The Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the acute food shortage in Africa are among the factors delaying the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to the Bill Foundation’s Goalkeepers Report 2022 and Melinda Gates.
The report lists global food systems and gender equality as some of the areas achievable if prioritized.
Samburu Wa-Shiko, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s regional representative for East Africa, also includes the security crisis, climate change and “closer to home (Kenya), the conflict in Ethiopia”. , as factors that complicate the path to achieving the SDGs.
But there are inspirations to be drawn from how the global community has fought challenges like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis that can be used to achieve the 17 SDGs.
The global community, for example, joined forces and created the Global Fund, a global health architecture at the heart of the HIV response, which included raising $14.25 billion (1.7 trillion shillings) , on the $18 billion (2.2 trillion shillings) target at the Seventh Global Fund Replenishment Conference.
The largest donors were the United States, Canada, European Union, France, Germany and Japan who increased their pledges while private sector partners led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged 1 $.23 billion (148 billion shillings).
The Global Fund has been instrumental in focusing the resources, research and innovation needed to fight malaria, HIV and TB and “it’s no wonder that SDG 1 highlights the importance of global partnership as an important foundation for achieving the SDGs,” says Samburu.
At a time when millions of people are struggling with drought and famine, agribusiness is a potential solution to the food crisis facing 345 million people worldwide, up from 135 million in 2019, according to the World Food Program (WFP).
Samburu says the twin challenges of rising food costs and climate change are making the situation worse and therefore “a need for innovations to revolutionize the food system on the continent” as a long-term solution.
In an essay for the Goalkeepers 2022 report, Bill Gates notes that “the war in Ukraine shows that hunger cannot be solved by humanitarian aid alone, investments in agricultural R&D are needed”.
Agricultural research has been neglected for years, but the next generation of climate-smart, drought- and disease-resistant seeds are needed.
Samburu fears that “it will be difficult for smallholder farmers to increase productivity, which equates to increased incomes and lifting communities out of poverty”.
Bill Gates, in his essay, points out that the importation of food follows the inability to produce enough food “which Africa makes in the order of $23 billion (2.3 trillion shillings) per year”.
The Foundation has committed $100 million (12 billion shillings) to alleviate the food crisis, as over 70% of Africa depends on agriculture, directly and indirectly, for livelihood and income generation.
Half of the workforce is made up of women, which means that “half of them therefore depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for development”, says Samburu, adding that women must be at the center of the development approach because without them it would be like ‘going to a football game with half the players’.
But several obstacles prevent women from playing an active role in agriculture: lack of opportunities in education, workplace politics, access to credit, entrepreneurship and affordable and quality child care. French Gates warns that “we cannot talk about empowering women without ensuring that they are actually gaining power in their families and communities.