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Welcome to Pasha, The Conversation Africa’s podcast
Welcome to Pasha, The Conversation Africa’s brand new podcast. In the spirit of The Conversation, Pasha – which means to inform in Swahili – will be bringing you some of the best and brightest research from academics across the continent. After nearly four years of publishing expert research, we’re thrilled to be bringing our own brand of smart journalism to a new audio format. Each episode will collect stories and commentary on a given theme.

Latest Episodes

Tips for parents on keeping kids safe online

Young children and adolescents are becoming hyper connected. They are using digital technologies as a platform for learning, connection and socialisation on a global scale. The COVID pandemic meant that kids were moving online for many of their daily activities and spending more time online. In South Africa, children generally access the internet at home much more frequently than at school, and most…

1 Host: Rachana Desai

Killer whales are hunting great white sharks in South Africa's waters

Great white sharks have long been at the top of the food chain in parts of South Africa's oceans. In their peak winter hunting months, around 100 great white sharks a day could be observed off the coast of the Western Cape province. But in 2017, great white shark carcasses began to wash up on beaches at Gansbaai, one of the main sites where the species usually gathered. Some were missing their livers…

1 Host: Alison Towner

Snare and shotgun injuries reveal more about threats to lions and leopards in Zambia

Wildlife and people are coming into more and more conflict across Africa as human populations expand. Habitat loss and fragmentation of animal populations are causing declines in species. In Zambia, the Luangwa Valley and Kafue are two important wildlife areas. Both support populations of lion and leopard which are genetically linked to populations in neighbouring countries. They have great conservation…

1 Host: Paula A. White

Big infrastructure projects on the continent should work for everyone

Big infrastructure projects should be based on the needs of people and communities. Often, they are criticised for benefiting the wealthy only. These projects reflect specific agendas of political and economic elites who are able to advance their interests through the developments. They interplay with existing inequalities and almost inevitably have highly uneven effects. An example is Kenya's Standard…

1 Host: Gediminas Lesutis

Big development projects can have negative effects on nature and people

There are some major development projects in progress on the continent. They include the Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya and irrigation and hydropower projects in Tanzania's Rufiji Basin. Projects like these have potential to change people's lives for good. But they also come with risks. Some big projects damage environments by disturbing the habitats of wildlife like lions and elephants. In Kenya…

4 Hosts: Declan Conway, Gediminas Lesutis, Jessica Thorn and 1 other

Projects like Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway can unlock development

Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway, which links Nairobi and Mombasa, East Africa's largest port, was built to ease the pressure on the road network. Construction started in 2013 and was completed in 2017, with an extension in 2019. The line transports passengers as well as cargo. It makes the trip between the cities safer and shorter. The project is also being promoted as a means to develop Kenya's mining…

1 Host: Jessica Thorn

When a hippo honks, here's what it could mean – to another hippo at least

Hippos are very vocal animals, exchanging signals like the "wheeze honk". But not much is known about what these sounds mean. Two researchers found themselves thinking about this in Mozambique -- where they were initially studying crocodiles. Hippos are quite territorial and aggressive -- and fast-moving. So the researchers kept a fair distance away as they conducted their experiment. They recorded…

2 Hosts: Nicolas Mathevon and Paulo Fonseca

Cities must listen to people to find solutions for climate impacts: stories from Cape Town

A few years ago the South African city of Cape Town was close to reaching "day zero" -- the day the taps would run dry as a result of a serious drought. Households had to restrict their water usage, water tariffs increased, and businesses had to rethink how they used water. But the situation affected people unequally. Households experienced it in different ways. The poor and vulnerable suffered the…

2 Hosts: Gina Ziervogel and Johan Enqvist

Technology for education has huge potential: partnerships can widen access

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal contact learning in education systems worldwide. Technology became an essential tool for learning and it has great potential beyond the pandemic. For one thing, it enables more interactivity than some old styles of teaching. But there are a number of barriers to using technology more widely in education. Users need data, a device and a learning management system…

1 Host: Tawana Kupe

Lakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo are contested spaces. Here's why

The lakes of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) play a big part in people’s lives -- socially, politically and economically. But lake fishing communities find themselves at the intersection of geography, war and authority, as rebel groups and conservation managers also claim spaces and resources. By some estimates there are over 70 armed groups in the country, led by warlords, traditional tribal…

1 Host: Esther Marijnen

Understanding vaccine hesitancy in South Africa

Vaccine hesitancy is the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination, where vaccination services are available. It's a diverse phenomenon: people may have different degrees of hesitancy, and may refuse some vaccines but agree to others. In 2019, the World Health Organization identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 greatest threats to global health. It is very worrying because it poses significant…

2 Hosts: Charles Shey Wiysonge and Sara Cooper

Hyenas' unpicky feeding habits help clean up a town in Ethiopia

Hyenas aren't the most popular animals. Sometimes they kill people's livestock. They are also thought of as scavengers, with some unappealing eating behaviour. Then there's their cackling "laugh" and their physical looks, less graceful in some eyes than other large predators like lions or leopards. But there's a more positive side to these often misunderstood creatures. In Mekelle, a town in northern…

