The Czech Republic’s Foreign Aid
The Czech Republic, also known today as Czechia, has a current GDP of about $290.92B, with a GDP per capita of $27,638.40 and a total population of more than 10 million people. The country has undergone decades of development, leading it to rank among the richest countries in the world. Because of this, the Czech Republic has developed foreign policy objectives to assist developing countries in need. The objectives include programs such as the Development Cooperation, which promotes development projects and offers humanitarian aid. 

Development Cooperation

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the country’s development cooperation aims to support projects that bolster the Czech Republic’s foreign aid by providing scholarships to students and humanitarian aid and participating in global organizations that help developing nations. The Czech Republic is the 26th member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD’s) Development Assistance Committee, or DAC. In addition to providing assistance to other countries, the Czech Republic is able to pursue development projects in order to strengthen its own relations with other countries at a political and economic level. In doing so, the country improves its security on a global as well as regional scale. Overall, the Czech Republic’s national interests involve strengthening security, building international trade, international investment, climate adaptation and reducing disaster risk. 

The Czech Republic’s foreign aid programs in the development cooperation include shifting a centrally planned economy to a market economy and transitioning an existing political system to that of a democratic one. The country is keen on getting involved with the aforementioned programs so that it may utilize its own knowledge of government reform, justice reform, tax system modification, societal transformation and the development of market environments. 

According to the OECD, the Czech Republic’s development cooperation is a vital aspect of the country’s foreign policy. It aims to reduce global poverty and inequality by prioritizing economic growth, managing natural resources in a sustainable manner, developing democratic institutions and inclusive social transformations and promoting agricultural and rural growth. 

Official Development Assistance Allocation

In 2022, the Czech Republic allocated around 0.36% of its GNI to ODA, or official development assistance. Just a year prior, the country ranked the highest as a contributor to multilateral organizations and has had one of the highest shares of bilateral assistance for CSOs, or civil society organizations, further bolstering the success of the Czech Republic’s foreign aid. In 2021, the Czech Republic utilized 11.5% of its allocable bilateral aid to strengthen trade performance in developing countries and 8.9% toward reducing malnutrition. By allocating aid funds to developing nations, the Czech Republic allows countries to integrate into the world economy while also providing assistance and growth opportunities. 

Priority Countries

According to the OECD, the Czech Republic’s foreign aid initiatives concentrate its bilateral assistance in Mongolia, Ethiopia, Moldova, Afghanistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. An estimated 35% of the Czech Republic’s bilateral ODA assisted these five countries in 2011. The Czech Republic further provided programs whereby the country could strengthen and establish democratic institutions, civil society, the rule of law and good governance. In order to get involved with the “Arab Spring” events, the Czech Republic extended its program countries to include those in Northern Africa: Tunisia and Egypt. 

The Czech Republic’s assistance in Afghanistan, for example, involves agriculture, education and water and sanitation, with sectors of the Czech development cooperation dedicated to these efforts. The Czech Development Agency implements bilateral project cooperation while also supporting national funds in Afghanistan. In turn, this support funds programs and projects of international Afghan organizations.

In February 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic signed a memorandum with the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation highlighting the bilateral Development Cooperation Program, which offers support for trade projects, humanitarian aid, smaller local projects and government scholarships. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a significant partner in the Czech Republic’s development cooperation. The country underwent a post-war transformation and gained humanitarian assistance, which evolved into joining the European Union. This conveys the great impact and knowledge that the Czech Republic possesses when it comes to providing powerful resources for struggling countries. The agenda of the Czech Republic’s development cooperation for Bosnia and Herzegovina involved sustainability goals and democratic governance, including assistance with economic growth in relation to providing renewable energy, clean water and efficient political guidance. 

Agenda 2030 and Humanitarian Assistance Expansion

For the years 2018-2030, however, the country’s foreign aid program countries include Cambodia, Ethiopia and Zambia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova. Cambodia, Ethiopia and Zambia are categorized as the least developed countries by the OECD/DAC. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova are categorized as middle-income countries. 

