Congo’s Election, Rural Police, and Other Reports
Every week, RuralReporters.com collate reports on development issues in rural Africa and its environs.
This report includes some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, blogs, and in-depth articles, carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues.
Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:
As seen from the capital, Kinshasa, the government of President Joseph Kabila may be staging a “Potemkin election,” as one senior Western diplomat put it. In any case, few foreign observers have been accredited to witness the vote.
But in rural areas where most Congolese people live, the election is still seen as a chance to bring about progress that Kabila’s 18 years in power has failed to deliver.
“We are not stupid. We know that everything exists in the Congo to make us all very rich people — the minerals, the soil, the rivers. But we have a dictator who takes it all for himself,” said Jean-Claude Boanga, who lives on the outskirts of Mbanza-Ngungu, a town five hours south of Kinshasa.
The Democratic Alliance unleashed its federal chairperson, Athol Trollip, on Thursday to kick-start its election campaign in Limpopo with the main focus on rural crime and poverty, porous borders and corruption.
During his two-day visit, Trollip will visit farming towns and meet with business people, among others, to garner support for his party ahead of the general elections later this year, which he described as the “most important in the history of the country”.
In a new book published by Springer, Poverty Reduction Through Non-Timber Forest Products, we have tried to fill this gap. Interviewees from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Nepal, India, China, Uganda, Swaziland, Malawi, Cameroon, Mozambique and elsewhere shared their stories of using various products to create small enterprises and earn money.
Many have also been able to survive shocks such as crop failure, illness, retrenchment and the loss or estrangement of a family’s sole breadwinner. This shows how non-timber forest products can act as “safety nets”. Non-Timber Forest Products are dwindling worldwide; climate change and overuse of land are contributing to this trend. But such products are still common in many parts of the world and – while there is no one-size-fits-all solution for poverty alleviation – they should be studied and considered in governments’ poverty reduction plans.
Findings from the book suggest that trade in these products should be promoted among poor people. Governments and development partners need to offer the necessary training, support and access to markets and finance to ensure this happens.
Cicily Wanjira has a big smile when she shows off the plump mangoes dangling from 600 trees on her small rural farm 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi. But the smile quickly turns to a scowl when the topic turns to selling her fruit.
Like most farmers in this lush-green agricultural region, Wanjira sells her crops through local brokers, who buy directly from farmers and then transport the goods to major markets in Nairobi and outside the country. Brokers are widely disliked by growers, farmers says, because they are unreliable and pay a pittance for their crops. However, farmers have little choice but to sell to them: Lacking refrigeration to keep their perishable crops fresh, they sell to brokers or don’t sell at all.
Cote d’Ivoire officially connected 60 villages to the 275 MW hydroelectric plant in Soubre in December, and expects to connect a further 190 villages this year.
Supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the electrification program – which aims to strengthen the production and supply of electricity networks across the country – will provide a stable supply of electricity to 252 villages in the Montagnes district.
Vanu, a provider of mobile communications solutions that allow mobile network operators to provide service in places that do not have network coverage, has announced VanuMaps, a mapping resource capable of detailing where connectivity is lacking and can be provided profitably throughout Africa, select countries in Asia and the rest of the world.
Resulting from collaboration with FHI 360, this new mapping tool will enable Vanu’s mobile network operator customers to quickly and accurately identify communities in need and the most effective strategies to address their connectivity challenges.
“Among the larger challenges of supplying mobile coverage to regions where it is currently unavailable is that there has not necessarily been a sufficiently accurate answer to the question: ‘where are the people who lack coverage located?’ That information is critical for us and our mobile network operator customers to identify sites efficiently and to invest with confidence, knowing that a reasonable return is available,” said Andrew Beard, CEO of Vanu, Inc.