covid-19 in Algeria
Algeria, a North African country bordering Morocco and Mali, has faced new obstacles from the rapid spread of COVID-19. With one of the highest infected rates in Africa with more than 5,000 cases confirmed, authorities have advised citizens to limit their social interactions. Under these unprecedented times, there are several efforts to combat the spread and promote the well-being of Algeria’s citizens.

The Problem

As stated above, Algeria is facing hardships due to the increased death toll that COVID-19 has left behind. In response, the government has implemented a conditional lockdown where it has modified curfew in order to halt the spread of the virus. However, many have met the increased safety measures with concerns. Because an increasing number of individuals of Arabic descent dominate Algeria, conflicts have arisen in regard to Ramadan, a period of fasting.

One of Algeria’s most prominent politicians, Noureddine Boukrouh, has called for canceling fasting as it “poses a health risk and contributes to the outbreak of COVID-19.” People have met his statements with controversy, yet the country has made no formal precautions.

Algeria is beginning to impose restrictions on sanctuaries as well. For example, authorities have begun closing Mosques, leading followers of Islamic traditions to face difficulty balancing the risk of COVID-19 infections against the weight of religious traditions.

Amidst the controversies, the Algerian government is also having trouble aiding its citizens. With Algeria’s economy being heavily dependent on oil, the sudden price reductions from COVID-19 have hurt the nation. Algeria is now under a reduced budget, meaning that it cannot prioritize its citizens.

As a result, citizens of Algeria have seen food shortages as well as a lack of medical equipment. From Algeria’s budgeting issues, individuals who have the virus are also having trouble in hospitals due to inadequate conditions.

Road to Change

Despite the increased death toll and speculations surrounding the Algerian government, the conditional lockdown has seen positive results. By limiting social interactions, the nation has seen more than 2,000 individuals recovering, leading Algeria’s citizens to become more optimistic about the future.

In addition to the efforts combatting COVID-19, Algeria has received great aid from countries and organizations. Most notably, Chief Mark Lowcock, the U.N. Humanitarian Chief, donated $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.

Another notable contribution was from China; it sent a 13-member Chinese medical team and equipment, worth around $450,000. This team is distributing masks and protective clothing all across Algeria so that citizens could protect themselves better.

Before these contributions, Algeria suffered a shortage of equipment and staffing. Patients in hospitals could not receive treatment effectively and the general public lacked access to goods to protect themselves. Without this aid, Algeria would have seen a dramatic increase in deaths due to its lack of technology and manpower for COVID-19.

To further accelerate this growth, protests by the Hirak that began in late March 2020 are ongoing. The protests have been an attempt to motivate the government to focus on improving conditions. The Hirak is a group of Algerian citizens who have the goal of bringing change to the government’s acts of ignoring the public. Along with the aid from large organizations and countries such as UNICEF and China, the wide distribution of hand sanitization stations and testing kits are continuing.

Volunteer Help

Volunteer doctors have also taken the stage in Algeria. Large teams have established COVID-19 hotlines, and shortly after establishment, they have reached more than 46,000 people. These hotlines provide verbal assistance to patients as well as education to citizens regarding the harsh effects of COVID-19. Algerians battling the virus utilize these hotlines to immediately get aid from doctors.

In addition, volunteers have made strides to assist the majority of the provinces in Algeria; more than 48 have an infectious disease center. Through these newly established centers, volunteers have been able to reach out to thousands of Algerians while pairing patients with doctors.

The Future

Algeria is currently on the road towards improvement. By increasing the number of testing kits, medical equipment and volunteers, the number of recovered patients has grown tremendously.

However, it is evident that Algeria’s government must take the initiative to aid citizens in need. Through fostering the abilities of volunteers and continuing to improve the qualities in hospitals, Algeria has the potential to fully combat COVID-19 while looking out for the well-being of its citizens.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts About Hunger in Algeria
Located in Western Sahara, Algeria is one of the largest countries in the world. Home to around 40 million people, the French-speaking nation continues to grow in population. The Algerian economy centers around oil exports and that oil has allowed the Algerian economy to become one of the biggest in Africa. Despite this, many Algerians struggle to put food on the table and the main problem lies with the poorest people in the country. The unemployed and Sahrawi refugees struggle to maintain a healthy diet due to a lack of affordable and nutritious food. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Algeria.

