Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 12–25 February 2009

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Coffee bushes support mosses, birds, flowering plants
Biologists Sileshi Nemomissa and Anteneh Shimelis from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia say coffee shrubs have a positive impact on plant and animal diversity in deforested agricultural land and gardens, particularly if cultivated in the shade of large trees. Forest-grown coffee, however, had a negative ecological impact. More>>

Mozambican–South African carbon trading under scrutiny
African synthetic fuels producer Sasol has applied for carbon credits to replace South African coal with piped-in Mozambican natural gas, under the Clean Development Mechanism. But environmental activists have filed formal objections with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change against the Sasol Nitro[54kB] project, questioning whether it will reduce emissions. More>>
Circumcision a ‘risky’ HIV prevention method
A Kenyan study warns that the high risk of complications in both traditional and medical circumcisions in regions with limited post-operative care will negatively affect efforts to combat HIV through mass male circumcision campaigns. Thirty-five per cent of traditional and nearly 18 per cent of clinical circumcision patients reported infection, unhealed wounds and other problems. More>>

Satellites keep an eye on crops
Satellite monitoring of Southern Africa predicts decreased maize yields due to dry weather in Angola, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia, above average maize production in Botswana and normal yields in Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia. The programme, which uses remote sensing to assess factors such as crop growth and also forecasts sorghum and millet, plans to expand to West and East Africa this year. More>>
Exploring the geophysical mysteries of Africa
Angola’s Agostinho Neto University, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University
and the Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa have joined South Africa’s Council for Geoscience and the University of the Witwatersrand in the AfricaArray programme that trains students to investigate geophysical phenomena such as the little known African superplume, earthquakes and volcanoes. More>>

Hospitals not following their own guidelines
Ashebir Getachew from the Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Sourou Gbangbade, a consultant from Benin, and Sayoka Mfinanga from Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research have found that pregnant women are at risk of fatal blood loss after birth because of poor management of labour in hospitals and clinics in seven developing countries. More>>[116KB]

Southern Africa could still host massive villages of radio telescopes
The bid by nine African countries to beat Australia to become the home of the world’s biggest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, remains unaffected by the global financial crisis. The decision on siting the SKA is due in 2011. Meanwhile, South African universities are competing to attract postgraduate students. More>>

Should Africa host the next world meeting of science journalists?
Delegates at Johannesburg’s African Science Communication Conference called for African bids for the next World Conference of Science Journalists to be presented at the London meeting of science reporters in June and July. Both the Kenyan and South African science journalism associations have expressed interest in hosting the 2011 gathering. More>>[375KB]

Nigeria doesn’t blink at glaucoma surgery
Ophthalmologists Adeyinka Ashaye and Opeyemi Komolafe from Ibadan’s University College Hospital conducted a year-long follow up study of eye surgery on glaucoma patients who risked blindness from the excess pressure inside the eye and found, despite risks, a considerable success rate using more modern techniques such as guarded filtration in operations. More>>

Penicillin-resistant bacteria threatens car accident victims
Microbiologists from the Nigerian universities of Uyo and Calabar have found a high rate of bacterial infection in people injured in automobile accidents. Most of the microorganisms they identified were highly resistant to penicillin and a number of other antibiotics — suggesting drug choices should be made carefully if sensitivity tests are not available. More>>[177KB]

Compiled by Christina Scott. Additional reporting by Sharon Davis.

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