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The unintended consequences of agricultural input intensification: human health implications of agro-chemical use in Sub-Saharan Africa

While agro-chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are often promoted as inputs that increase agricultural productivity by limiting a range of pre-harvest losses, their use may have negative human health and labor productivity implications. We explore the relationship between agro-chemical use and the value of crop output at the plot level and a range of human health outcomes at the household level using nationally representative panel survey data from four Sub-Saharan African countries where more than ten percent of main season cultivators use agro-chemicals. We find that agro-chemicals use is associated with increased value of harvest, with similar magnitudes across three of the four countries under study, but is also associated with increases in costs associated with human illness, including increased health expenditures related to illness and time lost from work due to sickness in recent past. We motivate our empirical work with a simple dynamic optimization model that clearly shows the role that farmer understanding of these feedbacks can play in optimizing the use of agro-chemicals. The central role of information in determining that optimum underscores the role of agricultural and public health extension as modern input intensification proceeds in the region.

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Informal cross border trade in Africa: implications and policy recommendations

Despite being a source of income to about 43 percent of Africa’s population, informal cross border trade (ICBT) is generally regarded as illegal commercialization of cross border activities. ICBT can have positive macroeconomic and social ramifications such as food security and income creation particularly for rural populations who would otherwise suffer from social exclusion. If properly harnessed, ICBT has the potential to support Africa’s on-going efforts at poverty alleviation.

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AfDB Strategy for 2013–2022 - at the center of Africa’s transformation

This ten-year Strategy is designed to place the African Development Bank at the centre of Africa’s transformation and to improve the quality of Africa’s growth. The Strategy will focus on two objectives to improve the quality of Africa’s growth: inclusive growth, and the transition to green growth. It also outlines five main channels for the Bank to deliver its work and improve the quality of growth in Africa: Infrastructural development; Regional economic integration; Private sector development; Governance and accountability; Skills and technology. In implementing its ten-year Strategy, and as an integral part of the two objectives, the Bank will pay particular attention to fragile states, agriculture and food security, and gender.

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Feed Africa: strategy for agricultural transformation in Africa 2016–2025

There is a massive opportunity to reframe the current social and economic costs associated with the low productivity of the agricultural sector in Africa. What has — up till now — been an area of relative weakness for the African continent, can be recast as an area of strength and, more importantly, one of the fastest options for feeding, employing, and lifting millions of people out of poverty. Agricultural transformation has proven to be a complex endeavour, but is becoming increasingly understood as pockets of successful interventions spring up across the continent. New technologies — especially in the ICT realm — are bringing new ways of achieving and scaling success. Critical to realizing this opportunity will be shifting the development of the sector from ‘agriculture as a way of life’ to ‘agriculture as a business’. The public-sector has an essential role to play in fostering a private-sector led transformation of agriculture. Farmers, entrepreneurs, and investors alike will find a way to develop thriving agribusinesses if given the opportunity in the form of access to sufficient and affordable capital, access to markets and the right overall conditions in terms of policy and infrastructure.

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Moving towards a green productive agriculture in Africa: the role of ICTs

Agriculture remains an important source of livelihood for the majority of Africans but the sector is still very unproductive, resulting in food insecurity and large imports of staple foods, putting additional strain on scarce foreign exchange reserves. Acknowledging the rapid uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Africa and building upon the mitigated success of the green revolution in Asia, the paper discusses the potential of ICTs to transform Africa’s agriculture in an inclusive and sustainable way, by benefiting smallholders, addressing land reform issues, providing adequate financial services, price and market information as well as by boosting global value chains. The study goes further by providing policy recommendations for African governments and the private sector on how ICTs usage could be further leveraged to enhance productivity and promote a green agriculture in Africa.

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Agricultural production, food security and higher value in North Africa

This paper argues that the problems of food security and rural poverty in North Africa are interlinked. It proposes a strategy to enhance food security while also reducing rural poverty and rural-urban inequality by increasing farmers’ share of value added. The proposed strategy has four prongs: (1) making better use of world markets and maintaining a security food reserve, (2) greater support to domestic food producers (especially small family farmers) to link them better with national and international markets, (3) introducing new social safety net programs based on cash transfers, and (4) building new inclusive economic institutions that represent small farmers and ensure that they have a voice in the policy making process.

