Sustainable Development and the Global South

Collaboration with Glasgow School of Art

Future Experiences: Sustainable Development and the Global South

In 2019-2020, the SFA Network collaborated with the Glasgow School of Arts – Product Design on a project entitled the Future Experiences: Sustainable Development and the Global South. You can read more about it here.

The SFA Network is very pleased to announce that the project dataset collection is now live! The record is public and can be accessed here. Many SFA Members took part to the project and we would like to thank everyone for their contribution. They are included as an author on this dataset/project.

We recommend looking at the  ‘Project Journey Map’ and the fantastic ‘Future Experiences Book’ in order to get a feel for what is there. But don’t stop there – this is a tremendously rich resource of output and know-how.  This collaboration with the future designers from the Glasgow School of Art was truly inspiring and refreshing for the SFA team. The impact of this project and the engagement with designers is translating into the recent research applications submitted by the Network.

We encourage you to use and share the material from this project.

DOI: 10.5525/gla.researchdata.1019


SFA Newsletter - June 2020

SFA Newsletter - June 2020

The Sustainable Futures in Africa team is pleased to share with you, members, partners, institutions and communities, the Network’s newsletter for June 2020. The six SFA hubs have been busy with funding applications and planning the different activities, events, and objectives for the next chapter. We hope that you are all keeping well.

In this issue, you’ll find information about:

  1. Statistics about the SFA Short Video – TOGETHER
  2. Hubs updates and initiatives
  3. Project Development and Submitted Funding Applications
  4. SFA members Publications, Presentations and Resources
  5. Funding and engagement opportunities


Interview with Dr Pullanikkatil - the Nation on Sunday

By Vanessa Duclos, Research Manager

Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil has been interviewed by the Nation on Sunday about her work with Abundance. The article in the newspaper highlights Abundances successful initiatives and their impact for the Mmando Village and beyond. You can access the interview here.

Well done Deepa and team Abundance!

” We want the village to then in-turn empower other villages in creating ripple effects since our dream is to have a world of plenty, where there is no lack, for humans and nature to thrive.” – Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil.


Think Piece - Building Resilience in Africa's Food Systems

By Professor Sola Ajayi, Nigeria Hub Director and Deputy Vice-Chancellor – First-Technical University, Ibadan

The responses of many African nations to curtail the spread of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic were largely copied from Asian and European countries without much reflection on the contextual relevance of these responses to their socio-economic and cultural realities. In the face of the prevalent weak social support systems across Africa, the imposed lockdown of entire or part of the respective countries has turned out to be  a lockout from basic needs and  life-sustaining services, notably health and food, for a majority of the citizenry whose livelihoods depend exclusively on daily scavenging and hustling activities.

On the average, it is unlikely that any sector of African economies will be impacted like the agricultural sector. More people derive their livelihood from activities that are directly or indirectly linked to the sector. Every citizen is also directly impacted in the same proportion and direction by anything that impacts the sector not only through livelihood engagements but more importantly through affordability and access to food, a basic and irreplaceable necessity.

The following are some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian agricultural sector with emphasis on agro- inputs:

  1. The growth being witnessed by struggling and fragile agro-input (notably seed) businesses in West Africa has been threatened not only by the inability to move and sell existing seedstock, but also by their inability to establish seed fields in this season. This is because the businesses in turn suffer from access to Early-Generation Seeds (EGS) and from labour scarcity.
  2. The exception of farming-related personnel and goods from the general movement restrictions nonetheless,
    • Farmers’ access to high quality and yield-enhancing inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, etc. have been limited. All actors in the value-chain; farmers, seedsmen, agro-dealers, seed production companies, have been affected by the lockdown and this has been exacerbated by the exploitative indiscretion of security personnel enforcing the orders.
    • Aggregators that serve as off takers and connect smallholder holder farmers to markets have been scared from freely moving thereby leading to massive loss of perishable produce, notably fruits and vegetables that are the primary sources of vitamins and minerals. This has led to a drastic shrinking of the meagre incomes’ farmers earn from their production activities.
    • Itinerant/seasonal migrant labourers who either farm large areas of leased lands through pooled efforts and/or who provide substantial labour services to other farmers have been locked down in their respective home states owing to the ban on inter-state travels and territorial protection by the lower arms of government.
  3. Food prices have soared as a result of shrinking supplies to markets on the one hand and illegal toll collections at the several security checkpoints set up to ensure compliance with the lockdown orders.