10 Facts About Hunger in Algeria

  1. Only 17 percent of Algerian land is used for agriculture. The Sahara desert covers a large amount of Algeria. As a result, Algeria is unable to produce enough food for its people which forces it to import a lot of its food.
  2. Food products and vegetables make up 16.5 percent of Algerian imports. At first glance, 16.5 percent may not seem like a large amount, however, Algerian vegetables and food products make up only one percent of its exports. When a country is importing more food than it can produce, prices tend to be higher for its people.
  3. Almost 90 percent of Sahrawi refugees are food insecure or at risk of food insecurity. There are approximately 90,000 to 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. The refugees are Western Saharans that the Western Saharan War in 1975 displaced. For almost 45 years, the refugees have been living in harsh desert environments with limited access to economic opportunity.
  4. Forty-five percent of Sahrawi women of childbearing age and 39 percent of children under five are anemic. Anemia in pregnant women can cause complications with the fetus and mother. Similarly, anemia in young children can cause serious health problems and hurt their growth.
  5. The World Food Program gives 125,000 food rations each month at Sahrawi refugee camps. The WFP also created nutrition centers to fight anemia and stunting in children. It also distributes thousands of school meals to refugee children to keep them in school.
  6. Algeria ranks 39th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. With a score of only 9.4, Algeria boasts a low level of hunger. Over the past few years, Algeria moved up two spots in the rankings.
  7. The prevalence of stunting in children under five years has reduced by half since the year 2000. At the turn of the century, almost a quarter of Algerian children under five had their growth stunted due to malnutrition. Now, only around 11 percent of children have problems with their growth due to malnutrition.
  8. The proportion of undernourished in Algeria is now under five percent. Twenty years ago, 10 percent of Algerians were undernourished. Currently, that number has dropped to 4.7 percent.
  9. Algeria’s infant mortality rate is at 20.6. Back in 1990, the mortality rate was over 40. Today, better support for infants and easier access to nutritious foods for Algerians has cut that number in half.
  10. Since the year 1990, Algeria’s life expectancy has grown by 10 years. Algeria’s current life expectancy is at 76 years. This is three years higher than the rest of North Africa. In 1990, Algeria had around the same life expectancy as its North African neighbors but Algeria has surpassed them.

These 10 facts about hunger in Algeria illustrate that hunger is a problem that the country may overlook. At first glance, the country may appear to be doing well, however, the most impoverished Algerians suffer greatly from food insecurity. Thankfully, the country as a whole is making progress in combating this difficult problem which means that there is hope that Algeria will one day eliminate hunger.

– Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

Top 10Facts about Living Conditions in Algeria
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa and one of the richest in terms of natural resources. The county’s complex history has forged a diverse and vibrant culture. Ever since gaining its independence from France in 1962, the government of the country has fought to improve life for its citizens by rebuilding the economy and improving the political climate. But what is life really like in the country? The article below answers this question by providing the top 10 facts about living conditions in Algeria.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Algeria

