Top Rural Stories For The Week
Every week, we look at stories making headlines on rural development in Africa. These stories are not necessarily based on rural locations but are sometimes those that can improve the lives of rural dwellers in Africa directly or indirectly.
Here are the top stories for this week (October 12-18, 2014):
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Laboratory As Part of Prevention Precautions
Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, announced that Ethiopia has established a modern laboratory centre with the view to step up the national Ebola prevention efforts. The modern laboratory, Bio-safety Level 3 and 4 began operations on Monday (October 13) for screening and testing purposes. It is staffed by well-trained Ethiopian professionals.
The Minister noted the country had also launched a new screening machine, a Thermo Scan Thermo Meter, with the capacity to test up to a thousand individuals per hour.
How Kenya’s Florence Kamaitha Is Keeping Girls In School One-Pad-At-A-Time
In Kenya, at least 2.5 million adolescent girls miss 3 to 5 days of classes monthly because they do not have access to affordable sanitary pads. While some of them miss classes during their monthly cycle, others drop out of school entirely. Although the Kenyan ministry of Education said it has been able to provide sanitary towels to about 678,700 needy girls in the country under its sanitary programme for primary school girls (a programme that was launched in 2010), a large number of primary and secondary school girls have remain missing in school during their monthly cycle.
Florence Kamaitha has stepped up to beat this predominant challenge that is creating a barrier to girl-child education in Kenya. She is doing this by producing eco-friendly affordable towels made from agricultural waste. These sanitary towels are produced from stems of the millions of bananas harvested in Kenya yearly.
I survived Ebola for a reason – to help others recover
It all started with a severe headache and a fever. Then, later, I began to vomit and I got diarrhoea. My father was ill and my mother too. My niece, my fiancé and my sister had also all fallen sick. We all felt helpless.
It was my uncle who first contracted the virus in our family. He contracted it from a woman he helped take to hospital. He got sick and called our father for help, and our father went to him to bring him to a hospital for treatment. A few days after our father came back, he too got sick. We all cared for him and got infected too. This is the way the virus works, person by person, cutting through families.
Energy sector is key to powering prosperity in sub-Saharan Africa
Increasing access to modern forms of energy is crucial to unlocking faster economic and social development in Sub‑Saharan Africa, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Africa Energy Outlook, a Special Report in the 2014 World Energy Outlook series. More than 620 million people in the region (two-thirds of the population) live without electricity, and nearly 730 million people rely on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking. The use of solid biomass (mainly fuel wood and charcoal) outweighs that of all other fuels combined, and average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously.
“A better functioning energy sector is vital to ensuring that the citizens of sub-Saharan Africa can fulfil their aspirations,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “The energy sector is acting as a brake on development, but this can be overcome and the benefits of success are huge.”
Read the Africa Energy Outlook here.
5 Tips To Bridge Africa’s Rural-Urban Divide
Africa’s population is projected to double to 2.1 billion in the next 35 years, and both urban and rural populations will continue to grow well after that date. Meanwhile, young people will continue to stream into the labor market. This has sparked a lively debate about alternative scenarios — is the continent looking forward to a demographic dividend or listening to the ticking of a population time bomb?
Below are five practical tips gathered from experts:
- Break down the silos. “One of the main issues is that government and donor policies are mainly and mostly in silos. You have very few multisectoral development policies. You need to de-compartmentalize.”
- Gather better statistics. “Statistics are needed to shed light. They need to be adequate, accurate and timely so they can be used for diagnostics, policymaking and evaluation.”
- Invest in women. With small-scale agriculture falling largely on their shoulders in rural areas, investment in women is a must.
- Take a bottom-up, decentralized approach. “You have to listen to people to see what they want and figure out how you can help them do it.”
- Invest in education, capacity building and training. “We talk about Africa designing its own future… It is good to have more people to work, and to increase the ratio of people who are working versus those who are not … But you need to train those people.”
Ethiopia Shows Developing World How to Make a Green Economy Prosper
In Africa, the primary concern is adapting to the negative impacts of climate change. However, Ethiopia is recognised as one of the countries that have “adopted national climate resilience strategies with a view to applying them across economic sectors.”
Along with China and India, Ethiopia provided a case study for researchers conducting a year-long investigation into issues such as macroeconomic policy and impacts; innovation, energy, finance and cities; and agriculture, forests and land use.
Hidden Hunger In South Africa
South Africa is considered a ‘food-secure’ nation, producing enough calories to adequately feed every one of its 53 million people. However, the reality is that, despite some progress since the birth of democracy in 1994, one in four people currently suffers hunger on a regular basis and more than half of the population live in such precarious circumstances that they are at risk of going hungry.
The numbers of people facing hunger can be estimated at some 13 million in total. These numbers are disturbing, but behind every statistic is a face with a story about what it is like to face hunger in a nation where the few have plenty.
“[Hunger is] genocide of the mind … because it affects the mind (fosters negative thoughts), the spirit (state of hopelessness) and the physical being (hunger).” – Chief of Khoisan, Bloemendal, Eastern Cape.