The stretch of the pandemic to this year’s planting season (May-June) and the lack of access to high quality seeds of improved and adapted varieties for crop establishment will lead to reduced harvest and limited agro-industrial raw materials at the end of the season, and invariably to food insecurity within national and regional boundaries.

Arising from the foregoing, the need to support smallholder farmers and agri-businesses, is imperative and compelling. The following are some policy options that may be directed towards mitigating the enumerated impacts:

  1. Just as it has been declared for the health sector and its workers, there should be a protectionist proclamation by which the agro-input sector and agrarian communities in particular will be granted a special exemption status for as long as the pandemic lasts.
  2. In view of the weight of the pandemic on governments, their agencies and available resources, interventions in the agricultural sector should be handled by an Emergency Action Committee comprising public and private sector members but largely driven by the private sector.
  3. Public and private organizations responsible for the production and distribution of EGS should be mobilized and well-resourced to guarantee adequate production. Notably, Universities with Faculties of Agriculture have unutilized capacities that could be harnessed.
  4. As part of emergency response to the pandemic and as palliative to resource-limited farmers, it is imperative for Governments to provide seed subsidy to farmers by buying off existing stocks of improved seeds from accredited and registered companies and distributing them directly to farmers for the current planting season. This should be for at least two years to allow seed businesses recover and stabilize. There are existing structures through which this could also be scaled up as a regional or continental intervention.
  5. Similarly, the distribution of other agro-inputs should be handled centrally in order to eliminate delays that will inevitably arise from logistic challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions on movements.
  6. Central collection or aggregation points for farm produce should be established very close to agrarian communities and, where possible, in-situ value-addition of perishable farm produce should be developed in partnership with private sector at such aggregation points.

** Think piece presented by Prof Ajayi during the e-Policy seminar on Building Resilience in Food Systems and Agriculture Value Chain: Agricultural Policy Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa held by the African Development Institute (ADI).


Exhibition Video - Future Experiences

By Prof Nicol Keith, Institute of Cancer Sciences

The Future Experiences: Sustainable Development & The Global South project is a joint venture with the Innovation School at Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and the UofG Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network.

This has been led and coordinated by Mia Perry at UofG along with Kirsty Ross at GSA. It’s a final year honours project for the Design students at GSA.

This project asks the students to consider what happens in this global landscape ten years from now where Sustainable Development has evolved to the extent that new forms of work and communities of practice transform how people engage, learn and interact with each other, with stakeholders and with the global community around them.

Topics addressed are health, energy, mobility, economies, societal structures and the environment.

The project takes a human-centered approach, rather than simply a user-centered perspective, to exploring the topic in partnership between the GSA & SFA. This brief offers the opportunity to explore the underlying complexities regarding sustainable futures, the post-colonial dynamic between ‘norths’ and ‘souths’, post-capitalism and human agency, to envision a future world context, develop it as an experiential exhibit, and produce the designed products, services and experiences for the people who might live and work within it.

The project is collaborative in nature, requiring the students to work, learn and interact with experts from for academia, civic and government organisations and NGOs from across the SFA community.

This project is still ongoing but this short video captures the essence of the project and the work-in-progress exhibition.  The exhibition also features a second future-focused project from the final year Master of European Design (MEDes) students. The Collaborative Futures project partnered Glasgow School of Art with Glasgow City Council to explore how data could shape the experiences of Glasgow’s citizens in 2030 and envisage what a well governed city might look like moving forwards.

Together, the two projects span the local to the global; exploring themes ranging from sustainable citizenship, to community participation and the value of collaborative creativity in defining how people might live and work together in the near future.


Pluriversal Literacies: Affect and Relationality in Vulnerable Times

By Vanessa Duclos, Research Manager, Sustainable Futures in Africa

Dr Mia Perry, SFA Co-Director, has just published (April 6th) a brilliant paper* entitled: “Pluriversal Literacies: Affect and Relationality in Vulnerable Times” in International Literacy Association – Reading Research Quarterly. This is a timely publication amid the current COVID19 crisis worldwide.

