guest column: Peter Makwanya
African countries have relied too much on prescriptive measures from the international financial institutions, donor agencies and organisations for too long:
The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Food and Agricultural Organisations, Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and many others, under the auspices of the United Nations. These have been in the forefront of prescribing developmental, economic and sustainability dosages for African countries so that they could prosper. Why Africa and other developing continents? Africa cannot properly manage its affairs, plan or design its own climate action programmes and above all, it’s not very much accountable.
Africa has, however, accepted this prescriptive tag and continuously try to live at the mercy of these fore bearers. Yes, Africa is part of the global community of practice, even when it has its heritage to influence its development capacities. Africa has also a duty to fight climate change, but instead of designing its own climate action strategies from its local worldviews, Africa always get climate action prescriptions, in dosages from elsewhere, which resulted in it being overdosed and overloaded with information, hence, it doesn’t know what to do with it.
Africa also has its problems as well, these include mismanagement of resources, endemic corruption, poor governance and human rights abuses. I am not quite sure if all these have stopped people from thinking constructively.
Surely, we cannot have a situation where three men sit in one plush World Bank boardroom, designing climate action programmes for Africa, yet African presidents, academics, researchers, entrepreneurs and development practitioners are there to design their own programmes of action. What is significantly important is that, all these African practitioners have local knowledge based on their heritage, which can be used to influence change and support livelihoods development.
Because typically Africa is over reliant on prescriptions from elsewhere, the continent is always relaxed and waits for climate-induced disasters to render people homeless in order to react. Their manner of reaction is always predictable, mainly asking for donations or humanitarian assistance from the international communities of practice. Yes, aid is always required because no country can stand on its own during trying times in the aftermath of catastrophes.
But what does Africa have in the first place when asking for donations, because one cannot ask for everything. For this reason, Africa is called upon to come up with sustainable climate action strategies that are locally driven and influenced by its heritage in order to improve the people’s livelihoods.
But inasmuch as Africa would want to argue and defend itself, with all the prescriptive measures in place, one major question always arises. Why is Africa always poor and hungry? In this regard, can we safely say the prescriptive measures indeed work for Africa? Considering that the prescriptive measures were operational and beneficial, Africa could be managing its poverty levels, hunger, realise the climate action practices, resilience and climate based solutions.
Because the developmental prescriptions always come from elsewhere, Africans’ self-esteem and confidence has been destroyed. As such they appear not knowing where they are coming from, nor where they are going. They would, instead keep on revolving on the same place, watching their failures and inaction all the time.
Locally-based climate action strategies are the best ingredients for Africa because they help to fight poverty, reduce hunger, and improve the well-being of the people, agricultural production and infrastructural development. For quite a long time indeed, Africa has failed to meaningfully produce sufficient goods and services, because it has become a dumping ground for goods produced elsewhere, some of which produce toxins that pollute the environment. Because of lack of confidence, poor self-esteem and disregard of their heritage, the continent is yet to realise it’s worth as well as climate solutions designed to improve the standard of living of the people.
As such, those who prescribe climate solutions for Africa, will forever remain the industrialists while Africans remain the workers, ready to offer their unconditional labour, hearts and souls to the industrialists.
Can we, therefore, say that Africans do not possess the type of knowledge that would improve their standards of living, contribute to environmental protection, and move their countries forward, despite having good soils, rich mineral resources, tourist attractions and a human capital base?
Although all the natural disasters and catastrophes may not be directly linked to climate change, it is evident that climate change has accelerated over the years and has overtaken the natural weather phenomena, in such a way that its footprints cannot be downplayed and mystified, for they are evidently glaring and uncompromising.
Africa needs heritage driven solutions that will conquer poverty, hunger, reduce inequalities, and improve entrepreneurial skills, remove gender blindness, foster agricultural production, infrastructural development and environmental protection skills to promote resilience, from local perspectives and world views.
By so doing, disasters would be properly forecasted, planned for, managed and funded so that people and livestock deaths would be minimised.
Focusing within their localities, Africans would be more climate conscious, in such a way that, at least, the local communities and the grassroots are seen engaging in programmes that contribute to the nurturing of climate solutions in order to manage future disasters. Africans should also guard against the acceleration of linguistic introduction and being bombarded with large volumes of climate science discourses, potentially meaning the same thing, just to confuse them and arm-twist their mindsets.
Despite a tirade of linguistic invasions and acceleration, Africans have their own languages, identities, culture, and beliefs, driven by their heritage and designed to influence their world-views and contribute to climate solutions.
Today it is climate action, climate solutions, resilience, green living, smart farming and eco-conscious; while yesterday it was adaptation, mitigation, environmental conscious, organic farming and many others. Africans have also their linguistic diversities which they can use to describe their own situations sufficiently well.
In this regard, Africans do not need to import expensive vocabularies and linguistic discourses in order to improve their environments. They need an easy language to communicate in simple, but important ways to communicate their heritages, values, ideologies, religions and traditions.