  1. From 2000 to 2016, unemployment in Algeria dropped drastically, from 29.8 to 10.2 percent in 2016. In 2017, the unemployment rate went back up to 11.7 percent. This is due in part to a decline of worldwide oil prices and its adverse consequences on the Algerian economy. In general, unemployment remains more prevalent among women and younger populations.
  2. Algeria cut poverty by 20 percent in the past two decades. This victory comes as a result of a booming economy and effective social policies. Nonetheless, 35 percent of the total population still lives below the poverty line. Around 170,000 people or about 0.5 percent of Algerians, are considered to be in extreme poverty. In addition, 10 percent of the population is at risk of slipping back into poverty.
  3. More than four-fifths of Algeria is covered by the Saharan desert, rendering water a scarce commodity. Nonetheless, 83.6 percent of the population has improved access to a clean water source. In urban areas, access to clean areas is even higher, reaching 84.3 percent, compared to 81.8 percent in rural areas.
  4. The Algerian government boasts a system of universal health care, allocating 7.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to health expenditures in 2014. However, rural areas continue to suffer from inadequate access to quality health care facilities. As of 2009, there were 1.2 physicians for every 1,000 people, a considerably low ratio. To combat this, Algeria plans to introduce 172 public hospitals and 377 private clinics within the coming decade.
  5. Algeria’s economy depends greatly on its hydrocarbon revenue. The country has the 10th largest reserves of natural gas on the planet. The oil sector accounts for 30 percent of GDP and 95 percent of earnings through export. These exports help Algeria keep external debt low and maintain a healthy economy. Recently, the decline of oil prices has forced the government to cut funding of public subsidies and provoked an increase in taxes on some imported goods.
  6. Agriculture is a strong contributor to Algeria’s national economy, boasting 20 percent of the labor force and 10 percent of GDP. Nonetheless, arable land (useful agricultural area) is scarce with only 8.7 million hectares available for use, or just under 3 percent of the total surface area. Sustainable development is threatened greatly by water scarcity. This has serious repercussions on Algeria’s food import dependency, rendering food security unstable.
  7. Huge disparities in wealth exist among Algeria’s rich and poor. A small minority control 42.6 percent of the country’s wealth, benefiting from quality health care and education. The impoverished 20 percent of the population control 7 percent of the wealth, struggling daily to provide food and clean water for themselves and their families.
  8. There are 2.66 children per woman in Algeria today on average, compared to seven children per woman in 1970. The drop in fertility rates is contributed mainly to women’s rising age at first marriage and education. Algeria’s current population is an estimated 40.5 million people.
  9. The Algerian government allocates 4.3 percent of its GDP to education. The overall literacy rate is 79.6 percent, as 86.1 percent of males and 73.9 percent of females are able to read and write. Family revenue plays a monumental role in access to quality education, meaning only a few have resources for private and international schools.
  10. Algerians have a strained relationship with their government, a result of poor management and corruption. In the past, this has been the cause of protests and clashes between police forces and Algerian citizens. Despite this, the government continues prioritizing its resources for enacting policies to improve living conditions. This includes developing regional security, unemployment, poverty and the economy.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Algeria detail the nation’s complex political climate and social issues. However, a desire to move toward a more positive future is evident in governmental decisions to enact policies for change. Investments into the health and education sectors, as well as drastic improvements in unemployment rates, are clear steps that the country is heading in the right direction.

– Natalie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Algeria
Despite its rich oil resources, Algeria faces long-term challenges from a lack of diversity in the economy, a relatively high unemployment rate — especially among youth and women — and regional inequalities. These 10 facts about poverty in Algeria will recount the recent ups and downs of the upper middle income country.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Algeria

  1. According to a World Bank estimation published this year, unemployment rate in Algeria has been on the rise  from 10.5 percent in September 2016 to 11.7 percent in September 2017. Unemployment among women and youth is disproportionately high: the first half of 2016 saw a 16.6 percent female unemployment rate and a 29.9 percent for young people.
  2. Even though official data given in 2011 reported a 5.5 percent poverty rate with a 0.5 percent extreme poverty rate, about one tenth of the population are thought to be susceptible to re-entering poverty. Other sources, however, report much higher rates in more recent years. Al Jazeera, the state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, wrote in April 2014 that the country has a 23 percent poverty rate.
  3. Regional differences in poverty are significant in Algeria. The World Bank points out that poverty level is the national average doubled for people residing in Sahara, and tripled for people of the Steppe.
  4. Algeria has high economic inequality; the consumption rates of the rich and poor are separated by as much as 27.7 percent.
  5. According to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, the country has 400,000 children drop out of schools annually. Rural areas bear most of these dropouts due to poverty and poor maintenance of local schools.
  6. The Algerian currency has been devalued throughout the past five decades, from 4.94 dinars per U.S. dollar in 1970, to 116 dinars per U.S. dollar in May of this year. This discrepancy exists predominantly due to the government’s efforts to artificially lower its budget deficit and keep up oil taxes. At the same time, the government is heavily subsidising imports to make them more affordable, which ultimately increases the country’s dependency on imports as the country should be striving to construct a productive economy to provide employment opportunities.
  7. Algeria is extremely dependent on its oil resources for economic growth. The hydrocarbonic sector makes up 95 percent of Algeria’s exports, occupying 60 percent of the governmental budget. This area of production doubled the state’s fiscal deficit in 2015, as oil prices plummeted and affected the already unprivileged.
  8. Medical care is limited due to low population density and poverty in rural areas. Thus, some regions in Nigeria still face high maternal and under-five mortality rates.
  9. The government of Algeria has been criticized for corruption, especially in areas of infrastructure construction and oil. A national commission was enacted to battle such corruption in 2006, but not until four years later did seven members get appointed. In 2012, 2,000 cases of corruption were under investigation, but rarely resulted in convictions.
  10. Algeria faces potential instability if oil prices remain low. People, especially the youth in Algeria, are discontent with the government, believing that the government has no concern for its citizens. Some are also concerned that another “Black Decade,” referring to the country’s civil war in the 1990s, lies ahead.

