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

5 Things to Know About Women's Rights in AlgeriaThe Algerian constitution states that all citizens are created equal. There should not be discrimination based on “birth, race, sex, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.” This sounds perfect until you realize that a “family code” was put 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 and to be seen as equals. Here are five facts about women’s rights in Algeria.

5 Facts About Women’s Right in Algeria

  1. There is more equality for women in the job market. In February 2016, the government introduced an article that would make the state 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 feminine career paths, such as healthcare and education.
  2. Some forms of domestic violence are criminalized. The government adopted amendments to the family code in December 2015 that can 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 past. During Algeria’s civil war in the 90s, known as the Black Decade, women were targets of extremists. Teachers, businesswomen, drivers and women engaged in the public sphere were especially targeted. These women would often get raped, murdered or disappear during that time. Having these amendments does 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 more access to divorce and child custody, women still find it hard 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 justification. On top of needing men to approve the divorce, women also risk losing their property and assets if they decide to end their 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. They provided moral, psychological and legal assistance to the victims. They would also attend their funerals. Traditionally, only men were allowed to attend funerals but during the Black Decade, women started going as an act of protest. They would state that it was not the victim’s fault they were 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 been behind major legislation that would give women equality and greater political representation. In 2012, about 30% of seats in the government’s cabinet were held by women, 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 have proven, the country still has room for improvement to allow women to be seen and treated as equals.

—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

5 Things to Know About Poverty in Algeria
Poverty in Algeria is distributed unequally among groups. This is mainly due to the country’s economy heavily relying on a few market sectors. This creates disparities in unemployment and poverty rates based on region, age and sex as the economy is reliant upon a few job types and resources.

5 Facts about Poverty in Algeria

  1. The Algerian economy relies heavily on global oil and gas prices. Poverty in Algeria can be attributed to many factors. However, Algeria’s resource richness has led to heavy reliance on global prices for natural gas and oil. This means the country’s economy is dependent on high prices. As a result, when prices drop or stay stagnant, its economy and its people feel the effects. Moreover, hydrocarbon is one of Algeria’s main exports. It has suffered from lower rates of export in the past few years. Heightened domestic demands for natural gas and slowed production contributed to the dip in hydrocarbon exports.
  2. Unemployment and poverty rates differ greatly between groups. Unemployment in Algeria as of 2018 stood at 11.7%. However, youth, college graduates and women see much higher rates of unemployment which contribute to poverty in Algeria. The youth unemployment rate is at a staggering 29%, followed by 19.4% for women and 18.5% for college graduates. Diversification of the economy can help with the unemployment rate among these groups. This means there would be more job creation in different sectors for youth, college graduates and women. As a result, it would help them escape poverty.
  3. Reports disagree about the number of Algerians below the poverty line.  The Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) found that 14 million Algerians were living below the poverty line. This population group earns less than $1.45 a day. The LADDH conducted a study with large sample sizes to find this result, pinning the poverty rate at 35% of Algerians. However, governmental organizations contested these numbers using the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Solidarity’s numbers. The organizations have counted between 660,000 and 700,000 poor families in Algeria.
  4. Disparities in poverty rates exist between different regions. The poverty rates are twice as high among Algerians living in the Sahara region. Algerians living on the Steppe have three times as high which is suffering the effects of resource scarcity and desertification. Despite these regional disparities in rates of poverty, almost 75% of Algerians in poverty live in urban areas and suffer from high unemployment rates. Diversification of the economy in urban areas and sustainable agricultural practices in rural areas can help address both of these issues.
  5. Desertification is affecting agriculture. Agricultural lands in rural areas eroded because of the overuse of the land through practices such as overgrazing. This then leads to less water retention in the soil. Moreover, the rains carried the eroded soil and waste like fertilizers and oils. As a result, it contributes to water pollution, limiting available clean water and exacerbating poverty in the area. To alleviate the strain the agricultural practices are placing on the environment and lessen their effects on the surrounding populations, land conservation and sustainable development practices need to be pursued.

Diversifying the economy and generating jobs in other sectors can decrease poverty in Algeria and address disparities in unemployment. In addition, implementing sustainable agricultural practices will slow desertification and protect rural populations. The International Development Research Center’s ‘Sustainable Development of the Algerian Steppe’ projects have started working to achieve this and increased foreign aid could continue this important work.

Ellie Williams
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in AlgeriaAlgeria is a country in North Africa with Mediterranean coastline and an interior of the Saharan desert. Over the years, the education quality in Algeria has been improving and statistics show more girls are graduating with university diplomas. While the recent reforms have been an improvement, more work is needed to improve girls’ education in Algeria.

The Algerian Education System

The education system is divided into a nine-year primary foundation school, followed by a three-year secondary and then university level. Algerian education is still focused on the French philosophy of fact-acquisition, and instruction is almost entirely in the form of lecture and memorization. As of 2015, there are 92 post-secondary institutions in Algeria including 48 universities.

