The Return of Ebola 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:
Here’s a rundown of the top stories making headlines in rural Africa this week.
Two new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Guinea, the first in the country since it was declared Ebola-free in late December, according to the World Health Organization.
The cases were discovered after officials investigated three unexplained deaths in the rural village of Koropara. Family members of the deceased were tested for Ebola, and two people — a woman and her 5-year-old son — tested positive for the disease, WHO said in a statement. (The organization did not say whether the people who died also had Ebola.)
A yellow fever epidemic has killed 158 people in Angola, with more than 50 deaths occurring last month alone, the World Health Organisation officials have said.
A WHO representative in the capital, Luanda, said on Friday that the “possibility of spreading to other provinces” was much higher and deaths due to the viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes has been accelerating.
“The possibility of spreading out to other provinces or even to the all country is much higher than if it had happened in a rural area,” Hernando Agudelo Ospina said.
“This is an urban pattern of outbreak of Yellow Fever and it is much more complicated to tackle and deal with.”
Education can and should change people’s lives. Education systems ought to operate with the public good in mind. But for many South Africans, this is not the case. I would suggest that part of the reason post-colonial and post-apartheid educational policies are not succeeding is because they are biased towards outcomes that are relevant only for and to urbanised contexts. They exclude rurality.
South Africa’s rural population is more than 19 million people strong. Yet one must live, work and flourish in cities in order to find fulfilment as an “educated” individual. People who come from rural areas may however not “fit” or feel comfortable in urban settings, but their degrees may not be easily applied in their own home towns. The education an accountant receives, for example, does not instil the desire to return to a rural area and help subsistence farmers manage their businesses and finances. Instead, their education encourages students to place more value on a corporate job managing big companies’ finances. This disconnect between educatedness and rurality may be one reason for the country’s graduate unemployment rate.
Against this backdrop, several questions arise: for which “public” are South Africa’s universities educating the younger generation? For whose “good” are they receiving this education? Which “public” receives “the good” out of students’ education?
A South African company that’s committed to bringing new ideas to an underserved population just got the ultimate endorsement.
TED, whose beloved talks have reached millions, announced Wednesday its investment in Eduze, a company that provides free online content through CLOX, a tiny wifi-equipped box that transmits content to people’s devices.
“Eduze captured our imagination with its low-cost wi-fi platform that could make TED Talks, TED-Ed videos and content from other high-quality sources freely available in schools, public spaces, and commuter systems,” Deron Triff, TED’s head of Media Distribution, tells Tech Insider.
In South Africa, practitioners of traditional medicine, including herbalists, midwives, and faith healers who claim to speak to ancestors, have historically practiced openly and freely. But the government now aims to formally register and regulate the estimated 250,000 self-described healers, who are pushing back.
“Who’s to say who’s a qualified traditional healer or not?” said Khauki Maada, who has been practicing traditional medicine for 15 years. “By virtue of me being a traditional healer nobody can give me a certificate.”
Supporters of the regulations contend there is a need to standardize the industry.
“I have to accept that they are a part of the fabric of South African health care at some level, for a certain percentage of the population,” said Dr. Daniel Nciyana, a former editor of the South African Medical Journal. “But there are good ones and there are harmful ones.”
Churches in eastern and southern Africa are appealing for humanitarian aid in the region, as 36 million people grapple with the worst drought in decades.
Linked to extreme El Nino weather conditions, the drought has hit countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi and Zimbabwe, among others. The conditions have reversed normal weather patterns, upsetting people’s livelihoods.
“In parts of Somaliland, where people live on livestock and agriculture, the problem is serious,” said Roman Catholic Bishop Georgio Bertin of Djibouti, a country in the horn of Africa.
Three lions have been found poisoned in southern Zimbabwe, it was reported on Friday.
The state-controlled Manica Post newspaper said the lions were believed to have been deliberately poisoned by villagers in the Chipinge area who were angry that the animals were preying on their cattle.
The attack highlights the human-wildlife conflict that exists in many parts of rural Zimbabwe
United Nations agencies and African governments are meeting to develop strategies to reduce food losses among smallholder farmers.
Africa is grappling with higher than normal rates of food insecurity due to drought and flooding caused by El Nino.
The United Nations is helping governments from across Africa to find ways to reduce food losses on the continent. A weeklong meeting in Harare is being attended by U.N. agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The FAO’s Stephanie Gallatova says a third of the food produced on the continent is lost before it is consumed due to poor storage facilities, resulting in it rotting or pests feeding on it. She says meeting participants are prioritizing steps to reduce the waste.
“We are not targeting all commodities. We are targeting those which have been prioritized by the governments,” Gallatova said.