SDGs in Africa: The UN example



The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, during her opening remarks at the Commission for Social Development’s in New York, tasked Nigerian government on the need to utilise its vast resources to eradicate poverty. HELEN OJI writes on how countries, including Nigeria, are stepping up on this.
The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBDC) was established in 1964 to ensure the sustainable and equitable management of Lake Chad and the preservation of ecosystems in its basin.
Its members are Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya and Niger. The commission is funded by its member states.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development initiated by the commission has been adjudged the most ambitious plan ever developed to eradicate extreme poverty and safeguard the planet. While it is a global agenda, it is believed that it could only be achieved by addressing the multidimensional aspects.
Places like Durban in South Africa, and Cauayan City in the Philippines have aligned their development plans with the SDG targets. In Nigeria, domesticating the SDG agenda, Kaduna and Edo State have exemplified both positive and negative reactions in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals plan.

Global development efforts
The UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, had in 2017 during an interaction with the local SDG leaders in the 2017 session harped on the need for high participation at all strata. She said: ‘’We will not achieve the SDGs if low engagement with local communities continues’’
“To achieve the SDGs, all communities must be engaged substantively and we must also increase our knowledge of local conditions, we must also capture the lives of residents in the most rural areas and densest informal settlements, again, we must ensure that Global and national funds must be decentralized and new financial instruments developed in cities and States’,
Across Nigeria, government and stakeholders like civil society organisations, actors and financiers are making outstanding contributions to poverty reduction. According to her, the importance role of community-focused programmes across the globe complement national and local communities knowing full well well the conditions that can make or break efforts to expand development opportunities to everyone.

Viewing issues from the environment angle
The Ekuri Initiative, in Cross River seeks to sustainably manage the Ekuri forest as a community asset, which has over the time generated income, subsistence materials and food to the community. Another initiative, ‘The Smallholders Foundation” has used rural radio broadcasts to educate 250,000 farmers on modern agricultural and environmental management techniques as a way of providing up-to-date market information, and give farmers a platform on which to advertise their products.
Nigeria, like some developed countries African countries observers believed has an opportunity to build on recent economic, political and social gains to leverage on its vast human and natural resources to eradicate poverty. Unfortunately, many internal conflicts like the insurgency in the north-east, the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta and disputes between herders and farmers they believed could also undermine and reverse development and gains made.

Private sector as advisory group
When the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, launched the first national Private Sector Advisory Group on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2017, it was to among other things coordinate public-private partnerships and amplify locally-driven solutions to achieve the SDGs. The (Private Sector Advisory Group) which includes 13 diverse partners, like Lagos Business School, the Dangote Group, General Electric and the Sahara Group.
Model after the Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa, another inspiring example of SDGs is the one Chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Aliko Dangote, CEO of the Dangote Group.The Centre which had over the time brought together Governments, civil society and private sector leaders to collectively devise SDG solutions such as advancing inter-country project on sustainable infrastructure and development of new platform to better connect communities to achieve the SDGs in Africa.
“We must prioritize an integrated response to peace, security, human rights and development. And we must improve our efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts while promoting inclusive, sustained and equitable development. Harnessing the power of partnerships will be critical and we must deepen the joint and coordinated efforts of the federal Government, state governments, local authorities, private sector and civil society organizations. Nigeria has taken concrete steps in this direction,”

The Gate Foundation intervention in Africa
Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation once triggered inspiring partnerships between it and the Nigerian government in the area of health. They worked closely with immunization and health experts in Nigeria as well as private sector to strengthen vaccine cold chain infrastructure in Nigeria. Also, initiatives such as Project Last Mile and Coca-Cola, has partnered the Foundation in the past with the aim of increasing the number of Nigerian children who can access life-ensuring vaccines,
In Ethiopia, the Gates Foundation is supporting the advancement of national priorities and reinforcing Government leadership in the areas of agriculture and health through partnerships across Africa. Similarly the Foundation had improved agricultural productivity, increase coverage of life-saving health and nutrition interventions.
Localizing United Nations SDGs
The Lake Chad Basin is an important source of fresh water on which more than 40 million people in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria depend and the UN agency noted that rainfalls had declined over the past 50 years.
The proposed three years AfDB funded project aims to take stock of Lake Chad’s water and other natural resources alongside socio-economic and cultural factors which will bring development. It also aims to reinforce local capacities in natural and cultural heritage preservation and undertake pilot activities for the rehabilitation of some ecosystems and the promotion of a green economy.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the relevant authorities to promote SDG localization in Nigeria States of Anambra, Benue, Kaduna and Kogi states. There has been previous support, implementation and monitoring of SDG-based state development plans.
Stakeholders believes that in translating the 2030 agenda to reality such that global goals is step-down into local action, it requires concerted and coordinated efforts at all levels of decision-making, and the empowerment of local actors.

