Category Archives: Health

Cultural practices that affect children’s health must be revisited


The author Alinah Kelo Segobye recently received funding from the Rotary Peace Centre, Peace Studies Department as a visiting scholar at the University of Bradford in 2016.
In this article she discusses why Africa must prioritise its youth if the development aspirations of the global Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and Agenda 2063 are to be realised.
Please find link to full article:

About the Author


Alinah Kelo Segobye has just completed a term as visiting scholar at the Rotary Peace Centre, University of Bradford. She is an honorary professor at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), UNISA and former Deputy Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Segobye’s research includes Africa’s development, the archaeology of southern Africa, indigenous knowledge systems, heritage studies and HIV/AIDS. She has served as an advisor, facilitator and expert for a number of international organizations. She has authored and co-authored a number of essays and book chapters on themes including Africa’s development outlooks and the future of the past in Africa.


Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

Sierra Leone and Ebola: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

[Image Credit: European Commission DG ECHO_Sierra Leone: into the Ebola epicentre (2014)]

The latest contribution from JEFCAS on Sierra Leone was a presentation by Ebola doctor returnee Professor John Wright, epidemiologist from Bradford Royal Infirmary.  He addressed an audience of hospital and university staff, students and members of the public at the university on Monday 9th February 2015, on Ebola : Experiences in Global Emergency.

He gave firsthand experience of setting up and running an Ebola clinic in the more rural areas, and put this work in a country and development context.

A packed earlier panel discussion, held in December 2014 in the university, had brought together peace studies, medical and African expertise in setting the Ebola scene, which by then was at its awful peak.

Although much has been written and said about Sierra Leone as a country over last decades, it could be said that the Ebola outbreak was a disaster waiting to happen.  Indeed, Professor Wright showed that, over the world, there had been some twenty Ebola epidemics over the last 40 years. Most had been very small but some were significant, with the latest being to a very great extent the most serious. Clearly, Sierra Leone and neighbouring countries Liberia and Guinea were unable to cope.

To recap in time.

Sierra Leone has been at or near the bottom of the Human Development Index for decades. Of course, there was the original exploitation of the area in colonial times, a point highlighted in an incongruous way by the small town named Bradford (see image).  The story goes that in the 19th century a Scottish engineer from Bradford – name unknown – was helping to build a railway (to help export materials away to the UK). The villagers could not pronounce his name (or perhaps were not able to understand his accent!) so called him ‘Mr Bradford’.  The name was eventually used for the local area.

Bradford village in Sierra Leone   Prof John Wright image

[Image credit: Bradford village in Sierra Leone, Prof John Wright image (2014)]

In the last two or three decades there have been UK aid programmes, including substantial VSO trainers on a wide variety of topics.  But the civil war 1991-2002 put paid to that.

In retrospect, the British military contribution to the ending of that war may well have helped continue the UK’s later aid linkages with that country, in small and in large ways.

The devastation caused by the war meant that both the physical infrastructure was incapacitated, as was the people infrastructure.  There were grossly insufficient numbers of both able-bodied people and also of those with health, administrative and other expertises necessary for running a country.

On top of that, during the mid-2000s, the peacetime indigenous birth rate boomed. This, together with the numbers of returning refugees from abroad, meant that the demand for everything rocketed, health requirements for the new infants in particular. But these needs could not be met.

Perhaps it’s not surprising in these circumstances that things can go very wrong, and affect the wider world as well.

However, Bradford in the UK has been helping, alongside many others. In the current Ebola situation, its leading health professor, as said above, went to assist.

A couple of other ways of helping were made too – one minor and one major example.

The minor one was an attempt to have a local authority twinning, in 2004, between the two Bradford’s in the two countries.  The primary purpose was as consciousness-raising of the Sierra Leonean town in the Bradford UK, and hopefully to raise money and expertise to assist Bradford Sierra Leone.  Although the attempt was given publicity in the UK, and a civic reception held at which Peace Studies students attended with the Bradford Lord Mayor, the idea was unfortunately not taken up.

The major one was the establishment in Freetown from 2011 of the UNESCO-affiliated African Peace University project, led by Bradford Peace Studies’ David Francis. This is helping to rebuild civic society, and much besides.

Much more will need to be done on many other fronts, of course.

Perhaps a lesson from a Peace Studies perspective is to make sure we (re)build the peace in a big way soon after war, rather than just let countries drift.  Not only building it economically but socially through trained people to do the health, education and the other elements to a society. If the £1 billion spent of the Ebola crisis had been used before to enhance the country’s infrastructure then, who knows, there might have been no outbreak at all.


Peter Nias is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Initially an urban planner and an economic and social researcher in Telford, he then spent six years in Namibia just after the end of apartheid to help the country to defeat that legacy.  In Bradford he helped run The Peace Museum, an independent charitable trust, from 2000-2010, particularly creating exhibitions that travelled the UK and the world.  He has co-written a book about Manningham, Bradford, and a number of articles for Discover Society.   He is currently researching collateral damage and human rights.

Further reading/resources:

Audio of Professor John Wright’s lecture

Presentation on UNESCO African Peace University Initiative 

Media coverage in Tanzania for work on Rights & HIV/AIDS

Our research and collaborative work with Village-to-Village (Tanzania) on the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania has received recent media coverage in the Tanzanian media.  Both articles are written by Ananilea Nkya, Chief Executive of the Tanzanian Media Women’s Association (TAMWA).  We are delighted that Ananilea will be joining us in Bradford shortly to start PhD studies.  The full working paper on this project can be found on our working papers page and more details on V2V-Tz can be found here.