A New Direction

Algeria is in need of economic transformations, and has to figure out how to address its low domestic productivity effectively. An economic blueprint that is more community-based and under public supervision should be adopted in place of the currently stagnating attempts at adjustment.

– Feng Ye

Photo: Flickr

U.S. relations with AlgeriaThe United States of America and Algeria have shared strong relations with each other since diplomatic relations began in 1962 following Algeria’s independence from France. Algeria was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the United States’ independence in 1795. U.S. relations with Algeria have benefited both countries due to a strong trade partnership and Algeria‘s aid in fighting global terrorism.

Algeria is a strategically located and capable partner with the U.S and has strong diplomatic, law enforcement and security cooperation. U.S. bilateral foreign help to Algeria is designed to strengthen Algeria’s capacity to combat terrorism and crime. Foreign assistance supports Algeria’s ongoing fight against Da’esh, Al-Qaeda in the Islāmic Maghreb and other hostile actors in the region. U.S. relations with Algeria foster cooperation between the two countries in their commitment to fighting terrorism.

Algeria was one of the first countries to condemn the 9/11 attack on the U.S. and committed its support to the U.S. in fighting the War on Terror in the years to follow. Both countries have intensified their relationship in recent years when it comes to counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation. U.S and Algeria conduct frequent civilian and military exchanges. Algeria has hosted multiple U.S. senior military officials and ship visits.

Algeria and the United States enjoy deep relations, as demonstrated by the frequency of visits by Algerian and American officials. The Secretary of State held a strategic dialogue with Algeria’s Foreign Minister in April 2015, and the Deputy Secretary of State visited Algeria in July 2016.

Algeria has remained relatively stable despite turmoil in neighboring countries, and it is playing a constructive role in promoting regional stability. Both countries are now focused on increasing the number of reciprocal trade missions to further develop their trade and economic relations. U.S. relations with Algeria have helped strengthen this trade connection.

American companies operating in the hydrocarbons sector have had had productive partnerships with Algerian counterparts for many decades. More recently, both countries have recognized additional opportunities and are moving into other areas of interest, including agriculture, dairy cattle, energy equipment and public works machineries. Today, 190 American companies are operating in Algeria.

The 2001 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement has opened new dialogues and discussions to further enhance cooperation. The U.S. is one of Algeria’s top trading partners and one of the top trading partners in the Middle East/North African region. Funding through the Middle East Partnership has been allocated to support the work of Algeria’s developing civil society through programming. The U.S. government continues to encourage Algeria’s economic reform program, its move toward transparent economic policies and the liberalization its investment climate.

The United States and Algeria have continued to help each through cooperation in counterterrorism and trade relations. This has helped foster economic growth in both countries, and has provided each other with a committed partner to aid in fighting terrorism and bolstering the security of the two nations. U.S. relations with Algeria are a great example of how aid, cooperation and good relations can be of great benefit to any two countries entering into a partnership and have a positive effect on the world as a whole.

– Zachary Ott

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Algeria

The diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria officially began in 1962 after the close of a long war for independence from France. Although there was a brief break in diplomatic relations in 1967, Algeria has remained one of the United States’ most reliable partners in the Middle East/North African region.

