Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Algeria
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the global economy, leading to widespread job losses and a sharp decline in economic activity. COVID-19 has particularly hit the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Algeria has added to the country’s economic and social challenges as it experienced a double shock due to a sudden fall in foreign revenues and recession-induced lockdown measures.

Algeria’s Oil-Dependent Economy

Algeria’s oil-dependent economy suffered a severe blow accounting for more than 95% of the government’s budget. The economy has struggled due to years of falling global oil prices since 2014. Algeria heavily relies on oil and gas exports, rather than diversifying into other sectors, which made it vulnerable to the disruption of global trade due to COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, Algeria was already facing significant economic challenges, including high levels of youth unemployment that reached 26%, while women’s unemployment rate was on the rise and widening the gender gap. Inequality and economic hardships led to nationwide strikes and protests.

Moreover, Algeria suffers from multidimensional poverty that affects all poverty dimensions: education, health, living conditions, unemployment and financial inclusion. A 2021 Economic Research Forum article said that despite laws that provide mandatory education for nine years and the health law that assumes that health care is free for all, Algeria still needs to achieve those objectives.

In addition, more than 75% of the population do not have access to either hot water, heaters, television or refrigerator, or access to the internet. In comparison, 60% of the population has no access to waste management and 43% of households have at least one child not registered in school.

Decrease in Economic Activity

The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded Algeria’s economic challenges, leading to the closure of businesses, job losses and a sharp decline in consumer confidence, which resulted in a significant decrease in economic activity, exacerbating poverty levels in the country.

To curb the spread of the virus, the Algerian government implemented curfews and mandatory closing times for businesses. However, these measures disproportionately affected low-wage and informal workers who could not work remotely and lacked job security.

The Algerian Government’s Measures

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on poverty in Algeria, the government has taken several measures, including providing financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises, food subsidies and cash transfers to the most vulnerable populations.

It also launched a major vaccination campaign to reach 70% of the population and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy, according to the Middle East Institute (MEI). The success of this vaccination drive was critical in restoring consumer confidence and kickstarting economic growth in the country, thus, decreasing the poverty rate and its effects. In April 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) classified Algeria as a “slow inoculator” in its regional economic index, indicating that the country was lagging in its vaccination efforts.

The government fully funded a massive program to ensure vaccine accessibility to all residents. It has also “prioritized health care workers, vulnerable people and police officers” first to receive the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The government should test its health system periodically to improve operational abilities and evaluate its financial system to ensure adequate reimbursements, which will equip the country with a better capability to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Algeria.

NGOs That are Helping

NGOs in Algeria have also played a crucial role in supporting the health care system to provide lifesaving care to Algerians. In August 2022, the Algerian Medical Network launched a fundraising campaign to purchase medical equipment and hospital supplies as the country faced a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Nas Al-Khair, a local NGO operating in northwestern Algeria, launched a campaign to spread awareness, distribute masks and sanitizers and deliver food to residents safely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its effects on the community.

Despite the challenges Algeria’s economy faces before and during the pandemic, there are signs of a slow recovery and these measures have helped to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Algeria. However, the economic outlook remains uncertain and challenging as pre-pandemic vulnerabilities persist. The IMF has highlighted the need for Algeria to address its declining energy revenues and support the private sector to ensure sustainable economic growth. The Algerian government has implemented plans to tackle these challenges and promote economic recovery.

– Nisan Ahmado
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in AlgeriaThe Algerian economy is highly dependent on its natural resources. Exporting gas and oil is a lucrative business and in recent history, the country has benefitted from periods of price increases. However, volatility in prices makes macroeconomic stability hard to achieve.

In 2022, the Russian-Ukraine conflict raised the prices of hydrocarbons, due to a decline in supply. As a result, European countries are looking at North African countries including Algeria to meet their energy needs. However, at present, Algeria’s energy sector is unable to meet this demand.

The Need for Renewable Energy

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many Algerians struggle with rising inflation and a lack of economic opportunities. According to the IMF, “inflation and volatility of hydrocarbon prices” are vital issues that require attention, in order to guarantee a more stable macroeconomic environment. These issues are commonplace globally and affect the most vulnerable members of society. Unemployment has been on the rise since the pandemic and according to recent data, the country’s poverty figure is 14.6%. of note, there is a large disparity in poverty based on location, with rural areas being “highly deprived compared with urban areas.”