Abstract

Through a consideration of literacies in theory and international policy, this article pushes at the edges of existing frameworks of functional and sociocultural literacies. In critique of existing policy directives, the author explores an approach to literacy that engages in the affective and posthuman relationality of human and environment and in the plurality of literacies globally that are overshadowed in prevailing models of literacy education. The author was motivated by a commitment to literacy education responsive to a world that is unsustainable in its current practices, to a world that faces increasing fragmentation and vulnerability (socially and ecologically) while certain types of expertise, technologies, and global infrastructures continue to proliferate. As a mainstay of education and a tool of social change, literacies are inseparable from policy and practices of sustainability, equity, and development. Pluriversality is a concept emerging from decolonial theory that provides a counternarrative to contemporary Northern assumptions of the universal. Building on a history of ideas around pluriversality gives sociopolitical and ecological momentum to affect and relationality in literacy studies. The author challenges normative constructions of literacy education as Eurocentric and neocolonial, effectively supporting a pedagogy that normalizes certain practices and people and, by extension, sustains inequity and environmental degradation. Through interwoven research projects, the author highlights the contentious aspects of functional and sociocultural approaches to literacy and the possibilities of moving beyond them. In doing so, the author describes and demonstrates the practical and political implications of affect theory and relationality in literacies education in a plural anthropocenic world.

” It is a paper that I have been working on for over a year and our very own Dr Alex Okot is quoted, EcoAction is featured and the Sustainable Future in Africa Network acknowledged throughout for the immense influence this network has had on my work in literacies “ – Dr Mia Perry

 

* Mia Perry. 2020. Pluriversal Literacies: Affect and Relationality in Vulnerable Times. International Literacy Association – Reading Research Quarterly. 0(0). pp 1-17 | doi:10.1002/rrq.312


A Critical Resource for Ethical International Partnerships

A Critical Resource for Ethical International Partnerships

When we start a new project with partners in a different context, it is never truly a “new start.” Historically it has been experts from the Global North who have studied and interpreted the South. This means that international research partnerships are inevitably imbued with power relations and possibly the assumption that it is northern knowledge that will lead transformations of in the South. Without a clear recognition of that context, it is inevitable that existing inequities, injustices, and imbalances of knowledge and power, will continue to pervade our work.

We designed this resource to help make explicit the practices and dynamics that underpin partnerships, to support the development of more equitable working relations.

DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/DJTN4

Download the resource >

Interview with SFA Co-Director | Career Changes to Fuel your Passions

By Vanessa Duclos, Network’s Research Manager

Do you sometimes have doubts about your career choices? It is never too late to discover new passions, and to follow the necessary steps to make it a new vocation. While visiting the University of Glasgow in September, Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, Co-Director of the SFA Network, was interviewed by Emma Smith from DEVEX about why and how she changed her career from civil engineering to environmental sciences, with a focus on climate change adaptation.

https://www.devex.com/news/q-a-how-this-engineer-began-a-new-career-in-global-development-95576


Population, Health and Environment Nexus: Discussions at Mbando Village

By Bosco Chinkonda, Deepa Pullanikkatil, Helen Todd, Boyson Moyo and Stewart Paul

The environment has been degraded and the population is growing at higher rate. Because of high birthrates leading to high population growth, resources are depleted and people have no option but to go cut trees and burn charcoal up the hill.” These were the words of Chief Mbando at our meeting in Mbando village in April this year.

Chief Mbando had quite simply articulated the links between population growth, competition for resources and their impacts, including environmental degradation. On 9 April 2019, seated under a mango tree, about 35 people from Mbando village talked with visitors from the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) network about the nexus of “Population, Health and Environment” (PHE) by focusing on a micro level: their village.

Discussion under a tree in Mbando village on the Population, Health and Environment nexus

The discussions were facilitated by Art and Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo), a non-governmental organization which harnesses the power of the arts to nurture creative leadership and ignite bold conversations and actions in many sectors, including health. Here in Mbando, they used music and drama to provoke conservations. They were introduced to the community of Mbando community by Abundance, a small non-profit that has been working in this village since 2016. Both Abundance and ArtGlo are members of Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA), an international network which believes in a multidisciplinary and integrated approach to development. Abundance has taken and advocated for an integrated approach to development. However, developmental and environmental projects have historically taken a sectoral approach, without integrating key aspects that shape the lives of the communities the projects aim to serve. Through the PHE discussion at Mbando village, many insights were revealed on the deeper relationships between population, health and environment.

