Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Plight of Urban Blight

In sub-Saharan Africa nearly half the urban population still lives in slums, according to a major new study.

Nature magazine found the proportion of homes that met United Nations criteria for building standards, living space per person, water and sanitation had more than doubled between 2000 and 2015 to 23 percent.

But it estimated that 53 million urban Africans still lived in slum conditions in 2015, putting them at greater risk of mental health problems, respiratory and diarrhoeal disease and vector-borne diseases such as malaria.
The study found 47 percent of people in urban sub-Saharan Africa still lived in slum-like housing, meaning it was overcrowded, lacked good water or good sanitation, or was badly constructed.
It found poor sanitation - a key contributor to disease - accounted for much of the substandard housing in the region, where 90 percent of the world's malaria cases occur according to the U.N. children's agency.
Senior author Samir Bhatt from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London said the findings showed that poor sanitation remained commonplace across much of sub-Saharan Africa, hampering progress.
Africa's urban population is expected to triple in the next 50 years.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rural communities were in "a state of crisis", with high poverty rates and poor services driving hunger and malnutrition. One in five people, or more than 256 million, are hungry in Africa. Nearly half the world's population live in rural areas but represent 70 percent of the extremely poor, according to IFPRI.
The rise of an urban "middle class" across much of Africa is stoking demand for food that could curb hunger and cut poverty in rural outposts. I
n Africa, a growing middle class with higher purchasing power is fuelling a spike in demand for food - and with an interesting twist.  "They are not just asking for imported food, wine and cheese but to have traditional staple on the tables. But they don't want to eat them the traditional way," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. This has given birth to a large number of small agribusinesses that process, package and distribute such foods, creating jobs and opportunities for small farmers

In Senegal, new processing technologies led to a growth in ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat millet products and reversed years of low and declining consumption of the healthy, gluten-free grain, said the report. Similarly, domestic brands of processed local dairy and grain products now have a significant presence in Ghana, Mali and Tanzani

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