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Brazil’s Agricultural Success Teaches South How to Grow

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Inflation, environmental stresses and population and economic growth are testing the world’s food supply systems. There is a strong need to boost yields and improve the quality of food.

Between now and 2050 the world’s population will rise from 7 billion to 9 billion. Urban populations will probably double and incomes will rise. City dwellers tend to eat more meat and this will boost demand.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reckons grain output will have to rise by around half but meat output will have to double by 2050 to meet demand.

Two pioneering approaches to growing food in Brazil offer valuable lessons to countries looking to increase their food production.

One is taking place in Bahia state in north-eastern Brazil. On Brazil’s cerrado (savannah) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerrado), enormous farms grow cotton, soybeans and maize. One of them, Jatoba farm, has 24,000 hectares of land: vastly larger than comparable farms in the United States.

On the Cremaq farm in the north of the country in Piaui state, a transformation has taken place. Once a failed cashew farm, it is now a highly modern operation. Owned by BrasilAgro, it is benefiting from clever agricultural innovation that gets results.

BrasilAgro’s approach is to buy derelict or neglected farms and give them a high-tech makeover. The ‘makeover’ includes radio transmitters tracking the weather, SAP software (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAP_AG), a well-organized work force under a gaucho (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaucho), new roads criss-crossing the fields, and a transport network of trucks to quickly get the food to ports for export. Piaui is an isolated place with few services: it can take half a day to get to a health clinic. Dependence on state welfare payments for survival is the norm for many residents.

Brazil, over 30 years, transformed itself from a food importer to one of the world’s major food exporters. It is now considered alongside the ‘Big Five’ top grain exporters of America, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the European Union. Importantly, it is the first tropical nation to do this.

The value of Brazil’s crops rose from US $23 billion in 1996, to US $62 bn in 2006. It is the world’s largest exporter of poultry, sugar cane and ethanol, and there has been a tenfold increase in beef exports in a decade.

Brazil made these impressive achievements with few government subsidies. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), state support accounted for just 5.7 percent of total farm income in Brazil from 2005-07. In the US it was 12 percent, while the OECD average is 26 percent and the level in the European Union is 29 percent.

And despite frequent alarming reports, much of the farming expansion has not happened at the expense of the Amazon forests.

The agricultural success is down to Embrapa (http://www.embrapa.br/english) – short for Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária, or the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. A public company set up in 1973, it has turned itself into the world’s leading tropical research institution. It breeds new seeds and cattle and has developed innovations from ultra-thin edible wrapping paper for foodstuffs that turns colour when the food goes off to a nano-tech lab creating biodegradable ultra-strong fabrics and wound dressings.

Its biggest achievement has been turning the vast expanses of the cerrado green for agriculture. Norman Borlaug, an American plant scientist often called the father of the Green Revolution, told the New York Times that “nobody thought these soils were ever going to be productive.” They seemed too acidic and too poor in nutrients.

Embrapa uses what its scientists call a “system approach”: all the interventions work together. Improving the soil and developing new tropical soybeans were both needed for farming the cerrado. The two together also made possible the changes in farm techniques which have boosted yields further.

Many believe this approach can be applied to Africa as well. There are several reasons to think it can. Brazilian land is like Africa’s: tropical and nutrient-poor. The big difference is that the cerrado gets a decent amount of rain and most of Africa’s savannah does not (the exception is the swathe of southern Africa between Angola and Mozambique).

Another approach that Brazil has been pioneering is making small, family farms sustainable and productive for the 21st century.

There has long been a tension between those who believe in very large farms, agribusiness and mono-crops (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono-cropping), and those who believe in having a large number of smaller farms with a wide variety of crops and animals.

But small farms have endured. The livelihoods of more than 2 billion people depend on the 450 million smallholder farms across the world. With their families, they account for a third of the world’s population.

Family farms are critical to weathering economic crises and ensuring a steady and secure food supply. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (www.ifad.org)called in 2008 for small family farms to be put at the heart of the global response to high food prices and uncertain food security.

In Brazil, this call is being answered by a bold initiative to create what is termed a “social technology”, combining a house building programme with diverse family farms.

The Brazilian farmers’ cooperative Cooperhaf: Cooperativa de Habitacao dos Agricultores Familiares (http://www.cooperhaf.org.br) – a World Habitat Awards winner – combines housing and farm diversification to support family farmers.