Past Statistics of Algerian Students

Back in 1996, the ministry reported 15,426 state primary schools with 4,674,947 students, 46% of which were girls. There were 3,038 middle schools, which were for children 7 to 9 years of age, with 1,762,761 students, only 38% of whom were girls. This led to less than 50% of female citizens getting university degrees during the time. According to CountryMeters, in 2016, the literacy rate for the adult male population is 87.17%, or 14,318,494 men; literacy rate for the adult female population is 73.13%, or 11,949,007 women. Literate females made up around 14% less than the literate male population.

Recent Statistics of Algerian Students

Statistics of graduate Algerian women have been more than men since the late 2000’s. In 2011 and 2012, around 60% of the 1,090,592 students on track to graduate from Algerian universities were females. Ever since then, recorded data shows a positive trend of girls obtaining their university degrees. In 2018, Algeria reported that 64.46% female residents have graduated from universities in the country. There are currently no recent updates on the literacy levels of Algerians.

Education Reforms

Recently, Algeria has made education mandatory and free of charge for all children from age 6 to 15. Also, the British Council works in collaboration with the Algerian Ministry of National Education (MoNE) to support their joint focus on improving education. This is a continuous project that began in 2016. As a result, 40,000 teachers have been recruited each year for Algeria schools. In addition, the project focuses on addressing leadership and ensures the quality of the education system.

Due to this project, in 2018, approximately 596,000 students took the BEM, or the intermediate school certificate examination. The average score was 56.9 percent, which was up from 56.3 percent in 2017. The positive statistics ultimately led to the increased percentage of female university graduates in 2018.

The amount of females graduating and obtaining a university degree are gradually increasing each year. Since 1996, there has been more than a 10% increase in the amount of females graduating from a college. On top of that, the quality of the Algerian education system is slowly improving each year, and the government is encouraging all young girls to attend primary school.

– Megan Ha
Photo: LH4

Healthcare in Algeria
Algeria is located on the Northern coast of Africa and is home to 42.2 million people. The nation adopted a universal single-payer healthcare system in 1984, which allows anyone to access healthcare at no cost to themselves. The nation’s economy is largely reliant on oil prices and sales, but these have proven to be volatile in the past several decades. Due to this economic instability, 23% of the population lives below the poverty line, even though the nation has some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world. What is even more startling is the 29% youth unemployment rate. Given that such a large segment of the population falls below the poverty line and cannot find work, many Algerians are reliant on their publicly funded healthcare system to provide for them in times of need. Here are five facts about healthcare in Algeria in light of the country’s economic hardship.

5 Facts About Healthcare in Algeria

  1. The Public Healthcare Network has Struggled Recently: In 2019, Algeria’s public healthcare network ranked as the 173rd most secure healthcare network out of 195 nations. This stems from the chronic economic insecurity that dominated the nation due to drops in oil prices. The “breakeven” price for oil in Algeria was $157 per barrel in 2020. However, the price fell to just $20 a barrel, leaving the nation to stumble upon hard times. Yahia Zoubir notes that many Algerian medical professionals have chosen to take their practices out of the nation due to the “chronically insufficient healthcare system.”
  2. A Private Healthcare Sector Exists within Algeria: In 2015, there were 250 operational private clinics, and the government approved plans for the construction of the first private hospital in the nation. Many questioned the utility of the private sector because it fills in the gaps of the public sector, but it can only serve those who could afford it. Essentially, the presence of the private sector heightens disparity in the quality of care that the healthcare system provides to Algerians in different socio-economic classes.
  3. COVID-19 has Highlighted Major Issues with the Public Healthcare Network: As noted before, the national economy took major hits in 2019, and the nation announced a 50% cut in public spending as a result. Due to an inability to provide physicians with the necessary equipment and a general lack of human capital, there were 17 beds per 10,000 Algerians, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. Because of this limited hospital capacity, COVID-19 patients easily overran public healthcare in Algeria.
  4. Where Health Officials Fail, the People Provide: Throughout the pandemic, government officials were notorious for failing to communicate with the public to slow the spread of the virus. Villages located further away from urban centers encountered these issues most prominently. Despite this, the Algerian people demonstrated resilient and innovative capabilities. The United Nations Development Program notes two distinct ways Algerians are reacting to the pandemic. First, in urban centers, many merchants are turning away from their cash-based system and moving toward e-commerce. E-commerce limits the amount of person-to-person contact involved in economic transitions of all sorts. Meanwhile, villages are working together to limit the spread of the virus themselves. Notably, a village called Tifilkout went into self-confinement to protect its citizens and other villages in the area. This plan originated from the tradition of “wise men” leading the village. These solutions demonstrate that while healthcare in Algeria may be unstable, the people will still assist one another regardless.
  5. The Algerian Struggle has Incited a Global Response: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have also stepped up to assist in COVID-19 relief. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to donate $20 million to fight COVID-19 in Africa. The money will go towards ensuring that PPE and treatments are available to all who need them, not just those who can pay the most. While these efforts going towards Africa generally, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to Algeria in the past. In 2002, it joined groups working to fight the spread of malaria, and through its assistance, Algeria was the second nation in Africa to become malaria-free.

