Oltremare – African cities: powerful development engines, rather than slums

by Massimo Zaurrini and Gianfranco Belgrano

• The future of Africa will be built in its cities. The growth of its population is being accompanied by a simultaneous growth in its rate of urbanisation: this poses urgent challenges that must be tackled immediately. It is in the cities that Africa’s future - and in many ways that of the rest of the planet too - will be decided... as the 2030 Agenda reminds us, with its SDG 11 goals. The image of rural Africa, with its tissue of villages, huts and dirt roads, will increasingly be replaced by Africa as the epicentre of global urbanisation.

In 2017 Africa passed a significant milestone, when the continent's total urban population passed Europe’s city dwellers. According to the United Nations, in 2017 Africa had 569 million people living in cities, compared to 553 million in Europe and 533 million in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the next few years, this already rapid growth trend will undergo further acceleration: it is estimated that in Africa the urbanisation rate will reach 50% in 2030, and reach 60% in 2050. By the same year, Africa’s population will be the largest and youngest of any continent in the world. And the number of young people in Africa will be ten times greater than the number of young people in the European Union.

For Africa this process of galloping urbanisation brings both great opportunities and great challenges. According to a study carried out by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the urbanisation of Africa can become an exceptional driver to power the kind of overall "structural transformation" that will also allow the development of solid and stable rural living conditions.

In order for this to happen, and the phenomenon of African urban growth to become a catalyst for positive energy, it is essential to analyse and deal decisively with both the infrastructural and socio-political aspects, pursued in a context featuring overall sustainability. If we compare the data on total population growth with that on urban populations in many African cities, the urgency of rethinking the role and meaning of current urbanisation models becomes all too obvious.

Ensuring social and environmental sustainability in Africa’s developing cities is one of the key goals to be achieved if urbanisation is to become the positive force for change and improvement that everyone hopes for. The exceptional rapidity of urbanisation rates urgently demands an equally rapid response in terms of economic, social and environmental development.

To respond to the challenges facing Africa, as a prerequisite for collective social welfare "the continent's policies must focus on creating productive jobs and public facilities and services for the growing urban population", indicates the African Development Bank's report.

Among the clearest priorities is greater investment in urban infrastructure, which has completely failed to keep up with the expansion of cities. A third of the infrastructural needs of developing countries concerns urban areas. Across the entire continent, the cost of necessary urban investment is estimated at 30 billion dollars a year, of which 20 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the top of the priority list is the urgent need to develop low-cost housing markets. This is because the construction sector in recent years has practically saturated the middle and upper middle class housing market, while neglecting the less affluent sector. The keystone to reversing this trend lies in the development of financial instruments, loans and mortgages, to enable the lower classes to boost the demand for decent low-price housing, and consequently to reduce the spread of unplanned settlements. This has been demonstrated by experiments in several African nations (e.g. Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana) facilitating housing for public administration employees. According to the latest report by Un-Habitat, in 2014 56% of the urban population of Sub-Saharan Africa lived in slums. Positive examples of dealing with this phenomenon can be seen in Morocco, Tunisia or Mauritius, where 89% of the population own their own homes.
Another fundamental priority is the creation of public transport systems capable of providing urban and peri-urban mobility, guaranteeing social inclusion and dynamism. The development of road infrastructures and transport connections between cities and their vast surrounding peri-urban areas, known as "urban corridors", would also encourage smoother transitions in the overlap between urban and rural life peculiar to Africa, as classic urban centres spread chaotically outwards. In recent years many African countries have begun to pay increasing attention to the issue of urban and peri-urban public transport: e.g. Ethiopia (with the Addis Ababa surface metro) or Ghana (which has set itself the goal of building 1,200 km of railways to connect urban and rural areas). The speed of Africa’s urbanisation is generated above all by the growth of medium-sized cities and towns (50,000 to 500,000 inhabitants). The closely interconnected continuum of rural areas, villages, towns and cities brings with it the promise of development and growth for both 'poles' of the rural-urban axis. Today 82% of the continent's population lives in this mixed city-country area. The so-called 'intermediate cities' account for 55% of all African urban areas. Improved town planning for the development of intermediate cities and urban corridors is a key tool for tackling the challenges created by the urbanisation process. The interest of many African governments in the development of railway lines and underground lines connecting peripheral areas to urban centres, is driven by the need to ease the pressure of new arrivals on city margins, limiting the proliferation of informal and improvised agglomerations. These transport arteries also make rural areas increasingly attractive from an economic point of view: they enjoy the benefits of a concentrated economy typical of cities, but at the same time they maintain the benefits of lower suburban-model costs.

