Girl’s Education in Comoros

Comoros is located off the coast of East Africa near the northern section of the Mozambique Channel. It is made up of more than 800,000 people spread across three main islands (Grand Comore, Anjouan and Moheli). For years, it has been known as one of the poorest countries in the entire world consisting of inadequate transportation, an increasingly young population and a dearth of natural resources. Even though they are still struggling, they have made strides over the years in many areas, specifically in the light of girls’ education in Comoros.

Dubai Cares

In 2013, Dubai Cares, a philanthropic organization focused on improving children’s access to education in developing countries, chose to launch a program specifically targeting girls’ education in Comoros. The program took the time to educate and train teachers and local authorities on how to create gender-friendly classrooms and teach gender-friendly class material. Furthermore, Dubai Cares made it a central part of their program to raise awareness in the community, specifically in topics such as the demand for quality education and gender disparities.

According to Tariq Al Gurg, the chief executive of Dubai Cares, the program for girls’ education in Comoros was focused on three main goals:

  1. Improve upon the accessibility of quality education
  2. Reduce or attempt to eliminate any gender disparities and improve female attendance
  3. Improve development in childhood education

Dubai Cares’ chose these aspects as their focus because they understand the importance of education for women. Girls are consistently tested and faced with obstacles that boys simply do not have to face when it comes to education. It is important to acknowledge the impact that girls’ education in Comoros, and worldwide, can have in the fight against poverty.

Al Gurg, emphasizes the importance of improving upon girl’s education when he states, “It creates a ripple effect of positive change in the community and country. As future mothers and wives, who will play an integral role in nurturing and raising families, these girls hold the key to a future generation of educated and enlightened children.”

Measurable Success

Dubai Cares’ four-year program, implemented by UNICEF, has considerably improved girls’ education in Comoros. The improvements and results include:

  • Approximately 58,000 students benefitted through the program
  • $2.6 million  had been raised to improve educational standards and reduce gender disparities
  • Education reform in 309 public primary schools
  • 190 renovated Koranic Teaching Classes created in 153 public primary schools
  • 6,200 children, ranging from 3-5 years of age, receive aid for school enrollment

Dubai Cares has laid the groundwork for other programs being launched around the world. The Dubai Cares program has created an environment for girls’ education in Comoros that fosters positivity and an eagerness to learn. Comoros is in an amazing position to build off the improvements that have been made.

The Future of Education in Comoros

In July 2018, Dubai Cares announced the launch of another program in Comoros. This one is set to build off of the success of their prior program implemented in 2013. While the last program’s focus was on girls’ education in Comoros, this program’s focus will be on early childhood development (ECD) among all children. The program will also be implementing parenting practices such as the encouragement of appropriate nutrition, hygiene and early educational stimulation. It is set to help at least 269,382 children as well as teachers across all 394 primary schools in Comoros.

Dubai Cares took the initiative to improve girls’ education in Comoros. This focus to fight and foster positive learning environments for all genders has created a building block for all. The success of the 2013 girls’ education program has afforded the opportunity for success in this newly implemented 2018 program focused on early childhood development.

Although Comoros remains one of the poorest countries in the world, they are far more advanced when it comes to understanding the importance of women and a good education. By allowing women the benefits of attaining an education, many doors are being opened for everyone in the community of Comoros. Other countries should take note.

– Emilie Cieslak
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to Comoros Assists the Poor and the Needy
One of the least developed countries in the world, the Republic of Comoros has one of the highest population density in Africa. The three-island archipelago is located between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean, with a population of about 800,000 people.

A Country Hungry for Change

Between the 1997-2014 period, Comoros was the third country on the list of world’s hungriest countries. The Borgen Project reported in 2014 that Comoros was “one of nineteen nations still labeled as ‘alarming’ or ‘extremely alarming’ on the Global Hunger Index, leaving 870 million without food.”

According to the Index, countries with the lowest levels of food security (such as Comoros) are either engaged in or have recently emerged from war. Interestingly, Comoros ranked 159 (out of 188) on the United Nation’s Human Development Index in 2015.

Humanitarian Aid to Comoros

Aid organizations have aimed to provide health, relief and other humanitarian aid to Comoros. The Islamic Relief International Organization has assisted over 1 million people from 2006-2018, giving almost $3 million to uplift the poor and the needy. Almost $2 million has gone to establish health dispensaries and centers for men, women and especially malnourished children in the country.

Last year, Tadateru Konoé, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), visited Comoros and emphasized the development of humanitarian assistance efforts to bolster Africa’s island nations prone to natural disasters.

“More efforts should be made to boost domestic resource mobilization, building community resilience, and country-level policy dialogue between governments and local actors such Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,” he said.

