More than 800 million people live in the 47 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. These people face some of the world's greatest social, economic and environmental challenges: one in two lives on less than US$1/day, their life expectancy is less than 50 years, and more than 70 percent do not have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation services.
Regional cooperation and integration are necessary to meet the transboundary development challenges of sub-Saharan Africa, such as food security, sustainable economic growth, the fight against communicable diseases, and the management of common natural resources. Most African economies are small and fragmented. Fifteen countries are landlocked and share borders with an average of four countries. Economic integration will create larger regional markets and increase trade.
The African Union (AU) brings together African leaders who are committed to a united Africa with strong social and economic development, more accountable public institutions, healthier citizens and sustainable natural resources. Their vision, articulated in the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) program, can only be achieved through extensive regional cooperation and integration.
In recent years, and in line with the AU/NEPAD's vision, a growing number of African countries have developed more participatory governance structures. Many have seen improved economic growth and are on track to meeting several Millennium Development Goals, such as universal primary school enrolment and greater equality between women and men.
Although African economies were hit hard by the last global economic crisis, they proved more resilient than expected. Recent forecasts for Africa anticipate a real gross domestic product growth of 4.5 percent in 2010 and 5.2 percent in 2011.
The goal of CIDA's Pan-African regional program is to help the African Union achieve its vision of regional integration and socio-economic growth. CIDA focuses on strengthening the capacity of a selected number of regional institutions to stimulate economic growth and increase food security. CIDA's program is closely aligned with the African Union/NEPAD's priorities.
CIDA focuses on strengthening the enabling environment and coordinating mechanisms needed for regional integration. This includes:
CIDA focuses on increasing agricultural productivity. This includes building the capacity of African regional bodies to develop and share new research and technologies to increase crop yields and the nutritional value of staple crops. CIDA works closely with NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to build long-term African agricultural capacity. One of the CAADP's goals is to increase annual agricultural production by 6 percent in each country.
In line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages) CIDA works closely with the African Union to support African regional priorities and strengthen local ownership. Donors, including CIDA, are finding ways to better coordinate and harmonize their efforts in support of regional institutions, using multi-donor pooled funds and improved coordination in the field.
Canada was the first bilateral donor to develop a Pan-Africa program and has been instrumental in establishing effective regional continental initiatives such as the Nile Basin Initiative.
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