How Indigenous Knowledge is Fighting Drought in South Africa 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.
Indigenous knowledge and modern software have been brought together to mitigate the devastating drought in Southern Africa.
The drought has affected large parts of southern Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Madagascar.
A government statement released last week confirmed that South Africa’s agriculture sector has incurred losses of copy billion.
Habi Mint Rabah was born a slave. She tells her story calmly, without self-pity: how her mother was kidnapped by slave traders; how she was separated from her family and forced to work in the kitchen of her “master,” who beat her and raped her. It all seemed so normal that she never questioned it.
“I carried the water on my back,” she says. “I ate the leftover food. If they left nothing, I had nothing to eat. I was sleeping wherever I could find a place – sometimes in the sand, with the goats.”
She shows little emotion until she remembers one detail. As a faithful Muslim, she had to ask for permission to pray. Tears spring to her eyes as she remembers her master telling her that she did not deserve to, because her soul was inferior.
Lassa fever has killed more than 160 people in West Africa since November 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) said many of these lives could have been saved if rapid diagnostic tests were available enabling patients to receive early treatments.
Dr Pierre Formenty, expert in haemorrhagic fevers at WHO, said “without early diagnosis and treatment, 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys”.
Since November 2015, Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone and Togo have reported more than 300 cases of Lassa fever and 164 deaths. Nigeria accounts for the majority of the cases with 266 cases and 138 deaths reported in 22 of the country’s 34 provinces.
The Good Work Foundation is on a mission to challenge education and the inequality between rural and urban schools.
By using digital technology, the foundation’s Kate Groch says she wants to prove to young people that they do not have to move to big cities to access quality education.
Pupils in Tanzania, whether in urban or rural areas, often have to travel large distances to and from school. In cities like Dar Es Salaam, some children travel up to 60kms from home and often miss their first morning lessons. They are then punished by teachers. It also takes them hours to make the return journey.
In rural areas, a lack of reliable public transport exacerbates the great distances. Pupils in these areas have to cross farms, forests and rivers to reach schools, which can make them physically vulnerable – and targets for those who abduct and traffic children.
Poverty is a huge driver of child labour. Children may be sent away from their homes to work; they may go to live with extended family after losing their parents to HIV/AIDS and be forced to “earn their keep”. They may, in some cases, choose to leave home without their parents’ permission and start working.
With the number expected to increase until 2028, 3.4bn people currently live in rural areas, with around 92% of the rural population located in developing countries. They are mainly concentrated in Asia and Africa. The situation is particularly fragile in sub-Saharan Africa, the only place where the number of poor has risen steadily in the last decade. Achieving the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend heavily on designing and implementing effective policies to lift millions of rural poor out of poverty. A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century: A toolkit for developing countries outlines the components for designing strategies to develop resilient and sustainable rural livelihoods. The OECD Development Centre report was released during the 8th OECD Global Forum on Development.
In many African countries, there are several initiatives aimed at helping women which, unfortunately, are very dependent on the current government. The more popular initiatives are usually facilitated by the wives of state governors and presidents to improve the lives of women and children in the country. For these programmes, what is often highly publicised is the handing out of food and clothing items to these women who do not appear to have a significant means of accruing personal wealth. However, Africa now seems to be witnessing a change in many local communities as rural women are beginning to realise they hold their financial future in their hands, if only they can work towards it.
This is the present mindset women from the Majengo province of Kenya— they use what is known as ‘table banking’ to fend for themselves financially. In table banking, the only security required when asking for a loan is trust among the members who guarantee each other and, as such, an effort was made to keep the membership low and manageable.