a few stories that highlight just how bad things are for some people

The BBC reports that women in Niger have a 1 in 7 chance of dying during childbirth. The report also mentioned that more than half of maternal deaths in poor countries occur in Africa. I have talked about this in the past but it still is saddening to see such statistics and know that there are real people, real human beings behind them. IRIN also has a slightly positive story on maternal mortality in Somalia.

Turning to the bizzare, The Economist reports that albinos in East Africa are facing constant threat of death in the hands of crazies out to harvest their body parts – to be used by witches. This is the 21st century? How do people still believe in things like this? The Economist may have hyped it a bit, but the mere fact that such crazy things are still happening in communities in East Africa is shocking, and quite frankly embarrassing for Africa. I think it is time governments stopped pretending that people don’t do such weird things and go ahead and outlaw certain practices – like witchcraft and the like. Of course this may be a problem if some law-makers believe in that stuff too. And I would not be surprised if it turned out that some do because we are led by a brood of half-baked adults without a scintilla of statesmanship but full of superstitious and anachronistic nonesense that they present as “traditions.”

And lastly, a positive story from Malawi. The authorities tthere have adopted the use of mobile phones to assist in data collection. This discovery might help improve the standards of data collection across Africa, a continent where planning has been seriously hampered because of unreliable data collection and record-keeping.

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