Country Context

Regional Context

To obtain a full picture of ACIAR engagement in continental Africa, this chapter should be read in conjunction with the section on the Middle East and North Africa and the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSRC). The strategies and activities described in each chapter are complementary. This chapter focuses on the projects and program supported from ACIAR appropriation other than AIFSRC.

Australia’s strategic approach to aid in Eastern and Southern Africa is to help selected African countries progress towards the MDGs. The focus is on areas where Australia has particular strengths, where progress towards the MDGs is seriously off track and where strong frameworks exist for achieving effective results. One core strategy to tackle poverty and food insecurity is to increase agricultural productivity through farming systems intensification, diversification and improved market access.

Eastern and Southern Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world, with approximately one in four people suffering from chronic hunger, and slow progress towards the MDGs, as referred to above. Low food-crop productivity, rising food prices, increasing fuel costs, climate change and deteriorating agricultural research capacity have worsened food and nutrition security outcomes.

The Eastern and Southern Africa research program is concentrated on themes that have emerged from consultations with national and regional partners, including CAADP and FARA, and building on Australia’s expertise in dryland farming systems management. In southern Africa the research focus lies on livestock and cropping systems for disadvantaged farmers in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe; maize–legume intensification in Malawi and Mozambique; and water security in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In Eastern Africa the research emphasis is on intensification and increased resilience in maize–legume–livestock-based mixed farming systems, to achieve improved dietary energy and nutritional quality, and increase household income. Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda and other countries are benefiting from this research through organised spillovers of the results of sustainable intensification research.