Another high priority is constructing infrastructures for the energy, water and sanitation sectors. These particular priorities are even more urgent in the light of the menace posed by climate change in Africa, and the direct impact this has on the health and living conditions of whole populations. Then there are the rising health consequences of exposure to the so-called "double air pollution burden”... an expression which describes the deadly health impact of the combination of Atmospheric Air Pollution (AAP) with Home Air Pollution (HAP). From an environmental point of view, sustainable urban development must focus on eco-friendly policy interventions, especially concerning architecture, and the installation of sustainable systems for water management and energy consumption, which today are still mostly based on burning coal and wood in domestic contexts. In this area, there are experiments underway in various areas of the continent (e.g. Senegal and Kenya) on the domestic use of gas (natural and liquid) or the rising use of renewable energy and off-the-grid systems to meet the energy needs both of urban and rural areas. Investments in "greening" measures, and strategic management of waste disposal (preferably through incinerator plants that produce energy) represent two other key priorities in the management of urban issues. A steady improvement in water and sanitation services is taking place in many urban areas of the continent. Examples of significant growth (+ 40%) have come from some of the countries that began with very poor figures (Guinea, Mali, Niger), but more generally, constant and significant improvements have also been recorded in Angola, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Mauritania and Tanzania. Angola, in particular, represents an interesting case, both for its infrastructure investments in water and sanitation services and for the decentralisation of these services, frequently operated by autonomous or provincial commercial structures with assistance from the central government.

It is also important to emphasise the role that information and communication technologies (ICT) can play in identifying solutions to many African problems: in this field also, ICT can enable many cities to "leapfrog" their problems, as they already have done in other sectors. The innovative potential of this particular 'Smart City' approach is already visible in many of the continent’s cities, with practical applications that range from infrastructural planning to mobility to the provision of prepaid energy in slums. However, technological innovations are also leading to new initiatives in the services provided to the population, e.g. providing more public information, more participation and more sharing in decisions taken by the authorities, thus turning African cities into citizenship laboratories. Just think of 'conTEXT', the data collection and information service experiment in a slum in Kigali, implemented via an sms exchange platform connecting the city administration with the inhabitants of the pilot project district.

Africa’s new cities can become real engines of development, laboratories for governance and citizenship, stimulating training, innovation and culture in a context of social and economic growth... but only if these things are accompanied by the creation of productive job offers, the provision of public goods and services, and improved planning of links with rural and productive areas.


Sudan – Access to employment and inclusive education: the Agency’s pillars in the field of disability

Khartoum – In the weeks following the launch of the European project "Bridging the gap: inclusive policies and services to guarantee equal status to the rights of people with disabilities” – which took place in the Sudanese capital on February 28th – its first activities were launched, aimed at strengthening the skills of public administrations in the field of inclusive social policies and backing for organisations supporting disabled people. From the outset, particular focus has been directed to the creation of job opportunities to promote economic autonomy and personal fulfilment for those involved in disability issues, starting from women and mothers of disabled children.

The initiative Bridging the gap – funded by the European Union and co-financed by a network of partners, including our Agency, for a total investment of 7 million Euros – aims to promote the rights and the inclusion of people with disabilities in five medium-sized low income countries: Paraguay, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and, indeed, Sudan. Here the AICS office in Khartoum follows the implementation of various activities that focus on universal access to work, in line with the provisions of art. 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. On the backdrop of every action, the slogan "Nothing about us without us" aims to convey the importance of disability in all international cooperation projects. Among the upcoming events, a training project in the State of Gedaref for the promotion of women's self-employment and a study on the development of a database cross-referencing job offers and job requests so as to include people with disabilities.