“Family farming is very important for the country – 70 percent of food for Brazilians comes from family farming,” said Adriana Paola Paredes Penafiel, a projects adviser with the Cooperhaf. “The government wants to keep people in rural areas.”

“We see the house as the core issue,” she continued.  “The farmers can improve their productivity but the starting point is the house.”

Started in 2001 by a federation of farmers unions, the Cooperhaf works in 14 Brazilian states with family farmers. In Brazil farmers have a right to a house in the law and the cooperative was formed to make sure this happened.

“We promote diversification to make farmers less vulnerable: if they lose a crop in macro farming, they lose everything. We encourage diversification and self-consumption to guarantee the family has food everyday. We help to set up a garden.”

The concept is simple: a good quality home acts as an anchor to the family farm, making them more productive as farmers. The farmers receive up to 6,000 reais (US $2,290) for a house, and can choose designs from a portfolio of options from the Cooperhaf.

As in other countries, the Cooperhaf and other co-ops encourage markets and certification programmes to promote family farmed food and raise awareness. Penafiel says promoting the fact that the food is family farmed is critical: to the consumer it is healthier, fresher and contains fewer chemicals than imported produce.

“Most agri business is for export,” said Penafiel. “If we don’t have food in the country, food for poor communities would not be available. This enables farmers to be more autonomous, not having to buy fertilizers and equipment and take on too much debt. That approach is not sustainable as we saw with the so-called Green Revolution.”

Published: September 2010

Resources

  • Africa Project Access: A South African company specializing in projects in sub-Saharan Africa and getting them finance. Website:http://www.africaprojectaccess.co.za/
  • Silk Invest: A specialist investment fund targeting the fast-growing markets of Africa and the Middle East. Website:http://www.silkinvest.com/
  • Olam: A global food supply company in ‘agri-products’ that got its start in Nigeria  and shows how a Southern brand can grow and go global and overcome the difficulties of cross-border trade. Website: www.olamonline.com

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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African Innovators Celebrated in Prize

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Innovation is increasingly being recognized as the key to tackling long-standing development problems in Africa, as well as across the developing and developed world. While it is easy to draw up a list of challenges facing the global South, it takes a special person to see not problems but solutions.

Innovation tends to mean fresh thinking brought to bear to old problems, or completely radical new technologies, insights and ways of doing things that are transformative.

The Oslo Manual for measuring innovation (http://www.oecd.org/innovation/inno/oslomanualguidelinesforcollectingandinterpretinginnovationdata3rdedition.htm) has defined four types of innovation: product innovation, process innovation, marketing innovation and organizational innovation (OECD).

Product innovation is a good or service that is new or significantly improved. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, software in the product, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Process innovation is a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment and/or software. Marketing innovation is defined as a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing. And finally, organizational innovation is a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.

How quickly these can be brought to the marketplace, and the level of innovation in society, will be critical to a country’s success in the coming decade, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Importantly, innovation is being seen as the big driver of economic progress and well-being and the best way to deal with the plethora of challenges facing human health and the environment.

As an example, in the past decade, communications innovation has given more and more of the world’s population access to mobile phones and the Internet. This has led to the success of many new companies, from the search engine giant Google to multiple software innovations such as Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile phone banking application (http://www.safaricom.co.ke/personal/m-pesa/m-pesa-services-tariffs/relax-you-have-got-m-pesa), to small and innovative companies spreading the innovation bug such as Pico Crickets (http://www.picocricket.com/) or the Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org/).

As the OECD has said, “Not only has innovation moved to centre stage in economic policymaking, but there is a realization that a coordinated, coherent, ‘whole of government’ approach is required.

“Even countries that have generally refrained from active industrial policy in recent years now seek new ways to improve the environment for innovation in order to boost productivity and growth. Today, innovation performance is a crucial determinant of competitiveness and national progress.”

In the past, African innovators mostly went unacknowledged, unsupported and unrecognized. But this is changing, as new resources come online to support, finance, encourage and champion African innovators. Until very recently, people outside the continent heard little positive news about what was happening there. But the African innovator story is an inspiration to people around the world.

The Innovation Prize for Africa (http://innovationprizeforafrica.org), begun in 2011, awards US $100,000 for the top innovation that matches its criteria of marketability, originality, scalability, social impact and business potential.

