African press review 26 January 2016


When you think of Africa, do you think of child obesity? Think again: today's press reveals there are a growing amount of overweight children in Africa. Organic farming and a student grant for virgin women also made the headlines.


Times Gabon has a shocking report on the latest student grant thought up by a local council in South Africa.

The region of Uthukela, in the north-east of the country, will be offering grants based on the most bizarre criteria.

The mairess wants to fund neither the poorest nor the brightest students, but ... virgins.

The local council is quite open about the "virgin grant", too.

One municipality spokesperson put it quite simply, the local council wants “young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”.

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Among the many questions the concept raises, there is one technical difficulty: how will authorities know for sure who is entitled to the grant?

And how does one apply?

Without going into too much detail, the beneficiaries of the grant will have to submit to a medical examination - not just once but after each holiday.

As expected, news of the puritanical scheme has sparked outrage among civil society groups, with one women’s association insisting it is unconstitutional.

Gabon on the other hand has adopted a much fairer grant system, based on the academic achievement, Times Gabon is keen to add.

A more inclusive approach, that leaves students free to fully enjoy the thrills of university life.

Nigeria’s Punch newspaper has a rather unusual story on Africa’s growing rates of child obesity.

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The paper quotes a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which reveals that over 10.3 million children under the age of five are now overweight or obese.

The problem of obesity is not generally associated with the African continent, where many countries are still struggling with malnutrition.

But, according to the Punch, the number of obese children in Africa has doubled in the last 15 years.

The World Health Organisation blames child obesity on an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, as well as changes in diet.

And there is an uplifting report from Tanzania in East Africa Business Week.

It explains how small-scale farmers have improved production and raised family incomes by adopting organic farming techniques.

At an event organised by the non-profit organisation Floresta Tanzania, hundreds of small-scale producers gathered to showcase their samples and show their environment conservation efforts on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

According to the article, an increasing amount of local farmers are turning away from industrial fertilisers and pesticides to save money.

The paper adds that a growing amount of small farmers are also keen to preserve the degraded soil in the region, which contributes to poverty.

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