In Sudan, Bridging the gap activities are part of a complex framework in which the Agency devotes great energy to the disability sector. In line with Italian Cooperation’s Disability Action Plan and with its recently adopted Disability Guidelines, at a bilateral level the Agency is involved in two other important initiatives: a project dedicated to disabled orphan minors that foresees interventions in three orphanages in Khartoum, in partnership with the relevant ministries, and Tadmeena project dedicated to the scholastic and occupational inclusion of people with disabilities.

These initiatives offer closely-linked synergies with others financed by multilateral channels and with those carried out by local CSOs, with the aim of making the most of Italian experience and good practices in the field of projects aimed at the most vulnerable sections of the population.

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photo: Laura Salvinelli


Rome – The GIAHS network, a stunning expression of the relationship between man and nature

Rome - GIAHS, a global initiative with clear goals: to valorise special agro-silvo-pastoral systems around the world that testify to the ingenuity of man’s adaptation to the environment, and that express the richness of biocultural diversity and the relationship between man and nature. But also to provide support to local communities through the promotion of agricultural products, support for sustainable tourism, the enhancement of historical and artistic heritage and the conservation of biodiversity. These are the cornerstones of the FAO GIAHS programme - Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems, a network which currently has 50 protected areas in 20 countries and which can also count on the support of our Agency. On 19 April, the International Forum of the GIAHS network was held at FAO headquarters.

Delegates from all continents took part in the event and, through their extremely varied experiences, bore witness to the wealth of knowledge accumulated by farmers over thousands of years of coexistence with their territories. As an example, the benefits provided by Ghouts in the Algerian desert were analysed: these are small oases, excavated without the use of mechanical methods, by harnessing the wind. They are currently threatened by the introduction of modern techniques of water extraction and over-exploitation. Also examined was the Oldonyonyokie and Olkeri agro-pastoral system in southern Kenya, where Masai ethnic groups have organised a society where shepherd-based agriculture coexists with wildlife conservation.

During the forum, 14 new sites on the GIAHS list, were presented and awarded prizes, including the Chinanpa floating cultivation system in Mexico City, documented long ago by Cortés on his entrance to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, plus the traditional Wasabi cultivation system in Japan and the mixed system of fish production and mulberry cultivation in Hazou, China.

Italy participated through an address by its Deputy Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Andrea Olivero, who offered a detailed description of the AICS project "Building capacity: international advanced application courses on GIAHS for the assessment of resilience in three different social and environmental contexts with bio-cultural activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America." The three-year initiative features an overall commitment of 2 million Euros, and is managed by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry Systems Management of the University of Florence and involves the creation of an international training centre for the entire GIAHS programme. The training programme, which will be launched at the end of the year, will be divided into various 8-month multidisciplinary courses and will be aimed at operators from ministries, local authorities and NGOs in countries that are priority for the Italian Cooperation Agency. The project also envisages the identification of 3 potential new GIAHS sites in three priority countries, with the aim of strengthening and integrating the action of AICS in the sectors of sustainable tourism, food security and the resilience of local populations.

foto GIAHS: George Steinmetz/FAO


The “new city”, an inclusive place designed to counter the proliferation of ethnic and social ghettos

by Umberto De Giovannangeli

The challenge of inclusion requires us to re-think our cities and the relationship between the centre and the suburbs. City planning can either promote or dismantle social cohesion. The “new city” is a political thought, interpreted in the highest and most noble sense of the term “polis”. The “New city” gets to grips with the quantitative dimension of urbanisation, especially in the countries in the southern parts of the world.

The destination of the human pathway is neither a garden or the countryside, however fertile and attractive it may be, but rather the city. It is the city described in the book of Revelation, with twelve gates, twelve thousand stadia long and thick; so a city in which all the peoples of the earth are called upon to come and live. Its gates will never be closed during the day and there it will never be night (Rev. 21-25). We do not necessarily need to have an ideal city in front of our eyes, but at least an ideal of a city...”

Carlo Maria Martini

• Interpreting the city and the complexity of its territories, resources, identities and characteristics means equipping ourselves with a reading filter which - like a narrative pretext - tells its stories to be told, identifies reference scenarios and defines keywords in order to evoke the structures, resources, identity and perspective of its transformation.

In particular, the spatial layout of the city, its geographical distribution, floods itself with historical, cultural, social, economic and town planning meanings. And depending on the reading filters used, these present perspectives of promotion and development that do not necessarily respond to the traditional models of urban functioning that can be defined in a hierarchical sense: the centre - as the place that represents the urban, economic, social and cultural identity - and the suburbs - seen as a place hosting everything that cannot be located in the centre.

On the other hand, if it is true that contemporary life is a mixture of elements, more social than ethnic or cultural, today, the urban suburbs are often places where, on the other hand, a new meaning of city is taking shape, and in which global contradictions and conflicts present themselves on a local level and promptly collapse. The new citizens, first and second generations immigrants, often represent a mirror in which the historical city looks at its reflection and fails to recognise itself: the use of the public spaces, - the squares, the gardens, the pavements - again become the prime locations for social relationships and collective interactions, albeit untidy, noisy and conflictual ones. In this way, they reassign public function to spaces that the contemporary city has gradually privatised, regulated and supervised over the years.

Reasoning by adopting new paradigms and trying to redesign the division between the centre and the suburbs, means acknowledging and assigning cultural and social value to the urban hybrids that intertwine and meet in the suburbs. The multi-centre city is not only one capable of distributing new functions on an urban scale to all its territories: multi-screen cinemas and leisure centres in the suburbs, an opera house and museums in the centre. The “new city” is seen as the challenge of our era, goading us to combine, on a planetary level, security and inclusion, notes Sir Crispin Tickell in his introduction to the book “Cities for a small planet” by Richard Rogers: “Cities behave like organisms. They swallow resources and emit waste. The larger the city, the more it depends on the surrounding areas and the more vulnerable it becomes to the changes happening around it...” Indeed.

The challenge of inclusion requires us to re-think our cities and the relationship between the centre and the suburbs. City planning can either promote or dismantle social cohesion. The “new city” is a political thought, interpreted in the highest and most noble sense of the word “polis”. The “New city” gets to grips with the quantitative dimension of urbanisation, especially in the countries in the southern parts of the world, Asia, Africa, where the depopulation of the rural areas has caused overcrowding in the megalopolis cities, putting greater pressure on the environment. And this also means a larger number of refugees. In 1978 there were 6 million refugees, in the strictest sense of the word, that is, people fleeing from political, ethnic or religious persecution; in 1995 they had increased in number to over 22 million, excluding those who had become refugees for environmental reasons, some migrating from country to country, and others fleeing elsewhere within their own borders, with an overall additional increase of 22 million.

In 2016, the number of refugees exceeded a record-breaking 64 million. “The effect of this flow of human beings will be felt, especially in the cities and the surrounding areas”, notes Tickell. The “new” city is the - sometimes successful - attempt to combine the ideal with the real. Tickell ends his introduction as follows: “The book by Richard Rogers is a message of hope. It shows how the fair, well-balanced and above all compact city must be pluralist and integrated, varied and cohesive. The result should be, in the words of Richard Rogers, a high density city with many centres, an eco-friendly city, one that favours human contacts, a city of different, mixed activities, one that is fair, open and, last but not least, a city that is capable of showing beauty, in which art, architecture and landscape can stimulate and satisfy the spirit. Richard Rogers shows us how this can be done”.

In the divide between centre and suburbs, notes Ilda Curti, one of the top Italian urban regenerators, the historical centres now risk taking on the artificial semblances of “amusement parks”, in which the functions for which they were created are excluded or rendered sterile. Instead they offer reinterpreted, sometimes trivialised identities, crushing themselves around a historical identity that is crystallised, unchangeable and reiterated over time.

In this perspective, the urban suburbs and the neighbourhoods not located in the centres risk, on the contrary becoming service areas, piled high with functions for which there is not enough space in the ‘developed’ city. Places in which the untidy scraps of the contemporary city find a physical, well-planned urban location in which they are easy and handy to use. But often they are not capable of generating local projects, visions of indigenous development that are able to assign value - albeit of the intangible, immaterial type - to a collectivity that is spatially hemmed in”. Often, Curti notes, “the urban suburbs are, more than other areas, places where contemporary life is produced and consumed: the social mix of the residents, the multiculturalism and cohabitation, the difficulty of sharing public spaces and private relationships turn them into laboratories in which a new kind of citizenship is tested out, where the rules of how we live side by side and relate to one another are continuously cast up for debate.

