Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare Centres, Child Labour and Other Reports
Every week, RuralReporters.com collate reports on development issues in rural Africa and its environs.
This report includes some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, blogs, and in-depth articles, carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues.
Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:
The IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour, which drew nearly 2000 delegates from 190 countries to the Argentine capital, left many declarations of good intentions but nothing to celebrate.
Child labour is declining far too slowly, in the midst of unprecedented growth in migration and forced displacement that aggravate the situation, said representatives of governments, workers and employers in the Buenos Aires Declaration on Child Labour Forced Labour and Youth Employment.
“For the first time, this Conference recognised that child labour is mostly concentrated in agriculture and is growing,” said Bernd Seiffert, focal point on child labour, gender, equity and rural employment at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
“While the general numbers for child labour dwindled from 162 million to 152 million since 2013, in rural areas the number grew: from 98 to 108 million,” he explained in a conversation with IPS.
The federal government in January this year said it had concluded plans to engage 200,000 voluntary health workers to improve delivery of immunisation, antenatal care and other health services in rural areas. The announcement followed the flag-off of a scheme to revitalise about 10,000 healthcare centres across Nigeria.
But about 10 months later, all the eight primary health care centres PREMIUM TIMES visited in Niger, Benue and Nasarawa states in North-central Nigeria had no doctors, drugs or equipment. The few health workers at the centres attended to multitudes of patients, often working no shifts.
Women and girls in the region face high rates of child marriage and early pregnancy, which is part of the problem. Pregnant adolescents have a higher risk of experiencing fistula because their bodies may not be ready for motherhood.
“Early childbirth, a lack of skilled birth attendants, unavailability of comprehensive emergency obstetric care services and poor access to family planning are the main factors contributing to obstetric fistula,” said Dr. Diene Keita, UNFPA’s Representative in Nigeria. “All of these factors are very prominent in the north-east.”
Fistula is preventable – with speedy access to medical care such as Caesarean section – and it is treatable with surgery. “Opportunities for fistula repair surgery exist in North-East Nigeria,” Dr. Keita said. “However, due to the ongoing conflict, health facilities in rural areas have been destroyed or damaged, and the referral system to operating hospitals and the outreach programme, to make women aware of the surgery, are broken.”
The Land Policy Centre (ALPC), formerly the Land Policy Initiative, was officially unveiled at the on-going Conference on Land Policy in Africa being held in Addis Ababa.vThe transformation of ALPC from LPI results from recommendation by the inaugural Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment in 2015.
“The ALPC will provide leadership, coordination, build partnerships and promote policy advocacy in support of member states,” said Joan Kagwanja, the ALPC Coordinator.
The transition is being guided by the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB). Janet Edeme, Head of Rural Division in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, said the ALPC will set the agenda on land issues on the continent, acting as a repository of knowledge and represent Africa on global platforms.
How do these historical and present conditions constitute the conditions for an emancipatory politics? For instance, will rural people who need land to live on or to farm organise to assert claims for restoration?
One possible answer emerges from research undertaken by the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), a land rights NGO working with farm dwellers in South Africa’ Kwazulu-Natal province.
AFRA recently undertook a socio-demographic and income survey of 850 households resident on farms in the Umgungundlovu Municipal District to understand more about farm dwellers’ conditions and how these have changed over time.
AFRA’s conclusion is that the politics associated with land is not about an organised emancipatory movement. While the radical opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and some factions of the governing African National Congress (ANC) are calling for the restoration of land to Africans without compensation to existing landowners, farm dwellers are mainly preoccupied with daily survival strategies.
A total of 26 million people in rural communities under the control of traditional leaders nationwide stand to benefit in terms of jobs and economic empowerment in a firstof-its-kind rural development scheme.
The scheme, done in conjunction with the National Council of Traditional Leaders, is aimed at bringing the rural masses into the mainstream of the economy, in line with the government’s rural development policy.
The ambitious project would be driven by a new investment entity, United Royal Kingship Holdings (URK), which would be launched by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in Johannesburg today.
A total of 829 traditional leaders will attend on behalf of their subjects.
Although the government considers rural educated youth as instrumental in bringing about a transformation in agricultural skills, knowledge and productivity, it has not effectively addressed either the attitude of many young people towards agriculture or the obstacles preventing their entry into the sector.
To create opportunities commensurate with the number of young people who will need employment, constraints on the acquisition of capital, land, and skills must be removed or relaxed.
In sum, there is an abundance of remunerative employment opportunities for the youth in rural areas that could dispel the mirage through imaginative government policies.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has completed the guidelines for the operation of the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) where rural power developers would get from N3.5m to N106m to improve rural electricity.
He said private rural power developers, NGOs and communities are likely to get a capital subsidy from N3.5 million (about $10,000) to N106m ($300,000) to cover 75 per cent of the project cost. “The fund will provide a partial single payment capital subsidy and or technical assistance to eligible private Rural Power Developers, NGOs or communities to invest in options such as hybrid mini grids or solar home systems to scale up rural access to electricity.