The prize aims to encourage people to come up with practical solutions to the continent’s long-standing problems. This year’s prize received 900 applications from 45 countries.

The 2013 prize went to the South Africa-based AgriProtein (http://www.agriprotein.com) team for an innovation that uses waste and fly larvae to produce animal feed. The solution collects biodegradable waste and then feeds it to flies. The larvae the flies produce are then ground into a protein which is used as a feed for animals. Not only does this approach improve the nutritional quality of the feed, it also lowers the cost for African processors and farmers.

This year’s finalists offer a mixed bag of innovations, including creative ways to find new energy sources, improving access to clean water and preventing diseases.

Joining a clutch of other South African finalists, Dr. Dudley Jackson has created the SavvyLoo, a waterless toilet for use in rural areas and makeshift settlements. It separates the waste into liquids and solids to reduce the risk of disease, odour, and harm to the environment and eases waste removal.

Another South African, Professor Eugene Cloete, is the inventor of the TBag Water Filter that cleverly uses material recovered from tea bags to filter polluted water until it is completely safe to drink.

When it comes to the thorny issue of finding new energy sources for an energy-hungry continent, the prize unearthed some interesting solutions. One is Justus Nwaoga, a Nigerian finalist, who developed a way to turn a common weed into a source of renewable solar energy.

Nwaoga, a researcher from the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (http://unn.edu.ng/), found the common tropical weed Mimosa pudica (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_pudica) surprisingly provides a way to tap into the sun’s energy.

The weed has leaves which fold in on themselves when touched, but spring quickly back into their normal form when exposed to daylight. The plant opens up in the morning and closes in the evening – an indicator of how sensitive it is to sunlight.

Nwaoga began to experiment with the plant, subjecting it to artificial light at night to see if the leaves would open up again. But they didn’t. He came to the conclusion there were properties in the leaves that only responded to natural, solar light. He further concluded it had something to do with electrical transmission in the leaves. He isolated the element that was making the leaves respond to solar light, finding it more sensitive than the silicon solar cell used in solar panels.

Other innovators recognized by the prize include a Tunisian research and development startup called Saphon Energy (http://www.saphonenergy.com/), which makes bladeless wind turbines, and Muna Majoud Mahoamed Ahmed from Sudan, who has created the Agroforestry Model Farm in Khartoum.

“We see a strong trend emerging of innovations that have significant social impact for Africa,” Dr.Francois Bonnici, director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, told Ventures Africa.

The call for applications for the 2014 Prize will be announced in July 2013.

Published: June 2013

Resources

1) Innovation Prize for Africa: Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is a joint initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) started in 2011. Website: http://innovationprizeforafrica.org

2) Appfrica: Accelerating the Growth of Africa’s Tech Sector: Appfrica has launched “The Cheetah Code”, an ongoing web series documenting the African tech and creative space. The series is a collection of mini-documentaries chronicling Africa’s young entrepreneurs, creative class, and emerging technology sector. The goal is to record high-quality video content that is entertaining, educational, and inspirational all at once. You can find all of this content and more at tv.cheetahcode.com. Website: http://blog.appfrica.com/2013/05/12/a-web-series-about-africas-entrepreneurs-creatives-and-technologists/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

3) Innovation and Growth: Rationale for an Innovation Strategy: Publisher: OECD. Website: http://www.oecd.org/science/inno/39374789.pdf

4) Reverse Innovation: Ideas from the Global South. Website: http://urbantimes.co/2012/09/reverse-innovation-ideas-from-the-global-south/

5) African Innovator Magazine: Technology insights for Africa’s decision makers. Website: http://www.africaninnovatormagazine.com/

Southern Innovator logo

London Edit

31 July 2013

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Global South’s Middle Class is Increasing Prosperity

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The global middle class is on the rise – and this is creating both challenges and opportunities. As poverty rates have come down across the global South, many countries have seen a rise in the proportion of their population categorized as “middle class”. Globally, being middle class is defined as a person able to consume between US $4 a day and US $13 a day (ILO).

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most of this growth will be in Asia and the region will soon make up 66 per cent of the world’s middle class. Historical experience shows that members of the middle class quickly become absorbed in spending their accumulated capital on housing, equipment, industry and business, health and education. In countries with a growing middle class, policy makers need to show a strong interest in creating stable economic conditions to encourage this expanding consumption and domestic demand, the OECD advises.

