FGM in Kuria, Rural Poverty 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:
In Kenya’s southwest corner, where a web of dirt roads weaves through green hills dotted with cattle and thatched huts, lies one of the country’s poorest and most marginalized communities.
The Kuria are one of Kenya’s lesser-known ethnic groups. Some 250,000 people quietly attempt to eke out a living in this remote region tucked away near the Tanzanian border.
But one of the tribe’s most distinctive characteristics has attracted the attention of outsiders: 96 percent of Kuria women undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), one of the highest rates in the country. In Kuria, the cut is seen as an important ritual for a girl’s transition into womanhood, the notion behind it being that it will make her a faithful wife by reducing her sexual desire.
Development experts and policymakers understandably focus on migration to urban areas and the need for sustainable urbanisation. But they should not lose sight of the dramatic changes happening in rural areas, which are too often ignored.
While the growing demand for food — driven by rising population and incomes — is creating opportunities for rural people, hunger and poverty remain concentrated in rural parts of developing countries.
Unless rural development receives more attention, young people will continue to abandon agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad.
The concern raised by some government leaders that the roll-out of the best experience in mobile and internet technology in urban areas across Africa leaves rural communities behind ignores the role of the government and its own agencies in ensuring greater inclusion according to industry analysts.
Dr Win Mlambo, Deputy Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services in Zimbabwe told the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) in Botswana late last month that “this open chasm we seem to see that is not closing needs a deliberate intervention by the international community of 54 billion dollars so that we close the gap. Right now those who have technology are running away and they are going to 5G while we in poor areas only have 2G. Out of the 2 234 base stations in Zimbabwe only four are LTE. This is while others are going for 5G. We are being left behind.”
Poverty in Ghana remains a major challenge. It is mostly manifested in the form of low income, malnutrition, ill health, illiteracy and insecurity, among others. The sixth round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS6) conducted in 2012/2013 classifies about a quarter of Ghanaians as poor—whilst under a tenth of the population are in extreme poverty.
In spite of the fact that the level of extreme poverty is relatively low, it is concentrated in rural savannah, with more than a quarter of the people falling into this category. The dynamics of poverty in Ghana indicate that poverty is still very much a rural phenomenon.
For most of us, the cause for data and airtime costs to be reduced may be motivated by wanting to spend less on our monthly phone bills,.
But for many in rural South Africa, it comes down to choosing between communicating and basic living costs.
This has been highlighted in the report compiled by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, following the two-day public hearings on the cost to communicate, held in September.
Between its largest protected area, Murchison Falls National Park, and its most visited wildlife haven, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda ranks as one the most biologically diverse countries on the African continent.
But despite being a paragon of conservation success, the Pearl of Africa’s highly volatile parks remain susceptible to wildlife poaching, particularly in places where animals and rural communities meet.
Part of the ongoing problem is the disconnect between wildlife authorities and the rural poor, most of whom consist of farming or pastoral communities.
Due in large part to distrust of authorities and insufficient revenue, poor communities sometimes resort to poaching, either commercially or for subsistence, not to mention poisoning livestock-stealing lions and crop-raiding elephants.