Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Contributors To Women's Poverty In Africa - By Cantwell Jones

Inequality is a major challenge to development in Africa. It takes many different forms, including income inequality, unequal access to and control over property and resources, unequal access to civil and political rights, and unequal access to social, cultural, and economic rights.

In most African societies, women and girls spend important parts of their day on time consuming responsibilities which overburden them with work in the household.

Women and young girls are responsible for collecting water and firewood, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children and the sick, producing food, and marketing. All these tasks are considered to be low-status activities. Women who spend all their time performing these tasks are often considered to not be working. Much of the women’s work remains unrecognized and undervalued.

When it comes to property, the boys in a family are considered the heirs of the property of their father. When the girls are married, they move on to their husband's family's home. Therefore, the women are considered second class citizens.  Many women are content to be provided for, which most often leads to poverty.

These pictures will show you the amount of work the women in Marungu village in Uvira ,South Kivu, DR Cong, do as the men wait at home.

Fetching water from a far away distance.

Long and strenuous hours in preparing food.

Community builders, in partnership with MIFA, a local ENP partner, have a one year plan to support these ladies to be self-sustainable. This month, some have received goats and some have received hoes and seeds for planting. In the coming months, there will be PiF projects such as pharmacy kiosks, which will be planted in various location in Marungu village in Uvira, DRC. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Community Builders, Anhart Foundation and CoBI are Improving Maternal and Newborn Health Care in DRC

In 2013, I came face to face with the reality of how women in rural areas die from pregnancy and childbirth related complications. I had a chance to visit dilapidated maternity wards in the Uvira villages of DR Congo and the remote Kasanga villages of Tanzania. A Community Builders intern from Canada, David, narrated to me how he witnessed a good number of deaths of babies in just one night as he and Bertha Kisuda of CNI were on a night shift in the hospitals in Sumbawanga, Tanzania. It was heart breaking.
Women are the most vulnerable at childbirth and children are vulnerable in DR Congo, especially up to five years of age. Global measurements of maternal death and child mortality are among the highest in DR Congo. The Save the Child Society rates DR Congo as the most dangerous place o

n earth to be a woman, even though a small number of the other nations such as Chad and Central Africa Republic have slightly higher rates of maternal death.

Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. All women need access to antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth and support in the weeks after childbirth. CoBI has constructed three maternity clinics, in Bukavu, Uvira and Mumosho. On average, one baby is born every day in the clinics (approximately 350 births per year). This local statistics fits with birth rates in DR Congo (34 births, per year, per 1,000 population).  Thus, in a DR Congo community such as Kahungu which has 12,000 persons, approximately 400 births would be expected annually.  The statistics indicates that almost all the births are occurring at the maternity clinics.

The clinics have a small reception room, a delivery room and room with four beds for after care. The maternity clinics are reducing maternal death and child mortality. CoBI nurses state that in conditions of extreme poverty in DR Congo, 4 out of 10 women will die in child birth in their lifetime without adequate maternity health supports.  Published statistics for all of DR Congo place the risk at 1 in 10, however, in villages of extreme poverty the higher death rates are plausible, especially if a village reaches a 10% or greater risk of death for each birth and if total number of pregnancies reach a total of 10 or more.

The clinics also promote child health and reduce the overuse of local dispensaries which dedicated most of their resources and space to maternity issues before the construction of the maternity centers.  I have compiled some picture of the newly built maternity clinics.

Below are some of the pictures of the new maternity wards in DRC. 

This is a picture of 'Helga Schmidtke maternity ward', constructed in Kabanda village of Mumosho.

This is a picture of a maternity ward constructed in Uvira.

​This is a picture of delivery and ordinary beds donated to 'Helga Schmidtke maternity ward', constructed in Kabanda village of Mumosho.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Schooling in Communities Living in Extreme Poverty

Community Builders and Anhart Foundation are working to strengthen sustainable growth in various sub-Saharan African. In many African countries, the law require that all children attend primary school. Due to extreme poverty levels and lack of government infrastructure, there are insufficient numbers of schools in many communities, and many of those that exist do not provide quality education. 
Below is a picture of one of the schools I visited in DRC Bukavu.  This school does not have desks, and the walls are falling apart.