The Potential for Renewable Energy

The prospect for renewable energy in Algeria is tremendous as the country is situated in the Sahara Desert, boasting plentiful sunlight year-round. The potential energy production from sunlight is estimated to be 14TWh per year. To put this into perspective, currently, the country uses around 70.11TWh per year to meet its energy needs. If Algeria manages to source more of its energy from renewables, the government budget could be less susceptible to price volatility, creating greater macroeconomic stability. In line with this expectation, the government has set out a plan to increase access to renewable energy in Algeria.

Algeria’s Renewable Energy Plan

Algeria has set a target of 15,000 megawatts from solar by 2035. This is in hopes of increasing the percentage of energy derived from the sun, which currently sits at 3%. Furthermore, off-grid installations are to produce 1,000 megawatts, which is likely to benefit rural communities, according to the International Energy Forum (IEF). Alongside increased investment domestically, the country is looking at outside investment to bolster its initiatives. The new legislature is also focused on setting requirements for foreign investors, in the hopes of diversifying the local economy. Of note, Genevieve Verdier led an IMF mission to Algeria and noted that the new legislative framework “could facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.” As part of the new laws, foreign investors will need to use equipment manufactured in Algeria. The country has solar panel factories and aims to increase its manufacturing power, by making it mandatory to utilize Algerian supplies.

Rural Applications

The Algerian plan is promising, but it will take some time to deliver large-scale results since rural communities sporadically use solar energy. In an interview with Euronews, a local nomadic breeder showcased a few solar panels near his home. The farmer spoke of the positive impact of his solar power kit, explaining that it powers his lights and allows him to live a more comfortable life. Similarly, in the small town of Aine Madhi, a school recently installed a solar water heater.

Overall, cheap, renewable energy in Algeria could make big changes in rural communities while large-scale investments would provide macroeconomic stability to the nation, diversify its economy and create job opportunities across the country.

– Matteo Pennarts
Photo: Flickr

Alergia is one of the largest countries in North Africa, both by size and population. Like any other country, Alergia is not perfect, as the upper middle-income nation has a poverty rate of 14.6%. That high rate can be connected to issues such as femicide, stagnant economic growth, a decline in the hydrocarbon sector and a private sector struggling to energize the economy. However, a number of charities in Algeria are working to address poverty conditions among the most vulnerable groups.

4 Poverty-Fighting Charities in Algeria

  1. Oxfam in Algeria: Oxfam is an international charity that focuses on alleviating global poverty. While the nonprofit functions around the world, its focus in Alegria has been on Alegria’s Sahrawi refugee camps. Since 1975 Sahrawi refugees have remained dependent on humanitarian aid to provide basic necessities. Oxfam works to combat poverty for those living in the camp by improving food security through increasing access to fresh produce. Importantly, it is also teaching Sahrawi refugees to develop and run small-scale agroecological farms. Since most Sahrawi families lack access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) recommended 20 liters of fresh water a day, Oxfam concentrates on improving family water storage tanks, installing strong hosepipes to homes and other similar technical upgrades for water access and capacity enhancements. Because a number of highly-educated young women and men in the camp become frustrated with their lack of socioeconomic opportunities, Oxfam also focuses on community engagement for these young adults.
  2. World Food Programme: The World Food Programme (WFP) helps tackle the issue of malnourishment which is a problem, especially for Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. Luckily, in 2021 alone, the WFP supported 138,421 people in Algeria and provided nearly a million dollars worth of cash-based food assistance. Targeting anemia, stunting and malnutrition, the WFP runs 29 nutrition centers that offer both treatment and prevention strategies. The WFP also provides daily school snacks to nearly 40,000 children to encourage them to enroll in school. Finally, the WFP focuses on resilience-building projects like low-tech hydroponics and fish farms.
  3. Algeria UNAIDS: The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) UNAIDS is leading efforts to reduce AIDS from a public health threat by 2030. UNAIDS attempts to increase awareness and decrease the stigma of HIV around the world and Algeria is no exception. As of 2021, 21,000 Algerian adults and children live with HIV. Unfortunately, this number is on the rise. UNAIDS in Algeria is focusing on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. It is also specifically investing in programs that promote support in terms of education, rights and leadership for women, girls and young people.
  4. SOS Children’s Village: SOS Children’s Village is a global charity that operates in Algeria. Human rights organizations have criticized Algeria’s “Family Code” which severely limits rights for women. Underage marriage is prevalent and women who do want to marry face strict guardianship rules. Thousands of children wander the streets without parents or without support from their families.  SOS Children’s Village focuses on protecting children without parents or who come from abusive families. Specifically, SOS provides daycare and medical care. Also, SOS mothers provide support for suffering children in SOS families.

