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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 26 August–8 September 2010

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Below is a roundup of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 26 August–8 September 2010

Microbicide gels that prevent HIV hindered by lack of funding
The first vaginal microbicide gel that significantly reduces a woman's risk of HIV, announced in July, is struggling to get enough funding for the follow-up research necessary to get it to women in need. Only around half of the needed funding has been donated so far, according to UNAIDS. "We have to keep our eye on the prize," said Catherine Hankins, the organisation's chief scientific adviser. "It's in reach. We have to close the funding gap and get the gel to women." More>>

Technology key to Africa's development

African countries should mainstream science and technology, particularly in the agriculture and industrial sectors, to boost national development, according to Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki said better technology for water and irrigation infrastructure was required to help counter the effects of climate change. "We can also do so by adopting new and modern methods of farming, including improving our traditional agriculture through innovations such as modern organic farming," he said. More>>

More investments required for water storage in the face of climate change
Increasingly unpredictable rainfall linked to climate change will significantly threaten food security and economic growth, especially in Africa and Asia, according a report. The report says more investment in water storage technologies will be needed to alleviate shortages. "Millions of farmers in communities dependent on rainfed agriculture are at risk from decreasing and erratic availability of water," said Colin Chartres, director general of the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute, which published the report this week. More>>

Nigerian government slow in responding to climate change challenges
The Nigerian government has been criticised for failing to put in place measures to deal with the environmental health challenges the country faces — despite the severe consequences it poses to Nigeria's economy and human resources. "Nigeria is definitely not prepared to tackle the hazard of climate change in the next 100 years because early warning signal system needs to be put in place, and forest species extinction need to be prevented," said Celestine Onwuliri, vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, at the annual lecture organised by the Society for Environmental Health of Nigeria. More>>

Use 'cyberhealth', WHO urges Africa
African countries should adopt 'cyberhealth' services — healthcare facilitated by telecommunications technology — said Luís Sambo, the WHO regional director for Africa. Sambo said the use of ICTs in this way could lead to several benefits including stronger health systems, better health provision and improved data quality. Adopting cyberhealth services could also help develop professional skills for better performance as well as access to research initiatives. More>>

Biotechnology 'good for environmental protection'
Biotechnology could have ground-breaking impacts on Tanzania's agriculture and health sectors, improve living standards, and protect the environment, according to Hassan Mshinda, director-general of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology. Mshinda, speaking at the University of Dar es Salaam last week (1 September), said this could be achieved through the transfer of new genes into indigenous crops. But he stressed that this must be done with caution and be closely tied to biosafety regulations. "We need to build an essential mass of scientists and related professionals who can take our country to a higher level of economic development," he added. More>>

Eliminate Internet access barriers, Africa told
Internet penetration in Africa is being hindered by inadequate local content and expensive infrastructure, according to Nelson Mattos, Google's product and engineering vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Talking at a two-day web and mobile conference 'G-Uganda' in Kampala, Mattos said that the continent's fragmented nature made broadband connectivity costs ten times higher than in Europe. He called for elimination of access barriers like connectivity and costs to enable more users and for development of products meant for local users. More>>

Kenya's primary school teachers score poorly in mathematics, says report
A new report has found that mathematics school teachers in Kenya have a poor grasp of the subject. The African Population and Health Research Center tested the mathematics skills of teachers and found that the average score was 60 per cent — and 47 per cent for students. Some teachers scored as low as 17 per cent. Teachers were assessed on how effectively they taught the subject, while students were tested on how much they grasped. Teachers considered competent to teach the subject should be scoring more than 90 per cent. More>>

Climate change will kill more people than malaria, says scientist
Ugandan environmental expert Rose Mwebaza has said that Africa will face more deaths from climate change than from malaria. "I think climate change is going to cause more deaths than many of the other traditional causes such as malaria and AIDS," she said addressing African Anglican bishops at a conference in Entebbe. "Whenever I say that, people look at me surprised but it's true." She suggested three things — providing information, promoting simple energy projects and reforestation on Church-owned land — that churches can get involved with communities to mitigate the impacts of climate change. More>>


Compiled by Ochieng’ Ogodo. Additional reporting by David Njagi

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Ochieng' Ogodo ([email protected]).

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