Africa – health conditions
The disease and health conditions are strongly affected by poverty, turbulent political conditions accompanied by civil wars, as well as by the special climatic conditions. Child and maternal mortality is high, the birth rate is also (over three times as high as in Denmark), and life expectancy is approximately 20 years shorter than the Danes’.
The organized disease treatment is centered in the big cities and therefore out of reach of large sections of the population; the primary health care service is sought to be expanded with the help of international organizations. Often only 1% of the gross domestic product is spent on health, compared with 6-7% in Denmark.
The widespread malnutrition and malnutrition form the basis of the famine disease kwashiorkor and infections, which occur more frequently and have a more violent course with greater mortality than in our part of the world; poorer water and sanitation conditions also contribute. Traffic accidents and diseases caused by alcohol and tobacco play an increasing role.
The tropical diseases malaria, bilharziasis, yellow fever and sleeping sickness are found where it is humid and hot. In drier areas (e.g. the Sahel region) extensive epidemics of meningitis occur. Egyptian eye disease is common in dry areas and often causes blindness. Respiratory tract infection, diarrheal disease (cholera, dysentery and typhoid), intestinal worms, polio and infectious hepatitis are common infectious diseases.
The prevalence of AIDS has been rising sharply. In the worst-affected countries, 10-30% of younger adults are infected, most often through heterosexual transmission; HIV-infected pregnant women can pass the infection on to newborns. The fight is hampered by poor economy, war, drought, floods as well as cultural traditions and prejudices.
Africa – population
According to Countryaah, the population of Africa is estimated at over 1 billion. (2010); the continent of Africa is sparsely populated in relation to its area, 27 residents per. km2, but the figure covers significant regional variations. The vast desert and semi-desert areas have a population density below 1 resident per. km2, which also applies to the rainforest areas of central Africa. In contrast, the population density is almost 1000 in the river oasis around the lower reaches of the Nile. Densely populated areas are also found along the Mediterranean coast, on the coast of West Africa, in the Ethiopian highlands, on Lake Victoria and on the East African coast. In South Africa, the density is particularly high in the Transvaal industrial and mining region.
The slave trade, epidemics and gross exploitation of the African population led to a decline or stagnation in the population in the period 1650-1850. In the following 100 years, the population is thought to have doubled, and after 1940 it has continued to grow. The death rate (number of deaths per year per 1000 residents) has been declining, but is generally higher than in other developing countries. The explanation for the large population growth is therefore the large number of births.
In the 1980’s, population growth was approximately 3.1 percent per year, which is more than almost anywhere else in the world. Growth in the economy and food production was significantly lower. Measured per population, the latter fell by 6 percent over the decade. This has led to supply insecurity and deteriorating nutritional conditions. Thus in 1992 there were 28 million. school-age children malnourished in sub- Saharan Africa. This is also reflected in a low average life expectancy, 54 years (2005) and in a high infant mortality rate: Out of 1000 births, 107 die during the first year of life.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, a number of famines hit the continent, particularly Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique. These disasters are closely linked to civil wars in these areas, but can also be explained by a production that is increasingly out of ecological balance. One consequence has been large refugee flows towards cities or across national borders.
Children and young people make up 45 percent of the population (1990). This puts a lot of pressure on the education sector and leads, especially in the cities, to underemployment and unemployment.
Relocations and urban development
Only a third of the population lives in cities, and the urban population has grown strongly since 1960. However, there are large differences between countries. Although Africa is less urbanized than the rest of the world, there have been important urban formations far back in time. 7000 years ago, cities existed around the lower reaches of the Nile, and 800-900 years ago, the caravan trade across the Sahara created the basis for cities such as Kairouan, Biskra and Marrakesh in the north and Timbuktu, Gao and Kano in the savannah area of West Africa on the other side of the desert. In East Africa, Mombasa and Mogadishu emerged during the same periodas Arab trading cities. European colonization led to the emergence of many coastal towns, and in the late 1800’s a number of administrative towns were formed inside the continent.
The colonization led to a great need for labor for the construction of roads and railways as well as for work in plantations and mines. To force Africans into these jobs, taxes or direct forced labor were introduced. Thus the migrant work was founded; it is still widespread and includes especially men who leave the family for shorter or longer periods to work in the city, on plantations or in mines. This is widespread in West and South Africa as well as in North Africa, and migrations often take place across national borders. The income from this plays a major role for the family, and in some countries (Lesotho and Mozambique) they have at times been of crucial importance to the national economy.
The rapid urban growth is also rooted in the development policies of many African governments. Often, urban occupations have been favored at the expense of agriculture, and the location of education and health centers has also attracted the rural population. The influx has been so great that slums on the outskirts of big cities have grown uncontrollably. Unemployment and underemployment are widespread and the opportunities for formal wage labor are few. The majority of employees are in occupations in the informal sector, which continue to grow strongly. The pronounced poverty is reflected in a significant crime, a large number of beggars, prostitutes, etc. At the same time, it is characteristic that the family, even in the cities, has largely retained its role as the primary frame of reference for social and economic life. Income earned in cities,
Emigration from Africa in the 20th century was not great, but seems to be exacerbated by the economic and ecological crisis on the continent. The relocations are predominantly directed at the old colonial powers; the vast majority of Africans in Europe are Moroccans and Algerians in France and Spain – many of them illegal immigrants.
Africa – men and women
From birth, life for men and women is divided. Boys are brought up to take over the father’s work tasks, and girls help the mother with typical women’s tasks such as fetching water and firewood, caring for small children, field work and cooking. Men and women each have control over what they earn, but traditionally wage labor is not accepted for women. In particular, they earn their income by selling food and other goods they produce themselves. In West Africa in particular, this has meant that market trade is dominated by women. In the cities, women are more dependent on men, but often they generate income in the informal sector. Only a small number of women have paid work – especially in education, health or in the office. In political life, women play almost no role.
Migrant work has increased the workload of women and often forces them to hire male assistants, e.g. because the working tools of the two sexes are different.
In societies where the inheritance follows the husband’s lineage (patrilineal society), it is often a question of bridal purchases, and it is difficult for women to file for divorce. This system was strengthened during the colonial era and with the spread of private property. Women marry earlier than men. Polygamy is still prevalent, especially in better-off families in the countryside.
In Muslim societies, other norms apply in part, but the crucial thing is that women’s lives are centered around the home.