The population of Malawi has grown from 4 million in 1964 (when it attained independence from the British) to almost 19 million in 2017. The villagers of Mbando understand that some of the challenges they face stem from high population growth. “We are facing challenges because of high fertility rates. This has contributed to environmental degradation,” says Chief Mbando. When Abundance began working in Mbando in 2016, there were 95 households. “Today, hardly three years later, there are 105 households in the village,” said Moses Phulusa, Abundance’s Community Coordinator in Mbando. Family planning initiatives are present in the community, but there is high resistance to uptake, especially among the men, due to societal expectations and religious beliefs.

With increased population, the available farmland is shrinking, which the community observes is leading to food shortages and nutritional challenges. In addition to increasing pressure on land due to large numbers of people, the village faces extreme weather events. The community mentioned the recent Cyclone Idai and the heavy rains that followed, which caused many rice and maize fields to be flooded. Mbando village is near the shores of Lake Chilwa, Malawi’s second largest lake. “Lake Chilwa has been drying because in the past years we have got less rainfall. But still there is nothing good over there. Even catches of fish are very rare. Only a few species are available,” said a resident. “This is leading to malnutrition. As you know, there are proteins in fish,” said another resident. ArtGlo encouraged Mbando villagers to act out the challenges they face; some of the acts highlighted that Lake Chilwa is silting, a problem the community attributed to poor farming practices and deforestation.

Malawi’s deforestation trends are worrying: a rate of 33,000 hectares of forest lost per year. Chief Mbando pointed towards the Chikala hills, which border Mbando village. Due to unemployment and the lack of livelihood options, residents are resorting to making charcoal to eke out a living. “In the Chikala hills, trees are being depleted due to charcoal burning activities as a livelihood means. Times are so desperate that women are also burning charcoal.

Dramas were then performed to depict what the future might look like. ArtGlo facilitators pointed to a young child and provoked discussions about how the environment and human development status would be when that child is an adult. The participants said that there would be a strain on the public resources such as medicine in the nearby health facilities due to the large population increase. Others said Mbando would be a community without herbal medicine due to high levels of deforestation (many herbal medicines came from forests). They also pointed out that it is always the most vulnerable members of the community who are affected the most, such as the elderly. Some feared they would be abused due to the scramble for land – attributed to deforestation. They predicted high levels of deviance and crime due to increased population and a lack of resources for economic functions, which could cause increased conflicts. “The habitats of animals would be depleted”, said another participant.

The same community that listed the challenges were asked to create solutions and act them out in drama performances. Solutions included sensitizing the youth about these issues, starting in primary school. Two people who were part of this meeting were from a local drama group and took the lead to create dramatic performances to create awareness amongst the youth. “The adults in the community, they have experienced the better times and could be an inspiration for the younger ones to take initiative. Chiefs hold the authority over the community and can lead some of the initiatives,” said participants. They recognized the need for various sectors and players to work together to achieve greater synergy and be able to address the interconnections between the sectors. They also said that there is need for frequent community gatherings, as engaging the community to come up with solutions is the way forward. “Coming together regularly to discuss issues such as deforestation, drought and population growth would help the village recognize the urgency of solutions as simple as tree planting”, said one participant. “Even in terms of family planning, you could see that men were opposing it. So if men took part in family planning initiatives, population growth could be put in check”, said another participant. Ultimately, the key message that came out of this meeting was that Population, Health and Environment have many links and that all stakeholders need to engage in discussions and cooperate in an integrated manner.

The meeting ended with a brainstorming exercise, where the villagers listed NGOs that implement projects in their village. They included Safe, an NGO which built the Community Based Child Care Centre and engages the Chief and elderly on projects; the Family Planning Association of Malawi, which works with youth clubs on family planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health; the One Acre Fund, which works on reforestation; Goal Malawi, which works on reforestation and family planning; and Abundance, which works in a variety of areas including education, literacy, trainings, skills development, support for health services and environmental conservation. It was agreed that these institutions need to work together so as not to duplicate efforts and to facilitate greater synergy. This is the essence of the SFA network too: greater engagement with and within communities, working together for the greater good and locally driven solutions for a greater understanding of the complex nature of community development and sustainability.

To view Chanco TV – Malawi on the Rise coverage of the event, click here.