Open Defecation, Rural Roads 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:
Fifty communities in the Lawra District of Upper West Region have been certified as Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the Regional Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Sanitation (RICCS). The certification means that members of the communities now have their own household latrines and no longer attend to the call of nature in the open.
The journey to achieving the feat began around August 2014 in a DFID-funded project dubbed “Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A). The project is being implemented in eight districts in Ghana including the Lawra District by SNV-Ghana.
FGM — the slicing off of the external genitalia, including the clitoris — was outlawed in Uganda in 2010, but continues in some rural communities where it is a tradition with deep roots signalling a girl’s readiness to marry.
Joyce avoided the ritual, but Rose was less fortunate. She too was married off young and, as she gave birth to her first child, she was cut. “I was in pain because of the delivery, but that did not stop them,” she says.
Paulina Isura Chepar, a local government official suffered FGM when she was a girl, and watched as her sister died as a result of the procedure. Now, she is fighting to end it. “I saw my sister die at the hands of a cutter. I don’t want my children to go through the same,” she says. Last week, 78-year-old healer Jeremia Labur participated in a ceremony seeking forgiveness for FGM and child marriage. A male goat was slaughtered close to a cave where young girls were taught about being a woman, and then cut.
There is a silent road revolution going on in Akwa Ibom State where Governor Gabriel Udom Emmanuel is opening up rural areas to stem urban drift.
From Uyo to Afaha Ikot Obio Nkan in Ibesikpo Local Government; from Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin (Mkpat Enin local government) to Osiok Iko Eket (Eket local government) to Ikot Ekan, Abak (Abak local government) and Afaha Nsit in Nsit Ibom local government, among others, the state has been turned into a workyard. Places, which were hitherto thick forest, have been opened up, with roads springing up there. To ensure that the roads are not washed away by rain because the state virtually sits on water, they are fitted with side drains and double layer of asphalt.
Rural areas are arguably the most overlooked spaces in Africa. This is true both in terms of government services, as well as corporate attention.
Decision makers have very little access to credible information about these remote rural spaces, and as a result, they can be tempted to act on misconceptions about an area’s economic activity, population, needs and potential.
Whether true or not, misconceptions and sparse data can erroneously make rural areas seem like unattractive prospects for investment, sales and corporate expansion.
While industrial development in sub-Saharan Africa has been slower than other regions, rural transformations can be done by leveraging food systems to meet the growing demand for food in urban areas. The aim is to diversify food systems and create new economic opportunities in off-farm, agriculture-related activities such as trading, processing, packaging, distribution, and storage. The increasing demand coming from urban food markets is expected to be a major driver behind rural transformations.
However, while the growing urban food demand creates a “golden opportunity” for agriculture, it may also present challenges for smallholder farmers. The extension of small pieces of farmland into larger commercial farms may lead to the exclusion of millions of smallholder farmers from taking advantage of emerging opportunities. To ensure this transformation benefits everyone, especially the most vulnerable, policy makers and governments need to understand the socio-economic links between cities, towns and rural areas and how they influence the food system.
Difficult terrain and logistical challenges make expanding the central grid unfeasible. Senior analyst for Navigant Research Peter Asmus puts it this way: “Remote microgrids can serve as the anchors of new, appropriate scale infrastructure, a shift to smarter ways to deliver humanitarian services to the poor.” 1 According to the IEA, 84% of the globe’s rural un-electrified communities can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia.
As it stands, two thirds of the population lacks access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Columbia University’s Earth Institute, through the Millennium Villages initiative, took on the challenge of devising ways to increase electricity access in rural Mali. It developed the SharedSolar pay as-you-go electricity model rather than installing unaffordable individual solar home systems. A scalable microgrid was created that includes solar PV, batteries and smart meters. (see Figure 1.) The pilot for SharedSolar technology was first tested in Pelangala, Mali, and provides 172 households with electricity.