Africa’s Urban Youth Cohort, and Women’s Health in Forest CommunitiesJanuary 2, 2013 By Payal Chandiramani
As recently discussed by the National Intelligence Council, sub-Saharan Africa is home to both the most rapidly growing populations in the world and its fastest expanding cities. Save the Children’s recent report, Voices From Urban Africa: The Impact of Urban Growth on Children, explores the challenges faced by the continent’s youngest age cohort, revealing what forces are driving children and families to migrate to urban areas and the poverty many are experiencing upon getting there. In response to the report’s findings, the authors recommend training and deploying more health care workers, facilitating public-private dialogue to identify long-term water and sanitation solutions, improving access to jobs and skills training, expanding access to early childhood care, and strengthening the education system to ensure widespread attendance. Compiled from 1,050 interviews, the report is unique for its first-hand accounts of the daily lives of children, their families, and community members.
As much of the new growth in sub-Saharan African and other cities will be driven by migration from rural areas, understanding the dynamics in these areas between natural resources, poverty, and women’s health is increasingly important. In “Forests, Women, and Health: Opportunities and Challenges for Conservation,” published in International Forestry Review, authors M. Wan, C.J.P. Colfer, and B. Powell explore strategies for improving forest management in developing countries by incorporating gender and health issues into conservation programs. In many regions in the developing world – like the rainforests of the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo, or the dry forests of east Africa, the Sahel, and India – women interact more with forests and forest resources in their daily lives than men, according to the authors. However, this interaction can also create myriad health problems. Carrying heavy loads can cause uterine prolapse, for example. Inability to access even basic health care, including reproductive health services, in many remote forest communities compounds the problem. Addressing women’s health, therefore, “can serve as a potent entrée into a community and increase people’s willingness to work with conservation projects.”