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Assessing progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals

This report, produced jointly by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), assesses the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Africa has seen an acceleration in economic growth, established ambitious social safety nets and designed policies for boosting education and tackling HIV and other diseases. It has also introduced women’s quotas in parliament, leading the way internationally on gender equality, and increased gender parity in primary schools. Although overall poverty rates are still hovering around 48 percent, according to the most recent estimates, most countries have made progress on at least one goal. Much more work lies ahead to ensure living standards improve for all African women and men. While economic growth has been relatively strong, it has not been rapid or inclusive enough to create jobs. Similarly, many countries have managed to achieve access to primary schooling; however, considerable issues of quality and equity need to be addressed.

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The state of Arab cities 2012: challenges of urban transition

The Arab world has played a very important role in the history of urbanization. It is the region where urban civilization was born and where urban matters have been addressed for centuries. The Arab urban civilization, as it has evolved over the past millennium, has generated some of the most beautiful cities in the world. This publication is the first ever to comprehensively analyse urbanization processes in the Arab States through the review of its four sub-regions: the Maghreb, the Mashreq, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the least-developed Arab countries of the Southern Tier.

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Global report on urban health; equitable, healthier cities for sustainable development

This timely report comes at a decisive moment in history where we can reshape urban environments and health systems for the majority of the world’s population that live in cities. Enabling this transformation are the SDGs, which have reconfigured how governments and the international community need to plan and implement actions to eradicate poverty and inequality, create inclusive economic growth, preserve the planet and improve population health. Central to this quest is to create equitable, healthier cities for sustainable development. A focus on urban health not only recognizes global demographic trends but the inextricable and inter-dependent links between health, economic productivity, social stability and inclusion, climate change and healthy environments, and an enabling built environment and governance. At the core of the dynamic and transformative nature of cities are people – healthy people. In order to pursue this goal and the SDGs, we must ensure that all citizens and communities, regardless of income, social status, or gender, have access to the quality health services they need with sufficient financial protection.

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Millet prices, public policy and child malnutrition: the case of Niger in 2005

Severe food crises were common until the middle 1980s. Since then, they have been less frequent and until the sharp rise of food prices in 2007-8 the dominant perception was that, except in areas suffering from political instability, famines were slowly becoming a problem of the past. Niger’s 2005 events suggest it is too soon to claim victory. Indeed, between March and August 2005 the country was hit by a doubling of millet prices, and a sharp rise in the number of severely malnourished children admitted to feeding centres. The extent and causes of such crisis remain controversial. Some argue that these extreme events are part of a normal seasonal cycle while others suggest that in 2005 Niger’s chronic food insecurity turned into a nutritional crisis that in some areas reached near-famine conditions. This paper reviews the evidence in this regard in the light of the main famine theories and against the background of the chronic food insecurity and high child malnutrition characterizing Niger. This study concludes that the decline in food production invoked by many to explain the crisis does not help comprehending a complex crisis that can only be understood by examining the entitlement failures of several socio-economic groups, the malfunctioning of domestic and regional food markets, and policy mistakes in the fields of food security, health financing, and international aid.

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Climate change and children: a human security challenge

The study reviews the implications of climate change for children and future generations, drawing on relevant experiences in different sectors and countries of promoting child rights and well-being. It traces in considerable detail the pathways through which shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns create serious additional barriers to the achievement of the child survival, development and protection goals embraced by the international community. The role of children as vital participants and agents of change emerges as a key theme.

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Best of UNICEF research 2014

Each year the Office of Research-Innocenti reviews submissions for the best research being published across all UNICEF offices: country programmes, National Committees, Regional Offices and headquarters divisions. The purpose of this activity is to showcase and recognize high-quality, high-impact research being done in the organization. At the end of the process each year the Office of Research-Innocenti issues a publication containing summaries of the papers considered to be of particular merit. In 2014, the summaries cover issues concerning child protection, cash transfers, ECD, maternal health, inclusive education, and WASH.

