A health worker wearing a personal protective equipment (PPE) works at the Ebola treatment center run by the French red cross society in Macenta in Guinea on November 20, 2014. Guinea and fellow west African states Liberia and Sierra Leone have been hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus, which has claimed nearly 5,200 lives this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). AFP PHOTO KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

Africa’s Maternal Health in Post-Ebola and Other Reports

Every week, Rural Reporters collate reports on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles which have been carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues. Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:

Here’s a rundown of the top stories making headlines in rural Africa this week.

 

Maternal Health in Africa Suffers Disastrously Post-Ebola

Poverty and civil war, in addition to the unraveling of the healthcare system due in large part to the Ebola crisis, have virtually undone any small steps African countries had taken toward fostering a safe environment for women to have children. In 2000, the United Nations made a pledge to achieve a series of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which included the reduction in the maternal mortality ratio (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) by 2015. There is no question the aforementioned upheavals disrupted the pursuit of these MDGs, particularly in rural villages throughout Africa. It comes as little surprise that developing regions account for a near-monopoly over the occurrences of global maternal deaths—approximately 99 percent, according to the 2015 report Trends in Maternal Mortality. On a similar global scale, three million newborns die each year, and more than two million babies are stillborn. Africa represents over half of both figures.

Major Lift for Rural Sport Scene

Sporting talent will be unearthed in the country’s rural areas, thanks to the launch of the Rural Sport Development Programme.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says the programme will move sport in rural communities forward, giving athletes in netball, football, rugby, cricket and athletics a chance to rise.

He launched the programme at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha.

“Transformation is a bottom up approach, which means we must invest in the development of talent in township and rural communities. By doing this, we amplify work already done by rural communities because they are actively involved in playing sport already.

Policy On Farming In Africa Ignores Research

The lack of youth involvement in the sector is a serious concern that agricultural policy makers and role players need to focus on. About 45% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below the age of 15, while farmers in the region are ageing (the average age of a farmer in SA is 62). There is a dire need for education on the role agriculture plays in the economy, to remind young people about the value of the sector, but more importantly, to change the notion that agriculture is just a form of livelihood. It should be viewed as a business, where being a farmer is being a businessman.

Land policy has for some time been viewed as a challenging factor in unlocking the sector’s productivity. Most rural areas in Africa operate under communal or state-owned land systems, making it difficult to use land as collateral to obtain finance from the banks.

Africa Poorer Than Two Decades Ago

While trends in the rest of the world show an improvement in poverty levels compared to 20 years ago, Africa is getting poorer. This is according to the African Social Development Index – ASDI whose findings reveal that poverty, fueled by inequality, remains the single most driver of human exclusion in Africa. Women, youth and rural communities bare the most of human exclusion.

The ASDI is a tool developed by ECA to help member states track and measure human exclusion and inclusion for structural transformation.

Speaking at the launch of the sub-regional report for Southern Africa, in Johannesburg South Africa, Takyiwaa Manuh, ECA Director for Social Development Policy Division said that the ASDI was a collaborative effort between ECA and member States to help monitor and track human development. “The ASDI lays a firm foundation for monitoring sustainable development as envisioned in Agenda 20163 where our member States have collectively placed a high premium on inclusive development as one of the central pillars of Africa’s structural transformation.” She said.

In Praise of Small Miners

Governments have responded to the growth of informal mining settlements in two ways. One is to evict the diggers. Ivory Coast’s government, for instance, says it has shut down more than 280 illegal sites since last year. More common, however, is for governments and aid agencies to pretend these new mining towns do not exist. The UN agency and NGO signs that line so many roads in rural Africa are conspicuously absent when the scenery turns from verdant fields to mines.

Both responses are misguided. Small-scale mining is not a curse. On the contrary, it creates jobs in some of the poorest places on earth. Globally, artisanal mines employ about ten times as many people as industrial ones. Moreover, small mining towns are less affected by the commodity boom-and-bust cycle than are towns that depend on large-scale capital investment. Big foreign mining firms tend to retrench quickly when markets turn down; small local miners tend to keep digging. Also, small miners’ earnings tend to be spent locally. In central Mozambique, for instance, increased legalisation of formerly illicit gold mining over a decade has led to a farming renaissance in many villages, alongside booms in construction and trade.

Nigeria’s Questionable $10B MDGs Funds By Sonala Olumhense

“Let’s hope The Economist gets this story right and commits itself to doing a better job of telling the story about how Africans themselves are leading the fight against poverty — taking the best practices from the best projects and using their own funds to meet the Millennium Goals,” Ms. Mohammed challenged that magazine four years ago.  “It’s a story worth telling, after all.”

I absolutely agree, particularly given that Nigeria appears poised to use the questionable MDGs sub-structure to prosecute the Sustainable Development Goals, to which President Buhari committed at the United Nations last September.

But if we do not know what happened to the MDGs and its acres of funds, how can we prosecute the SDGs successfully?

Before Nigeria throws away the SDGs and the next $10 billion, the first assignment is to look closely at the last 10 years, and that first $10 billion.

Nigeria: Herders/Farmers – How FG Plans to Tackle Crisis

Sequel to the recent attack on Ukpabi Nimbo in Enugu State by suspected herdsmen, President Muhammadu Buhari, on April 28, directed the military and the police to take all necessary actions to stop alleged attacks by herdsmen on communities across the nation.

The president, through a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, assured of his administration’s readiness to deploy all required personnel and resources to remove this new threat to the collective security of the nation.

President Buhari also reassured of his government’s commitment to ensuring the safety of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria.

According to him, ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons, is now a priority on his administration’s agenda for enhanced national security.

 

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde