How Bicycles Are Making Life Better For Africans 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:

How Bicycles Are Making Life Better For Africans

Those of us living in developed countries often take good roads, affordable transportation and quick and easy access to vital services, for granted. But instead of being able to jump in your car and go where you want when you want, what if you had to walk those many miles to work, school and market each day? Think of the wasted hours and how exhausted you would be each night. Ponder the myriad educational, economic and healthcare opportunities that would simply be out of your reach. Sadly, many of the villagers of Sierra Leone and Ghana don’t have to imagine such a scenario; it’s a description of their daily lives. Indeed, a lack of transportation is one of the biggest challenges facing the rural inhabitants of these Western African nations. The distances villagers have to travel are long, the roads are mostly rutted dirt and public transportation is prohibitively expensive or nonexistent. These are big, systemic problems that at times can seem unsolvable. So it might come as a surprise to learn that something so simple as a bicycle can go a long way toward setting these villagers on the road to a better life.

Villagers show scientific ideas not purview of scientists alone

There has long been overlooked natural soil enriching techniques passed on from one generation to another in African communities that one wishes should have prominently featured at the seventh Africa Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly meeting in Kigali last week. The soils are so enriched that they could sustain food crops without artificial fertilizers.

The National Geographic cites a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that analyzed 150 sites in northwest Liberia and 27 sites in Ghana and discovered that the enriched soils, dubbed ‘African Dark Earths’, contain 200 to 300 per cent more organic carbon than nearby soils and can support more intensive farming. The soils also contain 2 to 26 times greater amounts of pyrogenic carbon, which persists longer in soil than other carbons and is important for soil fertility.

The study notes that African Dark Earths can be found in many places on the continent. And yet little – if any – scientific literature on this exists.

Village elders talk about the soil enrichment as if it’s the obvious thing to do, yet no one had ever asked them about it before. They always associate the age of their town with the depth of the black soil.

Village farmers are drawn to old ruins ripe with the detritus of people and animal waste, and charred remains of plants and trees. In addition to other waste management activities in the village, the peasants turn poor, heavy soil into a dark, nutritious plant medium, which is used judiciously by the communities.

Agility funds education of 100 girls in rural Ghana

Agility, a leading global logistics provider, in partnership with the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), will fund the education of 100 girls in rural Ghana.

Camfed is a non-profit organisation dedicated to eradicating poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women.

Under the deal, Agility will pay the school costs for girls whose families do not have the financial means to send them to secondary school, providing support that includes school fees, uniforms and education supplies.

As the company has expanded business operations in Africa, it also has been increasing its social commitment. Efforts to support health and education programmes for women and girls has been a centrepiece of Agility’s community involvement in over 100 countries where it operates, it stated.

Rural Zimbabwe Goes High Tech in Fight Against El Nino, Droughts

The fourth industrial revolution may be upon us but necessity remains the mother of invention just as it was four centuries ago.

As Zimbabwe faces its worst drought in more than three decades, its young innovators are turning to technology to mitigate the impact of future El Ninos and their concomitant droughts in southern Africa.

When the government put out a tender for a simple water and sanitation data base for its National Action Committee in 2012, tech entrepreneur Simba Musonza got really excited.

Growing up at his grandfather’s homestead in Chikomba, Mashonaland East province, Musonza now 30, had seen first-hand the struggle for water. Although 73 percent of Zimbabweans have access to safe water and 60 percent have improved sanitation, more than 60 percent of the rural water infrastructure is in disrepair and 40 percent of the population still practices open defecation, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Tanzania’s rural electrification expansion programme gets $200m through World Bank

Tanzania’s rural electrification expansion programme is set to receive $200 million approved by the World Bank, provided by the International Development Association.

According to the World Bank the rural electrification expansion programme seeks to build on the recent achievements accomplished in 2014 of expanding nationwide access to 36% in the east African country.

The national rural electrification programme (2013–2022) under which the new programme is to be implemented, includes both on-grid and off-grid solutions and has four priorities. These priorities are centred around the connection of new customers to the grid in already electrified settlements, new connections to the grid, electrification through off-grid investments and the development of distributed technologies, particularly off-grid solar and other renewable technologies.

Housing Project Gives Hope to Rural Vulindlela Community

Meet Andile*. He likes music and playing soccer with his friends, but most of the time he has to abandon this to take care of his grandfather’s needs.

Every morning, the 12-year-old from the rural Taylors Halt in Vulindlela, outside Pietermaritzburg, starts his day at 5am. He has to get himself ready for school and tend to his wheelchair confined 60-year-old grandfather, who lost both his legs in the 1990s when doctors amputated him for medical reasons.

Today he had good reason to smile, despite his daily struggles. His grandfather is one of the recipients of the Vulindlela Rural Enhanced People’s Housing Process (EPHP), which is one of the biggest housing schemes in the country.

Lighting Rural Villages – Solar Power Is a Game Changer in Rorya

Residents of Manila village in Rorya District, Mara Region have opened a new chapter in their neighbourhood. They no longer have to bear the brunt of ‘living in the dark’ after a new solar power named Firefly came to their rescue.

About 500 residents in a village located about 10 km from Lake Victoria can now conduct their activities comfortably, thanks to an American Engineering Group Limited (AEG) and Mashaka Foundation for successfully implementing the solar power project. Manila has also set a record of becoming the first village to benefit from the Firefly solar technology that has been designed by US experts.

The village is now called Tanzania solar village and local residents say the solar power light has among other things helped to chase away hyenas that have been disturbing and putting their lives in danger for years. “In the past we used to go to bed as early as 6:pm (1800 hours) for fear of being attacked by hyenas. Nowadays however, we can remain awake until 10:pm.

The Global Dev Implications of Brexit

The vote today could have a significant impact on global development spending. “Aid projects are on hold, careers are in limbo, and new contracts are on the line as Britain votes on June 23 whether to leave or remain within the European Union. The so-called Brexit referendum will have an enormous impact on European aid priorities. And from there, the impacts will ripple across the development industry hitting individuals, firms, agencies and NGOs alike, stakeholders say. The impact of a Brexit on aid has figured marginally in the mainstream debate, but Britain’s possible exit from the EU could rewrite European development spending and redirect billions of dollars in aid. Experts point to Britain’s potential loss of influence over the priorities of the EU, which is the world’s largest aid donor, contributing $62.5 billion, or nearly half of the global aid spend. Advocates of a Brexit, on the other hand, point to the more than $1.5 billion given to the EU annually to be spent by the European Commission on foreign aid, which would be returned to the U.K. and redistributed according to U.K. priorities alone.”




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 She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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