Photo Credit --Climate Technology Centre and Network

Rural Bias, Food Security 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:

SA comms minister calls for rural bias in ICT investment

South Africa’s minister of communications Faith Muthambi has made a plea for private and public sector partnerships to place rural communities at the top of their priority list for investments in ICT.

Minister Muthambi made the call in an interview with ITWeb Africa, hours after handing over eleven multimedia centres to the value of R5.4 million donated by the MTN SA foundation to schools in the Mpumalanga province.

Community Volunteers Help Tanzanian Widows Access Land Rights

In an effort to raise awareness of land justice, Hakiardhi has trained a 600-strong network of volunteers known as Land Rights Monitors (LRMs) who work in 300 villages to help local residents, including widows, secure their legal rights in land disputes

The monitors, who are recognised by the local authorities, work as the bridge between the organisation and the village to provide legal advice to the village government and other institutions such as the village land council on land administration issues.

Lack of awareness about laws, poor governance of village land and lack of monitoring and reporting of land rights violations are some of the factors that undermine the rights of marginalised groups, especially widows, to inherit property, said Cathbert Thomitho, a senior researcher with Hakiardhi.

Tanzania: Invest in Irrigation to Ensure Food Security

The spectre of famine is threatening Tanzania. However, this should not have come as a surprise as climate change has been sweeping across the world, yet we pretended to be immune and stuck to the business of yore of depending on rainfed agriculture.

Many Tanzanians are waiting for rain with bated breath as drought has left land unfit for farming. Crops have failed and livestock died for lack of pasture. Drought has scorched a number of districts, with residents seeking assistance. Panicking farmers have started selling their livestock to have money to buy food.

Hyena Man Trial Exposes ‘Sexual Cleansing’ Rituals in Rural Malawi

The conviction of a Malawian man who slept with underage girls as part of “sexual cleansing” rituals signals that the custom may not be tolerated. But his two-year sentence has activists questioning how strong the justice system’s resolve is for ending the practice.

Declining Income Inequality Masks Sierra Leone’s Slow Economic Growth

With general elections due either later this year or in 2018, Sierra Leone’s opposition parties have been frequently criticizing the ruling All People’s Congress party for its handling of the country’s endemic poverty and growing crime rate.

Malawi: Kwitanda Villagers, Focus Hails Media for Bringing Positive Change Towards Delivery of Health Services

Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) and People of Kwitanda Village in the Area of Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka District have commended the media for routine investigations and bringing out of some of the bad habits engulfing the health sector.

This followed a recent visit to Kwitanda Health Centre and four other Health Centres last week which Nyasa Times was part. During the visits, it was discovered that some medics are rarely on duty a practice that leaves patients stranded.

Complaints of absenteesim and negligence of duty were reported and took centre stage despite people from communities claom to have liased with the Balaka District Health Office (DHO) to ensure the matter was resolved.

Nal’ibali to focus on rural schools

Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has partnered with the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to bring the campaign’s approach to literacy development to select rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Focusing on nurturing a love of reading for joy in English and vernaculars to spark children’s potential and unlock their school learning, the schools initiative, titled “Story Powered Schools: A South African Reading Revolution”, is launching this month.

The Nal’ibali campaign is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa.

Kenya prepares to expand solar mini-grids into poorest rural areas

Kenya plans to launch a $150 million project this year to bring solar electricity to markets, schools, shops and homes in poor, off-grid areas without existing power access, officials say.

The effort, expected to receive World Bank funding in March, would bring mini-grid solar plants to areas of 14 counties categorised by Kenya’s government as marginalised, according to World Bank documents.

Such off-grid systems are the cleanest and most cost effective way to bring electrical power to poor areas, particularly those sparsely populated, Kenyan officials said.

FAO and NEPAD team up to boost rural youth employment in Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger

FAO and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have joined forces to increase job and business opportunities for young people in rural areas of Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger through a $4 million grant made available by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund.

The agreement signed today by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA) Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, will help the four countries involved draw up and implement policies that seek to boost the development of enterprises in rural areas, including through the transfer of knowledge and skills.

Tanzania: Rural energy access projects gain traction     

With nearly 30 million of Tanzania’s rural population without access to electricity, infrastructure investment is crucial to the country’s development.

Last year, the African Development Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved a $870,000 preparation grant for Tanzania’s Rural Energy Agency (REA) to structure the Renewable Energy Investment Facility (REIF). According to the Bank, this will provide affordable finance to private sector clean energy projects providing energy access to rural communities in Tanzania.

Tanzania’s national electricity coverage is estimated at just over 20% with transmission grid covering a minor part of the country and leaving out most of the territory.

A new dawn for cassava farming in Central Africa      

A newly established regional forum on cassava for Central African countries aims to facilitate dialogue to improve how to add value to cassava farming.

Ministers of agriculture and rural development from Cameroun, Central African Republic and Gabon are optimistic that agriculture could transform the region into a semi-industrial economy, with cassava being at the centre of the sector.

They were speaking with agricultural experts, policymakers and smallholder farmers during the inaugural biennial Cassava forum held in Cameroon last month (6-9 December).


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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