These charities in Algeria are not only helping to eradicate poverty, but they are also changing the overall landscape of the country for the better.

– Luke Sherrill
Photo: Flickr

Algeria’s Economic Future
Algeria’s economic future looks bright as its role as a supplier of liquid crude oil has expanded amidst the shifts in European sourcing due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Algeria typically provides only 8% of natural gas for the European Union. However, the country is already taking steps to provide more oil as nations look to lessen their dependence on Russian oil. Such a change in supply could mean an economic boost, enabling Algeria to build future long-term renewable energy and labor markets.

Historical Context

Algeria is a country with a deep history of relying on its own resources and people to power its economy. Having internationally-recognized independence since 1962, Algeria has had to resort to its oil exports, internal agricultural labor and deals with neighbors such as Morocco and Spain in order to stay afloat. After former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in 2019, the old guard of Algerian leadership faced a new era in which the country’s non-oil industry required expanding and strengthening in order for its economy to have a bright future.

How Algeria’s Role is Currently Changing

Countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece and France are weaning off of Russian oil, while capital cities such as Madrid, Athens and Rome are currently setting up new energy provisions with Algeria.  In its most recent report, the World Bank noted that Algeria’s economy grew 3.9% bigger due to the extra demand for European oil alongside new construction and industrial activity. To maintain this continued growth Algeria’s leaders need to pay close attention to the possible obstacles.

In order for Algeria’s economy to find the funds to diversify its future economy, it must be able to provide more oil to European countries in the first place, an increase estimated at 12% to 38% of its current rate by the fall and winter of this year.  However, the state-run oil company Sonatrach is facing bureaucratic slowdowns, hacking to the refinery operations, and complications maintaining its already existing contracts.

In addition, there is a geopolitical complication in Algeria’s current status as a primary buyer of Russian weapons and arms, according to Modern Diplomacy.  If Russia can mitigate some of its lost oil revenue by increasing weapons sales to a growing Algerian economy, then European nations may turn away from contracting more oil supplies from Algeria.  These are complications that make Algeria’s economic future a tricky path of policy and economic landmines.

Possible Solutions

The primary solution for longer-term economic growth is to focus on building non-hydrocarbon industries with the profits from oil exports that could take place in the coming months. One major way to do this is for the World Bank to support further private sector projects related to agriculture, construction and development. In addition, Algeria could create stability in its current leadership by funding social programs, human rights protection and anti-corruption legislation. These measures could help prevent the widespread political uprising from citizens and extremist groups while keeping the leadership needed to maintain the centralized economy going.

According to Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. role in Algeria’s economic future should be kept to a minimum of interference. Algeria is a nation that is very insistent on being self-sufficient and sovereign. In order for political and economic stability to succeed, U.S. measures need to include not sending more troops or intelligence to Algeria and instead diplomatic peers in order to better understand the needs and wants of the nation, CFR stated.

Algeria’s economic future looks bright when taking into account the post-COVID-19 recovery and the opening avenues for revenue to which Algeria can build a stronger, more diversified economy. This serves two primary purposes: keeping intact its sovereignty and forging a new path forward to end its long-tenured instability.

– Albert Vargas
Photo: Flickr

Smart Cities Benefit AlgeriaAccording to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), 14 million people are living beneath the poverty line in Algeria, which represents 35% of the population. Due to economic issues, individuals living in poverty make less than $1.45 a day. Poverty in Algeria is visible through poor living conditions, inadequate healthcare services available to citizens, high unemployment rates and increased rates of migration as well as many beggars. The advantages of smart cities benefit Algeria and can help tackle these problems.

The Concept of Smart Cities

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and more than 90% of urban growth occurs in developing countries. Innovation to improve efficiency and quality of life is important in the development of cities. One of the ways in which innovation occurs in cities is through the establishment of smart cities. A smart city collects data from Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which analyzes the current state of the environment in order to develop sustainable development practices.