Having maintained this relationship since 1974, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria have returned dividends. According to the State Department on U.S.-Algerian relations, the “U.S. has strong diplomatic, law enforcement and security cooperation.” Continuing the current diplomatic status quo through foreign aid benefits the U.S. for multiple reasons. 

First and foremost, Algeria holds an important strategic location in North Africa which provides a foothold for U.S. economic and security interests. In comparison to Algeria’s neighbors, mainly Libya and Northern Mali, the country has remained relatively stable. Furthermore, Algeria has sought to promote regional stability in lieu of the current Libyan conflict and security situation in Northern Mali. 

In recent years, North Africa has seen an increased presence in extremist activity. Most notably, ISIS and al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb have continued to launch terror attacks within Algeria and its neighboring countries. Algeria continues to be a key partner in the U.S. initiative to combat terror groups in both the Middle East and North Africa. As of today, a major component of the U.S. foreign assistance programs seeks to strengthen Algeria’s ability to combat terrorism. Algeria also is an active member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum. 

Furthermore, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria through ironclad bilateral economic relations in conjunction with security benefits. Algeria has seen a large U.S. investment in the sector of hydrocarbons. In return, the U.S. imports a large amount of the country’s crude oil. The U.S. continues to assist Algeria through modernization in fiscal and monetary policy. Moreover, the U.S. has sought to diversify the Algerian economy by promoting other exported goods in addition to crude oil. 

Planned U.S. funding in foreign assistance to Algeria currently sits at $1.5 million for FY 2019. Out of the total budget, all 100 percent of the funds will go toward peace and security; 33 percent focuses on “combating weapons of mass destruction,” while the other 67 percent has been earmarked for “stabilization operations and security sector reform.” 

As armed conflict continues throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Algeria remains an essential target for U.S. foreign aid. U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria provide both economic benefits in the form of crude oil imports and a strong partner in addressing extremist groups. The U.S. mission of eliminating terror groups and maintaining regional security leaves Algeria in an important place. For U.S. interests, the country has proved to be a reliable ally in the war on terror and continues to act as a strong economic partner. 

– Colby McCoy

Photo: Flickr

Algeria

Sustainable agriculture attempts to meet society’s current food and textile needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Agriculture is a major component in Algeria’s rural development and represents 14 percent of the labor force.

Algeria has approximately 8.4 million hectares (ha) of arable land, which is 3.5 percent of the country’s entire surface area. However, only 12 percent of Algeria’s arable land is irrigated because most of the sustainable agriculture in Algeria is rain-fed, and consequently suffers from frequent droughts. Just over half of the country’s total arable land is dedicated to field crops such as cereals and pulses, with six percent of land to arboriculture and three percent to industrial crops.

Algeria’s agricultural productivity has improved in recent years due to the Agriculture Development Plan implemented in 2000 by the Ministry of Agriculture. The plan focuses on boosting agriculture development and production.

In 2008, the agriculture development strategy was re-oriented to portray new policy priorities: enhanced agricultural production, revitalization of natural resources, appropriate consumption of water resources and food safety initiatives. Algeria’s government intends to orient agriculture toward models in the grain sector and establish modern complexes to facilitate the use of public agricultural land. This would increase Algeria’s arable land to nine million ha by 2020.

Despite the Agricultural Development Plan, Algeria remains one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, amounting to $2.39 billion. Algeria’s exports to the United States total less than $1 million.

Several factors impede Algeria’s development:

  • Land ownership and marketing channel constraints
  • Investment deficiency
  • Insufficient input access
  • Lack of water availability
  • Low levels of agriculture training and education
  • Slow grant agreement process

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Algeria have formed a cooperation with three main objectives. These goals include working for sustainable improvements in economic, social and technical performance for agriculture production and food security, bettering natural resource management and building capacity and institutional development to secure effective policies for food security and resource management

To ensure sustainable agriculture in Algeria, priority should be given to improving the regulatory framework of resources and incentive system, further cooperation and policy development, implementing an effective finance system and encouraging a transparent and secure land market. Sustainable agriculture in Algeria is possible if development approaches are adaptable, long-term and rational.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Recovering from a gruesome civil war that left the nation paralyzed between 1991 and 2001, Algeria has slowly been restoring the backbone of its infrastructure. Algeria’s infrastructure system is highly important, as it serves as a gateway between North Africa and Europe.

