The Rise of Rural Markets 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.
If I were to pick one word to describe the driving force behind the rise of mining companies and commodity traders in the past 15 years, it would be “urbanization.”
The mass migration to cities propped up the “stronger for longer” thesis promoted by Glencore, Xstrata and other mining giants. The new urbanites found employment and moved into houses and apartments. They needed plumbing (copper), stoves (steel) and electricity (coal). Cities built tunnels, bridges and roads (cement and more steel).
The upshot was that the share prices of mining companies and commodity traders soared to stratospheric levels. The values of these companies has fallen by about two-thirds in the past five years, but the slump is more the result of massive mining and smelting overcapacity than a sudden fall-off in urbanization. There isn’t one. The rural-to-urban trend is still intact.
Will the mad rush to cities last forever? Should it? Maybe society would be better off if more people stuck to rural areas. If they did, the demand for commodities would decline. But fortunes could still be made by investing in rural areas; farmers big and small want to join the market economy, too.
As many as one million snakebites occur in Sub-Saharan Africa yearly, thus requiring an urgent action to end deaths and sufferings, experts say.
At the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, last month (23-28 May), experts observed that the situation is dire in Sub-Saharan Africa.
And according to Abdulrazaq G. Habib, professor of infectious and tropical diseases from Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria, snakebites result in about 500,000 cases of envenoming or snake poisoning annually.
“Visiting the public health center is no different from staying at home because there is no one to attend to a patient. Hygiene and sanitation here are poorer than in our homes.” Athiei Gai traveled 145 kilometers (90 miles) to the South Sudanese capital of Juba because he thought the Juba Teaching Hospital would be more accommodating than in the conflict-affected state of Jonglei.
“When you go there to ask only health workers are always present, they keep telling you that the doctor will come tomorrow,” says another patient.
Prior to 2012, before the civil war, the country had an average but functional health care system according to the World Health Organization. It was, however, a health system that depended heavily on foreign drug donation – donations that have recently been cut.
A blood diagnostic kit that can detect infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B in just two hours is helping to track and better treat diseases in resource-poor regions of the world.
The device – SAMBA (Simple AMplification Based Assay) – was developed by a team of Cambridge scientists headed by Dr Helen Lee, who says the device is robust, simple and precise.
“It’s really quite simple; the patients come in and the sample is taken. And that then gets tested. Within 90 minutes you get the results. And so you can really decide whether their drug, their treatment is being effective or if they have developed resistance, whether they are infected or not infected. So really you can get a result in 90 minutes of an extremely complicated test,” Lee told Reuters, adding, “Normally to do this type of testing it’s done in a machine the size of a Mini [car], and we’ve reduced it to the size of a coffee machine that literally anyone can use.”
In rural Kenya, people walk for miles in the blistering sun after work just to watch television in the nearest town.
At 7 p.m., in the village restaurants, the music turns off and the news turns on.
In this nation of 45 million people — where many live without electricity — only 30% of Kenyans have their own television.
Now a startup has developed a 16-inch TV that runs on the sun’s rays, bringing communication to the masses.
“There are some 5 million homes in Kenya that don’t have electricity,” says Jesse Moore, founder of M-KOPA Solar.
“And the product most people living off the grid want to get is a television.”
The M-KOPA Solar TV connects to Kenya’s digital television network of about 30 free channels, screening soap operas, premier league football games and marathons.
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates has pledged to give away 100,000 chickens to rural families in Africa.
“I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of owning these birds. It’s pretty clear to me that just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens,” the philanthropist wrote in a blog post. The goal is to see 30% of rural families raising the animals, up from the current 5%.
In April, a traditional chief caused a stir in Ghana when he expressed support for the incumbent president, John Mahama, in the country’s upcoming presidential election. The same month, two-dozen chiefs from northern Zambia allegedly endorsed the re-election of the Zambian president, Edgar Lungu.
Most rural Africans live in communities led by unelected traditional chiefs, and traditional leaders often endorse candidates in African elections. How democratic can countries really be if citizens are still governed by unelected chiefs? Can chiefs pervert the democratic process by coercing voters into supporting their preferred candidates?
These questions motivated the research released in my new book, The Paradox of Traditional Chiefs in Democratic Africa.
The International Labor Organization is spearheading a global campaign to stamp out child labor, which victimizes 168 million children worldwide. To mark this year’s World Day Against Child Labor, a panel of experts focused on the abusive and widespread practice of child labor in international supply chains.
The “Choir for the Abolition of Child Labor,” a group of young musicians from Ivory Coast, spreads its message that children belong in school, not at work.
The pulsing beat of the music and the rap lyrics set the right note for the high-level panel discussion on ending child labor in supply chains. Under this system, children are employed all along the line from the manufacture of a product to its final distribution to the consumer.
It involves workers, small producers and enterprises around the world. Most child labor occurs in production for domestic markets, but children also produce goods and services for export. It mainly occurs in the rural and informal economy.
The Executive Director of the Florence A. Tolbert and Disable Advocate Incorporated, Mr. Samuel Dean, has brought into the country a consignment of whee lchairs, crutches, and brio books for the blind and other physically challenged in rural Liberia.
Mr. Dean who is also a disable said he is not pleased with the condition of his fellow underprivileged and physically challenged individuals throughout the country and has been using his organization, seeking assistance from bigger organizations to help the disable in Liberia.