In 2016, the Czech Republic’s bilateral assistance reached $10.97 million in least-developed countries, $19.98 million in lower-middle-income countries and $0.33 million in other low-income countries. Additionally, during this time, the Czech Republic’s ODA was worth $260 million, with the ODA/GNI share at 0.14%. In comparison to the year prior, the volume and GNI in 2016 were significantly higher. 

According to the Development Cooperation Strategy of the Czech Republic, 2018-2030, Agenda 2030 addresses the goals for global development as well as the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, the agenda lays out the aspects of development regarding economic, social and environmental sectors. In order to achieve development and humanitarian aid objectives, the Czech Republic sets out to collaborate with financial institutions as well as international organizations. 

The Czech Republic’s Foreign Aid Growth

All in all, the Czech Republic’s foreign policy initiatives employ the use of development cooperation in order to provide assistance to developing countries. At the same time, the country’s humanitarian aid acts as an opportunity for the Czech Republic to strengthen ties with its allies, further prompting social, economic, environmental and security growth. 

– Bianca Roh
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in CzechiaThe EU Cohesion Policy Commission is partnering with the government of Czechia for new renewable energy projects from 2021-2027. These projects have the potential to tackle many issues that make life more difficult for Roma people living in poverty, including changing weather patterns, unemployment and unsanitary conditions in public facilities.

How Changing Weather Patterns Makes Conditions Worse for Roma People

Changing weather patterns bring extreme weather events like floods, wildfires, droughts and heat waves. In August 2010, flash floods left thousands of Czech citizens without electricity or gas. In 2021, a tornado in South Moravia left 70,000 households powerless and destroyed 1,600 homes. These events have been devastating to people living below the poverty line, leaving many homeless, including a Romani widow with six children. The tornado was an extremely rare occurrence and multiple studies have found that tornadoes from severe thunderstorms are more likely to form due to changing weather patterns.

Natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and droughts have severe consequences for impoverished Roma communities. These events lead to population displacement, damage water and sanitation infrastructure and contaminate water sources with fecal bacteria. According to a survey conducted among Roma people living in EU countries, a staggering 80% continue to live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in their respective countries. Moreover, 52% of them reside in houses without proper sanitation facilities, and 22% have no access to tap water inside their homes.

The lack of proper sanitation facilities like running water and the challenges of poverty have resulted in alarming health disparities among Roma communities. Reports indicate that Roma women have an average life expectancy that is 11 years less than women in general, and Roma men have an average life expectancy of 9 years less than men overall. Furthermore, the changing weather patterns have become a significant threat to the lives of Roma people, particularly during and after extreme weather events. These challenges, combined with housing and employment instability, further exacerbate the vulnerabilities that members of the Roma community face.

New Renewable Energy Policies in Czechia and How They Aid Roma People in Poverty

The EU Cohesion Policy Commission has joined forces with Czechia to tackle its high natural gas emissions and climate-related disasters through a €21.4 billion agreement that focuses on renewable energy projects. This collaboration aims to support the green and digital transition of Czechia while promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion. The Just Transition Fund (JTF) will facilitate a New Circular Economy Plan, providing €1.5 billion to aid businesses in their shift to a low-carbon economy. The ultimate goal is to reduce Czechia’s GHG emissions by 30% by 2030.

Based on forecasts, the green and digital transition in Czechia could create more job opportunities, fostering employment and social inclusion. This will particularly benefit minority populations, including the Roma people. Moreover, the job market could become more gender-balanced, offering potential advantages for Roma women.

The new circular economy will both preserve and diversify jobs and improve the quality of education. It will also improve the integration of third-country nationals and the living standards of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) dedicates €3.4 billion to digitalize the economy and boost competitiveness in small and medium businesses. Additionally, environmental measures aim to reduce extreme weather events that impact the Roma people.

The clean urban and suburban transport funded by the ERDF and Cohesion Fund will reduce the number of diseases that would otherwise be spread to Czechia’s vulnerable populations via public transport, potentially addressing the health problems that disadvantaged Roma people face.

Additionally, a new program called “Environment” will directly address the environmental factor of the issue by helping Czechia restore its natural ecosystems and create more sustainable water management. This could create a cleaner and healthier environment while addressing the lack of clean water systems in many Roma homes.

