Poverty and health

Integrated agriculture programs to address malnutrition in northern Malawi
Kerr R; Chilanga E; Nyantakyi-Frimpong H; Luginaah I; Lupafya E: BMC Public Health 16(1197), 2016

In countries where the majority of undernourished people are smallholder farmers, there has been interest in agricultural interventions to improve nutritional outcomes. Addressing gender inequality, however, is a key mechanism by which agriculture can improve nutrition, since women often play a crucial role in farming, food processing and child care, but have limited decision-making and control over agricultural resources. This study examines the approaches by which gender equity in agrarian, resource-poor settings can be improved using a case study in Malawi. A quasi-experimental design with qualitative methods was used to examine the effects of a participatory intervention on gender relations. Thirty married couple households in 19 villages with children under the age of 5 years were interviewed before and then after the intervention. An additional 7 interviews were conducted with key informants, and participant observation was carried out before, during the intervention and afterwards in the communities. The interviews were recorded and transcribed, and analysed qualitatively for key themes, concepts and contradictions. Several barriers were identified that undermine the quality of child care practices, many linked to gender constructions and norms. The dominant concepts of masculinity created shame and embarrassment if men deviated from these norms, by cooking or caring for their children. The study provided evidence that participatory education supported new masculinities through public performances that encouraged men to take on these new roles. Invoking men’s family responsibilities, encouraging new social norms alongside providing new information about different healthy recipes were all pathways by which men developed new ‘emergent’ masculinities in which they were more involved in cooking and child care. The transformational approach, intergenerational and intra-gendered events, a focus on agriculture and food security, alongside involving male leaders were some of the reasons that respondents named for changed gender norms. Participatory education that explicitly addresses hegemonic masculinities related to child nutrition, such as women’s roles in child care, can begin to change dominant gender norms. Involving male leaders, participatory methods and integrating agriculture and food security concerns with nutrition appear to be key components in the context of agrarian communities.

Beyond Addis: Financing Social Protection in the 2030 Agenda
Kaltenborn M: Social Protection and Human Rights, September 2016

the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) expressly identifies establishing universal social protection systems as in several of the international community’s new goals. The SDGs, unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), explicitly state the need for social protection. Target 1.3 calls on states to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including social protection floors (SPFs)1, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable”. SPFs are not only an essential tool in combating poverty, but also form the basis for food security and housing, especially for vulnerable groups; they have the power to promote social cohesion, make an important contribution to helping people into decent employment and enable parents to send their children to school even during economic crises; all goals which are outlined in the Agenda 2030. By securing household incomes, social protection leads to an increase in private consumption and boosts domestic demand. Finally, well-implemented social protection programmes that give households a predictable source of income may also be able to reduce pressures for migration: there is a broad consensus that besides economic growth and investment in human development (in particular in education and health), social protection is one of the core requirements of any poverty reduction strategy, and is an important precondition for an inclusive and cohesive society, and for stabilising fragile states. Consequently, it is also an indispensable instrument in combating the root causes of migration. Establishing SPFs on sound financial footing is primarily a task for the national governments. The ILO Social Protection Floor Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) urges governments to consider using a variety of methods to mobilise the necessary resources for their nationally-defined social protection floors. Such methods may include effective enforcement of tax and contribution obligations, but also setting new priorities in their spending behaviour. To solve the problem of funding for SPFs, a Global Fund for Social Protection is proposed, with resources from both the high- and low-income countries to close the funding shortfall between what poorer countries can reasonably afford and address funding for emergencies. The author argues also that developed countries have an obligation to support partner countries in their efforts to strengthen their social security systems, while simultaneously ensuring that the partner countries will be able to sustain these systems themselves in the long run.