For the majority of children live in extremely rural and impoverished areas, the hope of attending school is a distant dream, even to the most academically gifted children.  In addition to financial obstacles, children face major infrastructure obstacles to attending school regularly. A big part of every child’s day, usually the girls, is spent fetching water for the family and the school, where it is used for daily needs such as preparing food and watering the trees and plants. The boys mainly tend to the livestock. 

Sometimes the closest water source for a village is miles away, time spent fetching water is precious time not spent in school.  Due to this, CoBI, Anhart Foundation and Community builders are now paying school fees to the children living in extreme poverty in DRC. 
The picture below shows some of the school going children attending one of the sensitization meetings.​

In DRC the children who are not of school going age are very malnourished. The parents have to spend the day in the fields cultivating, while the children are left home without any food.  With the introduction on PiF and ENP, families are now able to improve their well being.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The upcoming Guest House in Umalila/Italazia village Mbeya Tanzania

The remote village of Italazia in Mbeya Tanzania is characterized by good weather with plenty of rainfall and fertile soils. Rains normally start in October and end in May followed by the dry and cold season between June and September.

The above picture was taken on route from Mbeya to Umalila showing the cultivated land. 

The people in this village live in extreme poverty, experiencing high infant mortality, maternal death and unsupported treatable diseases. Despite the extreme poverty, the villagers are very energetic and determined. Their main source of income is sustenance farming. 

Houses are mostly constructed from mud and baked bricks, with roofs of either corrugated metal or grass with ventilated pit latrines. The main source of energy for lighting is a wick or hurricane lamp, while the main source of energy for cooking is firewood.  Umalila can be accessed by bus, though the road is dusty, bumpy, and usually full to capacity.

Despite the poverty, Umalia also has a growing economy which has now provided a base for those wishing to start businesses or to help stimulate small entrepreneurs in the area to grow.  Alfred Rogers, one of the Community Builders partners, has worked hard and is still working to help eradicate extreme poverty in Umalila. He partnered with Community Builders to buy a grinding for the village, as villagers had been forced to travel great distances to grind the grains they use for daily food preparation. This grinding mill has been of great help to the community. The picture to the left shows the grinding mill.

Now, with the growing economy, guests visit Umalila without a proper place to stay. The necessity of a guest house was realized as a long time project, which will generate income and pay forward the profits to the individuals living in poverty to start up small projects for sustainability. 

The picture below show the villagers digging the trench for the foundation of the guest house. 

Currently, the guest house is still at the foundation stage as seen in the above picture.  I will be sending more updates on this project as it progresses.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The strange Dirt/dried Clay cravings of Women and PiF in Africa

In Africa women have all sorts of cravings especially during pregnancy. There is one very strange craving, dirt or dried clay craving. When asked how really good dirt/clay tastes, they say, it smells the way ground smells when it’s real dry and a little sprinkle of rain falls. There is really only one way to find out though, you can head out to the garden and try some yourself.

Is this dirt just picked from the ground and eaten? NO!! This dirt/dried clay is clean fresh dug from the subsurface of the ground, in some instances roasted, packed and has brown, cream or white color. You can find this in most supermarkets especially in Kenya, and that explains why as many as 56% of pregnant women eat dirt/dried clay in Kenya. Some women normally prefer the dirt/dried clay, found on ant hills which am told tastes really good as well.  This picture shows some of the dirt/dried clay sold in a market in Dar-er-saalam Tanzania ready to eat.

The nutritive value and danger of eating clay.
The reason why women develop these cravings is not currently identified; however, am told it may be connected to an iron deficiency. Some people speculate that, eating dirt is an attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption. Others say that clay is easily digestible and most people who practice geophagy make sure they are eating clean or fresh earth from subsurface of the ground. Bacteria, parasites and other pathogens are normally found higher up in the top soil. This explains why the eatable dirt is dug from the subsurface. Eating clay in most cases leads to constipation.