Rights are more than words on paper

A couple of weeks ago we released a briefing paper summarising some on-going research in Northern Tanzania on a small project working with groups of People Living with HIV/AIDS to claim their rights as defined by the 2008 Tanzanian HIV/AIDS Act.  We are now pleased to present the full working paper which you can download on the publications page.

The paper shows how a small NGO project could act as a catalyst in starting processes of change without creating dependency on aid and through working directly with existing state institutions.  Using a rights-based approach requires long-term commitment and HIV/AIDS magnifies inequality in both poverty and gender.  Reflecting on this research I am left with the conclusion that further work on rights is required but those rights are not just for those living with HIV/AIDS but broader rights and entitlements which fundamentally challenge gender inequality and poverty in Tanzania.  This is a challenge for a country such as Tanzania in which inequality and the numbers of people living in poverty is growing despite record economic growth.  I will be returning to this topic in my next post but in the meantime you might be interested in the latest African Economic Outlook report on Tanzania.

M-pesa- the first steps to a revolution?

Being a critic of the aid industry I have often found myself attracted to discussion on alternatives to endless log-framed, SMART indicatored and workshop driven projects which  aim to ‘mainstream’ this or develop ‘policy’ on that.  They seem little more than creating work for the sake of it  and  an excuse to drive around in large imported vehicles feeling like a crusader come to liberate the poor.

This is why I wanted to share a post on Duncan Green’s blog (He is head of Research at Oxfam UK)…the post discusses the work of a US project which transfers cash  directly to the poor (identified through survey data) using the m-pesa mobile phone banking system.  It is said that more people in the rich world want to give in this way- directly cutting out that aid industry workshopping (see also the success of KIVA).  Duncan’s view is:

“While they help with short term consumption and investment, cash transfers don’t directly tackle the kinds of systemic problems that underpin poverty and inequality – dealing with those requires a more complex approach based on partnering with local civil society organizations, and all that brokering and convening stuff I write about on this blog. And what about gender – who owns the phones and gets access to the $500? It would be interesting to see if there’s a difference between how men and women phone-holders spend the money – I wonder if GD have included that in their monitoring and evaluation?”

Ok- I take his point that this isn’t going to necessarily solve structural issues of poverty and inequality but really is ‘partnering with local civil society organizations’ going to achieve that?  All that has done so far is to create a mostly aid-dependent civil society in Sub-Saharan that attempts to mimic those same workshopping, big vehicle driving international NGOs that Duncan works for.

I’ve written here before about my current research on attempts by People living with HIV/AIDS to claim their rights…well that m-pesa system could work very well as a way of sending small cash transfers to enable people to travel to get their medication or purchase food rather than waiting for food aid from WFP.  M-pesa makes it so much easier to redistribute cash and families in Kenya and Tanzania are already using it for this- m-pesa is not an innovation of US NGOs but  a private sector led technological innovation with  social impacts.  It could relatively easily be adopted by governments for cash transfer systems of social protection.

Reducing poverty and inequality does also need effective states which take these things seriously but where are they?  (Perhaps Rwanda is an exception?).  States with good economic growth don’t necessary reduce poverty and often increase inequality.  Development activity cannot be left to the aid industry- they will only have more meetings.  86% of the aid spent on HIV/AIDS in 2008/9 in Tanzania is spent outside of the state systems and then we wonder why the reality on the ground experienced by PLWHA is a chaotic patchwork of NGOs, and Religious organisations….

So perhaps m-pesa (and other technology that put more power in people’s hands) can be the start of doing things differently?

Rights to ARVs- is it a success or a job just begun?

Continuing the theme of reflection on HIV/AIDS which we have seen on this blog in recent posts I have been further working on research data from Tanzania.  The data is from interviews with people living with HIV/AIDS who are members of locally-based support groups.   Tanzania has chosen to legally enshrine rights for people living with HIV/AIDS into law.  Examples of laws in this area relate to the prevention of stigmatisation, rights to access school and rights to access Anti-Retroviral treatment.

For context- the latest figures on HIV/AIDS in Tanzania (from 2008 Tanzania HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS) show prevalence rates declining to 6.6% for women and 4.6% for men (out of 15,000 people tested).  These figures are restricted to those over 15 so do not tell us about the prevalence in children who may have been infected in Mother to child transfer or through sexual abuse.

A UNAIDS situation analysis from 2009 suggested that there has been a significant increase in the numbers of people who can access ARVs (almost 250,000 in May 2009).  I cannot find more recent figures so let me know if you have some.

250,000 still only represents approx 18% of the 1.4 million estimated by UNAIDS to be living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania in 2009.  Certainly, the data we have collected in Same and Moshi Rural Districts suggested that many people living in remote rural areas were unaware of their rights to ARVs.  Awareness of this legal right came through involvement in NGO-supported (but not funded) activities.  However  even armed with this new awareness fundamental livelihoods constraints mean that people don’t have the means to travel to health facilities to collect the ARV medication.

To work effectively it is also known that people taking ARV medication require good nutrition -see this briefing from ODI.  Again our series of interviews in Northern Tanzania emphasise the problems around food security.  For example some widowed women have faced in being pushed of land they had farmed with their husbands.  There are also continued allegations of food aid from WFP being diverted by local NGOs who have been entrusted with distribution.  Some projects have been started by other NGOs such as fish farming but these activities have not been sustainable as people have not been given sufficient skills to ensure the projects are sustainable. Responses in this area appear to be inconsistent and patchy and left in the hands of a multiplicity of NGOs.

Therefore perhaps we can conclude that rights are useful- they can help people to ask questions and demand their entitlements but there are very real livelihood and structural problems that limit substantial progress.  This will require more concerted efforts on the part of public agencies preferably as part of an integrated strategy to combat chronic poverty.