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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
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  • 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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Cameroon: Cholera Outbreak, Claims a Dozen Lives

The disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

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Cholera
many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera.VOA

A cholera outbreak in Cameroon has claimed at least a dozen lives. Hundreds of people have been rushed to several hospitals in the central African state. It is feared some of the cases were imported from Nigeria and may contaminate refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arabo Saidou, the highest government official in charge of health in Cameroon’s north region says the first cases of cholera were reported along Cameroon’s border with Nigeria two months ago.

He says the disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

In May, the Word Health Organization reported that Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states had been experiencing recurrent cholera outbreaks since February, with a total of 1,664 suspected cases and 31 deaths.

Many people from the three Nigerian states travel to Cameroon for business. At least a hundred thousand are in Cameroon as refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency, with over 90,000 at the Minawao refugee camp.

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Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. VOA

Issac Bayoro, a Cameroonian epidemiologist working in the Mokolo administrative area where the Minawao refugee camp is located says they are educating refugees to respect hygiene norms and are also screening Nigerians coming to the camp in a bid to protect not only the refugees but their host communities.

He says many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera. He says hygiene is not respected as many people do not wash their hands with soap as advised. He says people should stop trusting the belief that an African is naturally vaccinated and can not die of dirt.

Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. The case reported in Yaounde was of a teenager who travelled to Yaounde from northern Cameroon with his mother. He latter died in a hospital according to the government.

Thomas Tawe, a university student and resident of Yaounde says he fears cholera may spread rapidly in the city because just 30 percent of the population has access to good drinking water.

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“In the city of Yaounde only those who can pay can have water. When you go into the quarters (neighbourhoods) you see that people are carrying water from unhygienic sources,” said Tawe. “If the water is contaminated, automatically we will be contaminated.” (VOA)