It is in the suburbs, in the neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the historical cities that contemporary society multiples itself, in many different shapes and sizes, often taking on forms that clash with the concept of a crystalline, glossy modernity. They are often the laboratories of social innovation, because it is in the recesses of their untidiness and conflicts that languages, cultural forms and methods of expression contaminate one another. The very future of the planet passes through an intense rethinking of the “City”. Others will tell of pilot experiences (like that of the redevelopment of the Brazilian favelas, experiences in which Italian Cooperation has played an active, pro-active role.

Here, it is important to highlight the fascination of this challenge, City versus urban Forest. And I cannot find words that are more evocative and deep than those used by cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in his “Towards Jerusalem” (Feltrinelli): “The destination of the human pathway is neither the garden or the countryside, however fertile and attractive it may be, but rather the city...It is the city described in the book of Revelation, with twelve gates, twelve thousand stadia long and thick; so a city in which all the peoples of the earth are called upon to come and live. Its gates will never be closed during the day and there it will never be night (Rev. 21-25)”. Cardinal Martini was looking towards the future, with the same extraordinary intellectual precision that accompanied him throughout his life, reminding all of us that “We do not necessarily need to have an ideal city in front of our eyes, but at least an ideal of a city”. habits and identity...”. Defining the characteristics of a “New city” is the biggest intellectual challenge of our times. Because it obliges us to design beyond the emergency, to intertwine different kinds of knowledge. “The city is a discourse and this discourse is truly a language: the city speaks to its inhabitants; we speak to our city, the city where we are, simply by living in it, by wandering through it, by looking at it” reflects Roland Barthes in his “Semiology and Urbanism”. And at times, urbanism explains much more abut the reasons behind a conflict than geopolitics or diplomacy are able to do. This is true for one of the cities that I have visited most frequently for work in the Middle East: Jerusalem. Holy city, City that is fought over, in whose name atrocities have been committed and “miracles” performed. To understand the real Jerusalem, writes Paola Caridi in her wonderful book “Jerusalem without God. Portrait of a Cruel City” (Feltrinelli), “we don’t need the usual, infinite tourist guides, intent on providing hordes of details when defining each individual stone with the slightest link to religion. Maps, floor plans and town planning schemes are what we need...”. Because Jerusalem is a “separate body”. “Lines, borders, walls, one here and one there. Here, where I am and on the other side, where the ‘others’ are - notes Caridi, who has lived in Jerusalem and knows the city like few others - Deciding on a town planning scheme in Jerusalem therefore means throwing oneself headlong into the process of peace. The two-state solution indicated by the Oslo Peace Process, and that is Israel and Palestine side by side, with Jerusalem as the capital, along the 1967 divide, is impossible to implement. This is due to the town planning strategy and because - as a result the city now has a population with a different, in fact a very different balance from that of 1967. Others will tell the stories of unique experiences, of the virtuous redevelopment of degenerated places transformed into pieces of “New city” (for instance the experience of the favelas or that of Medellin). Here, it is important to highlight the fascination of a commitment in which Italian Cooperation plays an active, pro-active part, and on which the very future of our planet depends.


The summit of the Diasporas, local meetings continue, ahead of the November event

After the summer break, meetings at the local level have been resumed in preparation for the National Diaspora Summit to be held in Rome in November. The aim of the initiative can be summed up in three questions:

Would you like to participate in defining the guidelines for Italian cooperation policy towards migrants' countries of origin? Would you like to participate in Italian cooperation and its programmes and projects by bringing your ideas and suggestions? Would you like to have a say on the eligibility criteria of civil society associations and to facilitate the participation of associations representing foreign communities in Italian cooperation?

The invitation to participate in this innovative programme is addressed to all the migrant associations who are ready to answer "yes" to these questions.

The National Diaspora Summit will be an opportunity for migrant associations to meet directly with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The Summit Manifesto is the document that describes the initiative and defines its goals.

In the run up to the Summit, preparatory meetings are being held at the local level to discuss the challenges and opportunities for access by migrant associations to cooperation policies and financing. The programme for these meetings includes the presentation of Italian Law 125/2014, governing Italian Cooperation, and the development of contents in thematic groups addressing the eligibility criteria for AICS calls for proposals, the types of calls, best practices and the specific skills that diaspora communities can bring to Italian Cooperation. To guide the working groups in their reflections, a discussion paper has been prepared which provides pointers for the contents to be presented at the Summit.




