Impact of COVID-19 on Cabo Verde
To say that the impact of COVID-19 in the Cape Verde Islands, officially Cabo Verde, is gigantic is an understatement. Unlike any other epidemic or disease, the novel coronavirus threatens lives, the economy and social life in Cabo Verde. The islands are located 375 miles off the coast of Senegal, which has made the latter a prime destination for its people in the last 200 years. Cabo Verde achieved its independence in 1975, having been a Portuguese colony. This explains its lack of economic self-sufficiency which persists to the present day. Like many other former colonies, it relied on the economic sectors of Portugal, its former colonizer, for food, medical infrastructure, manufacturing, imports and more. Given all these socio-economic and political realities, COVID-19 was devastating.

Impact on Lives

COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on lives throughout these Islands. More than 15,000 confirmed cases and more than 150 deaths have occurred due to COVID-19. Paradoxically, Cabo Verde had witnessed a rapid development of its healthcare system after 1975. With six hospitals and 80% of its population within 30 minutes of a healthcare facility, most richer African countries are lagging behind Cabo Verde in service delivery.

Due to the viral shockwave on Cabo Verde, the nation finds itself at a level four regarding COVID-19. Furthermore, the entire Cape Verdan is suffering from its economic dependence on tourism and reliance on numerous experts from other countries in all its sectors. This made it difficult for this island nation to firmly close its doors as stronger economies had done. Since September 2, 2020, the government has now imposed “State of Calamity” which forces restrictions on all businesses, gathering in public places including time restrictions.

Impact on Tourism

The tourism sector accounts for nearly half of its GDP. Cabo Verde adopted a market economy that attracts much foreign investment, with tourism being mostly privatized. This means that if business on the islands is not profitable, investors will leave. Even though many knew the risks, no one could have predicted a pandemic wiping an entire sector literally overnight. The virus restrictions immediately affected the tourism industry. Prior to COVID-19, Cape Verde was a beautiful country to visit.

Not only did tourism bring in revenues, but it also created jobs in the formal and informal sectors. In addition, it provided exposure to foreign investors and trade. Therefore, the contrast with today’s situation is stark; hotels are empty and local employees have returned to their respective homes on other islands empty-handed. Many who were the breadwinners must now rely on their struggling communities to survive. One former hotel employee revealed her predicament stating that “I worked in the Iberostar hotel for almost four years, but now I am jobless. I’ll be getting unemployment benefits for five more months, but after that, I won’t know how to feed my kids.” Sadly, the pandemic has affected thousands. Bars, restaurants, small vendors and taxis are now all idle.

Other Economic Sectors

For decades, the country had put all its assets in the tourism and real estate basket and clearly overlooked manufacturing, fishing, trade and modern technologies. Manufacturing only produces limited production in textiles, tuna fish canning, frozen seafood processing, ceramics, mining and timber. As a result of its poor ecology, agriculture was for local consumption and small-scale farming. With the impact of COVID-19 on Cabo Verde, fishing, communication technologies, e-commerce and renewable energies require investments.

What is Next?

It is amazing that in an archipelago of 10 islands fishing is not a leading industry. However, that could change in the immediate future if the country wants to thrive rather than just survive. One should note that Cabo Verde’s GDP had grown by 5% just a year ago. It was a rising star in the developing world. Its people are hardworking and resourceful, but better economic planning has become imperative. Diversification should become the modus operandi of government agencies, policymakers and should be on the minds of Cabo Verdians who saw their businesses or jobs fall apart so quickly.

 More than 1 million Cabo Verdians living abroad. As emigrants, they are also assets to their families, specifically by sending remittances to their relatives. With these new gaping holes in the economy and the livelihood of so many, the government will hopefully build more bridges between these sons and daughters abroad who can bring back investments, technologies and their creativity to their motherland.

Finally, it is noteworthy that since 2016, the Cape Verde Islands’ National Association of Cabo Verdean Municipalities Healthy Cities Initiative has been working diligently towards increasing its health protocols and standards with the institutional and technical support of WHO. According to the WHO website: “[Cabo Verde] was the first country in the African region to embrace the WHO Healthy City approach.” The Healthy Cities Network became a model for 240 million living in  Communities of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) since 2018. Owing to this officially recognized structure, China has granted substantial funds in 2019. With such commitment locally and abroad, Cabo Verde has been increasingly prepared to respond to the impact of COVID-19.