Earthquake Aftermath

After a 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Anjouan island in March 2014, heavy rains and deep fissures caused heavy infrastructure damage and cordoned off supplies from tens of thousands of people. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) partners delivered emergency hygiene, water and sanitation supplies that provided relief to those displaced by the disaster.

In its Country Strategy Paper for Comoros (2008-2013), the European Union (EU) provided €63 million in total to tackle three major priorities as part of the 10th European Development Fund: governance, transport and education. Cyclonic rehabilitation was also added to the entire agenda, which comported Comoros’ development strategy as defined in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Document.

Aid for Children

Humanitarian aid to Comoros is also needed to protect children against sexual violence from their teachers in religious schools. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has supported legislation in the area of children rights, the fight against child labor and violence against women.

Grants from Global Partnership in Education and Education a Child have led to the rehabilitation of dozens of classrooms and construction of schools for children. UNICEF has also supported the government’s response to emergencies and ensured safe drinking water supplies, devising development plans that protected against possible outbreak of Ebola.

Reforming the Nation

The economy of Comoros is highly dependent on subsistence fishing and agricultural production. As the country lacks natural resources and a well-educated labor force, fiscal and structural reforms are necessary to promote the population’s long-term welfare.

The World Bank predicts that political stability in Comoros after the 2016 presidential elections will lead to increased economic growth and opportunities. As part of that effort, humanitarian aid to Comoros will be critical in both maintaining stability and prosperity in this burgeoning country, and benefitting the poor and the needy.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in ComorosSustainable agriculture is an ever-present priority in the Comoro Islands. More than 80 percent of the rural population relies on small-scale agriculture for food and income, therefore sustainable farming practices have become a major necessity. Current agricultural practices do not prevent soil erosion or retain field fertility, but there are a number of projects aiming to improve sustainable agriculture in Comoros. Three organizations operating these projects are:

  1. Engagement Communautaire pour le Developpment Durable (ECDD)
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  3. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The Engagement Communautaire pour le Developpment Durable (ECDD) project works toward environmental conservation in Comoros through the introduction of sustainable farming techniques. These methods increase crop yields and protect natural resources like soil and water. One recommended activity is market gardening, which generates income and reduces reliance on traditional agricultural practices. The ECDD project also provides the necessary support for the people to implement the new techniques.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. also plays a big role in the improvement of sustainable agriculture in Comoros. Some of the focuses of the U.N. organization are boosting domestic food production and improving food safety. Much of the population is affected by low-quality and unsanitary foods, and farmers don’t have access to the technology and methods needed for sanitary production. Additionally, this U.N. organization, as well as the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility, have run programs supporting sustainable fishing and agroforestry. These are two other industries that are critical for life in Comoros.

Finally, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has a number of projects in Comoros. One of these projects is the Nioumakele Small Producers Support Project, which developed and popularized the practice of planting live fences around plots. This technique has benefited sustainable agriculture in Comoros by both rehabilitating soil in the region and increasing agricultural and dairy production levels. The project officially closed in 1997, but the environmental impact is still growing as local farmers continue to use the methods and take responsibility for the sustainable activities.

Ultimately, sustainable agriculture in Comoros needs to be improved. So much of the nation depends on agriculture, and in order for the country to withstand climate change and further development, it needs to implement more sustainable practices. However, through the help of organizations like the ECDD, FAO and IFAD, the Comoro Islands have the potential to create a much more environmentally-conscious agricultural industry.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr

Comoros, also known as the Union of Comoros, is a small volcanic archipelago island off the east coast of Africa. The country’s constant political and economic instability has led to an increase in poverty since it gained independence in 1975. As of 2014, roughly 18 percent of Comorians live below the poverty line.

Comoros is considered one of the world’s poorest countries. Over the last seven years, many strides have been made to further development in Comoros. Listed below are five development projects in Comoros that have had a big impact on reducing poverty, increasing employment opportunities and helping create a better economy.

