Sudanese government forces are gang raping teenage girls and women in government-held areas of Blue Nile state in a pattern of terror against civilians, a rights group said. From Reuters:
“Entire communities are trapped in camp-like conditions behind government lines, terrorised by government forces,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Researchers said refugees interviewed in South Sudan last month described widespread abuses, including rapes, beatings, torture and cases in which men were beaten to death in custody.
Khartoum has been fighting an insurgency in the southern provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011, mounted mostly by former civil war fighters who were left in Sudan after South Sudan seceded that year.
“The number of rapes reported to us, often in harrowing detail, suggests that sexual violence is part of the government’s counter-insurgency strategy,” Bekele said.
“The scale of reported abuses points to the urgent need for an international investigation in both rebel- and government-controlled areas.”
Almost half the refugees said they, a family member or neighbour had suffered sexual violence or they had witnessed a sexual assault. Some also reported that young women had been forced into marriages with members of the military or militia.
HRW said Hawa, a 20-year-old woman, had spent 10 days in hospital after soldiers gang-raped her in an attack this year which left her unconscious.
Global Health and Development Beat
The lives of new mothers and babies are being put at risk by an unreliable supply of safe water, lack of good hygiene and an inadequate number of toilets, according to a report published by a group of health organisations.
Hundreds of families in western Thailand are suffering from lead poisoning near a polluted creek that the government has failed to clean up despite a court order two years ago, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
Mali has released from quarantine the last 13 people being monitored for Ebola, and the country could be declared free of the virus next month if no further cases are recorded, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
Timor-Leste’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of domestic gender-based violence through criminalization and prosecution, already hampered by a general lack of trust in the formal court system, have suffered a fresh setback with the enforced departure of 11 foreign judicial staff who had played a key role in delivering justice in rural areas.
USAID signed a memorandum of understanding with Janssen Therapeutics this month that aims to accelerate progress in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, specifically multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
New diagnostic tests to more rapidly and simply detect Ebola could be available for use in the West Africa epidemic in the next few months, the World Health Organization and partner agencies say.
Sierra Leone is planning a house-to-house search for hidden Ebola cases in the capital and surrounding areas, which currently account for more than half of the country’s new infections.
Speed. That’s key to ending the Ebola epidemic, says the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kenya on Tuesday closed over 500 non-governmental organisations, including 15 for alleged fundraising for terrorism, as part of a security crackdown following repeated attacks.
Spotlight on PSI
Impact spoke with Trip Allport, who leads the work of Accenture Development Partnerships in the Africa region, about this vision for a cross-organizational, cross-sectoral, multi-audience platform that would provide key knowledge and information for health workers and consumers on the front-end, and data on the back-end to inform decisions and daily workflow for supervisors, supply-chain managers, ministries of health, implementers and donors. Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
Impact Magazine: What is your vision of this? What are we talking about here?
Trip Allport: We’re talking about building an integrated mobile health platform that performs a wide range of services and training for community health workers, which will drive greater impact on the ground. There are so many mobile phone-based solutions out there, some of them redundant but some of them very complementary, and beyond just sticking them together on a phone, can we have them really work hand-in-hand for greatest impact at the community health system level—among health workers and their supervisors, or even clients themselves? For instance how does data collection via mobile phones then influence stocks of medicine available in a given geographic area? And can that same data also influence what training community health workers can access quickly if suddenly there’s an outbreak of malaria or Ebola in a new area—how do we make sure health workers in that area then have ready access to a module customized for them on symptoms and response? That’s where we see this going. We want to collaborate across the public, private, and development sectors to build such a platform and deploy it. It’ll have to have a sustainable value proposition for all implementers that work with Ministries of Health in Africa, to ensure consistency in quality and cost-efficiency. And we want to work collaboratively to innovate solutions on that platform, bringing together expertise, learnings, applications, services and resources from multiple organizations to contribute to its ongoing development.
IM: How do you get all these varied players on board?
TA: We quite frankly asked the question of how can we stop these problems of duplication, of pilotitis, multiple mobile solutions going out into the world that don’t necessarily reach scale. It was also a discussion about how to get everyone to play together—to leverage a common platform. If we could, it would be a much smoother and efficient way to get to scale. We want to see this common platform used by all the biggest implementers in the world. So how do you get a Save the Children, an AMREF, a World Vision to work together? That was one of the goals of this London workshop. What we were able to do was to lay out the challenge that we’re all facing, and to get us to all agree that the way we’re working today is not going to work. It doesn’t work. We need to try something radically different.
We had all the donors get up to lay out all these challenges from their perspective that innovative typically means new, but new is not always better. New can end up meaning we just keep trying over and over again and realistically, we’re all trying to solve roughly the same challenge in community healthcare in Africa, so presumably there’s a different and better way using a common platform to which we all contribute?. So we had a great session where the major donors outlined a new vision and paradigm to encourage greater collaboration, which was encouraging for all the implementers to hear and set the stage for continued dialogue thereafter. Donors in the room really encouraged the idea that many of the biggest implementers come together with the Ministry of Health in various countries in Africa to work together on a common platform to get to real scale, and they may in the future be able to support such an expansion if the theory proves out.. So having a common understanding of the challenge, a common understanding of where the industry is going from a donor and funding point of view, I think laid the groundwork for us to say okay, now let’s collaborate, let’s build off this solution.
Read the full conversation here.
Buzzing in the Blogs
Oxfam’s Duncan Green provides a summary and analysis of the recent World Development report published by the World Bank. He blogs:
From its survey of the literature (and a treasure trove of case studies) the WDR identifies three principles:
‘First, people make most judgments and most choices automatically, not deliberatively: we call this “thinking automatically.” Second, how people act and think often depends on what others around them do and think: we call this “thinking socially.” Third, individuals in a given society share a common perspective on making sense of the world around them and understanding themselves: we call this “thinking with mental models.”
These principles, in passing, highlight the importance of targeting social norms (something I’m increasingly focusing on) and add one very large nail to the coffin of rational expectations/homo economicus – the assumed genius number cruncher at the heart of much of neoclassical economics. It turns out that in real life, people do notspend hours processing all available information before deciding whether to buy bread or coca cola. Well duh.
Small bets and multiple experiments: ‘development practice requires an iterative process of discovery and learning, which in turn implies spreading resources (time, money, and expertise) over several cycles of design, implementation, and evaluation.’
Power Within and Strengths-based approaches: ‘invoking positive identities can counteract stereotypes and raise aspirations. Having individuals contemplate their own strengths has led to higher academic achievement among at-risk minorities in the United States, to greater interest in antipoverty programs among poor people, and to an increase in the probability of finding a job among the unemployed in the United Kingdom.’
A critique of the power and prejudices of aid professionals: ‘Although 42 percent of Bank staff predicted that most poor people in Nairobi, Kenya, would agree with the statement that “vaccines are risky because they can cause sterilization,” only 11 percent of the poor people sampled actually agreed with the statement. This finding suggests that development professionals may assume that poor individuals may be less autonomous, less responsible, less hopeful, and less knowledgeable than they in fact are. Beliefs like these about the context of poverty shape policy choices. It is important to check mental models of poverty against reality.’
9:00 AM – Emerging Priorities for Maternal Health in Nigeria – Wilson Center
4:30 PM – Global Health Market Shaping Forum: Discussion of the Practice and Potential – CGD
12:30 PM – Health-Wealth Trade-offs: Effects of Mineral Mining in Developing Countries – CGD
By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy
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Disclaimer: Opinions presented in this email do not necessarily reflect the views of PSI.