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15
OCT

Zimbabwe Doctors, Nurses Decry Government Rule That Bars Them from Leaving Country

Doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe are challenging a Ministry of Health rule they say impedes their ability to leave the country.  The ministry said last month that health care workers must obtain official signatures to receive a "Certificate of Good Standing" - a needed reference to get work abroad.  A doctor group says it’s an attempt to stop a mass exodus after poor treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare.
Camera: Blessing Chigwenhembe  
15
OCT

Nigeria Government Permits Reopening of Schools

Nigeria re-opened schools October 12, six months after they were closed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Students from poor families unable to afford internet for distance learning suffered the most from schools being shuttered. However, not all parents are convinced the time is right for students to return to the classroom.  Ifiok Ettang reports from Jos, Nigeria.Camera:  Ifiok Ettang     Produced by:   Marcus Harton 
13
OCT

Widespread Floods Devastate Large Sections of East Africa 

In recent months, unpredictable, intense floods have washed across parts of Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti and Tanzania, ruining homes and livelihoods as people and governments try to battle a global pandemic.As the world battles a pandemic, large swaths of the African continent have been —literally — submerged by floods.  Since March, this crisis has left more than 400 people dead in East Africa. A separate round of flooding has hit West Africa’s Sahel region.  In Uganda, Catholic Relief services estimates that as many as 580,000 people are affected.Country director Niek de Goeij says "It's kind of affecting all kinds of people. You know, in Kampala, our capital city, it affects people who have nice houses on the lakeshore. But if you are in the Mount Elgon area, on the border with Kenya; or you're in the Kasese area, on the border with the D.R. Congo, and you’re a smallholder farmer normally benefits from farming on a river bank. And suddenly there’s this raging flash floods that comes down to hills and mountains because of this very intense rainfall — you know, you lose everything. You lose your house, you lose your land. And so it's a very diverse group of people that is affected.” In the eastern town of Jinja, along the shores of Lake Victoria, radio host and environmental activist John Hillary says flooding doesn’t just destroy homes  it ruins the very fabric that holds society together.  “The public hospital, the only public hospital in the Chilembwe region, was completely destroyed. So people as a result of the floods got sick. But they could not get anywhere else to go to because the hospital had been destroyed,” he said.   De Goeij says heavy rainfall is normal in East Africa — what isn’t, he says, is their frequency and intensity. And, he says, the pandemic makes it harder for groups like his to respond.  “It's like a triple crisis in Uganda, right? We have the locusts, we have all the floods. And then, on top of everything else, we have COVID-19. And so it's been, for the affected people, it’s been an especially hard year, you know, to be on a lockdown and be affected by floods, and then because of the lockdown, accessing the support and the relief that that they're entitled to,” he said.Hillary, who speaks often about climate change on his radio show, ...
12
OCT

Ghana Businessman Promotes Benefits of Maintaining Forests

A World Bank report shows Ghana loses at least 315,000 hectares of its forest each year. To help change that, a Ghanaian project is promoting sustainable forestry, teaching people the economic benefits of letting trees stand and surrounding vegetation live. Wellington Baiden calls his lush, 85-hectare forest a “green supermarket” -- it produces fish, wood products, seedlings, fruits, and essential oils. Baiden grows a range of trees, some fast-growing, many indigenous and endangered trees - as well as aromatic plants that produce natural oils used in perfumes. CEO of Portal Forest Estates, Wellington Baiden wants others to replicate his project, Oct. 3, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)While forestry is usually a long-term project, where the income comes with the harvest, Portal Forest Estates generates income both in the short and long term. Baiden is starting to harvest the trees he planted 20 years ago, but he’s replacing them and creating other businesses within the forest to ensure its future and benefit to the surrounding communities -- which he says is the key to sustainability."Having a working forest is, I would say, a key component to restoring forest cover, because, one - it provides jobs for the community and the encroachment basically happens because people need to survive,” Baiden said.Involving the local community is key to creating a sustainable forest, Wellington Baiden says, Oct. 3, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)One of Baiden’s products is natural oils. Baiden is working with local farmers to grow plants like ylang-ylang and citronella, whose oils he can sell on international markets. Chemist Justice Crentsil spends his days distilling the plants to create the oils. He says he’s the only one from his graduating class in this line of work, which he believes will help Ghana’s future."The fact that you’re not really damaging the forest - you’re not cutting down trees - and the fact that we don’t use any fertilizer in the forest, everything comes from Mother Nature  - that’s a bit mind-boggling,” Crentsil said. He hopes this project will become a blueprint, to ensure other forests are spared degradation when people see the long-term financial benefits held within them.Ninety miles away, campaigners have been battling to save a different forest from government mining plans. Daryl Bosu, from environmental non-governmental organization A Rocha Ghana, says the working forest idea is key to stopping tree loss in Ghana by showing people the benefits in the short, medium and long term of keeping forest cover.Daryl Bosu from ...
12
OCT

Ghana Working to Save Eroding Coastlines

Ghana has started building seawalls at key points along its shore to stop coastal erosion and protect beaches, communities and historic buildings. But fishermen say the walls make it hard to pull in their nets, while coastal resorts say the walls hurt their businesses.Ben Idun set up a resort in the coastal town of Elima in 2009, imagining people would flock to its golden beach.  However, he has spent much of his time trying to stop rapid coastal erosion, which he attributes to years of illegal sand mining in the area.  When authorities finally stepped in the mining decreased, and to stop further erosion, a rocky sea defense wall was built on the shore in 2017. But this added more woes for the resort, as hotel guests can no longer access the water. “I think that Ghana’s tourism potential is really what is at risk, and when I looked it any promotion that talks about Ghana, one of the things we always raise - apart from heritage -  is our beautiful beachfronts and I really think we've got to start putting some effort and investment behind ensuring, protecting and improving our beachfronts -  and they can start right here,” Idun said.Ghana has an average erosion rate of about two meters a year with some smaller sites seeing up to 17 meters of erosion in one year, says Donatus Angnuureng, from the University of Cape Coast’s Center for Coastal Management.  Dr. Angnuureng has seen areas where heavy waves and flooding have claimed homes.  In response to these issues, the government is building more sea defense walls along its coast. While some of the walls allow beach access, there are concerns about the walls’ impact and effectiveness.  While the sea defense walls have worked in the short term to stabilize the beach and protect properties, Dr. Angnuureng questions how they will hold up in the long run as the sea level rises with global warming.   While there needed to be measures put in place to save properties, he said other approaches should be considered.   “We can consider some soft solutions like vegetation, mangroves or just nourishment with sand. We can mix solutions, and we can have our beaches and even have gardens and proper recreational areas,” Dr. Angnuureng said.While some in the Central Region campaigned for the seawalls, fishermen such as  Christopher Ahorsu say they fear for their livelihoods, worried the sea walls will block them from doing their already precarious work.  “It will disturb us and all of  the time when we are pulling the nets, our minds go there - that’s all the work we do here, we don’t have any work, we do only ...
12
OCT

Ghana Working to Save Eroding Coastlines

Ghana has started building sea defense walls at key points along the coast to stop coastal erosion and protect beaches, communities and historic buildings. But fishermen fear the walls will block them from pulling their nets ashore, and coastal resorts say they are harming business. Stacey Knott has the story from Cape Coast, Ghana.  
07
OCT

Zimbabwe Teachers Refuse to Return to Schools Over Pay, Sanitation

Zimbabwe's back-to-school program is failing to take off with most teachers refusing to return to class because of low pay and concerns about COVID-19.  Teachers want a 500% salary increase to get out of poverty and say authorities must provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.  Zimbabwe authorities say PPE is adequate and are threatening to replace teachers who refuse to return to schools.  Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare. Camera:  Blessing Chigwenhembe    Produced by:  Bronwyn Benito
07
OCT

Somalia Opens First Independent Modern Arts Institution

Somalia in September saw the opening of what is being touted as the country's first independent, modern arts institution. The Somali Arts Foundation says it seeks to promote creativity and critical discussions on what it means to be a Somali. Mohamed Sheikh Nor reports from Mogadishu.  
Camera: Mohamed Sheikh Nor   Produced by: Rod James 
 
05
OCT

In Kenya People Celebrate their Country’s Music Culture from their Vehicles

Kenya hosted (Oct 3-4) its first social-distance culture and music event where people enjoyed live bands while they could sit in their vehicles so there is less risk of spreading COVID-19.  The Kikwetu festival aims to bring Kenyans together, despite the pandemic, to celebrate the country's cultural diversity.  Mohammed Yusuf reports from Nairobi
05
OCT

South African Invents COVID-19 'Pure Air' Shirt

South African Andrew King’s tattoo parlor was suffering from the pandemic lockdown and social distancing. So, he gathered a team and put their creativity into other fashionable designs to fit the market.  King created a shirt with a built-in mask for COVID-19, which could prove a hit in South Africa-the country worst hit by the virus on the continent. Franco Puglisi reports from Johannesburg.   PRODUCER: Jason Godman

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