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HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate Among African Countries

The World Aids Day was marked earlier this week.

According to Getting to Zero: HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa. UNAIDS, 2013. , Eastern and Southern Africa is home to half the world’s population living with HIV. This despite the region constituting only 5 per cent of the world’s population.

Eastern and Southern Africa has 48 per cent of the world’s new HIV infections among adults, 55 per cent among children, and 48 per cent of AIDS-related deaths.

The map below confirms the region as the official epicentre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally.

Time to Hasten the Move to Renewable Energy

The global agitation for the shift from use of fossil fuels like crude oil to the use of renewable alternatives like wind and solar energy has been there for a number of decades now.

The reason for that is clear: fossil fuels draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve while, in contrast, the many types of renewable energy resources – such as wind and solar energy – are constantly replenished and will never run out.

It is therefore shocking that many governments and organizations are making minimal efforts to instigate the move to the use of renewable energy.

In Kenya, for example, the continued dependence on firewood, charcoal and paraffin as the main cooking fuel – although in various proportions when broken down to use in urban and rural areas – is worrying.

Rural Urban Cooking  Fuel

The use of solar energy, for instance, is a paltry 0.1% nationally. Even in traditionally hot areas such as northern Kenya and the former North Eastern province, where the wind and solar energy would make sense, the insistence on firewood is still rampant and the use of solar energy negligible.

ASAL Counties

I know the examples outlined here are more about home use than industrial use but they give a good idea of the general trend and the extent to which measures on energy use and environmental conservation are being applied.
The recent strides being made on geothermal energy are commendable but it is hard not to feel that more could be done in that regard.

The environmental and economic gains to be made fully justify a radical change in energy policy and the feeling is that we should have it sooner rather than later.

Urbanization, Our Versions of Brain Drain.

Immigrants run 40% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. Yes, Apple, Google and Yahoo are on that list.

Every year, students from all over the world flock to American Universities, the prestigious Ivy League schools in search of education, world-class education that would improve their lives and their chances in the job market. Competitive advantage.

The thing that is most depressing for the home countries is, they send possibly their smartest brains to foreign nations with no guarantee of their return to apply what they have learnt abroad to improve their home countries.

Rates of urbanization in countries or continents have long been celebrated as signs of development and economic growth. Every year, thousands of people move to urban areas and cities in search for education and jobs. Various villages and rural areas send their smartest brains mostly between the age of 20 and 30 to go study in the cities, where the more advanced learning institutions are, with no guarantee of return.

In Kenya, for example, the population of the capital city is seen to swell up within the age group of 20 – 30, an indication of a growth in students flocking the universities & colleges and in turn a great benefit to the Nairobi County in skilled labor after graduation.

Most of these students rarely return to their home counties and this is also partly because of the larger job market and improved infrastructure within the city.

age

 

The obvious benefit of this can be seen in Nairobi’s economic growth since at any given time, Nairobi county has a great resource of labor; not just any labor but the top of the rural county’s brain, during their most productive and innovative years.

Kiambu County is a big beneficiary by its proximity to Nairobi County. A lot of the skilled young labor would prefer to live in Kiambu due to its affordability while at the same time closeness that affords them to work in Nairobi. The Thika Super highway is an enhancing factor to this. This is also seen in the national data that shows that after Nairobi, Kiambu has a lower poverty rate compared to other counties. The establishment of shopping malls in Kiambu, a good indicator of the middle class populations, is also another good pointer.

gender

Basically, the people make their money in Nairobi and spend it in Kiambu.

Again, looking at Kiambu’s 20–30 year olds age group, this is evident.

On the flip side, taking Kakamega County that has a good collection of national schools and top performers, the exodus is evident. The labor force and brains of the county make a major migration to the cities in search for education and jobs.

area

 

Areas like these leave a population back home that is mostly only capable of unskilled labor and whose demand for development is low as demonstrated in their poverty rates that despite having the best schools, suffer the consequence of a search for better higher education.

In my opinion, counties need to start a drive of maintaining or attracting back their top students as these will be the well trained and skilled labor that will bring forth development, innovation and demand for better and improved services & infrastructure at the grassroots.

 

Source for all data: Kenya Open Data Initiative – www.opendata.go.ke

 

 

Maternal Deaths In Kenya

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

These words by late Victorian poet Rudyard Kipling succinctly capture the role of mothers in human development and are further backed by evidence which shows that infants whose mothers die are more likely to die before reaching their second birthday than infants whose mothers survive.

This is why the Millennium Development Goals include a call for a 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015.

Maternal mortality Ratio (MMR) is basically the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births within a given time period.

In Kenya, over the last one year, 21 per cent of deaths among women of reproductive age were as a result of pregnancy-related causes.

Of those, 26 per cent occurred during pregnancy, 48 per cent during delivery and 26 per cent were within 2 months after delivery.

Kenya’s MMR in that period is 488 deaths per 100,000, an abnormally high figure.

Maternal deaths

Looking at individual counties, first by number of maternal deaths and then by the Maternal Mortality Ratio, Mandera leads the way in both rankings curiously contributing 2,136 out of 6,623 maternal deaths, that is thirty three percent of the national figure!

No woman in this day and age should have to die to give life and as such, more should be done to help avoid unplanned pregnancies and improve access to skilled pre-natal and post-natal care.