Forget about Coronavirus, inequality is the real threat

Coronavirus is revealing deep inequalities within our societies, economies and health systems. Those who are millionaire are fleeing on private jets to their isolated mansions. The middle class professionals are protecting themselves through self-isolating and working from home, searching for movies to watch or books to read. Meanwhile, thousands of precarious workers have nowhere to hide; if an office gets infected, a multitude of workers come to clean, if a supermarket gets emptied, hundreds of workers need to stack…

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Covid-19 reveals the alarming truth that many children can’t wash their hands at school

Global crises often bring surprises for schools. The first world war flagged up the high number of young soldiers who couldn’t read or write. In the second world war, middle-class country families despaired when evacuated children showed up malnourished and riven with lice. In the aftermath of both, politicians determined to make life better: focusing schools more on literacy and introducing daily milk and school nurses. Pandemics, like wars, temporarily change our way of life. Change happens fast. Schools may even…

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African Nations turn the tables, imposing travel restrictions against U.S., Europe, and China to stave off coronavirus

AS THE NOVEL coronavirus rages through the world and spreads rapidly in the U.S., Africa is the least-affected continent at the moment, with less than 300 reported cases in roughly half of its 54 countries so far. A number of media outlets have reacted with a confounded tone, surprised that Africa does not have more cases and wondering if the low numbers are due to a lack of testing. Health officials say that the main reason the continent has thus far been spared major…

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Debt, coronavirus and locusts create a perfect storm for Africa

The year began with promise for sub-Saharan Africa. All the major institutions tracking African growth said so: The African Development Bank pronounced in its Economic Outlook that Africa’s economic outlook continues to brighten. Its real GDP growth, estimated at 3.4% for 2019, is projected to accelerate to 3.9% in 2020 and to 4.1% in 2021. The IMF said in its World Economic Outlook sub-Saharan Africa growth is expected to strengthen to 3.5% in 2020–21 (from 3.3% in 2019). The…

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The Brown Revolution: Plant Food from Toilet

Urban areas around the world are feeling the weight of growing populations. While cities can become hotspots for economic opportunity, they also churn out massive amounts of waste. Untreated waste that returns to the earth can be unsafe – and a waste of precious nutrients. But now there are ways to not only treat that waste, but to turn it into something new – a solution and business model all in one. Resource recovery and reuse (RRR) is transforming waste management. And the…

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Forced sterilisation in South Africa: They removed my uterus

A woman in South Africa has told the BBC how she was sterilised without her consent after she gave birth at the age of 17, and only learned about it 11 years later when she tried to have another child. Bongekile Msibi was among 48 women sterilised without consent at state hospitals, the Commission for Gender Equality found. Despite being a statutory body, the commission said its inquiry was hampered by the “disappearance” of patients’ files, and its investigators had…

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Africa Pays Too Much For Its Debt

There is renewed concern about the sustainability of rising debt levels in many African countries. Much of this debt is being incurred through foreign currency denominated Eurobonds issued on international financial markets. The total value of Eurobonds issued between 2018 and 2019 was more than the value of all bonds sold between 2003 to 2016. African governments are issuing and listing their Eurobonds on established international debt markets – usually London and Irish Stock Exchanges. African governments would venture offshore a lot less if domestic bond markets were…

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Why Gender Matters for Soil Health as Part of Sustainable Food Systems

This post is written by Wei Zhang, Senior Research Fellow, Environment and Production Technology Division, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). While healthy soils play a critical role in supporting agricultural productivity, climate change mitigation and resilience, and a range of other ecosystem services and are thus an integral part of sustainable food systems, large parts of African agricultural soils remain highly degraded. While there are hundreds of technical options for improving soil health, there are a myriad of sociocultural, institutional,…

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Coronavirus: Are African countries ready?

Africa is one of only two continents with no confirmed cases of coronavirus however experts have warned that it may not be long before the first case is confirmed, given its increasingly close ties to China. At least 565 people have died with more than 28,000 confirmed cases around the world, most of them in China. Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency – largely because of fears that poorer countries…

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‘A piece of me’ was taken – women talk about genital mutilation

“My flesh has been taken away, but I can never give away my heart”; those are the powerful words of resolve from Abida Dawud, one of three women survivors of female genital mutilation, or FGM, from Ethiopia, who have been speaking to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) about their experiences. The three women, all from the Afar Region of the Horn of Africa country, tell their stories in the hope that they can empower others in their communities to…

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