The Progress So Far

According to the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, “Under the 2014-2020 programming period, the Cohesion Policy supported investments in 11,000 enterprises, creating or retaining 10,676 direct jobs.” 

The new circular economy has begun to implement several new projects, such as modular buildings, smart waste systems and several forms of recycling. These projects have been cleaning up cities and suburbs, allowing flexibility in construction with relation to how many kids wish to attend school and reducing waste and global emissions.

Room for More Progress

Although there are many positive developments ahead for the implementation of renewable energy in Czechia, Roma people continue to face discrimination in education, housing, employment and interactions with the police. Such discriminatory practices are generally motivated by racist ideals. In addition to renewable energy projects that have the potential to protect Roma’s health and living conditions, there is a need for more political measures, such as the Anti-Discrimination Act and the new Social Inclusion Strategy, that focus on protecting the human rights of Roma people. 

– Sophia Holub
Photo: Unsplash


Child Poverty in CzechiaIn Czechia, children are the most vulnerable to the effects of extreme poverty. Czech deputy prime minister and minister of labor and social affairs, Marian Jurečka, acknowledged in 2022 that child poverty in Czechia is a “huge problem.” The rate of children under 18 at risk of poverty and social exclusion has increased from 12.9% in 2020 to 13.3% in 2021 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Czech presidency and nonprofit organizations are taking action to reduce the risk of child poverty and protect those most in jeopardy.

Groups at High Risk of Poverty

The youth most affected by poverty in the Czech Republic are socially disadvantaged. For instance, Roma children, children with disabilities, Ukrainian refugees or those from single-mother families.

The European Roma Rights Center and Forum for Human Rights filed a complaint in January 2023 to the European Committee of Social Rights, noting the government’s failure to provide Roma children and those facing poverty with accessible preschool education. Without accessible and affordable education and care, poverty could lead to a loss of educational opportunities and a decline in children’s overall well-being.

Policies in Action

The Czech Republic, along with its fellow European Union member states, is ready to fulfill these needs. The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan promises to decrease the number of children at risk of poverty by approximately 5 million in seven years (2030). Additionally, the European Child Guarantee, proposed in 2021, aims to meet the five basic needs of every child: “free health care, education, preschool education and care, decent housing and adequate nutrition.”

Reformation on the Horizon

Combating child poverty requires addressing children’s specific needs. The government will likely appoint an ombudsman (representative) for children soon in order to tackle specific needs and systemic issues. According to Diana Šmídová, the secretary of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, school reforms are underway focusing on teaching children’s rights. Free language lessons for Ukrainian child refugees and educational integration are also a priority. Appointed in December 2022, Lucie Fuková, the first-ever Roma commissioner in Czechia, is taking on the task of helping the Roma community integrate.

Alternatives to Institutionalization

Every year, more than a thousand children are sent to orphanages or state care institutions in Czechia. A notable 25% of these children are younger than 4. Czechia is one of the few remaining countries in the EU that still institutionalize children so young.

Children born in poverty are more likely to be placed in institutions because their families are unable to provide for them. This subsequent neglect and separation from their biological family can have detrimental effects on children’s development.

Roma children are also commonly removed from their homes and institutionalized as their families are more susceptible to eviction, or simply because of discrimination.

For these reasons, the Czech government is prioritizing foster families and slowly restricting institutionalized care. Such institutionalized care for children younger than 4 will be banned from 2025, save for certain exemptions, according to a national 2022 report. Substitute family and preventative care will be expanded to meet as many needs as possible. With supportive networks in development, an increasing interest in foster care is anticipated.

Nonprofits Making an Impact

Nonprofits like Charita Hvězda z.s. step in to provide additional support for children of at-risk families. In 2022, the organization assisted 293 families in need, 395 Ukrainian refugee families and 212 substitute families. Ukrainian families received the organization’s largest contribution of aid (44%). Assistance ranged from covering individual client expenses to donations of food and drugstore items.

