Thursday, July 28, 2011

HIV-positive patients in Swaziland eating cow dung before taking anti-retroviral drugs

Mbabene, Swaziland

BBC alarming report of some HIV-positive patients in Swaziland unable to afford to buy food have resorted to eating cow dung before taking anti-retroviral drugs.

"Some people are now saying they are going to stop taking anti-retroviral drugs because it [requires] that they have food in their stomachs," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme. Swaziland, with a population of about 1.2 million, has one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world. About 230,000 people are HIV-positive, of whom 65,000 get free drugs from government hospitals. Mr Dlamini said the protesters urged the government not to cut health spending. "We want the government to stick to its word and to prioritise health," he said.

Sad state of affairs indeed!!!

Read more here

Monday, July 25, 2011

Young People, Farming & Food Conference 19-21 March 2012 in Accra Ghana

In Africa, policy interest in the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’ focuses almost exclusively on the challenge of keeping young people in rural areas and engaged in farming. This approach ignores important drivers, trends and developments that are impacting on both young people’s aspirations and the structure of the agrifood sector. In the coming years the agrifood sector in Africa will undergo significant transformation that will result in both challenges and opportunities for young people, depending on who and where they are. Perhaps most importantly, the agrifood sector will become an increasingly important source of formal employment for young people, with a significant expansion of employment opportunities in food marketing, processing, retail, catering, research, input sales etc. These jobs will generally require higher levels of education and different skills, and many will be located in or near urban areas.

It is this context that the conference will critically examine, from both research and policy perspectives:

  • Dominant and alternative framings and narratives, and recent empirical data, relating to how young people engage with the agrifood sector in Africa (as producers, entrepreneurs, employees, consumers and citizens)
  • The dynamics of change in different components of the agri-food sector and the implications of these dynamics for young people
  • The implications for young people of alternative policy approaches to the development of the agri-food sector

Throughout, the need to consider different categories of young people and importance of different situations and places will be emphasised. Conflict will be one of the ‘situations’ that will be highlighted.

Through this conference we hope to help shift the debate away from questions such as “How can farming be made more attractive to young people?” toward a broader analysis of the opportunities and challenges for different categories young people in different situations associated with on-going and likely future changes within the broader agri-food system. Such an analysis should take account of changes not only in food production, but also in processing and transformation, marketing, retail, governance and so on.

The conference will be co-hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) based at the Institute of Development Studies and the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER).

FAC ( is a multidisciplinary and independent learning alliance of academic researchers and practitioners involved in African agriculture. Based at the Institute of Development Studies ( it aims to encourage dialogue and the sharing of good practice by policy makers and opinion formers in Africa on the role of agriculture in broad based growth. With funding from the UK’s Department for International Development the consortium is active in twelve countries across East, South and West Africa.

ISSER ( is a semi-autonomous research institution within the Faculty of Social Studies at the University of Ghana. ISSER is committed to carrying out research and training that is geared towards promoting the socio-economic development of Ghana in particular and Africa in general. The Institute strives to maintain its reputation for solid social science research, paying close attention to exploratory, explanatory and evaluative aspects of the dynamics of development.

The organizers invite papers that offer rigorous analysis from various critical perspectives around the topics and questions listed below. We also encourage comparative studies and welcome proposals for thematic panels. Co-organized and hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the international conference on ‘Young People, Farming & Food: The Future of the Agrifood Sector in Africa’ will be held on 19-21 March 2012 in Accra Ghana.