The Algerian government has launched an extensive public investment program in an effort to make transport a top priority. According to CountryWatch, in 2010, Algeria began “a five-year $286 billion development program to update its infrastructure and provide jobs.”

Another area of improvement that will directly impact infrastructure in Algeria is tourism. In 2012, the government began investing in the tourism sector and set a target of attracting 3.5 million tourists by 2015. The tourism sector has been the main focus of delivering employment in Algeria to better improve living conditions. The Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Hacène Mermouri, announced in December 2017 that 1,812 new hotel infrastructure projects have been approved by the Ministry.

These changes also impact nearby airports within the region. New terminals are being built to better accommodate international tourists in Oran and Algiers. Additional renovations include the establishment of Algeria’s first underground metro system, as well as extending roads and rail services.

The Ministry of Transport has reaped the successes from infrastructure in Algeria, earning €35.7 billion between 2010 and 2014. Such investments are expected to improve Algeria’s logistics performance, as well as reduce congestion and transport costs in a hub that serves as the primary source of transportation.

A surge in the number of vehicles that are to circulate Algeria’s roads is also concerning, leading the government to focus on expanding the country’s road network. According to the Ministry of Public Works, from the start of 2000 to 2014, the government invested in €46.9 billion in road infrastructure.

Some caveats that may impede Algeria’s growth in the near future are the fall of oil demand from nations such as the U.S., allocating between 20 to 25 percent of all Algerian exports. In addition, there has been a decrease in gas and oil production, of which Algeria ranks fourth and tenth as the largest exporter worldwide, respectively.

Per a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report, this decrease is putting increasing pressure on Algeria’s government to liberalize its economic and investment policies. Despite such internal worries, Algeria has significantly improved its logistics infrastructure, which had them ranked 140th in 2007, to which they have climbed to 96th out of 160 countries.

The central component of Algeria’s projected growth resonates with the success of the $262 billion five-year investment plan. This project is aimed at “boosting domestic production and moving the country’s economy away from oil and gas reliance,” per CountryWatch.

In a nation where poverty remains widespread, a high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth, is obstructing the country from any consistent growth. Moreover, PWC reports that the labor market is inefficient, ranking “last globally in the 2013 Global Competitiveness Index.”

Reforming institutions and monetary policies are vital to an environment crippled by political unrest and faced with strenuous complications. Infrastructure in Algeria, especially under the five-year plan, is set to ensure “significant continued development of transportation networks in the coming years,” as Oxford Business Group reports. Apart from the advertised objectives, the future of Algerian development is also contingent upon its domestic production. Algeria has a plan, but its path forward in a rapidly adjusting global system remains to be seen.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in AlgeriaIn Algeria, women are typically viewed as insignificant and lesser than their male counterparts. Ironically, the honor of a family rests almost solely upon the shoulders of the women.

The literacy rate of women in Algeria is 73 percent, for men it is 87 percent. The unemployment rate for women rests at 41 percent, for men it is only 22 percent. There is clearly a disparity in how women are treated in Algeria. Fortunately, efforts are being made to encourage women’s empowerment in Algeria.

Algeria is a country with Islamist values where women are expected to wear conservative clothing. Even at the beach, women are expected to be almost completely covered up. Recently, however, women have begun to push back against these values by wearing what they like, including bikinis.

An Algerian woman, Sara, started a Facebook group to garner acceptance in favor of the bikini. “Swimming in beachwear at the beach shouldn’t be an exploit or shocking,” she said. Some 200 women have gone to the beach in bikinis in support of women’s freedom to wear what they want when they want to. It is a small step for women, but a crucial one for women’s empowerment in Algeria.