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Best of UNICEF research 2015

In addition to recognizing high quality research, the Best of UNICEF Research process aims to share findings with UNICEF colleagues and with the wider community concerned with achieving child rights. This year the competition received 99 applications With global reach, the 12 projects in the final selection cover many of the ‘traditional’ areas of UNICEF work (health, nutrition, sanitation and education), while also highlighting issues that have more recently gained prominence within the global policy agenda, such as social transfers, violence against children and school bullying, and various forms of inequality or exclusion. This publication provides summaries of these research projects, including methodology and results.

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Best of UNICEF research 2016

The Best of UNICEF competition identifies a number of studies that are assessed to be of particular merit on a number of criteria: in terms of the relevance and interest of the topic and findings; the rigour of their methodology; and the potential for impact, including lessons that could inform programmes elsewhere, or the capacity for replication or scaling up. Issues covered include health, education, WASH, child protection and social inclusion. There was also a strong emphasis on qualitative and mixed methods research, demonstrating the value of rigorous qualitative studies. A number of studies selected as of special merit in 2016 involved research directly with children and there is an increasing recognition that children’s perspectives are of primary importance. There was also a welcome attention to gender in some of the studies, including research with both adolescent boys and girls.

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Children, ICT and development: capturing the potential, meeting the challenges

ICTs are not a technical sphere detached from the complex realities of children’s lives. They are increasingly woven into the very fabric of life, in income-rich and increasingly in income-poor countries. It is clear that if there is no targeted engagement with these socio-technical innovations, they are likely to reinforce existing inequalities. It follows that a focus on children and on greater equity leads to an active and reflective engagement with the potential and challenges of ICT for development, targeting in particular marginalized children. This report serves as a key contribution on which to build informed dialogue and decision making, developed jointly between research, policy and practice.

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Cash transfers and child nutrition: what we know and what we need to know

This paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the impacts of cash transfer programmes on the immediate and underlying determinants of child nutrition, including the most recent evidence from impact evaluations across sub-Saharan Africa. It adopts the UNICEF extended model of care conceptual framework of child nutrition and highlights evidence on the main elements of the framework – food security, care and health care. It finds that several key gaps should be addressed in future including cash transfer impacts on more proximate nutrition-related outcomes such as children’s dietary diversity, as well as caregiver behaviours, intra-household violence, and stress, all of which have implications for child health and well-being.

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The Millennium Development Goals report 2015

This report presents data and analysis evaluating the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It proves that, with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will, even the poorest countries can make dramatic and unprecedented progress. The report also acknowledges uneven achievements and shortfalls in many areas. The work is not complete, and it must continue in the new development era.

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Socio-economic impact of Ebola virus disease in West African countries

This report undertakes an assessment of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) for each of the 15 West African countries, breaking away from the tradition of focusing on the three epicentre countries. It assesses the impact of EVD on poverty incidence and food security in both the three epicentre countries and other non-West African countries. The report concludes by offering a set of policy recommendations.

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The effect of gender equality programming on humanitarian outcomes

Despite a number of developments in policy and practice aimed at integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into humanitarian action, what remains missing is a strong evidence base that demonstrates just how gender equality programming is essential to ensuring an effective, inclusive, rights-based humanitarian response. To address this gap, UN Women—on behalf of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group on Gender in Humanitarian Action and with co-funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada—in 2013 commissioned the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex to undertake a research study, titled “The Effect of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes”. Its aim was to assess whether or not such programming has improved humanitarian outcomes and, if so, why. This report presents the findings of this research, based on interviews with more than 2,000 crisis-affected households gathered for four case studies conducted in Kenya (the Dadaab refugee camps and the county of Turkana), Nepal and the Philippines. Drawing on both the qualitative and quantitative data collected, researchers were able to develop a unique new methodology for assessing the degree to which gender equality and women's empowerment has been integrated into humanitarian programmes, using inputs from the beneficiaries themselves. The report presents overall findings, draws comparative conclusions across the four case studies and discusses practical recommendations for integrating gender equality programming in future humanitarian interventions in ways that strengthen effectiveness and inclusiveness.

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Hearts and minds: women of India speak

This report acknowledges the “lived experiences” of women and girls in India at the grassroots level and ensures that the voices of those who remain socially, economically and geographically marginalized are meaningfully reflected in the emerging post-2015 development discourse and agenda. The analysis contained in this report is based on in-depth interviews with women and focus-group discussions with almost 200 elected women representatives. The report addresses issues that resonate with women all over the globe, such as women's empowerment, poverty, employment, health and education. The key findings from this report can be used to influence the global agenda setting, ensuring that the post-2015 framework does not make the same mistakes that the MDGs did.

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Towards gender equality in humanitarian response: addressing the needs of women and men in Gaza

The already grave humanitarian situation caused by the 18-month-long blockade of the Gaza Strip was compounded by Israel's 23-day military offensive in December 2008 and January 2009. The social and economic repercussions spread across all sectors of Gazan society, but were also mediated by men's and women's gender roles and identities. Ignoring the different needs, capacities and contributions of women, girls, boys and men can mean that some segments of the population are overlooked, sometimes with destructive consequences. In the rush to provide humanitarian assistance, the appeal to pay attention to gender issues may seem irrelevant. However, it is crucial to ensure that the most necessary and appropriate assistance is offered to the population as a whole. This guidebook sets forth standards for the integration of gender issues from the outset of a complex emergency, aiming to enable humanitarian services to reach their target audience with the maximum positive effect. The main framework for this guidebook is based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) handbook on gender and humanitarian action, and it builds on the gender needs assessment survey conducted by the UN Inter-Agency Gender Task Force in March 2009. Main issues that arose from that survey were subsequently discussed in focus groups in various communities in Gaza in April and May 2009, organized by UNIFEM.The findings of the focus groups form the core of the data used in this guidebook.

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The future women want: a vision of sustainable development for all

Twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero, UN Member States unanimously agreed that “women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development. Twenty years later, we still have a long way to go. In this publication UN Women highlights the commitments made on gender equality, and explores women's contributions to sustainable development and policy around the world. Focusing on priority areas—safe drinking water and sanitation; food security and sustainable agriculture; sustainable cities; decent work and the green economy; health and education—it details the actions needed to establish a gender-responsive development framework, and ensure an enabling environment for women's full participation in sustainable development.

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The cost of agricultural productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda

Women form a large proportion of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa and thus play a vital role in ensuring family nutrition and food security. In Eastern and Southern Africa, agriculture continues to be a key engine for local and regional economies, represents a critical source of income and ensures food security and nutrition. However, as has been widely documented, gender-based inequalities in access to and control of productive and financial resources inhibit agricultural productivity and reduce food security. A new study measuring the economic costs of the gender gap in agricultural productivity in three African countries provides further evidence that reducing the gender gap plays a significant role in poverty reduction and improved nutritional outcomes. The report provides a unique quantification of the costs in terms of lost growth opportunities and an estimate of what societies, economies, and communities would gain if the gender gap in agriculture is addressed. The findings of this report are striking, and send a strong signal to policy makers in Africa as well as development partners that closing the gender gap is smart economics. Consider this: closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could potentially lift as many as 238,000 people out of poverty in Malawi, 80,000 people in Tanzania, and 119,000 people in Uganda.

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Policy and operational messages to support UN Country Teams in integrating human rights into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda

The messages in this document are envisaged to provide a common understanding for the UN system on how human rights can be integrated and should inform the planning and programming process as well as policy guidance for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The messages focus on: a) how to align the SDGs with the country’s existing human rights commitments; b) how to fulfill the pledge to ‘leave no one behind’ and ‘reach the furthest behind first’; c) how to ensure active and meaningful participation in the preparation of the national SDG action plans; and, d) how to build robust accountability frameworks in the implementation of these national plans.

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Mid-term review of the UN development assistance framework for Malawi (2008-2011)

In pursuit of economic growth and poverty reduction, the Malawi Government has articulated development goals in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS, 2006-2011), to which the UN’s Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF, 2008-2011) is aligned.The Mid-Term Review provides an opportunity for the UN country team to assess collective performance in respect of ‘delivering as one.’ The review has been carried out as a participatory, self-evaluation exercise focusing on UN programs and processes over the past two years; current MGDS-UNDAF alignment; and expected results for UNDAF implementation 2010/2011.

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