Smart cities identify the main needs of the city, create a connected network among citizens and businesses through the city, develop sustainable solutions to problems and develop plans for future city development. Some of the most popular smart cities are located in the United States, but, the development of smart cities has started in developing countries too. The Algiers Smart City project, launched n 2017, was created with the intention to transform the capital city of Algiers into a smart city.

How Smart Cities Benefit Algeria

Quality of life will greatly improve through the development of technology and the optimization of management in the city through the smart city project in Algeria. Management of the city is proposed to be optimized through green project solutions from established startup businesses and the sharing of information between different sectors of the city. The project also includes direct involvement with stakeholders in health and security, which protects citizens.

Efforts within the project in Algeria include working with digital entrepreneurs to help develop the city and to update the ICT infrastructure that is present in the country. Smart city officials established the Experimental Laboratory and the Technology Innovation Hub, which provides local businesses with the tools to test smart city innovations. By creating supportive environments for entrepreneurs and providing business opportunities, jobs in Algeria are able to expand, lifting more people out of poverty.

The Do4Africa Program

The Do4Africa program identifies issues in urban areas and provides approaches to digitalize existing cities like Algiers. The smart city project in Algeria includes implementing different forms of digital technology to completely transform the city of Algiers. Digital technologies are used to manage urban resources such as transport, energy and water. The data gathered from implemented digital technologies focuses on the citizens’ specific needs and city maintenance to offer sustainable solutions to problems caused by urban growth.

Smart cities benefit Algeria in several ways. Conclusively, the transformation of the city of Algiers into a smart city will improve the quality of life, lead to more sustainability and aid in lifting Algerian citizens out of poverty.

– Simone Riggins
Photo: Flickr

Sahrawi Refugees living in AlgeriaFor more than 45 years, Sahrawi refugees have left Western Sahara into neighboring countries fleeing conflict and instability. Many Sahrawi refugees have found themselves living in camps in Algeria. In these camps, refugees struggle with food and water insecurity, lack of medicine and healthcare access. This overview of the forgotten crisis of Sahrawi Refugees living in Algeria will provide insight into the ongoing humanitarian struggle.

The Refugee Camps in Algeria

A conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over Western Sahara’s sovereignty has gone on since Spain withdrew from the area in 1975. In the wake of this conflict, hundreds of thousands of Saharawi people have been displaced and have sought refuge in countries like Algeria. For more than 45 years, the Saharawi people have been living in camps in Algeria’s Tindouf region, which borders Western Sahara. There are five camps housing more than 150,000 Sahrawi refugees near the Algerian town of Tindouf. These refugees live almost entirely on humanitarian aid and assistance. The Algerian government has worked to improve the living conditions of these refugees by providing secondary education, healthcare services, land and infrastructure improvements. The government also works with international organizations like the UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF to continue supporting Sahrawi refugees.

Challenges for the Sahrawi Refugees

The situation of the Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria is referred to as the ‘forgotten crisis’ because there is little media coverage of their situation. According to the World Food Programme, over 88% of the Sahrawi Refugees are either at risk or suffering from food insecurity. Acute malnutrition affects roughly 8% of Sahrawi children aged five or younger and over 50% of Sahrawi women between the ages of 15 and 49 suffer from anemia. The COVID-19 pandemic has added further difficulties to the situation of the Sahrawi refugees. Since March 2020, the Sahrawi are under quarantine, with humanitarian aid continuing to arrive.

The Sahrawi refugee’s dependence on humanitarian aid has left the people lacking ways to be self-sufficient. Sahrawi refugees are at risk of radicalization or social unrest. There are few employment opportunities and frustration develops with the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara and vulnerability to flash floods and sandstorms. The lockdown has also caused many Sahrawi refugees to loose jobs, causing them to rely more heavily on aid.

Bilateral Aid

Despite being known as the “forgotten crisis,” there is still work being done to improve the Sahrawi refugees’ situation. In 2020, the EU provided more than $9 million in humanitarian aid for the Sahrawi refugees, primarily food, water and medicine. World Food Programme rations provide Sahrawi refugees with 2,100 calories a day and $5.4 million has gone toward combating malnutrition of women and children, which has been a persistent problem for refugees. There are plans to extend the water network in the camps to improve the efficiency of delivering water to the refugees. More than $500,000 have been used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by improving hospitals and their capacities to deal with sickness. Efforts have been made to support disabled refugees to ensure they are part of the community.