How CBG/Anhart Foundation/CBN
Community Nursing Initiative (CNI) and CoBI are two registered community builders organizations based in Tanzania and DRC. These CBO’s get funding to help the communities living in extreme poverty conditions. One way this happens, is by offering health care seminars to sensitize them concerning various health related issues. Dangers of eating dirt is one of the topics that are normally handled. Not only do they just offer seminars, through the Pay It Forward program, $100 worth of grants are offered for business start up material to various groups of individuals. This in turn helps improve their standards of living and hence good nutritional food to the pregnant women.

Below are some of the pictures showing seminars that are offered in various areas, but I must confess I occasionally have these strange cravings.

CoBI staff Rose and Francine, sensitizing members of Mumosho village in DRC Bukavu.

This is a water point in Kasanga Sumbawanga, where the ladies get water for domestic use. Bertha from CNI in partnership with Kasanga dispensary, work together to sensitize them on health related issues.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Different Faces of Pif

Pay it Forward (PiF) is an international micro business development program that provides grants to persons of extreme poverty.  Recipients pay forward naturally to other members of their community.
There are different types of PiF as follows.
Enterprising Non-Profit Businesses
These are grants that are designed for a person who has demonstrated that they are able to start and operate a non-profit business. This person will adhere to proper business practices like registration of the business, having proper accounting in place, and having a dedicated bank account and proper filing.  The main aim is to be self sustainable and then pay forward to people living in extreme poverty in their communities. These funds range from $2000 to $5000 depending on the person’s ability to demonstrate proper business practices.
Below are pictures showing one of the successful ENPs in Arusha Tanzani.  Jackson Naiman received funds to purchase tour and travel car. His business offers East African tours to visitors from all over the world. He has been paying forward over the years to Willson Ngaiza from Bukoba, who, in turn, distributes the funds to people living in extreme poverty to start up small micro-businesses for self sustainability.

The above picture shows Bertha, one of the CNI staff members, standing next to the car during one of her visits.

The picture to the left shows Jackson Naiman on the right, his wife and Bertha on the left.

These are grants that are designed to help a group of people or a community in an area of extreme poverty.  This is normally done in the form of a community project, whereby every member of the community benefits from the project. This has been well demonstrated in DR Congo. For instance, in Kahungu DRC, their collectives are grinding mills. The whole Kahungu village has benefited. No one has to walk long distances anymore to grind their grains, like maize, for food preparation. 
The picture above shows one of the grinding mills in DRC Kahungu.

Small Grants
In this category we have PiF One and PiF Two.  These are grants that are designed to help any person in any area of extreme poverty as long as they have a desire to work hard and be self-sufficient.  At a minimum, participants must match PiF grants with their own funds. For example, a $100 PiF grant must be matched by another $100 in cash or business start-up materials. PiF Two is the same except that the participants are given between $500 to $2000, depending on their ability to manage and control a business on that level. 
A good example is Geoffery, from a remote village of Ngorotwa in Kasanga. He received funds to expand his pharmacy kiosk and paid forward to the ladies who later started small businesses. Now he has build a laboratory as well. These pictures show the location of the village and the pharmacy kiosk itself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Katogota Farm, DR Congo

Comunity Based Initiatives (CoBI), working in the region of Bukavu, DR Congo, began a pig rearing venture a few months ago at a farm in Katogota.
So far, the project has been quite successful. In the first phase, CoBI purchased eight pigs, among them was one which was pregnant . Currently  there are three more that are pregnant.
There was only on unfortunate situation with one of the pigs. The pig gave birth to 11 little piglets. Unfortunately 7 died three days after, this was because the mother pig was unable to produce milk to feed the piglets.  It was after staff gaver her an injection that she started producing milk as reported by Djesse, the CoBI PiF leader. 
The four remaining piglets are now healthy. This problem was not detected earlier by the guards, and the people who sold the pigs to CoBI did not tell of the problem in advance.  The staff worked quickly to find a solution.
CoBI is learning from this and is looking forward for a great pig project.