Deadline 31 August 2011
  • Agrifood trends in SSA: What are expected to be the main trends in the agrifood sector over the next 20 years? What implications will these trends have for young people and their engagement with the sector?
  • Employment: What is the potential of the agrifood sector in addressing the problems of unemployment and under-employment among young people? What segments of the population of young people will be best placed to benefit from new employment opportunities? Where within the agrifood sector is employment creation likely to be strongest and the most desirable employment opportunities likely to be found?
  • Livelihood diversification / de-agrarianisation: What are the implications of the phenomena of livelihood diversification and de-agrarianisation for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Life and work aspirations: What forces and factors are driving change in young people’s life and work aspirations? What are the implications of changing life and work aspirations for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Education and training: What are the implications of MDG 2 (universal primary education) for young people’s perception of and future engagement with the agrifood sector? Are available training programmes and the tertiary education sector meeting the needs of young people and employers within the agrifood sector? Who is being trained in agriculture and agrifood and what do they do after their training?
  • Migration: What is the relationship between aspirations, migration and young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? Is migration from rural areas a constraint to the development of viable smallholder farming? How should rural, agriculture and agrifood policy take account of migration?
  • Gender: Does a social relations approach to gender help in the analysis of patterns of differential access to and benefits from change within the agrifood sector? In twenty years time will Africa still be ‘the region of female farming par excellence’?
  • Conflict areas: How does civil conflict link to and impact on young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? Do levels and patterns of engagement with farming and agrifood differ in conflict compared to non-conflict areas? What are the lessons from various experiences of trying link post-conflict programmes to agricultural development?
  • Agrifood policy: How are young people framed in agriculture and agrifood policy; what narratives about young people inform policy in this sector? Should young people have a privileged place in agrifood policy? How are young people’s views and voices being brought into agrifood policy processes, and to what effect?
  • Young people as agrifood entrepreneurs: How realistic is the idea that individual entrepreneurship can be a major means of generating employment for young people in the agrifood sector? What is the record of policies and programmes aimed at promoting and supporting such entrepreneurship among young people?
  • New markets and niches: What opportunities do new markets and niches in the agrifood sector offer to young people? Are there examples of success or failure that help to illuminate the opportunities and challenges associated with new markets and policy and programmes aimed at fostering young people’s engagement?
  • Young people, modern farming and African Green Revolution: How do young people figure within competing visions of an African Green Revolution? Will technology, credit and the promise of profit be enough to draw the attention of young people back to farming? What has been the experience and impacts of programmes and projects aimed at introducing young people to modern farming methods?
  • Climate change: What are the likely implications of climate change for young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector? From a policy perspective, should climate change be framed as a threat or an opportunity vis-à-vis young people’s engagement with the agrifood sector?
  • Other: We welcome papers addressing other aspects of the young people – agrifood nexus.

Please submit abstracts of proposed papers (up to 500 words) by 31 August 2011 to: Please be sure to include the title of your proposed paper, your full name, position, institution, full contact details (including e-mail) and whether or not you intend to apply for a Travel Grant (see below).

Additional information
For additional information you may contact one of the conference organisers:
Jim Sumberg, IDS, Nana Akua Anyidoho, ISSER, Sam Asuming-Brempong, Dept of Agricultural Economics, University of Ghana,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shiro Keziah Wachira beats world in English examination

Shiro Keziah Wachira

Shiro Keziah Wachira is extremely articulate, almost disarmingly so. She is only 16, but speaks like a person twice her age.

The first time one meets her, one is taken aback by her eloquent and coherent speech, devoid of redundancies like “umm”, “as in”, “like” and “yaani” that characterise a typical Kenyan teenager’s speech.

“We only speak English at home. I read everything, and that’s mostly due to the influence of my mum and dad. We have a big library in our house. I can’t really say I have a favourite genre of literature, I give anything a shot,” says Shiro.

Her parents’ influence has certainly paid off. The former student of St Austin’s Academy, Nairobi, scored the highest marks in the world in English Language when she sat for her Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) O-level examinations in June 2010.

She beat more than 420,000 students from all over the world.

“The news was unexpected, but I was very proud of myself,” she says.

Her English teacher at St Austin’s, Mr Frank Atuti, says she is an exceptional student and that her command of the English language is far beyond that of her peers.

...Her teacher attributes her skill to her voracious appetite for books, saying that he shared all kinds of literature with her. They included Shakespeare’s works, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not Child, newspapers and magazines.
“She reads very widely, regardless of genre, but her forte is in analytical skills. She is able to think abstractly, and is very clear in the way she puts things across,” Mr Atuti says.