Growth of the world’s middle class took off after 2001, with an additional 400 million workers joining this group. The McKinsey group of consultants found the total number reached 2 billion in a dozen “emerging nations” in 2010, collectively spending US $6.9 trillion every year (McKinsey).

Forecasters predict a further increase in the middle class across the global South will bring with it a surge in consumption (a combination of spending and demand). Areas being highlighted by various studies and reports include China’s small and mid-size cities, other areas of East Asia and Africa.

Middle class spending in these dozen emerging nations could reach US $20 trillion during the next decade – twice the amount of consumption occurring in the United States right now (McKinsey).

The result is a re-shaping of populations, with growing numbers of people now neither rich nor desperately poor, but landing in the middle of the income distribution.

And local competitors in the global South are fighting hard for these consumers on their own turf.

The Hangzhou Wahaha (http://en.wahaha.com.cn/) beverage maker in China has been able to compete against multinationals such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, according to McKinsey. It has turned itself into a US $5.2 billion business using a multi-pronged strategy: targeting rural areas, catering to local needs, keeping costs low and positioning itself as the patriotic choice.

And this change is also occurring in Africa, where a growing middle class is fuelling sales of refrigerators, television sets, mobile phones, motors and automobiles across the continent, according to the OECD. In Ghana, for example, car and motorcycle ownership has risen by 81 per cent since 2006.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s middle class has reached 34 per cent of the population, or 350 million people. In 1980, it was 126 million people, or 27 per cent of the population.

Countries with the largest middle classes in Africa include Tunisia and Morocco, while Liberia and Burundi have the smallest number of people in the middle class.

The economic growth that is fuelling this middle-class surge is coming from a combination of increasing investment in the services sector, the tapping of the natural resource sector and better economic policies in the past two decades. Africa’s middle class is driving growth in the private sector and boosting demand for goods and services, most often also provided by the private sector.

“The liberalization of African economies has resulted in improved efficiencies and led to a rapid growth in the service sector, which has spurred the growth of the middle class,” Lawrence Bategeka, a principal researcher at the Uganda-based Economic Policy Research Centre, told The East African newspaper.

How important the middle class is to increasing consumption levels can be seen in the cases of Brazil and South Korea.

According to the OECD, both countries had similar income levels and growth rates in the 1960s. But by the 1980s, high income inequality in Brazil capped the middle class at 29 per cent of the population. In South Korea in the 1980s, the middle class population reached 53 per cent. This larger middle class population enabled South Korea to switch from an export-driven growth strategy to domestic consumption.

While Brazil wasn’t able to do this at the time, it has since made impressive gains in reducing poverty – from 40 per cent of the population in 2001 to 25 per cent in 2009. This has seen the middle class grow to 52 per cent of the population and boosted domestic consumption.

While a rising middle class in the global South is good news for improving human development and living standards, the OECD found much of the new middle class was vulnerable and could easily slip out of that category. They also often lacked enough income to purchase more expensive durable goods such as automobiles (OECD Yearbook 2012).

The success of this fragile but growing middle class will be key to how well the global economy fares in the coming years.

A new report by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) argues that the global South’s growing middle classes are just the thing to spur growth across the wider world economy.

“Over time, this emerging middle-class could give a much needed push to more balanced global growth by boosting consumption, particularly in poorer parts of the developing world,” said Steven Kapsos, one of the authors of the report.

In Indonesia, an example of the economic impact of the middle class trend in action can be seen in the surging life insurance business.

Association of Indonesian Life Insurance Companies (AAJI) chairman Hendrisman Rahim believes the growing middle class are potential customers for the country’s thriving life insurance industry.

“They are the ones who have the need to be insured and can afford to purchase a policy. Extremely rich people are financially capable [of buying], but may not have the need. Extremely poor people have the need, but require financial assistance to be insured,” he said to the Jakarta Post.

As the Indonesian middle class increases, the life insurance industry is expecting to see revenue rise by 30 per cent in 2013.