Healthcare in Algeria has struggled for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic exposed many of its weaknesses. However, the pandemic has also allowed communities to respond to such weaknesses in full force. While Algerians are working to protect one another through e-commerce and social distancing, the international community is banding together to support the nation as well.

Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

sanitation in algeriaAlgeria is a former French colony in North Africa. Libya, Tunisia Niger are on its western borders. Morocco, Marius and Mali are on its eastern borders. About half of the population lives in urban areas concentrated near the Mediterranean sea. Algeria is a member of OPEC and the Arab Maghreb Union, a regional organization. During the 1990s, the country experienced a civil war between Islamist terrorist groups and the Algerian army. While the army’s victory ensured greater stability, Algeria continues to face challenges such as sanitation. Here are ten facts about sanitation in Algeria.

10 Facts about Sanitation in Algeria

  1. Diseases: Poor sanitary conditions place Algerians at-risk for diseases. In 2018, Algeria experienced a cholera outbreak with 217 cases. The cases were concentrated in Algiers, the capital. Government responses included testing the water supply daily for pathogens and requesting 5,000 diagnostic tests from the WHO. By way of comparison, cholera has been virtually eradicated in the United States with most cases in the U.S. originating from international travel.
  2. Rural-Urban Divide: Urban Algerians are more likely to have greater access to sanitation than rural Algerians. Three percent more rural Algerians do not have access to basic sanitation (i.e sewers, latrines and septic tanks) than urban Algerians. This rural-urban divide continues when comparing lower classes. Algeria’s urban poor experience 10% more sanitation coverage than their rural counterparts. To help address the challenges associated with rural sanitation, the African Development Bank established the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative in 2003.

  3. Hand Washing: While the majority of Algerians are able to practice proper hygiene by washing their hands, disparities exist among rural and urban communities. Currently, 83% of Algerians are able to wash their hands. This is slightly higher than what is typical in the region. However, there is a 14% gap between rural and urban Algerians; only 73% of rural Algerians are able to do so.

  4. Recent Improvements: Over the last decade, rural Algerians have gained greater basic sanitation. From 2000 to 2017, basic sanitation coverage increased by approximately 10%.  Today about 70% of Algerians have access to basic sanitation.  This is relatively high for the region as an average of only 50.2% of individuals have this service region-wide.

  5. Access to Toilets: Similarly, the number of rural Algerians openly defecating has substantially decreased.  From 2000 to 2017, this percentage decreased by 12.5%. Today only about 3% of Algerians experience this level of deprivation. This is substantially lower than the regional percentage of 10% of rural individuals.

  6. Rural Sewers: Disadvantaged Algerians have increased access to better sanitary facilities. Since 2000, approximately 14% more poor Algerians gained access to sewers. Notably, this positive trend is true of rural Algerians. Since 2000, 17% more rural Algerians gained access to sewers. Today about 60% of this demographic has sewers.

  7. Regional Access to Sanitation: As a whole, more Algerians have better sanitation facilities. In the last decade, sewer availability has increased by about 14%. Today, about 83% of all Algerians use sewers. This percentage is higher than the regional percent of 58%.

  8. Drinking Water: In 2000, few Algerians had access to quality drinking water facilities. The majority of Algerians gain drinking water from pipe-improved water. Notably, this is true for both rural and urban Algerians. To address this issue, the Algerian government established L’Algérienne Des Eaux (ADE), a public company, in 2001. To further remedy this problem, the Algerian government established a program to create more extensive water pipelines to Médéa, a city in Northern Algeria.

  9. Students: Most Algerian students have access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water. Currently, 98% of Algeria’s primary students have basic sanitation; 87% have safe drinking water. This is a remarkable achievement as regionally only about 8o% of all students have basic sanitation and 74% have safe drinking water.

  10. Drinking Water Improvements: Most Algerians have access to safe drinking water. 93% of Algerians have basic access to drinking water. This is true of both urban and rural areas with only a 7% gap between the two categories.

These ten facts about sanitation in Algeria reveal that Algeria has overcome substantial challenges.  While most Algerians have access to some level of sanitation, drinking water and hygiene, there remains a higher risk for waste-related illnesses such as cholera. Furthermore, while there remains a persistent gap between its rural and urban citizens, the country’s overall coverage and sanitary facilities have improved since 2000. With sustained effort by the Algerian government and the African Development Bank, Algeria can overcome the remaining obstacles to better public health.

– Kaihua Tymon Zhou
Photo: Wikimedia