Senegal – Food security in rural areas relies upon the substantial empowerment of women

Dakar - In Senegal, 60% of the active population live in rural areas and earn most of their income from activities in the primary sector: agriculture, animal farming, fishing and forest produce. The population is afflicted by severe poverty: this is true especially for women, young people and micro-farmers, who survive thanks to subsistence family agriculture conducted on diminutive plots of land. The situation of rural families is worsened by the fact that many rural zones are so isolated that they have little or no access to even the most basic of services. In these contexts, the level of food security continues to be highly unsatisfactory.

The example of rice – Senegal’s most frequently consumed cereal – is illuminating: only one third of the country’s annual consumption of rice is produced within the country. 
Women, who perform 70% of the agricultural work, look after their family’s smallholding produce, or else that of tiny individual plots or perimeter fractions of collective vegetable patches.
 Because Senegalese agriculture remains largely unmodernised, and very little mechanical agricultural equipment is available, most women have to produce food through hard manual labour, at the same time as cooking for their families. The country’s landowning system has been waiting in vain for years for much needed reform, but it remains based on a cultural tradition whereby the women are merely ‘allowed to use’ land allotted to them by the heads of their families.

The need to tackle these conditions lies behind the launch of the Italian Development Cooperation Agency’s support programme for Senegal’s National Agricultural Investment Programme (PAPSEN), with the aim of boosting agricultural production, improving rural income, increasing food security, promoting local economic development and favouring female empowerment.

PAPSEN has already contributed to increasing income in selected rural communities by diversifying agricultural produce, spreading the use of modern agricultural practices and improving farmer’s technical and entrepreneurial skills. The main initiatives have been focused on improving water systems in valley rice-growing areas, providing agricultural supplies (seeds and fertilisers) and equipment, offering training and technical assistance for agricultural operators, and supporting the development of small companies and public-private partnerships. Local communities are at the centre of the various mechanisms for supporting development in the field. The construction or repair of rural roads, the creation of social and community infrastructure, support for evolving communal planning processes and training local administrators... these are further invaluable activities for encouraging territorial development.

In the Thies, Diourbel and Fatick regions, 400 hectares will be prepared for drop-by-drop irrigation horticulture, divided into small community enterprises farming between 5 and 20 hectares. In Diourbel, a reference centre will be created, to provide training and technical assistance services to male and female horticultural operators. Furthermore, a notable increase in rain-irrigated rice-growing area is planned, thanks to water system improvement in 10,000 hectares of valley terrain in the Upper and Middle Casamance area. On top of this, roughly 100 km of new rural roads will be constructed, along with a hundred social and community infrastructure facilities for the storage and sale of agricultural produce.

Farmers in Sedhiou and Kolda – mostly of them women – have been trained and have received technical assistance in managing irrigation systems and crop-growing techniques. An agricultural credit fund will be made available, in collaboration with nearby financial entities, in order to help create and develop small agricultural and food production companies.

On top of the technical and financial support for agricultural production and rural development, the programme is also carrying out a participatory diagnosis in its targeted zones, in order to identify the obstacles and priorities for women in rural areas. The goal is to develop – together with Senegal’s Ministry of Agriculture – a skills transfer aimed at establishing methods for measuring the impact of government initiatives on the empowerment of women, and at guiding government choices on food security in a gender equality perspective.

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Mozambique – A school, a Community centre and a football pitch: three models of urban regeneration

On Wednesday June 7th, in Maputo, three important urban redevelopment projects were inaugurated in the Chamanculo C quarter. The first regarded the rehabilitation and enlargement of the Unidade 13 primary school: these activities were carried out by the AVSI Foundation, in collaboration with the Cesvitem and Khandlelo NGOs and the Maputo Municipal Council, with financing from the Italian Development Cooperation Agency.

The other two projects regard two important public facilities in the same quarter: the “Cape Cape” football pitch and the Chamanculo C. Community Centre. These two rehabilitation projects, also financed by Italian Cooperation, have been implemented by the Spanish NGO Architetti Senza Frontiere.