Elhadj Oumar Tall
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Facts About Sanitation in Cape Verde
Cape Verde is a country comprising a group of islands near Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. In Cape Verde, almost half of the population does not have access to clean water. As a result, the government founded initiatives to improve its water, sanitation and hygiene processes for everyone. Here are 10 facts about the water and sanitation situation in Cape Verde.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Cape Verde

  1. Cape Verde Compact II was a project that reached completion in 2017. The project cost $41.1 million and aimed to improve the services that delivered water to Cape Verde houses. The project also increased access to piped water and sanitation, creating a new water utility. The project creation started with a theory that increasing access to piped water would increase household productivity, especially for low-income families.
  2. A significant number of people in Cape Verde do not have access to sanitation systems. To expand, 54% of people in the country’s rural areas and 16% in urban areas do not have access to flushing toilets or other sanitation improvements. Moreover, the government does not have enough money to assure everyone has access to clean water. In Cape Verde, 20% of the population does not have access to a shower, meaning they have to use rivers and lakes to take baths.
  3. The shortcomings of the water and sanitation sector affects women. Women typically have the task of bringing home clean water. The United Nations Children’s Fund found that women in underdeveloped countries spend more than 200 million hours daily collecting water to provide for their families. Because women have to focus on bringing water to their families, they are more likely than men to stop receiving an education. If the country created new institutions that could provide water without having to walk miles to get it, women would have the same opportunities as men to get an education.
  4. There have been many improvements in the water and sanitation sector over the last two decades in Cape Verde. But Cape Verde still faces significant challenges in overcoming its water and sanitation crisis. Cape Verde relies on the energy-intensive process of desalinization for clean water. Only 59% of people have access to clean water in their homes or on their property. Just 20% of the population has access to a sewer, and 27% of the population has to resort to open defecation.
  5. In 2012, the government of Cape Verde started making reforms in the sanitation sector. The government created a Social Access Fund to help families access clean water more easily. The Social Access Fund has provided more than 3,000 new connections to the water network and more than 2,000 sanitation facilities. The government believes that more than 600,000 people would benefit from this program. The government also believes that if the country keeps making progress in the next 20 years, more than 80% of the population would have access to clean water.
  6. The government launched a National Agency for Water and Sanitation with the Office of Environment and Gender and Social Integration. The office works with departments to support data to improve access to clean water and affordability. The new department started working in 2013, and since then, the country has made a lot of progress.
  7. Aguas de Santiago, a corporation installed on the island of Santiago in 2017, is alleviating the country’s sanitation issue. Almost half of Cabo Verde’s population lives on the island of Santiago. With this new corporation, the Office of Information, Education and Communication has the data they need to know the number of families that do not have access to clean water. With this new corporation, the government is receiving real data and making changes in the country’s sanitation program.
  8. Sal is the driest inhabited island in Cape Verde. Sal receives less than 9 inches of rain on average each year. The island does not have enough water for the whole population, and it depends heavily on the desalinization process. The process is costing the island a lot of money, and the government is unsure of how long they will be able to afford it.
  9. Carlos Jorge Santos, the director-general of Oasis Atlantic Group’s hotel operations in Cape Verde, hopes that sooner than later, Cape Verde’s beaches will earn the prestigious Blue Flag certification. The Blue Flag is essential because it gives the country reputation so tourists would visit the country more. The Blue Flag means that all the beaches are safe and clean, improving Cape Verde’s tourism sector, local economies and its sanitation programs. Additionally, through this certification, the government would be able to build more water fountains and deposits so the whole country has greater access to clean water.
  10. Water consumption was deficient in the city of Santiago. In 2018, the average family in Santiago consumed 40 liters per person per day. Low-income families, who are less likely to have a connection to the piped water network, consumed less water than non-impoverished households at 24 liters per person per day. In Cape Verde, 30% of the population lives in poverty, meaning the families’ majority consume 24 liters per day.

Cape Verde is making a lot of progress in providing clean water to the population, but there is a lot that the country needs to do. Currently, more than half of the people do not have access to clean water in their homes and have to walk miles to gather clean water. Nevertheless, these 10 facts about sanitation in Cape Verde show improvement.

