepreneurs to business opportunities through the "AU Procurement App" that offers real-time access to information related to business opportunities and strategic sourcing such as requests for expression of interest, planned projects, business meetings, tenders, bids, and contract awards.

10. 26th July was International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem. Mangrove ecosystems are estimated to cover 150 000 km2 world-wide, of which Africa has about 35 000 km2. They contribute to stabilizing coastal soils, reducing erosion and flood levels during storms, while forests buffer shorelines from the full impact of waves. These flood protection benefits alone exceed  $65 billion per year. East African mangroves are an ecoregion consisting of mangrove swamps along the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in southern Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and southern Somalia. Read how WWF and community partners are working to protect and restore mangroves in Mozambique and how they are rebounding after the devastation from cyclone Idai

Both WWF Tanzania and WWF Mozambique put up a powerhouse of events to celebrate the  International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.  The celebration involved various activities such as planting mangrove seedlings and community awareness activities among others. 


















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