At the inaugural event – featuring the enthusiastic participation of the local community – Mozambique’s Vice-Minister of Education and Human Development, Armindo Ngunga, was present, plus the Italian Ambassador in Mozambique, Marco Conticelli, the President of the Maputo Municipal Council David Simango and the head of the AICS Maputo field station, Fabio Melloni.

The urban redevelopment initiatives target regeneration projects for public and community spaces that have been indicated as priorities by residents, in line with the urban planning strategy developed as part of this initiative. In contests such as the Chamanculo C area, there are very few public spaces available to residents, and they’re usually neglected and degraded. These neighbourhoods can become dangerous at night, also in terms of night-time attacks, the results of frequent absences of public lighting systems. For this reason, the act of promoting the urban redevelopment of these areas does more than just address important infrastructural and hygienic needs: it also generates processes of citizen responsibility and activity with residents and administrators.

The urban redevelopment and public space rehabilitation programme for the historic quarter of Chamanculo C was launched by AICS in 2011, in collaboration with the Maputo Municipal Council, plus the main cooperation partners in the sector - the World Bank and the Cities Alliance - and NGOs. The infrastructural and development projects implemented have always adopted methods involving widespread local integration and participation, which have proved to be indispensable also in terms of sustainability.

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AICS joins the Practitioners’ Network, making European aid coordination stronger

AICS director Laura Frigenti recently participated in London in the General Assembly of the Practitioners’ Network, an open platform for exchange, coordination and harmonisation between European development cooperation organisations.

In the course of proceedings, the Executive Director of the British Council and actual President of the PN, Ciaran Devane, announced the approval of the application by AICS for membership of the European network. Stefano Manservisi – Director General of DEVCO, the European Commission’s International Development and Cooperation body – was also present at the Assembly, along with the directors of Cooperation Agencies from several member states.

The PN organisation was founded ten years ago, with the goal of promoting reciprocal relations between member organisations, facilitating exchanges of experience and promoting dialogue on European policies. Current members of this network are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden, plus one observer member (EuropeAid).

Group members also collaborate through theme-related working groups dealing with shared issues: for example “Effective Partnership”, “Crisis, fragility and migration” and “the Private Sector”. The PN will be present at the upcoming European Development Days in Brussels with a stand, where AICS will also present its activities.

Bruxelles – Culture, innovation and business, the top items in AICS’ agenda at the EDD 2017

On June 7 and 8, in the Tour & Taxis complex in Brussels, the 2017 European Development Days will take place: a major European gathering focused on issues connected with international development and cooperation. This will be the 11th edition of the annual meeting of Europe’s main public and private actors involved with Development Cooperation.

For the first time, Italy will be involved in three key sessions. The first one will be on June 7: a high level panel with the title "Investing in creativity, the future is now: from human development to inclusive growth and sustainable societies", organised together with the British Council, the Goethe Institut and another ten European associations engaged in relations between culture, creative industries and development. Italy’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mario Giro, will attend the panel.

The afternoon of the same day will see the workshop "Inclusive business and the creation of development ecosystems", organised in collaboration with De Lab and the Inclusive Business Action Network, featuring the participation of AICS Director Laura Frigenti along with Lucia del Negro from DeLab and Christian Jahn, executive director of IBAN. This session will discuss cross-sector partnerships and development-related innovation.

In order to extend the network of subjects involved in international cooperation activities, and to promote innovation in methods and contents, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation intends to involve profit-making companies: the first project of this nature will be launched in 2017, with a public call to private companies backed by a budget of 5 million euros to support project proposals. This call will constitute an absolute novelty, in accordance with Italian law n° 125 of 2014, which includes Italian profit companies as valid cooperation partners.

Finally, AICS will be present at the Global Village with a stand called "Awakening Beauty", which will show the support offered by Italian talents in the field of cooperation initiatives on safeguarding threatened elements of cultural heritage, along with the colours and stories of the many cultural companies brought to life by the Italian Cooperation system.

The European Development Days will be an event with a European and international significance, but also an opportunity for renewing partnerships, exchanging good practices and promoting Development Cooperation "made in Italy".