...The Cambridge IGCSE examinations are taken in 135 countries. Students at more than 2,500 schools around the world do the course. First Language English, in which Shiro excelled, is the third most popular IGCSE subject worldwide. But her talent is not restricted to English alone. She obtained two As and seven A*s in the IGCSE examinations. The A* grade is a score of 90 per cent or more.

...As a first language speaker, English is not that fascinating in class. In my French class, I had a classmate who was French, and he would get very bored. That’s how I would feel sometimes during English lessons,” Shiro says.

Her father is a constitutional lawyer and her mother is an accountant. Her 14-year-old brother is in Year 10 (equivalent of Form 2) at St Austin’s.

Read more here

Saturday, July 23, 2011

21st Century Exodus- Famine in Somalia

"A stitch in time saves nine"

This old saying best describes the situation currently plaguing Somalia as we read and watch the unfortunate events unfold through the multitude of media sources covering the events.

The drought and instability in Somalia is nothing new. For those interested and have been following the events unveiling within the Horn of Africa are well familiar with this reality. Given that the situation has exacerbated itself to this level, is a sad constant reminder of the inaction by the Somalis both local and in the diaspora and the international community to actively seek better solutions and address the stalemate within this region. Pro-active engagement usually yields very little positive outcomes as they are often rushed and not well thought out.

The U.N. estimates that tens of thousands of Somalis have already died of malnutrition and warns a rapid increase in aid is needed to prevent the widespread loss of life. The notorious Al Shabaab which controls South Central Somalia continue to serve as a bottle neck to the much needed relief humanitarian efforts. They have accused the foreign donor aid groups for acting as spies and have banned many of them from operating within Somali. Few like UNICEF have had some success in delivering relief items inside Somalia, working in conjunction with the AL Shabaab as a matter of principle as reported in the VOA. Clan leaders and local communities blame the Al Shabaab for their woes. Who wouldn't!!!

Read more and consider donating to Islamic Relief
Photo from Urban Christine News

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Microfinance Capacity Building Fund for Africa

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB), in partnership with the Government of Spain, has launched the Microfinance Capacity Building Fund for Africa. Its purpose is to help strengthen capacity building efforts in the financial sector that benefit poor and low-income populations in the continent, particularly women and those living in rural areas.

The core mission of the Microfinance Capacity Building Fund is to:
  • deepen the outreach of the African financial sector by developing inclusive financial sectors that are composed of diverse institutions providing permanent access to a wide and adapted variety of financial services for a broad range of poor and low-income people
  • help increase transparency within the microfinance sector, supporting projects in rural areas and empowering women
  • provide technical assistance at three levels: at the micro level to retail institutions, at the medium level to market infrastructure, and at the macro level for legal and regulatory framework and supervision.
  • provide technical assistance across various parts of Africa.

The fund will provide awards through three separate Calls for Proposals, occurring annually over the course of 2011 – 2013. Each call will focus on a specific area(s) of intervention and a specific set(s) of African countries.

Read more here and here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Global Changemakers Global Youth Summit 2011: Call For Applications

Global Changemakers are accepting applications for the upcoming Global Youth Summit 2011, which will take place in the UK from 13-19 November. The call for applications is open for social entrepreneurs, community activists and volunteers aged 16-19 from around the world.

If you’re already a Changemaker who has taken part in one of their summits, you can apply for one of the positions as peer facilitator.

Please note that the application deadline is 24 July 2011!

Read more here

Friday, July 8, 2011

Africa Youth Uprising Says Wyre

Time for the Youth to rise...this is an uprising for the youth...
tell 'em not loose hope in life...
only you control where your life goes.

Wyre the Love Child

South Sudan-Born 9th July 2011

A bright new dawn in Africa, welcome South Sudan!

Oh God
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan,
Land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony.

Oh motherland
We rise raising flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy,
For justice, liberty and prosperity
Shall forever more reign.

Oh great patriots
Let us stand up in silence and respect,
Saluting our martyrs whose blood
Cemented our national foundation,
We vow to protect our nation

Oh God bless South Sudan.