Swiss contributions to the WFP’s efforts in Algeria have totaled more than $30 million over several decades. The programs have encouraged more than 40,000 children to attend school through a meal program which paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic but will continue afterward. While the Sahrawi camps are under lockdown during the pandemic, humanitarian aid provides necessary food, water and medicine to refugees. The Algerian government has included the Sahrawi refugees in its national response plan to support them throughout the lockdown in the form of sanitary services, medical supplies and a referral system to track the virus.

NGOs Helping the Sahrawi Refugees

Several nonprofits are working to help the Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria. The Danish Refugee Council has been working in Sahrawi refugee camps since 2016, providing over 200,000 people with training in business skills, self-sufficiency, business grants and technical support. Oxfam International has been providing fresh produce, clean water, farming skills and community support for refugees since the start of the crisis in 1975.

The conflict in Western Sahara continues to displace thousands of Sahrawi refugees and leaves them with few options and relying on humanitarian aid to survive. The forgotten crisis of the Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria has gone on since 1975. The Sahrawi refugees face many challenges in their daily lives, but humanitarian aid has allowed the community of refugees to survive. Until the conflict in Western Sahara resolves, there needs to be a greater awareness of the current refugee situation and continued humanitarian support for the thousands of Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Algeria
Algeria is the largest country in Africa and about 5.5% of its population lived in poverty as of 2011. Surprisingly, about 75% of those in poverty live in urban areas. They typically make a living from informal jobs such as selling services, foods and goods outside of government regulation. Additionally, many Sahrawi refugees live in camps in Algeria’s Tindouf province. Poverty and Sub-Saharan migration create vulnerability to human trafficking in Algeria.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 report, Algeria is in tier three for combating human trafficking. The Trafficking in Persons Report places countries in one of four tiers depending on their progress in preventing human trafficking. This report measures a country’s efforts in creating laws and penalties against human trafficking. Furthermore, it analyzes measures a country takes to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. This overview of human trafficking in Algeria shows the problems the nation faces and the progress it has made to prevent it.

Progress in Algeria

Algeria has not made significant progress to eliminate human trafficking within its borders. It only dismantled 100 smuggling groups and identified and helped 34 victims in 2019. Furthermore, the Algerian government prosecuted fewer human traffickers in 2020. As a result, the government is protecting fewer victims of human trafficking.

Vulnerability to Human Trafficking

Refugees, asylum seekers and sex workers from sub-Saharan Africa are most vulnerable to human trafficking in Algeria. According to Human Rights Watch, Algeria deported thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers. However, the U.S. State Department said that these deportation efforts may deter reports of human trafficking for fear of experiencing deportation.

Prosecuting Traffickers

A demonstration of force must be present in order to charge people with child sex trafficking in Algeria. This law makes it difficult to prosecute many human traffickers. As a result, Algeria has prosecuted fewer traffickers in 2020 than in previous years. Additionally, human traffickers may face up to 20 years in prison or have to pay fines up to $8,420.

The General Directorate of National Security has maintained 10 police brigades for combatting human trafficking in Algeria. As a result, Algeria only prosecuted 13 traffickers in 2019. Unfortunately, the Algerian government did not report how many alleged trafficking cases it investigated in 2020.

Protecting Trafficking Victims

Up until 2019, Algeria lacked effective ways to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. Unidentified victims underwent deportation or punishment for their illegal actions rather than receiving assistance. Algeria provides free services to trafficking victims to increase identification. However, people often underutilize these free services. Moreover, the government does not report how many resources are provided for victims.

Hope for Algeria

Algeria is working with the United Nations on Drugs and Crime to train and educate magistrates to better prosecute human traffickers. These workshops train them in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking. For example, these workshops hold mock trials for Algerian magistrates to practice human trafficking and smuggling cases.

Furthermore, the Danish Refugee Council is a nonprofit that helps Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. Its training programs on self-reliance have assisted over 200,000 refugees. The organization provides refugees with skill and job training, legal services and shelter. Its services have successfully prevented many human trafficking incidences.

