Stories written by Miriam Mannak

ECONOMY: Electrifying African Interest in Renewable Energy

Various countries in East Africa are making gradual progress in moving from a solely carbon-based electricity network to a cleaner power grid.

Dr. Segametsi Maruapula: African people are eating more hamburgers, hot dogs, savoury snacks and convenience foods. Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

ECONOMY: Growing Obesity in Africa Bad for Worker Productivity

Obesity is no longer a problem confined to wealthy nations. In their developing counterparts in Africa, an increasing number of people can be categorised as obese. According to researchers this trend could be detrimental to countries’ already fragile economies.

Claims about a certain flood-resistant type of rice being genetically modified have been refuted. Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

AFRICA: Outrage Over Claim that Anti-GM Campaign “Causes Hunger”

Civil society organisations have reacted with outrage to claims that the international campaign against genetically modified (GM) crops is partly responsible for food shortages and food insecurity in Africa.

"Africans will stop eating rice if prices rise." Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

TRADE: Africa Might Ditch Asian Rice if Prices Increase

Thailand and other major rice exporting countries are at risk of losing Africa as an important trading partner if they raise their rice prices. Half of the 10 million tons of rice exported by Thailand last year went to Africa. Nigeria, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa were among the main buyers of rice in Africa.

Marlise Richter: Many sex workers "come from Zimbabwe or the Democratic Republic of the Congo as economic migrants and out of their own free will." Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Will Soccer World Cup Attract Human Traffickers?

A fierce debate has erupted over claims that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will fuel the trafficking of women from African and other countries to South Africa for sexual exploitation during the cup, which starts on Jun 11.

Richard Saunders: "It is unclear how many people were killed, but 214 deaths have been accounted for." Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

Q&A: “Militarisation of Zimbabwe’s Diamond Fields Continues”

Almost a year after a review mission of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) found Zimbabwe guilty of "serious non-compliance" with the scheme’s minimum criteria on conflict diamonds, the militarisation of the southern African country’s diamond mining operations continues.

Some of the labels used by Fairtrade Label South Africa Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

AFRICA: Fair Trade Farmers’ Exports Hit by Volcanic Ash

African farmers are assessing the financial impact of the Icelandic volcanic ash clouds that led to a lockdown of Europe’s airspace, forcing fair trade flower growers from Africa to throw away 20 million roses that were meant for the European market.

SOUTH AFRICA: "If You Are Landless, You Are Damned"

A group of small-scale South African farmers has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against the government, accusing the authorities of not sufficiently assisting small farmers to make a living and therefore undermining their human right to food security.

More than 250,000 women die in childbirth in Africa each year; many more suffer serious injury. This 20-year-old Nigerian woman developed obstetric fistula after six days of labour. Credit:  Dr. Gloria Esegbona/UNFPA

HEALTH-AFRICA: If Men Were Dying En Masse…

Maternal mortality rates in Africa constitute a "monumental tragedy" that requires urgent attention by African governments, health experts say.

HEALTH-AFRICA: TB Vaccine In The Pipeline

For the first time in eighty years, a new Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine has entered the efficacy stage of a clinical trial. While the developers are optimistic about the outcome, lung health and TB experts are warning against being overly excited.

Youth run testing centre in Chad: poor infrastructure and a severe shortage of health workers mean millions of Africans who should be receiving antiretrovirals are not.  Credit:  UNFPA

HEALTH-AFRICA: Early ART: A Stitch in Time…

A global call to put people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at an earlier stage of their illness is intensifying, but most developing countries, especially in Africa, are struggling to meet the current recommendations.

HEALTH-AFRICA: HIV Laws Do More Harm Than Good

In Sierra Leone, a mother who transmits HIV to her child can be fined, jailed for up to seven years, or both. Human Rights Watch reports that in 2008, several men were arrested in Egypt simply for being HIV positive. New legislation is currently being discussed in Angola that could lead to a three to ten year jail sentence for those who knowingly pass on HIV.

SOUTH AFRICA: Young, Educated and Unemployed

Unemployment among young South Africans is hovering at 30 percent, shooting up to over 60 percent for youths in their late teens and early twenties. But tertiary education and skills development seem not to be making much of a dent in what is now regarded as a crisis.

DEVELOPMENT: Investment in Small Farmers Crucial in Africa

Attempts to alleviate poverty and hunger and boost African economies are futile if the needs and potential of small-scale farmers in the region are ignored and the issue of trade barriers remains unaddressed.

Improved access to groundwater could address the needs of the 40% percent of Southern Africans whose water supplies are vulnerable to disease and drought. Credit:  Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Groundwater Still Underutilised

Despite the significant role groundwater could play in alleviating poverty, improving food security and contributing to overall development in Southern Africa, a lack of skills, finances and awareness of the resource means only a small percentage of the region's supplies are tapped into.

Kofi Annan: "Africa not as profoundly affected by crisis" Credit:  Miriam Mannak/IPS

DEVELOPMENT: Africa ‘Not Badly Hit’ Despite 16 Million More Poor

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan believes that Africa has not been affected as ‘‘profoundly’’ by the global economic crisis compared to other regions in the world - despite the number of Africans living in poverty having increased by 16 million in the last year and annual growth dropping from six to one percent.

DEVELOPMENT: ‘‘19th WEF on Africa Just About Elite Agendas’’

The 19th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which kicks off tomorrow, is a space ‘‘for the rich and powerful elites who control the global economy and who seek to further open Africa’s economy in collaboration with a tiny minority of corrupt elites in Africa.

SOUTH AFRICA: Wastewater Is a Resource

South Africa faces chronic water shortages, yet billions of litres are flushed away every year. Being one of the driest countries in the world, the conservation of water resources and managing wastewater should be a top priority for government.

SOUTH AFRICA: Communities Draft Health Map to Push for Better Services

The quality of South African public health services cannot improve if community-based organisations (CBOs) are not given a greater role in shaping, developing and implementing national and provincial health policies.

Fast, quick, and easy: mobile testing units like the Tutu Tester mean more South Africans know their HIV status. Credit:  Miriam Mannak/IPS

HEALTH-SOUTH AFRICA: Bringing HIV Testing Where It's Needed

In the ten months since the Tutu Tester's mobile clinic began touring Cape Town neighbourhoods offering quick, confidential tests for a number of chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS, more than 7,000 people have climbed into its colourful camper-van for testing and counselling.

Women protests against lack of TB services during a march to parliament in Cape Town, South Africa on World TB Day. Credit:  Miriam Mannak/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: Activists Lament Lack of HIV/TB Co-Treatment

Despite repeated calls for integrated HIV and tuberculosis (TB) health services from medical experts and AIDS activists, most of South Africa’s public health facilities continue to treat the diseases independently. Co-infection presents a major risk to the lives of people living with HIV.

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