Published: February 2013

Resources

1) The $10 Trillion Dollar Prize by Michael J. Silverstein. Website: amazon.com

2) The Middle of the Pyramid: Dynamics of the Middle Class in Africa. Website: http://www.afdb.org/en/blogs/afdb-championing-inclusive-growth-across-africa/post/the-african-consumer-market-8901/

3) McKinsey Quarterly: Capturing the world’s emerging middle class. Website:http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Capturing_the_worlds_emerging_middle_class_2639

4) OECD Observer: An emerging middle class by Mario Pezzini. Website:http://www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/3681/An_emerging_middle_class.html

Southern Innovator logo

London Edit

31 July 2013

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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African Megacity Makeovers Tackle Rising Populations

Nigeria’s largest, busiest and most congested city, Lagos, has long had a reputation for dynamism mixed with chaos. Its sprawling slums and ballooning population have for decades stretched governments’ ability to provide services.

The 2006 census placed the city’s population at close to 8 million, making it the most populous city in the country and the second largest in Africa after Cairo. One forecast saw the population reaching 23 million by 2015. It was called the fastest growing city in Africa by UNHABITAT (2008). The city is Nigeria’s economic and financial hub and critical to the country’s future.

According to a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development, Africa now has a larger urban population than North America and 25 of the world’s fastest growing big cities. Getting to grips with urban development will be critical for the future of the continent and the wellbeing of its people.

In West Africa, an OECD study found the area stretching along the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean had a network of 300 cities larger than 100,000 people and the biggest collection of urban poverty on the planet.

It is a common problem across the South as fast-growing city populations surge past the ability of institutions and infrastructure to cope.

By 2025, Asia could have 10 or more cities with populations larger than 20 million (Far Eastern Economic Review).

It is a development challenge that urgently needs solutions.

In Lagos, the Oluwole district – formerly a crime-plagued slum – has been transformed into a new marketplace, and the plan is to follow this with new offices, homes and shops. The brainchild of the Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babatunde_Fashola), redevelopment of the 20,000 square metre site is part of his multi-stage plan to bring more order to the chaos that is daily life in Lagos. There are also ambitious plans afoot to build new roads and bridges. The area’s traffic congestion is also being targeted for solutions. The former slum is now re-branded as the Oluwole Urban Market and Multifunctional City Centre (http://tinyurl.com/2wmrscq) and is being re-developed in partnership with the private sector.

The re-developed slum is part of the much-larger Lagos Island Central Business District (CBD) Revitalisation/Marina City Project, a five-year project, jointly executed by the Lagos government and private sector players. This project has already begun with the redesigning and reconstruction of roads and infrastructure within the CBD and the adjoining axes.

Another fast-growing African city is Addis Ababa. The capital of the East African nation of Ethiopia, it has been in the grip of a building boom for the past few years. But much of this building has been unplanned and, to many, is ugly. The current building boom’s architectural legacy has been criticized for leaving buildings that are too hot for the climate and require expensive air conditioning systems. They also use imported cement and steel and are not earthquake-proof.

Addis Ababa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addis_Ababa) was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II. It is now host to the African Union (http://www.africa-union.org/) and it is this important role that has architects advocating for a new approach to the city’s development.

Addis is home to some of the highest density urban slums in the world, according to the UN. Some estimates place the population at of the city at 4.6 million people and that it could double by 2020. But its pattern is unusual for an African city. Dirk Hebel of Addis Ababa’s architecture school  (http://www.eiabc.edu.et/managing-board/scientific-director.html) told The Economist it defies the usual pattern of rich centre and poor periphery. Instead, because crime is low and the rich seem to tolerate the poor living among them, the slums are jammed between office buildings and flats in the wealthy parts of the city.

Architects favour smaller buildings that stay true to local stone and traditional guttering to collect the rain. Hebel believes turning local would cut building costs by a third and save on costly imports.

The architecture school has received funding from a technical institute in Zurich, Switzerland called ETH (http://www.ethz.ch/index_EN) to help develop new ideas.

Hebel and ETH’s head, Marc Angelil, have written a book profiling the architectural styles of the city. The city has gone through various phases: during its Marxist period (1974-1991) government buildings mimicked the Soviet Union. During the Italian fascist occupation (1935-1941) they followed the styles favoured by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Political problems aside, the architects believe the Italians brought good planning, allowing streets to radiate out from landmark buildings.

The city is plagued – like so many in the South – by pollution and traffic gridlock. Growth is on projection to be so large by 2050, the country would need 20 new cities of 5 million people each to accommodate it (UN). This is an epic challenge requiring imaginative thinking and new ways.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: November 2010

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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