Development corridors are increasingly used to support economic growth in Africa. They can enhance national infrastructure, provide a boost to agriculture, increase exports and improve economic integration.
However, development at this scale presents both social and environmental challenges. Corridors can result in uneven development impacts, further marginalise the poor, threaten biodiversity and be vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The ACACIA research partnership, led by UNEP-WCMC, is helping countries in East Africa to plan for a sustainable future.
The project will use a capacity-building approach to analyse proposed development corridors in Kenya and Tanzania and consider how they can be designed to deliver sustainable, inclusive and resilient economic growth.
Initial corridors are the Lamu Port and Lamu – Southern Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET Kenya) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT)
Further corridors are likely to be considered by the project, including the corridor being created by building the Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, and two development corridors in Uganda.
There are three main objectives to the project:
The ACACIA partnership will provide training to researchers and institutions in eastern Africa, UK and China. A key goal will be to increase the ability of researchers in Kenya and Tanzania to get the business case for natural capital accounted for in infrastructure projects. The resulting legacy of experienced and knowledgeable practioners will be able to support more sustainable land-use and investment planning in East Africa and beyond.
Through cross-disciplinary research, the ACACIA project will enhance the relevance and quality of research on development corridors. Research priorities include:
· Natural capital and ecosystem services assessment and valuation
· Scenario analysis of the development potential of corridors
· Political and practical analysis of corridor implementation
The project will link the research done in eastern Africa to the work of Chinese research institutions who advise on Chinese development spending in Africa. By increasing knowledge of the issues and opportunities associated with development corridors in Africa, investment activities can be designed to be more socially and environmentally sustainable.
New and existing research will be shared with a range of decision makers involved in development corridor planning; including government, private sector actors and Chinese investors and lending agencies. This will ensure those involved in planning and implementing corridor visions can make evidence-based and informed decisions. Work on the ground will take place together with local government and local communities and aims to provide relevant advice at this local level as well as at the corridor and national scales.
The ACACIA project is led by our Science team. Professor Neil Burgess is the Principal Investigator for the project. Lisen Runsten coordinates the ACACIA project.
UNEP-WCMC is leading a consortium of five universities (Cambridge, London School of Economics, Nairobi, Sokoine University of Agriculture and York) East African partners (WWF Tanzania, African Conservation Centre) and three Chinese think tanks (the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences). This project is funded by Research Councils UK through the Global Challenges Research Fund.