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Yaounde Declaration: Africa’s answer to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus

Representatives from over 30 African countries held discussion about Africa's plan to improve roads, provide education and energy in the rural areas

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In this photo taken June 20, 2016, pedestrians shop at a market in Lagos, Nigeria. Source-VOA
  • Experts from over 30 African countries met in Yaounde, Cameroon, for a Forum on Rural Development
  • During the week-long discussions, they devised a plan to control influx of African migrants taking long and perilous journey to Europe and the US, to find work
  • At the end of the discussions, Experts adopted, The Yaounde declaration, which calls for development in rural areas so that the African youth don’t have to make the dangerous trip to Europe for seeking employment

AFRICA, September 11, 2016: Representatives of 30 African countries have been working this week to map out ways to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus at the Forum on Rural Development in Yaounde.

Emmanuel Afessi works on his desktop at Odja center in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, where he is training 30 youths on information technologies at the center he created when he returned from the United States a year ago.

“Africa needs to produce its own knowledge, its own equipment and that is why we want to train people within the continent,” he said. “ICTs help close the gap between the developed and the developing world much faster than any technology including the motor vehicles. It is a large contributor to most African countries GDPs today. Think about just the whole aspects of internet and mobile phone. That is a huge multi-billion dollar market.”

The 33-year-old Afessi says he was unemployed and fled to Paris and then the United States, where he was denied refugee status. He says he could not find work and decided to return home, sell his father’s piece of land, and open the ICT center.

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Afessi was part of Africa’s rapidly growing population of emigrants. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports estimates this year nearly 47,000 migrants have reached Italy, the vast majority of them Sub-Saharan Africans.

A representative of Kenyan civil society organizations at the Forum on Rural Development, Vitalis Abbasi, says many of the migrants are highly educated, but unemployed and are traveling from rural areas in search of opportunities.

“If the roads were good, the energy systems were well, we could also access information and communication technologies, a lot of people will stay in those areas,” said Abbasi. “We could lift people up in those areas by pulling agriculture production up. So once people get a bit more money in their pockets, it is now easier for the rest of the economy to grow because when a lot of rural people have a bit more money in their pockets, even up to $2 per day average, they start consuming industrial goods, also manufacturing our own goods, rather than always depending on importing.”

Experts from 30 African countries adopted what they call the Yaounde declaration that invites Africa to invest more in the rural areas youths are deserting. They say Africa is losing its trained human capital if current trends continue.

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The head of program implementation at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Estherine Fotabong, says governments should have the political will to create enabling environments for the private sector and civil society groups.

“We still have the majority of Africans living in rural areas, despite the rapid urbanization rates and from different studies the projection is that up to 2035 that will still be the case,” said Fotabong. “We still have most Africans employed in agriculture and we still have lots of land in our rural areas, so why not invest in social amenities, in infrastructure, in better education systems, in industrialization in rural areas so that youths will not see any reason to leave the rural areas to go to the cities.”

The Yaounde declaration is accompanied by a call for action that requests African heads of state to support the implementation of an action plan being developed to stop Africans from having to make the dangerous trip to Europe. (VOA)

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Malaysia Launches Vaccination Campaign After 1st Polio Infection in 27 Years

The last case of polio registered in Malaysia occurred in 1992. Eight years later, the country was declared polio-free along with the other nations in the Western Pacific Region

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FILE - An Indian medical volunteer administers a dose of polio vaccine to a child in Hyderabad, India, Jan. 29, 2017. (Representational image). VOA

Malaysian health authorities on Monday launched a vaccination campaign in rural areas of the jungle-covered island of Borneo after detecting the first case of polio since the Southeast Asian country declared itself free of the viral disease in 2000.

The infected is a three-month-old boy in the town of Tuaran, who was hospitalized with fever and muscle weakness and tested positive for the virus on December 6, the Director-General of Malaysia’s Health Ministry, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“The patient is currently under treatment in an isolation ward and in a stable condition, but still requires respiratory support,” the official added in his statement.

Malaysia is the second Asian country to have recorded a polio infection this year after the Philippines, which declared an outbreak of the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) on September 19, reports Efe news.

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A child receiving vaccine drops. Wikimedia Commons

According to Noor Hisham, tests conducted by the World Health Organization’s Polio Regional Reference Laboratory in Melbourne showed that the virus detected in the Malaysian infant was genetically linked to the strain in the Philippines, which neighbours Borneo.

Noor Hisham said that a survey of polio-infected children in Sabah, one of Malaysia’s two states located on the north of Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, found that 23 out of 199 children aged between two months and 15 years had not been vaccinated.

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“This is a worrying situation, as the spread of polio can only be stopped with immunization,” he said. “Vaccination rates should always be higher than 95 per cent to prevent infection.”

The last case of polio registered in Malaysia occurred in 1992. Eight years later, the country was declared polio-free along with the other nations in the Western Pacific Region. (IANS)