Top Pick: Rural Africa Weekly Report
It’s the beginning of a new week and as part of our tradition, Rural Reporters collates a weekly report on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include are some of our top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises.
Here are the updates from the previous week.
Poverty in a democratic South Africa declined significantly over the 18 years from 1993 to 2010, according to Prof Haroon Bhorat of the Development Policy Research Unit in the University of Cape Town.
In a research paper for the Africa Growth Initiative of the Brookings Institution, the American think tank, Bhorat and his colleagues, Ben Stanwix and Derek Yu, found that this held true for virtually all households, regardless of the gender or race of the household head, and whether it was in a rural or urban area.
“Sometimes there is rain, but it is not well distributed. We lack good quality seed, and termites eat our plants.”
These are, in the words of Binta Ndao, a Senegalese farmer and mother of seven, some of the challenges faced by subsistence farmers in Eastern Senegal. An innovative resilience-building initiative implemented by WFP and Oxfam America is helping farmers like her break out of chronic food insecurity.
Since 2014, Binta has participated in the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative which is helping her better manage her natural resources and cope with more frequent droughts. The aim is to ensure food is on the table all year long, while also expanding her sources of income.
Ghana must have a female President or Vice President by 2030, Ghanaian Gender Advocates have stated and this is in tune with the framework of UN Commission on the Status of Women’s (CSW59) reinvigorated targets for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The Ghana Women reinvigorated targets for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action states that within the next 15 years women must occupy 60 per cent of Ministerial portfolios especially Finance, Energy, Education and Health.
Growing global demand for the product used in food and as a skin moisturizer is attracting companies like Singapore’s Wilmar International Ltd., the world’s biggest trader of edible oils. Retail prices increased 67 percent in 2014 for butter produced by independent sellers in Acharibia’s group. That’s convinced women in northern Ghana, who already grow rice, soybeans and peanuts, brew a millet drink called pito and make jewelry, to risk snake bites to harvest nuts from trees in the wild.
“The price has attracted more women to the shea-butter business,” the 42-year-old leader of the 875-member Talensi Area Women’s Development Project said in an interview last week. The cultivation of shea is dominated by women because the nut is used as a cooking oil, she said, and in northern households, women prepare most meals. Making shea a commercial product helps women earn more.
Ghanaians are the becoming healthier, better educated, more politically enfranchised and freer to express their views than any other African nation, a new report released by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has found.
According to the report, three out of every four Ghanaians surveyed said they were pleased with the level of the country’s democratic growth, brought about by the “one of the most successful transitions to multi-party democracy in sub-Saharan Africa.” It suggested that Ghanaians perceive instances of good or bad service delivery and react accordingly in terms of their votes. The report, titled “Ghana, the rising star,” attributed the developments in the country to the “robust and responsive democracy, including a sharp increase in child immunization rates, huge advances in pre-primary education and Ghana’s status as one of only a handful of non-OECD nations to provide free and universal health coverage.”
Focus On Poverty: Improving Nutrition Isn’t Just About Science
“As Africa prospers, will diets improve?”
The media has been pondering this question lately. On the one hand, veteran environmentalist Lester Brown warns that huge dustbowls could leave regions of northern Africa in serious agricultural trouble. On the other, SciDev.Net reports encouraging progress on sweet potato production in Africa. So what do we need to know to make an assessment? Two recent academic studies are useful.
Agriculture is the single-largest source of income for rural Africans and contributes to a quarter of the continent’s gross domestic product. The sector occupies more than 70 percent of the labor force in Africa’s low-income countries and contributes to food security and poverty reduction.
However, agriculture cannot meet its potential for growth if it does not increase in productivity and if the opportunities along value chains are not explored.