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty Statement for World Food Day 2016
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty: Pambuzuka News, October 2016

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty unites with the farmers, agricultural workers, small-scale food producers, indigenous peoples and the peoples of the world in commemorating World Food Day 2016. To call attention to the hunger being experienced by the majority of the world’s population, the coalition has called it World Hunger Day with the theme “Fight Food Injustice and Repression!” This calls attention to repression of farmers and activists for food justice. In 2015, the Pesticides Action Network – Asia-Pacific claimed that almost six farmers, indigenous people and/or land activists were being killed every month in relation to land struggles and conflicts, and many cases remain unreported. In 2016 they argue that there has been intensifying repression of farmers, indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, and other small-scale food producers. People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty condemn this repression and point to the need to change the structural causes of widespread hunger and intensifying monopoly control over the world’s agriculture and food systems.

Can Habitat III mark a watershed for women informal workers?
Chatterjee P: Cityscape, October 2016

Informal employment makes up more than half of non-agricultural employment in most developing regions, according to Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising (WIEGO). In three major regions (South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean) plus urban China, informal employment is a greater source of non-agricultural employment for women than for men. Elsewhere in East and Southeast Asia, these shares are roughly the same. WEIGO advocates made this case at Habitat III, urging national and local governments to support the urban informal economy. The group released a paper listing the sector-specific needs of urban informal workers from local and national governments, noting that despite their contributions, informal workers’ lives and livelihoods continue to be vulnerable in many cities. Many myths persist about the informal economy in the minds of policymakers and the general public, such as the conflation of the informal economy with illegal activities. Sally Roever, urban policies programme director for WIEGO, pointed to ‘micro-innovations’, which can make a huge difference....Like a municipality issuing identity cards to waste pickers. Residents view a waste picker with an ID card as legitimate entity and are more likely to be cooperative. This enhances the productivity of waste pickers.” She gave the example of Bogota, where recyclers are formally recognised stakeholders in the city's waste-management system. WIEGOs efforts also have prompted the creation of two labour groups — the Association of Recyclers of Bogotá organisation that represents the city’s 3,000 informal recyclers, while the National Association of Recyclers in Colombia represents 12,000 members. These are argued to serve as precedent and inspiration for other informal workers globally.

Problem or Promise? Harnessing Youth Potential in Uganda
Banks N; Sulaiman M: Building Resources Across Communities, 2012

This report from Building Resources Across Communities’s (BRAC) Youth Watch team in Uganda. It shares lessons from the Research and Evaluation Unit's mixed-methods research, including a nationally representative survey of youth, focus groups, and in-depth case studies. Chapter 1 introduces the conceptual framework used in this report and describes the research methodology. Chapter 2 presents the asset portfolio of Ugandan youth. Chapter 3 outlines the position of youth in the family, community and political participation. Chapter 4 discusses the perceived opportunities of Ugandan youth, versus their aspirations. Chapters 5 to 7 outline the health outcomes for Ugandan youth, focusing on risky sexual behaviour, examples of success stories among youth and policy recommendations. The report points out the need for a comprehensive approach that emphasises employment and institutional support to avoid conditions that lead to early pregnancy in young women and sexually transmitted infections and HIV. "Improved support from communities and local governments along with increased access to financial services and vocational training are key to facilitate healthy transition of youth into adulthood.....The combination of the multiple barriers facing youth - including limited assets and support, difficult economic, political and social environments, and limited perceived opportunities for the future - negatively influences the self-esteem, motivations, and aspirations of youth."

Zimbabwe’s child marriages on the rise as food runs short
Mutizwa G: CNBC Africa, August 2016

The author reports that food is becoming scarce in large parts of rural Zimbabwe with United Nations agencies and government warning more than one in three Zimbabweans may need food assistance by next March. The government has appealed for $1.5 billion in emergence support to cover the food and nutrition, agriculture, water, education, and health sectors. Mbire is a traditionally rain starved area, which lies in the Zambezi escarpment, near the border with Zambia. In Mbire, George Nyarugwe, the Acting District Administrator, said at the local clinics there was growing anecdotal evidence of forced child marriages with many of the young mothers telling nurses they were forced to marry because of the drought. Similar reports have been made in Mt Darwin in the country’s northeast and in Seke, near Harare, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report released in January. Between last December and April, UNICEF says 3,042 new child protection cases were reported in 65 districts in Zimbabwe, with child neglect showing the highest incidence at 568, followed by sexual abuse at 306 and physical abuse at 218. There are plans to train government, non-government organisation and community social workers to better protect children in drought afflicted areas.

Pan-African Parliament Committee members emphasise women’s rights and access to land
Pan-African Parliament (PAP): South Africa, March 2016

The Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) organized a joint workshop with the committees on gender, agriculture, justice and bureau of women on the 1st of March 2016 during the Committee Sittings in Midrand, South Africa. The Maputo Protocol ON “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.” was originally adopted by the “Assembly of the African Union” in Maputo, Mozambique July 2003. It provides that women have access to opportunities as well as resources that are available in the country. The PAP aims to ensure that the policies and objectives of the AU are implemented. The members agreed that as a team they need to adopt laws to secure women’s access to land and ensure that they be given a chance to play productive roles with regards to economic development in the agriculture sector. Article 15 of the Maputo protocol raises women’s rights to food and security as well as land access. Granting women access to land was seen to not only improve their lives but to enable food security and sustainable development.

A Story in Words and Images from Cassa Banana Informal Settlement, Zimbabwe
Kaim B: Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) Cassa Banana Community Health Committee and Community (CBCHC), August 2016

The Training and Research Support Centre and Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights reported on how Participatory Action Research (PAR) was used in the Cassa Banana community to explore, analyse and take action on priority health problems faced by the community. PAR activities led to the formation of a Community Health Committee (CHC) and the development of a community action plan that prioritised lack of clean water and poor sanitation as the key health problem in the area. The work in Cassa Banana is building a body of knowledge on strategies to support community efforts to take action and on how to hold duty bearers accountable. As part of this process, in October 2015, nine community members were trained as community photographers using a PAR tool called Photovoice. The photographers took hundreds of photographs reflecting the lives and struggles in their community. They then self-edited the photographs to be included it in a 12-page advocacy booklet that described their community. It showcases challenges in the community and the community’s response to it. Some of the questions included are: Has the process of taking and using the photos deepened understanding of underlying conditions at community level? Has it changed relations and/or levels of organizing between community members (both photographers and non-photographers)? And what impact has use of the booklet had in facilitating changes in interactions with duty bearers? Cassa Banana and partners will be reflecting on these questions in the coming months.

Gendered Navigations: Women in Mining
Benya A: Review of African Political Economy, August 2016

In reflections on her fieldwork in South Africa, Asanda Benya writes about the difficulties and insights she gained while researching underground female mine-workers. Through immersive anthropological research she examined how women make sense of themselves against the masculine underground and mining culture. Some women often remarked that they were “men at work, and women at home”. They admitted to changing how they behaved in the multiple spaces they navigated. It is these shifts in women’s gender performances and identities that the study explored. To get at these gender performances and gendered identities she spent almost a year working underground as a winch operator, and a general labourer, pulling blasted rock from the stope face to the tip.

Southern Africa: Food Insecurity - 2015-2016
ReliefWeb, June 2016

Indications of significant food supply shortages are likely to impact on the next marketing season. The rains experienced in late March and early April provided some relief to livestock farmers, but arrived too late for both staple foods and cash crops. These adverse weather conditions are likely to reduce crop production in southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar and South Africa. The negative impact of flooding will also affect food security in Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique. Nearly 29 million people are currently food insecure in southern Africa region mainly due to the carry-over effects of the past poor harvest season combined with other structural factors. Unless a two-track approach is quickly taken to address the current food insecurity and to establish measures to mitigate against the El Niño effects, the existing food insecurity will deepen and increase in scope with its effects will last till 2017. In July, Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched the Regional Appeal seeking US$2.7 billion.