Author: Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission)
Affiliated organization: European Commission
Site of publication: Publication Office of the European Union
Type of publication: Programme report
Date of publication: November 20th, 2017
Delivering on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy through Research and Innovation
Africa and the EU enjoy a long-standing partnership touching upon key fields such as peace and security, human rights, trade and socio-economic development. Science, technology and innovation (STI) play a fundamental role in our relations and are cross-cutting topics in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. STI investments contribute directly to the attainment of all socio-economic development objectives – including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets – and are vital for promoting growth and employment, improving competitiveness, and identifying and addressing pressing global societal challenges.
All projects presented in this publication have been funded since 2010 through the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation. They showcase how our joint scientific efforts can produce ground-breaking results with a positive impact on local development and economic growth. All these projects cover important research areas such as water, food security, sustainable energy, climate change and health. In addition, they showcase how science can support policy-making since it gives rise to the first concerted EU-Africa effort, deepening research cooperation in thematic priority areas and leading to the conception of the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture.
SUSTAINABLE INTENSIFICATION EAU4Food
The EAU4Food project investigated new methods of managing soil and water to increase crop yields and incomes in African farms. Together, smallholders and researchers developed low-cost innovations that improve irrigation, planting, plant protection and soil quality, and minimise pollution of fresh water.
Data from the trials have helped project researchers draw up guidelines on the most productive soil and water-management techniques in different environments and social structures. The project’s inclusive process was a strong part of its success. This process could now be scaled up to involve all stakeholders in regional planning, ensuring EAU4Food has a lasting impact on African farming for years to come.
The WAHARA project aimed to improve African farmers’ access to sustainable water supplies for crops. It collected data on traditional and new methods of harvesting water from rain and rivers to develop a computer tool – the Quick Scan Tool – which helps farmers and policy makers choose the best methods for local conditions.
Nutritional status in sub-Saharan Africa is still poor and has not improved as it has in other parts of the world. In the SUNRAY project, African researchers and stakeholder organisations proposed priorities for nutrition research to improve the impact on people’s health in the region.
Participants also said that there was a need for more African influence on nutrition research. They called on African governments to give the topic higher priority, on funding agencies to focus more on local people’s priorities, and for scientists to have more access to data and training.
From these conclusions, the project produced a roadmap for better-targeted nutrition research in sub-Saharan Africa. It has also started a research network to increase African capacity to respond to challenges and leading to greater inter-African collaboration on nutrition research, empowering scientists to develop a research agenda that meets African needs.
The GRATITUDE project found new ways to reduce post-harvest losses and extract more value from cassava and yams – basic foods in Africa. Its innovative measures increase storage time, create value-added processed products and return processing waste to the wider agricultural system.
In the AFTER project, researchers developed innovative processing for 10 traditional African foods to improve their safety and quality and adapt them to foreign tastes. They also surveyed consumers to assess the potential market for these foods in Europe.
Information from production trials for the new foods is being shared with other food businesses. The project team expects its success to inspire further collaborations on other African foods, to open fresh markets for producers and bring novel tastes to consumers.
Mycotoxins are microscopic fungi that can cause illness or death. The MYCORED project developed affordable procedures and technologies that reduce mycotoxin contamination, to protect consumers and increase exports for farmers and processing businesses.
Many countries have strict limits on the amounts of mycotoxins that are permitted in imported food or animal feed. When mycotoxins exceed these levels, the impacted goods are blocked at borders. MYCORED focused on reducing contamination in wheat, maize, grape, nuts and dried fruit – all perish able crops where export delays cause losses for growers, manufacturers and exporters.
These measures improve the safety and quality of foods, making the export chain more reliable and benefiting consumers in producer countries and abroad. They also reduce opportunities for the fungi to spread through accidental contamination. Awareness and knowledge about mycotoxins has increased, thanks to the project, which can reduce their risks to trade and human health worldwide.
Smallholders produce most of Africa’s food, and constantly innovate to be more productive. Even so, they are not often represented in government or international agricultural research. As a result, many solutions are not suitable for smallholders – they might require supplies that these farmers cannot obtain, loans they cannot finance or even soils or geography that are different to those on their farms.
The INSARD project brought together smallholder farmers, scientists and policymakers to identify priority topics for agricultural research, match research better to smallholders’ needs and learn from farmers’ own innovations and research.