Support from these organizations and aid from the Algerian government has made substantial improvements aiding victims of human trafficking. Although Algeria has much to do, it will hopefully return to tier two on the Trafficking in Person Report in 2021.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in AlgeriaThe Algerian constitution states that all citizens are created equal, meaning there should not be discrimination based on “birth, race, sex, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.” This sounds ideal until one becomes aware that Algeria put a “family code” into place in the 1980s that would treat women as minors under the legal guardianship of their husbands and fathers. Algeria has made some changes to the code since its implementation. These changes are a result of years of activism and pressure on the government to allow women more rights, including the right to equality. Here are five facts about women’s rights in Algeria.

5 Facts About Women’s Rights in Algeria

  1. There is more equality for women in the job market. In February 2016, the government introduced an article that would prompt the state to work to attain equality in the job market. The article “encourages the promotion of women to positions of responsibility in public institutions and in business.” There are no legal restrictions on the professions women choose. However, according to the family code, the husband can revoke the wife’s career path if he does not agree with it. Some men would prefer women to choose more female-dominated career paths, such as health care and education.
  2. Some forms of domestic violence are criminalized. The government adopted amendments to the family code in December 2015 to protect women in the case of domestic violence. Assault on a spouse or former spouse can result in 20 years of imprisonment. Assaults resulting in death can have a consequence of life in prison. The amendment also criminalized sexual harassment in public spaces. This is a major win for women considering their violent and traumatic pasts. During Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s, known as the Black Decade, women became targets of extremists. Extremists especially targeted teachers, businesswomen, female drivers and women engaging in the public sphere. While some women would go missing, others would face rape or murder during that time. These amendments do not take away the brutal past, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.
  3. Women have more access to divorce and child custody. Despite new laws that would allow women increased access to divorce and child custody rights, women still find it difficult to divorce their husbands. Women need approval from the courts and have to meet certain criteria before initiating the divorce whereas men do not need justifications. On top of requiring the husband’s approval of the divorce, women also risk losing their property and assets if they decide to end the marriage.
  4. Many organizations are fighting for women’s rights in Algeria. There are 30 organizations in Algeria fighting women’s oppression. These organizations are a part of a network created by the Civil Society Collective for a Democratic Transition, which was a result of protests for women’s rights in 2019. Many of these organizations are led by women. One organization, in particular, Djazairouna, has been around since the mid-90s. This organization helped families affected by the Black Decade by providing moral, psychological and legal assistance to the victims. The organization’s members would also attend the funerals of victims. Traditionally, only men could attend funerals, but during the Black Decade, women began attending funerals as an act of protest. The women would state that it was not the victim’s fault for being caught in the crossfire but the extremists’ fault. Since the Black Decade, Djazairouna continued to pursue justice for the victims’ families.
  5. Women have an equal opportunity to hold public office. Many of the organizations fighting for women’s rights in Algeria have pushed for major legislation that would give women equality and greater political representation. In 2012, women held about 30% of seats in the government’s cabinet, and again, in 2014. Women also make up half of the judges, 44% of magistrates and 66% of justice professionals in lower courts.

Algeria has made significant progress in the realm of women’s rights. However, as the protests in 2019 prove, the nation must still progress toward increasing the representation and equality of women.

– Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in AlgeriaAlgeria is a country rich with resources, particularly oil, which makes it one of the richest countries in Africa. It is also the largest country in Africa, boasting a population of nearly 43 million people. However, one of the richest and largest African nations battles a decades-long fight: homelessness. Homelessness in Algeria is not a new phenomenon but is a critical one.

Low-Income Citizens Need Affordability

Homelessness in Algeria comes in various forms. It is typical for individuals without permanent and adequate housing to sleep on the street. It is not uncommon for individuals to sleep in their cars. Groups of strangers sometimes live in garages, often thought of as slums.

Low-income Algerians suffer the most from the housing crisis and homelessness. Although the government closely regulates property ownership, the same cannot be said of the rental market. According to a report published by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing in Algeria, speculation and prohibitive rents keep low-income Algerians from accessing permanent housing.

The independent think tank Center for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa reports there is a housing deficit of one million while the number of vacant dwellings is estimated at two million. The latter is a result of private property owners manipulating the rental supply. They eliminate vacant units for rent in an effort to drive up demand and pricing.

Reports published by LKeria, an Algerian real estate agency, indicate that another reason housing is unavailable is that attempts by the government to build housing are often poorly planned and assessed. These low-quality housing developments offer some relief for Algerians facing homelessness. However, many developments do not survive due to building hazards, and residents once again face housing insecurity.