  1. Family Farming Productivity and Resilience Support Project
    This project was approved in May 2017 and is still ongoing. The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) financed the project, loaning Comoros around $4 million to improve the country’s agricultural productivity and to get farmers in more rural areas the supplies and knowledge they need to grow more and healthier crops. Since Comoros is chiefly an agriculture-based country, this plan will increase employment as well.
  1. National English Language Education Strategy
    Starting in 2014, the Peace Corps has been sending volunteer English teachers to Comoros to teach children English as a second language. The students range from middle school to high school age. As of 2016, approximately 40 English teachers were teaching in Comoros.
  1. Co-management of Coastal Resources for Sustainable Livelihoods Project (CoReCSuD)
    This project was approved in December 2010 and ended in April 2017. The World Bank loaned Comoros roughly $2.7 million to create and implement a coastal management plan. A large part of employment and income in many rural areas in Comoros is fishing. This project increased credit to many fishing villages, decreasing poverty and increasing employment opportunities.
  1. Social Safety Net Project
    This project was approved in March 2015 and is set to close in June 2019. The World Bank loaned Comoros $6 million to increase access to nutrition services and a safety net for impoverished families, especially in rural areas.
  1. Economic Reform Development Policy Operation
    In November 2012, the World Bank gave Comoros a $5 million grant to strengthen the economy. The operation ended in December 2013. The operation’s goal was to strengthen the economy’s transparency and accountability.

Through these five development projects in Comoros, the economy has slowly started improving. Comoros has borrowed or been granted more than $17 million since 2010 from different organizations to fund these improvement projects. The GDP growth has increased to a little more than two percent from one percent in 2015.

Beyond these five development projects in Comoros, the nation’s government still has more room to grow. The unemployment rate is still high, around 19 percent. However, progress is slowly but surely being made, and these projects have left a lot of room for Comoros to move forward.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in comorosWomen’s issues in Comoros are closely associated with tradition, customs and religion. Challenges for gender equality include women being under-represented at the political level, a need for women in leadership, violence against women and women’s healthcare. By focusing on women’s empowerment in Comoros, these challenges could be properly addressed.

Women in Comoros, as well as Nigeria, Swaziland, the Republic of the Congo and Benin still have less than 8 percent female representation in their legislatures.

U.N. Women Working Towards Women’s Empowerment in Comoros

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women) works towards building capacities for women to participate in leadership. This transformative leadership training allows women to engage from a perspective of basic human rights and understand broader governance issues and democracy in general.

In Comoros, U.N Women has peacebuilding projects underway in partnership with the U.N. country team. Its contribution is to build the skills of women to understand the issues of gender relations in peace and in peacebuilding. It also strives to help women understand conflicts and how conflicts occur in order to help women build allies within the traditional leadership.

Addressing Domestic Violence and Women’s Healthcare

Violence against women, including domestic violence, is widespread in many places of Comoros. The physical, sexual and psychological violence against women threaten women’s empowerment in Comoros.

There has, however, been an advancement in women’s empowerment in Comoros through the improvement of healthcare services and decreasing maternal mortality.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programs are key to the improvement of healthcare services. These programs provide emergency obstetric care and family planning, aim to maintain the low prevalence of HIV/AIDS and manage sexually transmitted infection. They also increase the availability and use of timely and reliable demographic data and integrate population variables into gender policies and development programs.

Reproductive health is a priority in the national health strategy of Comoros. According to U.N. Women, maternal mortality rates fell from 381 to 170 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2007 and 2012. Programs have extended services to women during pregnancy, delivery and after birth.

Comoros pledges to strengthens its multi-sectoral strategy on HIV, enhance women’s access to microcredit, and continue to implement actions to bring more women into key decision-making posts across national institutions.

With efforts to provide women with more opportunities to succeed, women’s empowerment in Comoros will effectively address the challenges women face in society.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

ComorosComoros is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. It is located between Mozambique and the island nation of Madagascar. According to the World Bank, the most recent survey of households in Comoros, conducted in 2014, showed about 18 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Improving access to finance is one way to boost economic activity and lift people out of poverty. Looking at recent changes in credit access in Comoros offers clues as to where the country’s economy is headed.

Business Reforms in Comoros

Over the past few years, the government of Comoros has instituted several reforms that make doing business easier. These reforms have made it easier to start a business by reducing the minimum capital requirement. In turn, this has made resolving insolvency easier for small companies and made trading across borders easier with an automated customs data management system.

The International Finance Corporation reports that these reforms have reduced the number of procedures and days needed to start a business. Comoros has also improved its investment potential by offering political risk insurance to foreign investors, which may mitigate fears over Comoros’ recent decades of instability.

Credit Access in Comoros: Looking Ahead

At the 21st session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts, in November 2017, participants adopted the final report of best practices and research results for catalyzing growth in East Africa. It clears a path for more cooperation between the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and member states, like Comoros.

Topics emphasized included investment in infrastructure and renewable energy, as well as the need to improve credit access in Comoros, which will support the private sector. The goal is to make Comoros an emerging country by the year 2030, if not sooner.

The Takeaway on Financing in Comoros

Comoros is finally beginning to establish political calm after decades of political strife and coups, initially ushered in by its vote for independence from France in 1974. Time will tell whether peace lasts, but, if it does, business activity and good credit in Comoros will likely continue to grow.