2 Hosts: Chinmay Sonawane and Neil Carter

Soil isn't dirt: it's the foundation of life and needs real care

Healthy soil is critical for life on earth. It can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, food and nutrition security. It is central to achieving sustainable development goals. It is the foundation of life on land. It provides many ecosystem services and helps achieve ecosystem restoration. The biggest challenge when it comes to soil is getting people to stop treating soil like dirt…

2 Hosts: Leigh Ann Winowiecki and Rattan Lal

What bush crickets are telling researchers via their unique calls

Bush crickets -- or katydids, as they are also known -- are fascinating creatures. They belong in the same order of insects as grasshoppers and crickets and are among the many species that communicate acoustically. Male bush crickets are prolific callers -- and each species has its own call to advertise their fitness to females. They call in different frequency bands and for different lengths of time…

1 Host: Aileen van der Mescht

Africa's forests have value for the whole world. All must pay for them

African forests are rich in biodiversity and provide a livelihood for more than 1 billion people. They store massive amounts of carbon and play a part in regulating climate. Forests are a global public good; they have value for the whole world. Yet they remain underfunded. Funding forests means funding people to manage them sustainably. And this does not come cheap. For many developing nations, the…

1 Host: Robert Nasi

Benin bronzes: What is the significance of their repatriation to Nigeria?

Benin bronzes: What is the significance of their repatriation to Nigeria?

After years of pressure, western countries are finally returning priceless artefacts and artworks that had been looted from Nigeria during colonial times and were on display in foreign museums. Commonly called the Benin Bronzes, because the objects originated from the Kingdom of Benin (today’s Nigeria), these beautiful and technically remarkable artworks have come to symbolise the broader restitution…

1 Host: Jos van Buerden

Pasha 132: COVID South Africa: Top scientist on vaccine rollout lessons, and next steps

South Africa is several months into its COVID vaccination roll-out -- a complex process with wide repercussions. It has recently extended the roll-out to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years. But is this the best use of the available supply of vaccine doses? Our guest in this episode of Pasha is Shabir Madhi, dean of the faculty of health sciences and professor of vaccinology at the University…

1 Host: Shabir A. Madhi

Pasha 131: The Ethiopian and Tigrayan conflict one year on

The conflict between Ethiopia and its northern region of Tigray has been going on for a year. The power struggle has created many refugees and caused loss of life and hunger. It has also affected health, water and sanitation systems. The blockade inflicted by Ethiopia on Tigray means essential humanitarian supplies cannot reach civilians. This is a violation of international human rights and law, because…

1 Host: Mukesh Kapila

Pasha 130: The Ethiopia and Tigray conflict is worsening hunger in the region

Ethiopia and its northern region of Tigray have been in conflict for about a year now. The political power struggle that had been going on for decades escalated a year ago when Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive. The conflict is putting hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray at risk of starvation and famine. Tigray is a dry place but farmers have long known how to…

1 Host: Emnet Negash

Pasha 129: Africa's climate concerns and the way forward

Many African countries are under significant stress from climate change. Increasing emissions of greenhouse gases are putting the world on a path towards unacceptable warming and this has particularly serious implications for the continent. The projected changes in climate are likely to have devastating impacts on agriculture and food security, human health and water supplies. Greenhouse gases are…

2 Hosts: Portia Adade Williams and Victor Ongoma

Pasha 128: Why Rwanda is involved in Mozambique's security

Islamic militias in the northern part of Mozambique, the province of Cabo Delgado, have mounted an armed insurgency against the Mozambican government since 2017. The conflict appears to tap into anger about the region’s chronic poverty, unemployment and weak public services under the Frelimo-led government in Maputo. Read more: How big is the Islamist threat in Mozambique? And why are Rwandan troops…

1 Host: Phil Clark

Pasha 127: Allergies vs rooibos: can this South African plant help sufferers?

Nasal allergy is a common problem in South Africa. It is estimated that 20% to 30% of adults in South Africa suffer with allergic rhinitis or hay fever. House dust mites and tree pollen are the most common reasons for this. Often, people have to rely on allergy medication to deal with the problem. But new research is under way to see if a plant native to South Africa can help. Rooibos, scientifically…

1 Host: Jonny Peter

Pasha 126: Four factors that make a graduate more employable

South Africa has an extremely high unemployment rate. A qualification from a tertiary institution usually means the chances of landing a job are higher. Research shows that within five years of graduating, 84% of the graduates were working. But it's not a guarantee. Graduates, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, remain jobless. Nevertheless there are certain aspects that make a graduate more…

1 Host: Fenella Somerville

Pasha 125: Nigeria can regain its lost athletics glory. Here's how

Nigeria used to be a great force in global athletics but that has changed. The country's fortunes have plummeted in track and field events. The downward trend continued in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, where Nigeria won only two medals: bronze in long jump and silver in wrestling. Oladele Oladipo, a professor of sports and exercise physiology at the University of Ibadan, offers insight into…

1 Host: Isiaka Oladele Oladipo

Pasha 124: How Nairobi's informal settlements got their names

Nairobi, Kenya's capital city, started as a railway depot in 1899 and developed into a colonial administration centre, then into a commercial and regional hub. Informal settlements in the city grew in parallel, arising from colonial policies that excluded local people from permanent residence, and driven by demand for housing. The names of these informal settlements -- and the names of places within…

1 Host: Melissa Wanjiru-Mwita