Rome – Sixty years and beyond: Italy celebrates development cooperation as a pillar of the EU

For 60 years now, the European Union has “held out its hand to countries outside its borders”, fully aware that “in an increasingly interconnected world, the prosperity of the whole world is connected with our prosperity.” With these words, Angelino Alfano – Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – opened the first session of the conference titled “Sixty years and more: contributing to development cooperation”, promoted by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation on April 27th in the Ministry’s Farnesina complex, as part of the celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Director of AICS, Laura Frigeni, was the moderator for the conference’s afternoon session, whose title was “Working together: new partnerships, actors and tools”.

“The roots of European Development Cooperation go back to the Treaty of Rome, and today’s event is in tune with the vision of an EU that is proud of its own values. European cooperation offers the best example of how to combine the values of solidarity with international protagonism”, said Alfano. Cooperation is among the great achievements of these 60 years of Europe, even if “some people want to forget that”, added the Minister. “When one gives aid, one receives aid: this is a rule that has made Europe great, as the biggest donor in the world”, Alfano reminded his listeners, before explaining that the Africa Fund instituted at the end of last year “will be able to mobilise 200 million euros to control frontiers and also to take part in cooperation”, with “certain priority countries and many other beneficiaries.”

“We have already begun to use these resources. I’m referring to the agreement with Niger”, stated the head of Italy’s diplomacy, adding that another part “will be used for other countries that give us a hand on the issue of combating human traffickers.” “The important point is – underlined Alfano – that cooperation is a fundamental element of foreign policy.” Regarding Italy’s role, the head of the Farnesina reminded the participants of the reversed funding trend applied in recent years, rising from 0.14% of GNP in 2012 to 0.26% in 2016. “Italy is the fourth largest donor among the G7 nations, level with Canada. This is not a point of arrival, but of departure”, where the goal is to reach 0.3% by 2020, and to remain on course for the target of 0.7% indicated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Alfano then underlined that the theme of development will be “one of the central platforms of our presidency of the G7”, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean and Africa. “Development in the Mediterranean and in Africa are our biggest challenge for the 21st century”, declared the Minister.

The European Commissioner for Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, was also present at the encounter. He reminded his listeners that the European Union is the largest contributor to development on a global level, but also aims to be the best. “Just one month ago, European leaders reaffirmed the unity of the EU and the value of the Rome Treaty, which laid the foundations for European Development Cooperation. Since then, all our member countries have been able to grow by developing relations with other countries. The EU today is one of the key actors on the world stage, and in 2016, along with its member states, it allocated over 75 billion euros in development aid.” One of the main characteristics of European Cooperation, said Mimica, is flexibility, an approach that is “necessary, in order to respond to the world’s interconnected and difficult challenges. Development Cooperation is not an isolated area, it is a fundamental part of the EU’s external action.”

The Ivory Coast’s Foreign Minister, Marcel Amon Tanoh, spoke about the relations between Africa and the European Union, describing the partnership between the two continents as “exemplary”, as a “global” relation including one framework of economic and commercial cooperation and another framework of development cooperation. “The new European consensus offers new prospects concerning financing for countries in the ACP area: Africa, Caribbean and Pacific. The Ivory Coast, for its part, is willing to collaborate in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, within the framework of its 2016-2020 Development Programme.” On the subject of migration, Tanoh underlined the need to “work together on finding lasting and inclusive solutions for contrasting the traffic in human beings.” But the nations of migrant origin “must also take their responsibility, and the Ivory Coast is doing just that. We will do everything we can to ensure that nobody remains in refugee camps.”

Italian Vice-Minister Mario Giro, speaking for the world’s principal donor at the end of the day, emphasised that the European Union has to set itself “ambitious projects”. “Today’s world is crammed with challenges: migratory flux, environmental issues, democracy. Europe is asking these questions: the money we donate, how should it be donated, and with whom?”, said Giro, and then went on to highlight the changes in the world over the last 60 years, especially in the continent of Africa. “Africa has changed, like the world has changed. A more enterprising younger generation is growing up. So we have to update our ideas on Africa, to sharpen our vision and to ask our African partners to explain things to us. The urbanisation that we Europeans have got used to over various generations has now flooded other continents, revolutionising their lives in a very short time. To face up to all this – concluded Giro – we have to innovate to adapt ourselves to the changing challenges ahead.”