Charita Hvězda’s main project, the Foster Care Warehouse, is located in Horoměřice and offers material help for all children from substitute or socially disadvantaged families. This includes baby food, playpens, toiletries and sports equipment.

As of 2018, this site serves as a meeting place for foster families and those in crisis, providing emergency care, information and numerous resources. Though Charita Hvězda is a non-governmental organization, it is the byproduct of a government initiative to support surrogate families and limit institutional care.

Refugees in Need

The Russia-Ukraine war has taken a particularly heavy toll on the young. Notably high, more than a third of global refugees forced out of their countries are children. Approximately 130,000 Ukrainian children are living as refugees in Czechia now, some unaccompanied.

In response to the growing numbers of refugees fleeing the conflict, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA), UNICEF and civil society organizations created a disability cash benefit program in January 2023. This program targets vulnerable, refugee children: whether Ukrainian, Roma, unaccompanied or disabled. MoLSA and UNICEF began their collaboration in July 2022 and are expanding this plan to address specific needs.

According to Yulia Oleinik, head of the UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Czechia, the collective goal is to provide “4,000 refugee children with disabilities with financial benefits and support services.” Expanded psychosocial and mental health services for 25,000 at-risk refugee children, as well as their guardians, is another aim. Oleinik said that strengthening the social system will eventually “benefit all children in the Czech Republic.”

UNICEF is cooperating with MoLSA through March 2024. Together, the two partners have already provided grants for education centers, giving children up to age 6 access to community education. So far, 29 early education centers offering non-formal activities like integration groups and parenting support have reached more than 1,200 children and 1,500 parents across Ukraine and Czechia.

Dedication to the Cause

Money alone will not eradicate child poverty in Czechia. A strong commitment to seeing through key action plans and making them a reality is also necessary. With community support and nonprofit organizations providing further aid, Czechia can greatly reduce child poverty for at-risk groups and keep families together.

– Clare Calzada
Photo: Flickr

Gender Pay Gap in Czechia
Despite Czechia’s overall steady economic status, the gender wage gap in Czechia is still a prominent issue. According to EU statistics, in 2021, women in Czechia received 19.5% lower pay than men on average in private sector work and 12.2% lower in public sector work. Overall, on average, women in Czechia earned 16.4% less than men compared to the overall EU average of women earning 13.0% less. These figures put Czechia toward the bottom of EU countries regarding gender equality and Czech women are twice as likely to face poverty than Czech men.

Barriers to Equality

Several factors contribute to the gender wage gap in Czechia. These factors include women taking career breaks due to maternity leave and childcare, the perception of men as “more ambitious and aggressive” in climbing up the job ladder and higher paid roles, such as management roles, being typically male-dominated.

Hiring managers sometimes have reservations about hiring a woman considering that a female may require time off for maternity leave and childcare. In the eyes of a business, this means wasting time and resources on training a woman for the role because the business may need to conduct further training of additional staff to cover her work during her time off.

Additionally, in Czechia, women typically shoulder the burden of household and caretaking responsibilities. As such, women have less time to focus on their careers, according to Radio Prague International.

Single-Parent Families

According to Czech’s Women’s Lobby, almost 90% of single-parent families in Czechia are female-headed. Furthermore, up to 20% of single-parent families are likely to fall below the poverty line due to a reduced income and the costs associated with raising and caring for children. Single mothers also frequently rely on low-paid, often part-time, work with unreliable schedules to fit around their children’s lives, which further increases their risk for poverty.

As society often considers men as more ambitious in their jobs, men are sometimes seen as “more competent and assertive” than their female counterparts. These gender stereotypes similarly play into the assumptions of different types of jobs being suitable for men and women, meaning men will often end up in higher-paying roles, reinforcing the gender wage gap in Czechia. However, evidence shows that, even in the same roles, women in Czechia can expect a 12% pay cut compared to a man’s wage. Closing the gender wage gap will help women in Czechia to stay above the poverty line.