– Ainhoa Maqueda Castillejo
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about life expectancy in Cabo Verde

Located off the coast of Western Africa, the Republic of Cabo Verde is a chain of 10 islands with a population of more than 500,000 people. A former Portuguese colony, Cabo Verde’s economy was heavily based on the Atlantic slave trade. Post independence, the country and its citizens remain impacted by the effects of poverty, including a life expectancy lower than that of many other nations. Here are seven facts about life expectancy in Cabo Verde.

7 Facts About Life Expectancy in Cabo Verde

  1. Life expectancy in Cabo Verde is on the rise. As of 2018, Cabo Verde has a life expectancy at birth of 72.7 years, placing it at 147th in the world. For males, life expectancy is 70.3 years, while females have a life expectancy of 75.1 years.  In 1960, life expectancy at birth was 48.9 years, or 47.7 years for males and 50 years for females. Life expectancy rose rapidly from the 1960s through the mid-2000s and has since been more stable, increasing slightly from year to year.
  2. The country has made huge strides in terms of health care provision. As of 2014, there are more than 250 doctors in Cabo Verde compared with only 13 doctors in 1975. Furthermore, the government is continually working toward universal access to health care and today, “more than 80 percent of the population lives within 30 minutes of a health facility.”
  3. Telemedicine bridges the gap. This innovation is helping to make medical care accessible for those residents who still face barriers to visiting a medical specialist such as cardiologists or dermatologists in person. From 2012 to 2014, the Cabo Verdean government, in collaboration with the International Virtual e-Hospital Foundation and with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, implemented the Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health Program (ITeHP). The ITeHP involves 10 telemedicine centers throughout the country, where patients can have remote consultations with a specialist.
  4. Sanitation access is poor. Access to clean water and functional sanitation systems is critical to preventing the spread of disease. According to a 2017 article from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), 16 percent of people in urban areas and 54 percent of people in rural areas did not have access to flushing toilets.
  5. The Cabo Verdean government is working to improve sanitation. In 2012, the government partnered with the MCC on an economic growth plan, one aspect of which included a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project. As of November 2017, the project had resulted in 2,277 new sanitation facilities and 227 kilometers of water pipeline construction.
  6. Infant mortality rates have been steadily decreasing. In 1969, Cabo Verde had an infant mortality rate of 126 per 1,000 births. As of 2017, the rate has dropped to 15 per 1,000 births.
  7. Immunization rates in Cabo Verde are high. For the DTP1 vaccine, which protects against diphtheria and tetanus, the 2018 immunization rate was an estimated 99 percent. The same is true of the polio and measles vaccines.

Cabo Verde’s economic history has led to difficulties in health care and sanitation, but in recent decades the nation has made impressive improvements, which has led to an increase in life expectancy in Cabo Verde. Many citizens of the country still live in poverty, but these seven facts about life expectancy in Cabo Verde show how nongovernmental organizations and the Cabo Verdean government are working to help people manage their health.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Education in Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde is a small nation that consists of a group of islands just under 400 miles off Africa’s northeast coast. Nine of the 10 islands are inhabited and they are divided into two groups. The Barlavento group in the north includes the islands of Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista. The Sotavento group in the south includes the islands of Maio, Santiago, Fogo and Brava.

According to a 2014 report by the World Bank, 3 percent of primary school aged children were not enrolled in school. Girls were less likely to receive an education in Cabo Verde; only 1 percent of primary school aged boys were not in school compared to 4 percent of girls. The rate of completion of primary education in Cabo Verde is 99 percent, which shows that the small nation is making progress towards its goal of universal primary education.

Compared to other low to middle-income nations, access to education in Cabo Verde ranked among the 85th percentile, but it only ranked at the 61st percentile in learning. Despite this, the literacy rate of the youth population was 98 percent, which was higher than the average in other lower to middle-income nations. This is good news for education in Cabo Verde, because literacy is a necessary skill for accessing higher levels of education.

Although Cabo Verde has made great strides in access to education, there are still some obstacles to overcome. One problem for education in Cabo Verde is that many students and teachers alike speak Creole at home and have a weak command of Portuguese, which is the language used in the academic setting. Aside from that, there is not enough spending on supplies, books and lunches, and there is also a high rate of repetition. Students are more likely to repeat grade two during their primary education. The rate of repetition in grade two was 18 percent in Cabo Verde, which was double the average of other primary grades.

Cabo Verde‘s high enrollment and literacy rates show that education is a priority in the country. By addressing its students’ obstacles to learning, it can ensure that they get the most out of the education they are receiving.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Google