The first time Almaz, a teenager living in rural southern Ethiopia, went to the crowded health care clinic in her village to get contraception, she was told they only helped older women with children. The second time, she waited hours only to find out that her preferred method of contraception was out of stock and she would have to return another day. [Video Below]
Africa’s Demography, Environment, Security Challenges Entwined, Says Roger-Mark De Souza at Africa Center for Strategic Studies›
Sub-Saharan Africa is not only the fastest growing region of the world demographically but is also one of the most vulnerable to climate changes, according to many measures, and already facing natural resource scarcity in many areas. These factors combine with existing development challenges to create security threats that African governments and the United States should be concerned with, says ECSP Director Roger-Mark De Souza in a presentation for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ introductory course on demography and the environment at the National Defense University.
The Population Council’s annual report highlights new work from one of the largest organizations doing research on the lives of adolescent girls in the developing world. Of particular note is the Council’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program, a four-year study launched in May which will involve 42,000 girls in seven countries – Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Tanzania, and Zambia. The aim is to evaluate successful strategies for helping girls avoid child marriage, sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancies at a critical juncture in their lives. Council President Peter Donaldson writes that young girls are “one of the potentially most influential figures in the developing world.” A typical 12-year-old girl “in the next few years…will either abandon or continue her schooling, be pushed into marriage and childbearing, or develop a sense of proud ownership of her physical self… As her future is reconfigured, so is ours.”
The 2011-12 West African food crisis led to riots in Senegal and Burkina Faso as well as food insecurity for millions of rural and urban poor across the region. The crisis emerged from a number of factors, including instability in northern Mali, increases in global food prices, and low rainfall in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 growing seasons. Many countries in the region are now reassessing and expanding domestic agricultural capabilities. At the top of the agenda for Senegal, a democratic republic on track to reach many Millennium Development Goals, is reducing youth unemployment and increasing domestic agricultural capacity.
Over the past few months, the Sahel drought has sparked attention of news media and concerned citizens around the world. Throughout this media blitz, I have been struck by the sharp contrast between this coverage and how the devastating effects of malnutrition are usually portrayed. Malnutrition is often overlooked in favor of more “newsworthy” diseases, and it takes a crisis to focus our attention on this public health issue. Yet an emergency such as this drought – affecting more than 18 million people, including nearly 2 million children – is difficult to ignore.
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