Even more significant to women’s empowerment is that more women are appearing in parliament in Algeria.  Despite a patriarchal system, women now occupy 31 percent of parliamentary seats, due to political reforms supported by the UNDP, ranking the country first in the Arab world. According to its website, UNDP “helped establish a legal framework that granted women 30 percent representation in elected assemblies.” Building upon this framework, UNDP founded a program to support elected women officials and ensure that they got the proper education for these roles.

Yasmina, a resident of Algeria who is a lawyer and has been in training to learn about the democratic process understands the importance of this work. “Through these exchanges with the trainers, I’ve come to understand the importance of having women participate in the decision-making process and the impact this has on the future status of women in Algeria,” she said.

Educating women leads to gender parity. Gender parity is a way in which poverty can be reduced. With women gaining more powerful roles in society, gender parity can more likely be achieved and, by extension, reduction of poverty.

While Algeria has made significant strides, there are still some roadblocks to overcome. A woman was set on fire after refusing a man’s advances and a pamphlet instructing men how to beat their wives has been circulated. Women’s rights need to be adopted and respected by everyone in Algeria for progress to be fully realized. Women’s empowerment in Algeria still has a long way to go.

– Dezanii Lewis
Photo: Flickr

5 Development Projects in Algeria
Since gaining independence from France in 1962, Algeria has been arduously attempting to gain some headway on the international stage. Following a 20-year engagement with the socialist model, Algeria shifted its approach to development in the early 80s, and has been actively engaged in the precepts of globalization ever since.

Yet, the road towards development has yet to reach its end. The following are five development projects in Algeria that aim to settle the country in a place of prosperity and hope, once and for all.

  1. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
    IFAD has spent $65.6 million on a series of agricultural development projects in Algeria. First, they aim to strengthen the capacity of rural communities to operate independently. Second, they work to improve irrigation infrastructure, soil and water conservation, management of silo-pastoral ecosystems, livestock husbandry and rural tracks. Lastly, they continue to push for the progression of women’s place in society through the development of rural microenterprises. They have focused assistance on three communities whose economic capabilities are all but limited to agriculture. Currently, their five programs operate in the mountainous areas in the north of the country, the Saharan areas in the south and the coast, where poor fishing communities make up the majority of the population.
  2. Arab Reform Initiative – International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC)
    After the uprisings in 2011, commonly referred to as the Arab Spring, the fervor slowed as national governments cramped down on protestors. The aim of IDRC funding is to ensure that ideals of democracy and progress are maintained and cultivated in the youth of Algeria. The project, lasting for two years, is managed by the Arab Reform Initiative, and aims to develop the youth as political actors and active citizens engaged in their country’s political, social, economic and cultural spheres.
  3. The Trans-Saharan Highway (La Route Transsaharienne)
    The development of the trans-Saharan highway has been years in the making. The route from Algiers, running through Niger and down through Nigeria, is about 5,000 km. The route itself has been used for trade since the eighth century, but, until recently, has been a road of sand. Paving the road is meant to increase the trade profit between the three nations it runs through. The Algerian government has opted to pay for its portion of the construction from its national budget, a reflection of a trend in their more recent national policy.
  4. World Food Program (WFP) – Algeria’s Sahrawi refugees
    The WFP has operated in Algeria since the late 80s. They work to provide basic food and nutrition needs to the populations of Sahrawi refugees on the country’s Western border. Algeria has hosted Sahrawi refugees from Western Sahara since 1975. The program’s main focus is decreasing a debilitating rate of iron deficiency found in Sahrawi women and children.
  5. Transparency International
    Transparency International is an organization whose aim is to evaluate the transparency of governments. In Algeria, it has determined that transparency is sorely lacking. The country has been scored 34 out of 100, and comes in 108 out of 176 countries. The organization’s tactics are simple. By shining a light on issues of corruption within the government and private sector, Transparency International is able to create accountability in situations where it is sometimes nonexistent. In this way, ideals of transparency have begun to permeate governance, as seen in the 2006 creation of the Central Office for the Suppression of Corruption, an agency tasked with the investigation and prosecution of all forms of bribery in the country.

These five development projects in Algeria are just a small indication of the state of Algerian society today. Ultimately, what these projects exemplify is the potential for further improvement in the North African nation.

– Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr