Earth observation data offers hope for Africa's wetlands

2 weeks 6 days ago
Botswana's Okavango Delta. Shutterstock/Gaston Piccinetti

Wetlands support millions of people around Africa. They include all areas that are permanently or frequently covered by water, and could be at the edge of a lake or the mouth of a river.

Wetlands offer a source of freshwater, fisheries, moist soil for farming and wild plants for food, construction and medicinal uses. They also help to control floods, maintain rivers in dry seasons, recharge groundwater and purify water.

But despite their importance, they remain among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Between 1970 and 2015, inland and coastal wetlands both declined by about 35% globally. That’s three times the rate of global forest loss. This is a huge loss to important flora and fauna and a critical loss to the many people who relied on them for their livelihoods.

In Africa, three things contribute to the decline of wetlands: growing populations, economic development and climate change.

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Connecting food waste and sanitation services can help African farmers

2 weeks 6 days ago
Fresh produce at a market in Blantyre, Malawi. Supplied

African agriculture is fundamental to supporting rural livelihoods and bolstering economic growth, and can benefit from technology and advances in other development sectors. One solution to help Africa’s agriculture can come from an unlikely sector: sanitation.

Most of the work in Africa’s agricultural sector is done by smallholder farmers but it’s an increasingly tough way to earn a living. Smallholder farmers have limited access to irrigation, are vulnerable to essential phosphorus supplies for their crops, pests, diseases and power supplies are unreliable where they exist. Access to new agricultural technologies, such as renewable fertilisers, are limited. In addition, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change..

What if at least part of the solution to these problems lay with another of the continent’s major challenges: in this case, sanitation.

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Despite barriers, South Africa is a good place for impact investments

3 weeks ago
Impact investments focus on projects with social or environmental value. wk1003mike/Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that the world faces tremendous challenges. There is enough food in our world to feed the hungry – but it’s not evenly distributed. There’s sufficient medicine available to treat a number of dread diseases – but this often doesn’t reach those who need it. There are innovative ways to supply water and generate energy – but they cost money.

It’s clear that governments alone cannot fix these problems. The private sector has a critical role to play, too. However, generating financial returns from investments in social and environmental projects can at times be difficult, but impact investments have provided competitive returns. And the private sector, by its nature, wants to make money.

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IKEA launches ÖVERALLT collection during Design Indaba Festival

3 weeks ago
IKEA teamed up with a group of designers, architects, artists and creatives from five African countries to launch the limited-edition ÖVERALLT collection at Design Indaba Festival in Cape Town.

The ÖVERALLT easy chair was designed by Issa Diabaté and Kevin Gouriou.

Two years ago, IKEA teamed up with a group of designers, architects, artists and creatives from five African countries to collaborate around modern urban rituals and the importance they play in the home. The result is the limited-edition collection ÖVERALLT, which was launched on 27 February 2019 at the place where it all started – Design Indaba Festival in Cape Town.

The journey of ÖVERALLT started with IKEA wanting to learn more about the contemporary African design scene and the creative explosion that can be seen in several cities around Africa. Ten designers, all connected to the South African multi-faceted platform Design Indaba and its network, teamed up with five IKEA designers.

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