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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 13–26 August 2009


Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 13–26 August 2009.

New consortium to boost neglected disease drug development
A €3.6 million (around US$5 million) effort aimed at developing affordable drugs for leishmaniasis and African sleeping sickness has been launched. A consortium of drug companies and research institutes across the globe will target enzymes specific to the parasites that cause both diseases over the next four years. More>>

Climate change 'will hit urban poor hardest'
Climate change will affect urban workers the most, according to a study modelling the effects of climate change in 16 developing countries. The survey examined the potential economic influence of adverse climate events, such as heat waves, drought and heavy rains, on seven socioeconomic groups. Poverty will be increased across the board — particularly in Bangladesh, Mexico and Zambia — with urban workers most at risk because of increasing food prices. More>>

Disease-resistant cassava on the road to development

Breeders in East Africa are developing cassava varieties resistant to two common diseases affecting the crop. The varieties — under development by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture — are resistant to both Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD).

Scientists find way to extract drugs from threatened African plant
Scientists are racing to develop ways of extracting vital chemicals from the Southern African devil's claw plant, endangered because of increasing drought. The medicinal shrub has been used by Africans for centuries and holds promise in developing drugs for conditions such as arthritis. Researchers have developed a way to produce the plant's compounds by culturing its roots with bacteria in the laboratory — a system that could one day lead to plant 'biofactories'. More>>

Kenya launches 'digital villages' project
Kenya is hoping to encourage the establishment of new small businesses with the launch of its Digital Villages Project. E-centres across the country will provide access to information, education and new markets for businesses — with special emphasis on young people in rural areas — to foster an electronic culture in the country. The first centre opened in Kangundo, outside Nairobi, this month (13 August).

Gabon joins African rice research group
Gabon, one of the highest per capita consumers of rice in Sub-Saharan Africa has joined the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) as its twenty-third member. The country aims to exploit the knowledge and resources of the group to boost domestic rice production and reduce imports. WARDA is an association of African member countries and one of the 15 international institutes supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. More>>

Simulation of African farming under climate change produced

Two new research papers from the International Food Policy Research Institute offer valuable insights on strategies for helping African farmers adapt to climate change. The briefs have highlighted how the continent's agriculture can be enhanced through both rain-fed and irrigated systems. More>>

Nurses in Uganda 'know when to introduce ART'
Researchers writing in BioMed Central's journal Human Resources for Health say that nurses in Uganda have demonstrated that they are capable of determining the best time to administer antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS patients. They say this should ease the strain on overstretched doctors in Sub-Saharan Africa and help increase access to ART. More>>

Compiled by Kimani Chege. Additional reporting by Esther Tola.

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