With a better business environment, Comoros will have the funds to address poverty factors like hunger and malnutrition, and, hopefully, it will continue to make gains in the U.N.’s Human Development Index.

– Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in ComorosComoros is an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Eastern Africa and home to a population of about 734,900 people. It is a nation that has struggled with political instability and poverty despite its picturesque beaches and natural beauty. The issues of poverty can be partially attributed to the poor state of infrastructure in Comoros.

In a worldwide comparison, Comoros ranked 198th, theoretically attributing 1.11 meters of infrastructure for each of the estimated 790,000 inhabitants currently residing in the country. Transport systems are particularly limited in Comoros, with only 673 km of the total 880 km of roads having been paved. Additionally, there are no railway systems of any nature available to its citizens.

The economy and infrastructure have been tied to each other for many years. This has been demonstrated in the fact that the weak infrastructure in Comoros and the business climate have severely hampered economic activity. It is currently ranked 153rd out of 190 countries in the World Banks’ most recent report, dropping one place since the previous assessment.

With these apparent issues in the infrastructure and economy of Comoros, there must be improvements made to these aspects of the country. Some work that has already been undertaken has come in the form of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). These aim to create long-term contracts between a private party and a government entity, in which a public asset or service is provided, and bear all risk and management responsibilities.

One of these projects was established in 1998, called Comorienne de d’eau et de l’electricite (CEE), but it was cancelled soon after. There was an additional project in 2003, Mutsamudu Port, which received $500,000 in funding.

Other programs include the Infrastructure, Water, and Environment Project for the Comoros, which was established to support the objective of improving living conditions and stimulating economic growth. It aims to do this, while also protecting the environment, through investments to the basic infrastructure in Comoros.

The component of transport to the program is extremely important, as it assists Comoros with improving road maintenance, safety and management. Management improvements are achieved through three subcomponents: national and regional roads periodic maintenance, roads safety and institutional strengthening.

These subcomponents will rehabilitate earthworks, including pothole repair, local reinforcement, resurfacing and resealing. They will also maintain and repair road shoulders, finance the installation of traffic signals and strengthen the capacity of the executing agency, among other things.

The urban water supply is another component of importance that will rehabilitate and extend the urban water infrastructure. This will support technical assistance to strengthen the management and operation of urban water utilities.

With more efforts like these, improvements to the infrastructure in Comoros can make the fight against poverty achievable.

– Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Education in ComorosAccording to the Global Partnership for Education, the government of Comoros considers education a vital aspect of the nation’s political, economic and social development. That said, in recent years the country has come across several difficulties in the realm of education. Here are several facts about the challenges being faced as well as what is being done to address them.

  1. Education in Comoros has strengthened significantly over the last few years to thanks to the government’s efforts to improve the system and provide equal access to all children in the nation.
  2. Despite its progress, the nation still exhibits high rates of repetition and dropouts at the primary and secondary levels. Poor learning outcomes have been recorded, including high rates of illiteracy, poor management of human resources as well as an increased dependency on foreign aid.
  3. This year marks the end of the Interim Education Sector Plan, which was established by the Global Partnership for Education in 2013 to address these challenges.
  4. Early childhood and primary school education were a major part of the sector plan. Specifically, this included raising parental awareness, diversifying preschools, increasing teacher quality and providing better access to children with disabilities.
  5. Literacy in the sector plan was meant to increase through an improved curricula, textbooks and resources for teachers.
  6. Secondary school was addressed in the same way as literacy, including better resources and textbooks. There is also a plan to construct more schools and classrooms with better facilities and infrastructure.
  7. In terms of higher education, it is planned to increase the monitoring of graduates and facilitating the connections between them and professionals, so as to meet market needs and create more career opportunities.

Comoros has had a history of political violence since its independence in 1973. Since then, it has been highly dependent on foreign aid. The country continues to work with the GPE and UNICEF to increase access to primary education in Comoros so that students can take advantage of this resource.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in ComorosAn African nation with a population of approximately 830,000, Comoros is considered one of the world’s most unstable countries by virtue of its long history of governmental coups and coup attempts. As a result of this civil unrest, hunger in Comoros remains among the most significant crises that the country faces. Ranked the second hungriest nation in the world, the nation struggles tremendously with resource scarcity and inaccessibility.

Currently, hunger in Comoros is a tremendous issue. 32.1 percent of children under the age of five experience stunting, meaning their height deviates from the median average height significantly. 11.1 percent of children within this same age group experience wasting, suggesting that the population is significantly underweight compared to other countries.

