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Rural Landscape, Poverty Reduction, 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:


Let’s Restore Nairobi’s Rural Landscape Beauty

Nairobi is experiencing massive urban sprawl which is spilling over to rural landscapes such as Kikuyu, Ruaka, Athi River and Machakos with scant regard for planning, health or environmental laws creating a new generation of monstrous concrete jungles.

Corrupt planning and environmental agencies turn a blind eye as building restrictions are openly violated all in the name of maximising land use and profit. Public or community participation in development, which is called for under planning legislation, is often ignored or falsified.

Karura Forest, City Park and the Nairobi National Park are great examples of how rural landscapes can be effectively incorporated into urban planning while retaining our heritage.

These rural landscapes were recognised and conserved more than 100 years ago by the city fathers, creating an environment which is unique to Nairobi.

Real-Time Whatsapp Advice Aids Surgery in Rural Malawi

A handful of clinical officers – a grade of health professional without a medical degree – is responsible for transfers and sometimes provide routine surgical procedures in rural clinics. While vital to local health systems, their surgical experience and clinical judgment may be limited and many feel professionally isolated from teaching hospitals.

‘Clinical officers are not surgeons per se and they are not well connected to surgical specialists. But with supervision, there is a lot they can do,’ said Gerald Mwapasa, a researcher at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi.

Mwapasa is the moderator of an invite-only WhatsApp group that allows health workers to ask specialists for advice before – or sometimes during – surgical operations.

‘Before the WhatsApp groups, doctors in regional hospital felt specialists were difficult to reach, now they are approachable,’ he said.

The Noiler Birds Initiative is Reducing Rural Poverty in Nigeria, One Chicken at a Time

Known as Noiler birds, a word formed from the amalgamation of two words, “Nigeria” and “Broiler,” they are bred for two purposes; their eggs and meat. The Noiler birds are affordable, enduring, easy to handle and produce eggs 4 times more than chickens that are native to most of rural Nigeria. Female Noiler birds produce 160 eggs in their lifetime, after which they are sold for their meat. The male birds mature to table weight quicker than their native counterparts which take longer. The male matures to table weight of between 2.0 to 2.5 kg at 14 weeks, while the native chicken takes 10 months to gain 1.5kg body weight, under similar conditions.

Perhaps, what makes these specially bred chickens exceptional is that they can live on scavenging off the environment by feeding on kitchen waste, grains etc like free-range chickens, making them suitable to be bred in rural communities in Nigeria. This was the motivation for the development of Noiler birds for rural communities in Nigeria. Poverty in Nigeria is prevalent in its rural regions, with almost 60 percent of the rural population living below the poverty line. Studies have shown that if Nigeria tackles malnutrition successfully, it would reduce extreme poverty by 33 percent.  According to UNICEF, for every dollar spent in reducing stunting and malnutrition in children in Africa, there’s an ROI of $16 per child, while also preventing child mortality.

Africa: World Bank Dispossessing Rural Poor

The World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, launched in 2013, has sought agricultural reforms favouring the corporate sector. EBA was initially established to support the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, initiated by the G8 to promote private agricultural development in Africa.

Emulating the influential annual World Bank Doing Business report, the EBA scores countries on the ease of doing business in agriculture. It purports to measure ‘legal barriers’ to agribusiness and to prescribe reforms in twelve areas, including seeds, fertilizers, trade and machinery.

It advocates reforms in favour of agribusiness by weakening regulations over seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and strengthening foreign agribusiness power and influence. Missing from the partnership are peasants and indigenous peoples whose livelihoods depend on traditional land uses.

Urban Middle Class May Offer Lifeline to Rural Africa

The rise of an urban middle class across much of Africa is stoking demand for food that could curb hunger and cut poverty in rural outposts, a U.S.-based think tank said on Wednesday.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rural communities were in “a state of crisis”, with high poverty rates and poor services driving hunger and malnutrition.

One in five people, or more than 256 million, are hungry in Africa, according to the latest figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

2019 Global Food Policy Report: Crises in Rural Areas Threatens Progress in Hunger and Poverty Reduction

Marked by deepening cycle of hunger and malnutrition, persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities, and environmental degradation, rural areas continue to be in a state of crisis in many parts of the world, threatening to slow the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, global climate targets, and improved food and nutrition security, according to the 2019 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) released today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The report emphasizes that rural areas could become premiere hubs of innovations in just under a decade. It recommends revitalizing rural areas with a focus on five building blocks: creating a farm and non-farm rural employment opportunities; achieving gender equality; addressing environmental challenges; improving access to energy; and investing in good governance.

Job creation is critical to reducing poverty in rural areas, especially in the rural areas of Africa south of the Sahara, where poverty is high and youth populations are large. Policies that encourage investments in rural transport networks, telecommunications, and human capital in African countries can prepare rural youth for new jobs in rural and urban areas, and bridge rural-urban gap, according to the report.

Brussels to Africa: Don’t Cry Over Our Split Milk

Brussels’ efforts to address these complaints, such as setting up a task force aimed at boosting jobs in struggling rural African areas, haven’t quelled concerns and West Africans have now brought their fight to Europe’s doorstep.

Last week — with support from the European Milk Board — milk producers from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad met politicians and producer groups in France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany to push back against the influx of European milk.

While a recent report by Brussels’ rural Africa task force acknowledged that European milk and poultry exports to African countries are often cheaper than local equivalents, part of the issue is Europe and West African producers don’t see eye-to-eye on the extent of the impact.

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 Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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