Opinion
Researching violence in Africa, byAdewale Kupoluyi
Africa is a continent experiencing one conflict or another. There is nothing too abnormal about conflicts because they are part of human existence. However, what is more important is how well we manage and report African conflicts such that they are not snowballed into violence resulting in the complete breakdown of law and order. This is what the book: “Researching Violence in Africa: Ethical and Methodological Challenges”, edited by Christopher Cramer, Laura Hammond and Johan Pottier, seeks to unfold.
This chapter titled; “Navigating the Terrain of Methods and Ethics in Conflict Research,” examines conflict settings, changing wars and changing analyses. It admits that after the Cold War era, the dimension in world conflicts had increased significantly and Africa cannot be left alone. This challenge requires getting tangible answers to questions bordering on methodology, ethics and the urgency required for the application of social science researching conflict and security studies.
It has been observed that Africa has been marginalised, prone to violence and terrorism; an unfortunate development that pose danger to the international community because such negative occurrences bring about diseases, unwanted migration and terrorism. Terrorism and herdsmen clashes have assumed worrisome dimensions. Ethics and credibility of research on violence are so crucial that they should be given utmost attention in order to obtain accurate findings, as much as possible and justify why the research is worth the effort. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States of America seems to have increased the debate on how social science research should be better carried out such that ethical considerations are not infringed upon in tandem with the recommendations of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). On security, there is a knotty question that demands genuine answer: which one comes first; getting research facts at all cost, or saving your life in the course of researching violence in Africa?
The paper reveals that the likelihood of research raising awareness about important and unpopular phenomenon is what gives empirical research on conflict and war the required legitimacy. Researchers of conflicts have been advised not to control the settings they are working on, but they should rather leave them as they are and rely on intelligence and get the desired protection. It observes that during research on conflicts, ethical concerns do not dramatically change but they only get pronounced and become hard to settle/sort out. Another thing to look at while carrying out successful research in violence is to look at how to become ‘witnesses’ rather than ‘spectators’, to get to the root of any matter.
The paper alludes that useful ideas can be learnt from journalists while carrying out their investigative journalism/reporting, where everything ethically possible is deployed in order to get good results. That takes us to another point of silence, as noted in the paper. Ordinarily, silences may also be experienced in the course of the research due to peoples’ fears and unwillingness to divulge vital information. When this happens, the researcher needs to explore other secondary data sources such as reports, newspapers, government gazettes and testimonial (including the use of structured and semi-structured interviews). What is paramount is the need to build trust and maintain regular contacts with the research area rather than trying to desperately get correct information at all cost.
The chapter further identifies that one aspect that has not been talked much about is the degree to which the researcher may face personal risks and the right steps to take to protect themselves because at times, researchers may not even know they are really facing security threats. To overcome some of these challenges, there is the need for researchers to have basic training on security tips that could assist them in the course of carrying out their assignments. In conclusion, the paper has richly contributed in no small way in offering rich insights into the subject-matter. However, it has not been able to delve into what happens, perhaps, when the researcher dies in the course of the assignment. Could there be an insurance cover? Any form of compensation? This missing gap would have been mentioned or explained so as to strengthen the courage of African social scientists in taking the big risks of researching violence.
Few questions agitated my mind: Africa has been described as housing failed states; is reference being made to some specific African countries or to all the respective states in general? Is this classification real? How truthful or honest is our research? Do we actually report what we see on the field or we do the opposite by documenting only what we feel? What happens to a researcher, if he/she has to take a hard decision? Which option is wiser: taking the risk in the name of researching or jettisoning the desire? Is research impartiality a truism or an illusion? At what point is a researcher at great risk while conducting research on conflicts? Objective responses to the above questions should be an assignment that whoever wants to engage in researching in violence in Africa should really find desirable in providing answers.

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