Many countries have strict limits on the amounts of mycotoxins that are permitted in imported food or animal feed. When mycotoxins exceed these levels, the impacted goods are blocked at borders. MYCORED focused on reducing contamination in wheat, maize, grape, nuts and dried fruit – all perish able crops where export delays cause losses for growers, manufacturers and exporters
INSARD showed that talking to these stakeholders can improve research. It also strengthened links in the network of related civil society organisations so that they can better represent smallholders at national, EU and international levels. INSARD has helped give smallholders a voice in agricultural research, which if nurtured can strengthen the bedrock of African food production.
JOLISAA improved researchers’ understanding of the process of innovation which occurs on smallholder farms in Africa. Better knowledge about this process can help policymakers and other stakeholders – such as development agencies – optimise programmes to increase smallholders’ incomes and wider food security.
The research was based on case studies to give a snapshot of a cross-section of innovation drivers and processes. Cases ranged from local to regional initiatives, from planned to bottom-up processes and from natural resource management to agribusiness. From over 50 proposed cases, researchers selected 13 examples of African agricultural innovation – in Kenya, South Africa and Benin – for an in-depth assessment. Here, they interviewed stakeholders to discover why and how they had innovated and what changes would help them innovate more easily.
The DEWFORA project has developed an early-warning system that provides simplified information on a region’s drought risk for each season. It also suggests how specific groups – such as farmers or water-management agencies – can adapt to predicted water shortages. These accessible drought warnings can help limit vulnerability to this growing impact of climate change.
In DEWFORA’s system, an online map-based tool monitors and forecasts water availability for the whole of Africa and links these predictions to local geography, social structures and economies. Local experts can then interpret the forecasts in terms of their impacts on people and give advice on action to take, for a healthier, more secure and prosperous future for communities living with drought.
While climatic conditions are difficult to forecast, it is possible to predict their impacts by studying the most relevant parameters for these. In the EUPORIAS project, researchers developed various prototype climate services for seasonal predictions, tailored to meet specific user needs.
The project adapted solar technology to North Africa’s hot desert climate and power infrastructure. It aims to reduce the region’s reliance on gas and oil imports, increase access to clean energy for economic growth and improve its capacity for solar research and a North African solar industry.
Many of the project’s technical innovations enhanced photovoltaics (panels that convert sunlight into electricity) and concentrated solar power (mirrors or lenses that direct sunlight to a collect or to drive generators). Others improved
energy-storage systems or investigated innovative energy-storage solutions, such as rocks, molten salt or industrial waste. In term of grids, the project proposed standardised codes and strategies to improve power balancing and storage.
The primary aluminium production industry is the world’s largest industrial consumer of energy and one of the most CO2-intensive industries. It also generates enormous quantities of waste, which takes energy out of the aluminium production process. At the same time, aluminium and the products made from it are vitally important to economies and societies around the world.
In ENEXAL, African, European and Israeli experts developed novel technologies and business strategies that can reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Their innovations save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and turn solid hazardous waste into useful products, making the industry more sustainable, competitive and viable worldwide.
Many mosquito species have become or are becoming resistant to insecticides, limiting anti-malaria programmes. AVECNET deepened the knowledge on the causes of resistance and developed new tools (e.g. insecticides combinations, repellents, insecticide delivery methods, etc.) to target the resistant species.
HEALTHY FUTURES developed an interactive online atlas that maps the risk in Eastern Africa of three diseases carried by species found around water: malaria and Rift Valley fever, transmitted by mosquitos, and schistosomiasis, caused by worms in freshwater snails. It helps policymakers predict the impacts of climate change and other factors on these diseases, to better protect public health
AVECNET has strengthened African research capacity through workshops and training, and the results have been widely shared, helping to advance the global fight against malaria.
HEALTHY FUTURES developed an interactive online atlas that maps the risk in Eastern Africa of three diseases carried by species found around water: malaria and Rift Valley fever, transmitted by mosquitos, and schistosomiasis, caused by worms in freshwater snails. It helps policymakers predict the impacts of climate change and other factors on these diseases, to better protect public health.
Developed in consultation with decision-makers in Eastern Africa, the atlas uses data from various sources, such as Earth observation and environmental measurements. The data is used to assess, monitor and model conditions in Eastern Africa as they change. This information is processed through a new generation of dynamic models for the three diseases to help predict where they will occur.
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