The hunger crisis in Comoros creates a tremendous amount of problems, including malnutrition. As of 2004, 65 percent of the population was living on approximately $2 a day. Because of limited economic resources, approximately 46 percent of the population between the ages of six and 59 months displayed a vitamin A deficiency. As of 2008, diet-related noncommunicable diseases were highly prevalent: 47 percent of people had a metabolic risk of raised blood pressure, 24 percent had a risk of raised blood cholesterol and 8 percent had a risk of raised blood glucose. Only 0.146 out of every 1,000 people were employed as physicians, whereas only 0.052 out of 1,000 people served as community health workers. Understaffed and underfunded, Comoros faces the challenges of combating hunger without enough of the necessary health-oriented infrastructure in place.

Even so, the International Food Policy Research Institute has suggested that hunger in Comoros has not been addressed through legislation or policy provisions. As of 2003, the extent of the constitutional right to food was low. Likewise, as of 2015, wheat fortification legislation did not even exist. No guidelines were available on diabetes and hypertension regulation, and only 21 percent of people were engaged in action and mobilization oriented toward addressing hunger-related crises.

In 2006, Maissara Chaharmane, head of the Domoni Therapeutic Nutrition Centre, suggested that one of the most crucial mechanisms for combating hunger in Comoros is implementing education policies. “Lack of knowledge,” she said. “is one of the most important reasons for malnutrition in Comoros.” Indeed, in looking to educate parents about the dangers of malnutrition and the potential for childhood survival, UNICEF’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) aims to combine better nutrition with vaccination and resource implementation to prevent childhood malnutrition before it escalates.

Ultimately, it is incumbent upon the global community to provide monetary support to help fund initiatives like the IMCI to fight some of the issues surrounding hunger in Comoros. Only with sustained support will the nation be able to thrive and defy its current hunger crisis.

Emily Chazen

Photo: Flickr

How to Help Comoros: Education and DevelopmentComoros, a group of three islands in the Indian Ocean, has great scenic beauty, although the nation is poor. Skilled workers often go to France, hurting development and leaving Comoros with a consistently low gross domestic product. Since its independence in 1975, Comoros has slowly gained self-sufficiency in food production, with subsistence farming being the top employer in the region and making up the bulk of the economy. This means that poor harvests and the potential to run out of useful land are major issues in Comoros, and the need to help people in Comoros diversify the economy is becoming more and more time-sensitive.

The nation is not completely without help, however. France provides major financial support, and other countries provide some financial aid as well, including Saudi Arabia and Japan. But in order for Comoros move away from a subsistence farming and fishing industry and towards a more developed economy, it needs to expand and find better solutions that do not rely on foreign lending. The World Bank is cautiously optimistic that the new government elected in 2016 is starting to implement policies that may prove successful in helping the GDP grow through “expanding the coverage of the electricity network and relaunching public investments.”

Upward Mobility and Higher Education
However, one of the ways to help people in Comoros is to boost its areas of success, namely, the agricultural sector. This may not improve the nation’s economy, but stimulating this sector will help the poor in the region, most of whom live in rural areas where the only employment opportunities are in the agricultural sector. Upward mobility for the poor is crucial, as the last household survey conducted in 2014 found that almost 18 percent of the population lives under the international poverty line, which is set at $1.90 per capita per day. Therefore, in order to have enough money to pursue more developed industries, the people of Comoros need to rely on higher-paying agricultural sector work first.

In the long-term, Comoros is in a position to develop through better education initiatives and public spending. While the government does not have much money to work with, one of their first goals should be to increase spending for better schooling and then provide monetary rewards for those educated citizens that come back to the islands after college. Only then, through an educated populace, can the country really diversify its industry enough to increase the GDP and stimulate the economy. The population is already set up for this kind of initiative, with 53 percent of the citizens being under the age of 20, the perfect age group to benefit from better education and trade industries.

The Tourism Industry
Another way for Comoros to get an economic boost is to increase its tourism industry. Although tourists do go to Comoros due to its beautiful beaches and natural forests, the nation remains relatively unknown. Making a deal with a nation like France to bring in tourists and open up transportation to the island, as well as commercializing a few of the nicest beaches would not only stimulate the economy but also provide new employment opportunities for the citizens of Comoros. This is not to say that the islands should be completely commercialized, as it would take away from their natural beauty and culture, as well as harm their subsistence farming and fishing industries. However, a moderate tourist industry could be enough of a boost to provide funding for other useful initiatives.

Ultimately, Comoros has a struggling economy and lack of development that cannot be turned around quickly. However, through diversifying industry, educating the populace and opening the islands up to more tourists, Comoros will have less poverty and more opportunities for its citizens moving forward.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr