Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme

Highlights from 15 Years of Joint Action for Sustainable Development

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The Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme (ESAPP) was launched in 1999 and concluded in 2015. This publication summarizes experiences and knowledge gained from 15 years of partnership-based research and action in Africa. It presents highlights selected from over 300 projects carried out in Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Citation: Ehrensperger A, Ott C, Wiesmann U, editors. Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme: Highlights from 15 Years of Join Action for Sustainable Development. Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP). DOI: 10.7892/boris.72023

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ESAPP Programme Highlights

The ESAPP programme highlights cover the topics of sustainable land management, sustainable regional development, and the role of knowledge in promoting sustainable development. The last six highlights cover ESAPP's approach and its conceptual foundations:

1 The Ngolo farming technology

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In Eastern Africa, soil degradation is a major problem in the densely populated hilly regions cultivated by subsistence farmers. A farming technology known as ngolo promises to enhance soil fertility, reduce crop erosion, and increase crop yields. ESAPP and its Tanzanian project partner, the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute, worked to introduce the ngolo technology to more communities.

The ngolo farming technology (PDF, 1.8 MB)

2 Saving Ethiopia’s soils

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About one-third of all agricultural land worldwide is degraded. The picture is worse in Ethiopia: there, two-thirds of the population is affected by soil degradation, which usually starts when forests are converted into agricultural land. To remedy this situation, ESAPP’s main focus in Ethiopia was on developing integrative approaches to sustainable soil and water management.

Saving Ethiopia’s soils (PDF, 1.7 MB)

3 A grass-roots solution for water governance in Kenya

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Population growth, changes in land use, and competition over resources have aggravated water scarcity in parts of Kenya over the last three decades. Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) have emerged as an effective community-based way of managing scarcity and conflict. To maximize their potential in one Kenyan river basin, ESAPP established a long-term capacity-building programme and a basin-wide platform for collaboration and exchange.

Grass roots solution Kenya (PDF, 1.6 MB)

4 Upper Anseba’s surface water potential

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Water shortages severely affect the densely populated Upper Anseba region in Eritrea, a country whose dry season lasts nine months of the year. As reservoirs are the most important source of surface water, knowing about their capacity and how the water is used is crucial to informed decision-making. This project explored the potentials of geographic information system technology and satellite imagery to generate that knowledge.

Upper Anseba surface water potential (PDF, 1.2 MB)

5 Biodiversity conservation and wildlife management

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Growing populations mean that human use is expanding into wildlife habitats, potentially sparking conflict. Human–elephant conflict is a particular problem in Laikipia, Kenya. Using an approach linking development and conservation, ESAPP helped create a highly innovative wildlife management tool.

Conservation and wildlife management (PDF, 1.2 MB)

6 Supporting a World Heritage site in Ethiopia

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When nature parks exist in populated areas, reconciling biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods can be a challenge – one that cannot be met without input from people living in and near the park. At a struggling park in the rugged Simen Mountains, ESAPP supported participatory research, suggested farmer-friendly redrawing of park boundaries, and enabled new high-altitude environmental monitoring stations.

Supporting World Heritage site Ethiopia (PDF, 1.7 MB)

7 Ogiek Peoples Ancestral Territories Atlas

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Indigenous knowledge is often absent from sustainable development debates, partly because those who possess it are unable to assert their needs and rights in negotiation and decision-making processes. ERMIS Africa, ESAPP, and CDE helped to provide such a platform by mapping the ancestral territories and recording the history of the Ogiek community in the Eastern Mau forest of Kenya.

Ogiek peoples ancestral territories atlas (PDF, 1.7 MB)

8 Assessing equity and vulnerability in Kenya

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Many African countries are experiencing substantial economic growth and sociopolitical transformation. Kenya is no exception. The country is on the rise economically and poverty has declined at the national level. But the gains are not felt the same everywhere and by every population group. Disaggregated data and high spatial-resolution maps can help policymakers better understand and address newly emerging distributional patterns of wealth, poverty, and disparities.

Assessing equity and vulnerability Kenya (PDF, 1.5 MB)

9 Securing livelihoods in Toliara, Madagascar

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Rural livelihoods in Madagascar – in particular the south-west – are highly insecure, in part due to a scarce resource base. ESAPP and project partner DERAD designed an approach towards rural development that starts by assessing the resource base and its use by local communities. Recommendations included the design of a more resource-efficient herding technique for small ruminants

Securing livelihoods in Toliara Madagascar (PDF, 1.4 MB)

10 Smallholder wheat production in Kenya’s drylands

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Drought-resistant crop varieties can diversify livelihoods and improve food security, provided seed supply is adequate and farming practices are appropriate. ESAPP worked to promote the farming of two new wheat varieties in arid and semi-arid areas in eastern Kenya, training farmers as well as technical and extension staff and supporting community-based seed bulking.

Smallholder wheat production Kenya drylands (PDF, 1.8 MB)

11 Policies and value chains for local products

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A lack of effective local by-laws on resource use and national product standards frequently creates unfavourable conditions for small agricultural producers in marginalized areas of Eastern Africa. ESAPP helped to improve policy frameworks and value chains for small producers of frankincense and camel milk by supporting formulation of by-laws, facilitating consultation of local communities, and helping local producers establish value chains for their products.

Policies value chains for local products (PDF, 1.2 MB)

12 Pastoralists and farmers: negotiating resources

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New claims on land are increasing competition for resources between pastoralists and farmers in Eastern Africa. In Tanzania, ESAPP established participatory processes to map and assess land use conflicts. Project activities brought herding and farming communities together, fostering mutual understanding and enabling them to engage in joint participatory land use planning.

Pastoralists farmers negotiating resources (PDF, 1.3 MB)

13 Nakuru local urban observatory

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Fast-growing cities and towns in developing countries are often characterized by poor infrastructure, inadequate provision of basic services, and degradation of local resources. When development efforts make their way across urban landscapes, some communities may benefit more than others. ESAPP sought to empower communities at risk of exclusion in Nakuru, Kenya, by enabling their participation in the creation of a spatial planning tool.

Nakuru local urban observatory (PDF, 1.4 MB)

14 Radio for rural development

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Use of mobile phones and similar technologies is growing across Africa, but radio remains a vital way of sharing news and communicating in many places – especially rural areas. Farming communities in remote parts of Eastern Africa risk increasing marginalization if they miss out on new opportunities such as emerging agricultural markets. ESAPP addressed this threat by supporting radio programming by and for farmers about sustainable land use and other timely topics of interest.

Radio for rural development (PDF, 374KB)

15 University training in Mekelle, Ethiopia

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Many educational institutions in the global South lack the means, personnel, and access to information needed to provide the high-quality inter- and transdisciplinary research crucial for sustainable development policymaking. ESAPP and CDE worked with institutions such as Mekelle University to help fill the gap, especially by training trainers to ensure continued capacity development.

University training Mekelle Ethiopia (PDF, 1.5 MB)

16 CETRAD short professional courses

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Many organizations in Kenya lack the technical and integrative skills to plan and implement sustainable regional development. To bridge this capacity gap, ESAPP supported its Kenyan partner CETRAD in developing a set of short vocational training courses for technical officers from government and non-government organizations. The courses are now offered on an annual basis and attract participants from throughout Eastern Africa.

CETRAD short professional courses (PDF, 1.1 MB)

17 A socio-economic atlas for informed decision-making

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Kenya is in transition: urban and rural areas are transforming, and its 47 counties are taking over development-related functions, as envisaged under Kenya’s 2010 constitution. This combination of rapid development and devolution of power was an ideal time to launch the initiative that resulted in the Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya, a high-resolution information base.

A socio economic atlas (PDF, 1.1 MB)

18 Building spatial data infrastructure in Ethiopia

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Highly dynamic planning and decision-making requirements in Eastern Africa need accurate and up-to-date information and knowledge, especially on the geographic distribution of key development indicators. In Ethiopia, ESAPP launched a capacity development and spatial data infrastructure programme to improve the availability of country-level geospatial data, significantly contributing to human resource development efforts.

Building spatial data infrastructure Ethiopia (PDF, 909KB)

19 Promoting stakeholder exchange in Madagascar

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Potential solutions to local development problems often lack integration with wider conceptual reflections. The global biodiversity hotspot of north-eastern Madagascar is a case in point. Finding little exchange and cooperation among regional stakeholders active in conservation and development, CDE and ESAPP’s Malagasy partners initiated the “Stakeholder Platform Madagascar”.

Promoting stakeholder exchange Madagascar (PDF, 1.7 MB)

20 Institutionalizing joint programme management

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Today’s development agendas and priority settings are often dominated by Western science, mainstream institutions, and elites. In contrast, ESAPP provided space for counterbalancing unequally distributed decision-making power and knowledge. ESAPP partners met at annual workshops, devising tools and procedures for joint programme management. This allowed the partners to find common ground and build capacity and ownership, sparking innovation for sustainable development.

Institutionalizing programme management (PDF, 1.3 MB)

21 Carbon sequestration in Madagascar’s forests

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Global initiatives such as the United Nations’ REDD+ programme hold great promise in harmonizing action towards sustainable forest management. But their success or failure in developing countries often hinges on local capacity and the availability of methods that may be adapted to local conditions. In Madagascar, ESAPP helped foster local expertise and develop transferrable methods for estimating carbon sequestration and forest cover change.

Carbon sequestration Madagascar forests (PDF, 1.5 MB)

22 Integrative sustainable development in the Mount Kenya region

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Conflicts over scarce resources – notably water – are often related to other underlying issues, such as poverty and the interdependence of upstream and downstream areas. To be successful, projects addressing such conflicts must be long-term and take into account all three dimensions of sustainable development – the ecological, the economic, and the sociocultural.

Development Mount Kenya region (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Building up regional competence centres

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Disparities in power and knowledge are a challenge in North–South partnerships. To counter this, ESAPP fostered the development of its Southern partners, promoting competence and ownership beyond the programme. Focusing on two local institutions in Madagascar, Savaivo and DERAD, ESAPP worked to develop human capacity and strengthen their institutional set-up, while providing space for them to proactively navigate the research programme.

Building up regional competence centres (PDF, 1.2 MB)

24 L4S: multi-stakeholder cooperation

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The dominance of some actors over others can perpetuate disparities and poverty. While some actors work to access natural resources (e.g. natural gas exploration), poverty and pressure on the livelihoods of local communities persist. To deal with the resulting complexity, ESAPP used a transdisciplinary approach that includes the Learning for Sustainability (L4S) tool. L4S integrates research and capacity development at local, regional, and national levels.

L4S multi stakeholder cooperation (PDF, 1.3 MB)