There is a scramble for unoccupied land in Africa, but this time it is not British, Portuguese, French or other colonialists racing to occupy the continent’s vacant land – it is the continent’s urban dwellers fast turning to urban farming amid the rampant food shortages that have not spared them.
“Poverty has become part of me,” says 13-year-old Aminata Kabangele from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I have learned to live with the reality that nobody cares for me.”
Hillary Thompson, aged 62, throws some grains of left-over rice from his last meal, mixed with some beer dregs from his sorghum brew, into a swimming pool that he has converted into a fish pond.
With unusually hot and dry weather beating down on this Southern African nation, climate change and the accompanying drought have cost farmers much of their cattle herds. In response, many ranchers are turning to goats to preserve their livestock assets.
Nompumelelo Tshabalala, 41, emerges from her dwarf ‘shack’ made up of rusty metal sheets and falls short of bumping into this reporter as she bends down to avoid knocking her head against the top part of her makeshift door frame.
While many countries appear to have met the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, rights activists say that African countries which have taken to installing prepaid water meters have rendered a blow to many poor people, making it hard for them to access water.
There is a new scramble for Africa, with ordinary people facing displacement by the affluent and the powerful as huge tracts of land on the continent are grabbed by a minority, rights activists here say.
Tatenda Chivata, a 16-year old from Zimbabwe’s Mutoko rural district, was suspended from school for an entire three-month academic term after he was found with a used condom stashed in his schoolbag.
Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more hectares into private hands.
Reports this year of illicit moneys from African countries stashed in a Swiss bank – indicating that corruption lies behind much of the income inequality that affects the continent – have grabbed international news headlines.
Hidden by the struggles to defeat Ebola, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis, a silent killer has been moving across the African continent, superseding infections of HIV and AIDS.
There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.
For 47-year-old Albert Mangwendere from Mutoko, a district 143 kilometres east of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, transporting his three pregnant wives using a wheelbarrow to a local clinic has become routine, with his wives delivering babies one after the other.
About eight years ago, 44-year-old Tilda Chihota was struck with tuberculosis which kept her bed-ridden for over six months at her rural home in Zimbabwe’s Mwenezi district, 144 kilometres southwest of Masvingo, the country’s oldest town.
Fifty-one-year-old Mateline Msipa is living with HIV. Her 17-year-old daughter, born after Msipa was diagnosed with the virus, may also have it, but she has never been tested.