Homeless Women in Algeria

Until 2005, there was no Algerian law that protected divorced women from the housing crisis or the possibility to become homeless. The traditional Family Law code denies Algerian women full citizenship rights. A recent amendment to the code guarantees housing to divorced women.

Per the terms of the family law amendment, settlements of the divorce offer one of two options to the former wives. The first option entitles the woman and children to live in the conjugal residence. The second enlists the man to provide housing for the woman and children if she retains custody and if the man will not forfeit the conjugal residence.

The amendment was a significant step to dismantle parts of the densely patriarchal culture present in Algeria. Still, women’s rights activists say the modification was purely lip service.

According to the women-focused nonprofit SOS Women in Distress based in Algiers, 540 women were homeless as a result of divorce just two years after the new law’s passing, and the trend continues. Authorities largely dismiss the law, and therefore it goes unenforced. As a result, large groups of women often gather with their children on the streets at night.

Solving the Housing Crisis

The central government recognized the housing and homelessness crisis in Algeria for the last two decades and implemented a program to resolve the widespread issue. The program requires Algerian citizens to apply for public housing, also known as diara commissions. The government then creates lists that determine which families will be placed in subsidized living units.

The locals view these lists as both a solution and a recurring problem. Because housing is still scarce, not every family that applies for a living space will make the list. The publication of the lists often spurs protests and riots, reflecting a lack of trust between the country’s decision-makers and the civilians.

However, forecasts indicate that the government is encouraging more buildings. They aim to build 10.9 million more housing units in 2019, with 3.6 million already built in 2018. Additionally, government officials are shifting focus to allow more private developers whose expansion includes development for middle and low-income segments so that homeownership is affordable for majority low-income citizens.

– Victoria Colbert
Photo: Pixabay

Maternal healthcare in Algeria
Algeria, a large country in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The country is known for its rich history and culture, as well as its scorching temperatures. Like many nations in Africa, Algeria struggles to combat maternal mortality – a long-standing, persistent issue for many women in the country. However, in the last several years, Algeria has taken numerous steps to expand maternal healthcare and reduce pregnancy and labor complications. Here are four facts about maternal healthcare in Algeria.

4 Facts About Maternal Healthcare in Algeria

  1. According to recent updates on the maternal mortality ratio in Algeria — it has gradually dropped from 179 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 112 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. Much of the success in lowering the number of deaths is attributed to a multitude of factors such as increased medical training, investments in healthcare and specific government initiatives aimed at reducing maternal deaths. During the years 2009–2017, Algeria trained about 900 professionals from university hospitals such as, Benni Messous, Kouba, Oran and Bab El Oued on multidisciplinary management of pregnancy.
  2. Within the last couple of years, Algeria has managed to make major investments in healthcare. Algeria managed to increase expenditures in healthcare as a share of GDP from 3.6 % in 2003 to 6.4 % in 2017 — growing at an average annual rate of 4.57%. This is an impressive number when compared with Algeria’s neighboring countries. Moreover, these investments have also helped to establish successful disease detection programs and allowed for improved medical facilities.
  3. In 2015, the Ministry of Health in Algeria began to work in collaboration with UNICEF in an attempt to implement a neonatal and maternal mortality reduction plan. This plan was implemented with the intention of reducing as many preventable, maternal deaths as possible, with a target of 50 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2019. Additionally, in 2016 the Ministry of Health put forward an emergency maternal mortality rate (MMR) reduction plan. “The goals set by the plan relate to strengthening family planning, improving the quality of healthcare during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.”
  4. In order to continue the reduction of the maternal mortality rate, the Health Ministry of Algeria held a survey to consolidate the maternal death rate with the technical and financial collaboration of the three U.N. agencies: (UNFPA, UNICEF and the WHO). The objectives of this survey were to reach a consensus on connections between frequent causes of maternal death, update the maternal death rate and cultivate reliable data “for the readjustment of national programs on maternal health and the reduction of preventable maternal deaths for the implementation of Algeria’s ICPD commitments.”

A Leader in Maternal Healthcare

Much work remains in order for Algeria to be able to effectively put an end to preventable, maternal deaths. However, the measures put into practice within the last several years have already proven to be a success. Thanks to these policies, Algeria has become known as a leader in maternal healthcare in North Africa and the country continues to build a strong momentum and infrastructure to fight this problem.

Shreeya Sharma
Photo: Flickr