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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 10–22 April 2008

Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 10–22 April.

Cattle overstocking 'worsens response to drought'
Research from the University of Botswana has found that the common practice of overstocking cattle to cope with drought losses actually depletes scarce biomass, making ecosystems more vulnerable. The study of the Kgatleng district of Botswana predicts that by 2050 the cycle of mild drought is likely to become shorter for the region — 18 months instead of two years — due to climate change.More>> [99kB]

Dual contraception messages 'ignored' in high-risk HIV regions
Nursing mothers are reluctant to use condoms as an additional contraception method, according to a study in South Africa. The research, published in the South African Medical Journal, says that medical messages about the importance of using two forms of contraception in regions of high-HIV prevalence is not getting through. More>>

Grasses 'can help revive degraded rangeland'
Oversowing of grasses is an effective strategy for treating degraded wastelands, according to a study. Researchers from Ethiopia's Melka Werer Research Center and South Africa's Stellenbosch University examined the effect of oversowing three local grasses on rangeland in northeast Ethiopia, finding positive effects on ground protection and grazing capacity. More>>

Stem bark extract shows sleeping sickness promise
Compounds from the stem bark of a common Nigerian tree have shown activity against the parasite that causes sleeping sickness. Researchers from Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University report the results of mouse blood tests in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. More>> [60kB]

Enriched cow dung 'as good as inorganic fertiliser'
Enriching cow dung with nitrogen dramatically improves green maize yields, according to studies from Nigeria's Institute of Agricultural Research and Training. Researchers, writing in the African Journal of Plant Science, say the enriched decomposed manure performed as well as inorganic fertilisers in improving growth and soil nutrient levels. More>> [63kB]

Senna weed provides antibiotic leads
Extracts from a weed used in traditional medicine could offer leads to new antibiotics. Research published in the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology confirmed antifungal and antibacterial activity of compounds from the Senna weed. More>> [108kB]

Post-traumatic stress disorder 'underdiagnosed' in South Africa
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may affect a higher proportion of South African psychiatric patients than estimated, according to a study. Research conducted in a clinic in Durban, South Africa, found PTSD to be underdiagnosed, particularly when the disorder was not the primary reason for attending the clinic and no obvious traumatic experience was reported. More>>

Food thickener removes heavy metals from water
A gum membrane made from the seeds of the local konkoli plant — often used as a food thickener — can help remove heavy metals from water. Chemists from Nigeria's Federal University of Technology say this could be used to clean industrial waste from ore smelting and metal refining. More>> [83kB]

Melon seed oils 'reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes'
Locally-produced oils from Egusi melon seeds are a good source of protein and essential fatty acids, and could help combat cardiovascular disease and diabetes resulting from obesity, say Cameroonian researchers. Animal tests, reported in the African Journal of Food Science, show that the oils reduce cholesterol levels in the arteries. More>> [95kB]

Ghanaian scientists shed light on cashew pest
Ghanaian scientists have described the life cycle of the cashew mosquito, a major pest damaging Ghana's important crop. The study, by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, could provide the basis for better control measures. More>> [177kB]

Compiled by Christina Scott.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Christina Scott (christina.scott@scidev.net).