Young women of the “Famous Divas” Rise Club in Temba. Photograph Source: Jonx Pillemer/(RED)

How Village Girls are Fighting Scourge of the ‘Blessers’ 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:

Village girls fight scourge of the ‘blessers’ – whose gifts ruin their lives

In the young women’s play a schoolgirl comes home and tries to tell her mother what she has learned in class. “HIV!” yells her angry mother, to the giggles of the audience. “This is talk for the poorest people. Only poor dirty people have HIV.” The mother is just as dismissive when she hears from a neighbour that her daughter has been seen getting into a car outside school, the car of a known “blesser” – local parlance for a kind of sinister sugar daddy.

The two dozen or so girls in the audience lean forward in their plastic chairs, in rows on a sandy dirt floor under a tarpaulin stretched across walls of a half-built house, and nod in recognition as the plot turns to the daughter and her blesser, a shiny-suited older man with a smartphone and a persuasive manner who bestows on her the gift of a fake designer handbag. To cut an energetically acted drama short, he ends up leaving her both pregnant and HIV positive after a few nights out, before raping another girl who resists his charms. 

El Niño driving child marriage, labour across southern Africa

Tens of thousands of children across southern Africa are being pushed out of school and into early marriage or child labour because of drought and hunger caused by the El Niño weather pattern, charities said.

Southern Africa has been hard hit over the past year by an El Niño-inspired drought that has wilted crops, slowed economic growth and driven food prices higher.

Increased numbers of children are trading sex and doing domestic work to survive across nine countries, a report by World Vision, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and Plan International said.

“El Niño’s impacts are worsening the lives of children in a number of areas with many facing sexual exploitation, violence, child labour and psychosocial distress,” World Vision UK’s child rights expert Tracy Shields said in a statement.

Teaching Nurses How To Treat Gay Men Is Saving Lives In Rural South Africa

A program in east South Africa is working to educate nurses about addressing the unique health issues of gay and bisexual men. And it’s paying off.

Gay-friendly facilities opened earlier this month at M’Africa Community Clinic in Emjindini, a town of of about 220 miles from Johannesburg. In all, some 20 community clinics have been been trained across the province of Mpumalanga.

South Africa is being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic: At the start of the 21st century nearly one-half of all deaths in South Africa were related to HIV/AIDS. Even now, 19% of the country’s population is HIV-positive, the highest rate in the world.

Education in rural Tanzania: Every educated person’s responsibility

IN Rural Tanzania, as is the case for most rural Africa, education is one of the social services which are poorly rendered. This situation is engendered partly by lack of resources, but also by the fact that rurality in most of Tanzania does attract most educated people to stay there. Other social services which also suffer includes; health, water, and transport.

Young Africans learn about sustainable farming, energy practices at Winters farm

South African author Alan Paton in 1948 wrote “Cry, the Beloved Country,” a story about a South African minister who goes in search of a wayward son who has been jailed for his part in a serious crime in Johannesburg.

Nearly 70 years later, perhaps a new novel, written by a new author, could be titled “Cry, the Beloved Continent,” a story about Africa and the formidable problems that continue to plague most of its 1.2 billion people.

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Survey on the Global Agenda 2015,” Africa faces three major challenges: education and skills development; the building of sustainable governments; and the delivery of “hard infrastructure.”

Why low-fee private schools are struggling to take root in rural Nigeria

On a walk through the slums of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, or its economic heartland, Lagos, you’ll learn something about the country’s education system today: low-cost private schools are everywhere.

They’re small and often occupy ramshackle buildings, but they cater for the vast majority of children in Lagos, and appear to be doing so in Abuja’s slums too. These schools far outnumber government institutions in such settlements. A Lagos or Abuja slum will usually have just one government school compound; not enough to cater for all the children in the catchment area.

This development isn’t unique to Nigeria. Low-fee private schools are on the rise in India, Pakistan, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. Even when a government provides free universal primary education, many parents will still choose to pay because they believe private schooling gives their children a better chance for learning – or because the government school is just too far to walk to.


Banana farming in Ivory Coast Revitalising

It’s been two years since the June 2014 flood destroyed over 50,000 tonnes of banana within a period less than 72 hours at Nieky plantation in Ivory Coast which has now resumed normal production.

The flood that had completely destroyed 1300 hectares of banana, which represents 22% of the national production estimated at 300,000 tonnes had completely degraded most agricultural plantations. The floods made it difficult to harvest bananas and also to transport them to the market. It had also threatened 1,500 direct jobs and 10, 000 families that were directly depending on banana cultivation.

Nieky plantation is now on the revival state after the European Union and the government came in to re-awaken the sector.

Senegalese police sweep children off streets

In recent weeks, packs of shoeless boys and girls have been coaxed off the streets where they have spent their childhoods, crying and frightened as they are loaded onto buses in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

The crackdown on child begging comes after years of inaction and is praised by children’s groups but greeted with anger by powerful Islamic figures in the west African nation.

The children are from a mix of poor or homeless families and others known as “talibes” – boys sent out to beg by Islamic tutors to make money for their boarding schools.


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

Subscribe to our mailing list