How Money-Hungry Communities Kill off Informal Loans 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.


Field Notes from Rural Africa: How Money-Hungry Communities Kill off Informal Loans

I live in a part of rural Tanzania where the vast majority of people engage in subsistence agriculture. With year-round work on their maize farms, vegetable plots and chicken keeping, farmers here in most years do not depend on the markets for food.

That is not to say the farmers have little need for the market. Cellphones are a necessity in rural areas as mobile networks extend their reach, and solar lights offer brightness in areas where electric grids are non-existent or non-functional. Clothes are now overwhelmingly cheap secondhand imports rather than mended at home, and children crave processed snacks like they do elsewhere.

All of these require cold-hard cash, a rather difficult commodity to obtain for smallholding farmers with little excess produce to sell in a highly underdeveloped market. In the best of times, incomes are highly seasonal and unstable; and in the worst of times, absolutely paltry compared to the cost of desired products.

As such, out in these villages, “let me find some money to do X” is one of the most common phrases heard when conducting business transactions. Widely used among people who obviously do not have any money with them or at disposal, it simultaneously denotes a desire to spend money to get what is wanted and a determination to find the means of getting the money through completely flexible yet currently unknown ways.



Sierra Leone Questions Traditions as Ebola Hits

For nursing staff, the specter of the killer Ebola virus had returned.

“My staff went into PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Samuel Massaquoi, medical superintendent of the hospital. “People said that if she came from near Guinea she had Ebola.”

Urging calm, the doctor immediately implemented the screening measures used at the outbreak’s height, when Ebola cases arrived on a daily basis.

That was one month ago — the patient was instead diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis — but it is a clear example of how the the fear of Ebola still grips the heart of this community.

The district was the first in the country to record cases back in May 2014 after the initial outbreak in southern Guinea.


UN agency says half of rural Zimbabwe will need food aid by next March

THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said last Monday that up to 4.5-million people, half of Zimbabwe’s drought-stricken rural population, will need aid by next March as the agency seeks to plug a funding gap of $290m for assistance.

An El Nino-induced drought has hit southern Africa and cut the output of the staple maize crop. In March, the government said 4-million Zimbabweans required food aid, almost 30% of the national population.

UNDP resident co-ordinator Bishow Parajuli told reporters the agency had raised $70m since President Robert Mugabe’s government’s government made a plea for aid in February, leaving a $290m funding gap.


Meningitis May Be on Its Way Out of Africa

Perhaps the greatest success of Western medicine comes in those rare announcements that a disease can be eradicated through vaccination.

And according to an international collaboration, we’re getting close to being able to make an announcement about a type of bacterial meningitis, meningitis group A.


Bamboo: Africa’s Untapped Potential

To tap into this lucrative green economy, African governments and the private sector have begun positioning themselves to commercialise bamboo. The profit potential has become even greater as environmentalists link bamboo with climate change mitigation, and the possibility of increased income through carbon credits.

So far 18 African countries with natural bamboo — Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda — have joined INBAR, which is assisting them with bamboo information, technology transfer, capacity building and policy formulation. Other countries, like Angola, Gabon and Zambia, are expected to join the network.


Nigeria Heralded Largest Producer of Yam Worldwide

Nigeria is the world largest yam producer with 68 percent of global production, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has declared.

He stated this at the launch of the maiden set of improved certified seed yams at the weekend in Abuja.

He said the root crop is cultivated on 3 million hectares of land annually with the certified seed yam capable of generating N2.4billion if sold for N20 each.

Lokpobiri, who emphasised on need to embrace agriculture as a sustainable means to growing the economy, stated that the country could take advantage of its global lead for exports and even fund the budget.


South Africa: Hub With Mixed Facilities to Benefit Rural Youths

The Beaufort West Youth Hub, a mix of facilities providing holistic development of young people, is a place where youths can empower themselves, says President Jacob Zuma.

Handing over the facility to the Central Karoo community in the Western Cape on Tuesday, President Zuma said to counter drug abuse, alcoholism and gangsterism that are ravaging poor communities, there was a need to offer youth in these communities the same positive lifestyle alternatives that youth in the wealthy suburbs are afforded.

“The world class sport and recreation facilities available in this youth hub will provide young people from poor communities with opportunities to participate on a better footing and help transform sport in our country.


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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