Why Communities Need To Be Drivers of Their Own Change and Other Reports

A lot has happened in rural development in the past week. However, as part of our tradition, we bring you some of the most important 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:

Why Communities in East Africa Need To Be Drivers of Their Own Change

Beatrice Namudele lives in eastern Uganda. Every morning, she wakes up at 6am to work in her gardens and make the two-hour journey on foot to the local market to sell her bananas, corn, and beans. As a mother of five, Beatrice’s main focus in life is ensuring that her children have what they need to thrive—but between school fees, health care, and food, this is an ongoing struggle.

Beatrice’s village, Malungi, is home to nearly 600 people, set on top of a hill in Uganda’s Mount Elgon region. Located over two hours from the nearest primary school and four hours from the nearest health clinic, the terrain to reach the village is steep and often impassable during the rainy season.

Growing up in Malungi, Beatrice never witnessed her community coming together to address the challenges she and her neighbors collectively faced. She wanted to work together with her village to improve conditions for her children, but didn’t have the platform to do so.

Health Graduates Not Keen to Serve in Rural Areas

Graduates in health sciences are not keen to work in under-served and rural areas. Some of them opt to leave the country and work overseas instead of doing their community service in South Africa due to better remuneration in other countries.

Health graduates have a legal obligation to do a year of community service in South Africa after graduation. However, according to the findings of a study conducted by the social-profit organisation, Africa Health Placements, many graduates fail to do so.

Reaching the most vulnerable?

The Lake Chad Basin is today’s Africa’s fastest growing displacement crisis with approximately 2.6 million people displaced as a result of Boko Haram related violence. The region is also experiencing acute humanitarian challenges with approximately 9.2 million people in need of urgent assistance.

While a significant proportion of the displaced population remaining in rural areas and the majority of the people fleeing toward the urban centres being relatively wealthier households, the humanitarian response has continued to focus on delivering assistance to IDP settlements in urban areas. The potentially more vulnerable households affected by the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin are so far not being reached by urgently needed assistance. More should be done to respond to the protection needs of people in the region as well as to prevent further harm.

“The focus on ending the insurgency in north east Nigeria and meeting humanitarian needs in the region should be complimented by the centrality of protection in all interventions, improved humanitarian access and stronger efforts towards addressing the underlying drivers of the crisis,” says Maria Wangechi, the NRC Country Director, Nigeria.

Rape And Facebook Make Tense Headlines in South Africa This Spring

South Africa is said to be a country where rape is “highly prevalent” – that’s the finding of a comprehensive 2011 report compiled by several universities. According to police statistics released in September, there were nearly 54,000 sexual offenses in the year running from mid-2014 to mid-2015.

And this spring, Facebook has sparked two big stories about attitudes toward rape.

On the campus of Rhodes University in April, hundreds of women gathered to urge the university to take action against 11 alleged student rapists, whom they named on Facebook. Some protesters took off their shirts — and even their bras — for what they called #NakedProtest. The police reportedly fired rubber bullets at the crowd. The protest lasted days, the university was shut down and the administration promised to improve its procedures against sexual violence.

Self-injectable Contraceptive Trialled by Rural African women

Self-injectable contraceptives are being trialled in Uganda and Senegal in an attempt to dramatically cut maternal and newborn deaths.

The disposable $1 device consists of a small needle connected to a plastic bubble containing the contraceptive Depo-Provera which can be squeezed to inject a dose that lasts three months. The treatment is being touted as a way to improve the lives of impoverished women in rural Africa.

Self-injectables could have a major impact on the lives of women who cannot access clinics or who face opposition to contraceptive use from their partners, said the global health organisation PATH which has designed the device called Sayana Press.

“This is a life-saver. This is a game-changer for family planning,” said PATH’s Emmanuel Mugisha

What The Us Can Learn From Ethiopia About Birth Control

Women in Ethiopia are having fewer children (the fertility rate fell from an average of 6.5 children per woman in 2000 to 4.6 currently), maternal deaths are in decline, and more women are staying in school longer. Plus, more women are opting for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) instead of more traditional short-term methods like birth control pills or condoms.

“If you asked me 15 years ago, there were only 600 health centers and all in very urban areas, but today there are more than 3,500,” said Asnake, who is the country representative for Pathfinder International in Ethiopia. “And the health extension program started as a pilot program but now reaches every rural village in the country.”

Numerous countries, in the developed and developing world, are working to increase women’s access to better contraceptives. And Ethiopia’s experience could prove instructive in showing what works in reducing obstacles to birth control. Health workers there know the important role access to local health care providers plays in increasing knowledge around family planning while simultaneously removing barriers.

Bees And Silkworms Mean Jobs For Ethiopia’s Rural Youth

Silkworm farming and beekeeping have long provided food, jobs and much needed income in Ethiopia.

An ancient tradition, beekeeping dates back to Ethiopia’s early history between 3500 and 3000 B.C.

Collecting and selling honey and other bee products produced in homes and home gardens is common throughout the country.

Silk production or sericulture is a growing industry in Ethiopia and offers a solution for the government’s quest to expand the textile industry.

Alemayehu Konde Koira, Youth Livelihoods Program, senior manager with The MasterCard Foundation, views it as a huge opportunity to benefit young people.

“With relevant and adequate support, honey and silk production and engagement across their respective value chain could be key sectors of opportunity for young people,” he said.

Zimbabwe Drought: Five Million Face Food Shortage

Nearly five million people in Zimbabwe – half of the country’s rural population – will need assistance by next year as a result of the ongoing drought in southern Africa, the United Nations has said.

Zimbabwe is one of the worst affected countries by the driest year in decades facing southern Africa – including Malawi, Zambia and South Africa – which has placed more than 30 million people at risk.

Rainfall is not expected in the country in the near future and President Robert Mugabe has declared a “state of disaster”.

Across Africa, the Worst Food Crisis Since 1985 Looms for 50 Million

Harvest should be the time for celebrations, weddings and full bellies in southern Malawi. But Christopher Witimani, Lilian Matafle and their seven children and four grandchildren had nothing to celebrate last week as they picked their meagre maize crop.

‘It’s a disaster’: children bear brunt of southern Africa’s devastating drought

Last year’s drought, followed by erratic rains, hit the village of Nkhotakota hard. But this year the rains never came and, for a second year running, the family grain store is empty. If they manage their savings carefully and eat just one small meal a day, they may just have enough food for two more months.

By August, said Irish charity Concern Worldwide, they and tens of thousands of other small farmers in southern Malawi will have completely run out of food, with no prospect of another harvest for at least seven months. With nothing to sell and no chance of earning money, Witimani, Matafle and family will starve.


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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