Official National anthem of the Republic of South Sudan click here

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

African Countries Large Recepient of Remittances

Gallup surveys in 135 countries reveal about 3% of adults worldwide live in households that receive remittances -- either in the form of money or goods -- from someone in another country. In 35 countries, however, 10% or more report their households get this type of help. These countries are primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more here

At Least 1 in 5 African Youth Plan to Start a Business

Gallup surveys in 27 African countries and areas underscore the interest young people in the region have in entrepreneurship. A median of one in five Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 who are not already business owners say they plan to start their own business in the next 12 months, although they are less likely than those aged 25 to 35 to have these plans. In general, young women are as likely as young men to report plans to launch a business.

plan to start a biz.gif


Gallup finds African youth believe they can rely on social networks to launch their businesses. A median of about 6 in 10 African women (57%) and men (61%) between the ages of 15 and 24 say they trust someone other than a family member enough to make them a partner in starting a business. Similar proportions of women and men in the older age group (aged 25 to 35) say the same.

Young Africans -- whether they are currently thinking about starting a business -- paint a mixed picture in terms of starting and running a business, be it a formal or informal venture. They are relatively positive about the safety of assets and the potential financial success of their business, but fewer find the paperwork process and access to loan money easy enough for would-be entrepreneurs. It is important to note that young people in the older age group as well as both genders share similar views.


Young people in different countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan and northern Africa have different views about some aspects of entrepreneurship. Young people residing in northern African countries are less likely than their counterparts south of the Sahara to say they plan to start a business. Young people's perceptions about business outcomes in northern Africa are generally less positive than those in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, young people in each region found more agreement with respect to ease of business entry and trust in business partners.

Gallup finds other country differences across income groups. Intent to start a business among those aged 15 to 24 is highest in low-income rather than middle-income countries, and ranges from 3% in Morocco to 40% in Uganda. In many of the countries and areas surveyed in Africa, majorities of young people believe they can trust non-relatives to be their business partners, although in the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, and Tanzania, less than 50% of young people believe they can.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Read more here

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sudan: Fight for the soul of the North

AlJazeera Feature: As Sudan is split into two, the government in the North faces growing resentment over the loss of national pride. Indeed, we are living in interesting times.

Friday, July 1, 2011

African Institute For Remittances (AIR) Project

This project is led by African Union with the support of the World Bank and the European Commission, and in cooperation with the African Development Bank and the International Organisation for Migration.

The core objectives of the African Institute Remittances project are to:

(a) Facilitate the process leading to the creation of the Institute; and

(b) Build the capacity of the Member States of the African Union, remittance senders and recipients and other stakeholders to develop and implement concrete strategies and operational instruments to use remittances as development tools for poverty reduction.

The overriding purpose of these consultations is to involve the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholders from Africa and the Diaspora in a discussion on remittances and how they are sent and used.

If you could take the time to complete this brief and basic survey, it would be appreciated.
Click here for survey

The AIR project would work on implementing the following activities:
  • providing technical assistance to government institutions (central banks, Ministries, financial and non-financial institutions) on establishing and operating the necessary regulatory frameworks;
  • carrying out required training and capacity building programmes of relevant institutions and organisations (e.g. national statistical services departments);
  • studying remittances flows within Africa (including North Africa);
  • conducting policy research and dialogue and sharing information on how remittances can better contribute to the development of African countries;developing content and technology platforms for country-based payment and settlement systems for remittances;
  • developing partnerships between African central banks and remittance service providers and non-bank correspondent agencies to improve financial access;
  • andDisseminating data and research findings on good practices through annual reports, conferences and workshops for stakeholders as well as meetings with the region’s policy makers.
We want to hear your thoughts and views about this project specifically and also hear your wider opinions about remittances in Africa – how they are sent and used, challenges, costs, alternatives, changes, suggestions and any other thoughts you have.

Read more here and World Bank Africa Diaspora Program

Photos by Flickr Dahabshiil Money Transfer Branch in Juba, South Sudan
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