Pay Transparency and Fairness

In December 2022, European Parliament and the Czech presidency came to a provisional agreement on rules of pay transparency. This will prevent employers from adjusting salaries depending on whether a man or woman secures the job. “To avoid discrimination, employers have to make sure their employees have easy access to the objective and gender-neutral criteria they use to define pay and possible pay rises. Workers and their representatives will also have the right to request and receive information on their individual pay level and the average pay levels for workers doing the same work or work of equal value, broken down by sex,” the Council of the EU explains. In the case that an employer has not followed the rules of the equal pay principle, workers will be able to claim compensation.

A more even split between genders in parental care and housework tends to be more common among younger generations, which will help to balance out the time available for women to focus on their careers. By dissolving gender stereotypes, women will be able to achieve career fulfillment, which may include higher-paid roles traditionally held by men.

– Hannah Naylor
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The Czech Republic is a Parliamentary Republic bordering Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The country was founded on January 1, 1993, following a political revolution, and peacefully splitting from the former Czechoslovakia. In 2020, the Czech Republic ranked as the eighth safest country in the world. The country also reports a 2.4% unemployment rate and healthy GDP growth over the past five years. The latest Eurostat data also shows that the Czech Poverty rate is 3.4%, the second-lowest rate in the EU. However, the well-being of the Czech Republic’s citizens may decline as a threatening drought continues to plague the country and coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty & Hunger in the Czech Republic

In a 2017 study, the Czech Republic Hunger Statistic was 2.5%. This means that 2.5% of the population’s food intake was insufficient to meet basic dietary requirements. Meanwhile, the World Hunger Statistic is around 11%.

Despite the Czech Republic’s success in the fight against poverty, the country has some areas of weakness. For example, the Czech Republic’s wage gap is larger than other European countries. Women tend to earn about 22% less than men. As a result, a disproportionate number of women, especially single mothers, fall below the poverty line.

Additionally, the Czech Republic’s relatively low poverty rate of 3.4% is somewhat misleading. The poverty rate considers the standard of living within the Czech Republic. Sociologist Daniel Prokop uses Luxembourg to exemplify why this can be misleading: “the median [income] in Luxembourg is twice as high as in the Czech Republic. Therefore, the poverty line is twice as high, making it easier for low-income workers to fall below it.” So, countries with higher median incomes have a higher standard of living. Since the Czech Republic has a lower relative poverty threshold, an impoverished citizen in Luxembourg may not be considered impoverished in the Czech Republic.

Working Through a Long-term Drought

The Czech Republic is experiencing the most threatening drought in 500 years. The drought began in 2018, and it escalated to a climate crisis in April 2020- right in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a fear that the continuation of the drought in the Czech Republic will cause mass famine.

Scientists are using an ESA satellite to monitor the drought and soil conditions, keeping the country’s agribusiness sector stable. Well-organized agricultural systems are preventing major catastrophe in the present. Yet, crop yields are expected to continue shrinking in the upcoming months. The biggest concern, however, is the impending water shortage. The Ministry of Environment in the Czech Republic has implemented over 15,000 projects across the country to build pipelines for drinking water, preserving dams and reservoirs and much more.

COVID-19 Impacts

Thankfully, the Czech Republic has handled COVID-19 wisely from the start. They were the first country in Europe to issue a mask mandate, sending the notice on March 19, 2020. So far, there are no significant deviations from normal malnutrition and poverty rates due to the pandemic. Despite a couple of recent clusters in the eastern parts of the country, heavily populated cities such as Prague (population: 1.3 million) are seeing consistently low infection rates as of late July. Many citizens’ lives have returned to normalcy, with schools and buildings re-opening and commerce flourishing.

Tomorrow’s Outlook

Organizations ranging from small local projects to large NGOs are working to combat poverty and hunger in the Czech Republic as the drought and COVID-19 continue. For example, the Prague Changemakers organizes volunteering projects by recruiting local citizens. Together, they cook and distribute food to the local homeless population.  Additionally, Naděje is an example of a larger NGO. Naděje was founded in the 1990s following the revolution and their organization’s goal is to serve the homeless. Naděje began by serving food in railway stations. Soon, the NGO expanded to building homes and shelters across the country. For their first major project, Naděje established day centers for the homeless to get food, creating two hostels for men and one for women.

Ultimately, responsible governmental action and the work of NGOs like Naděje have provided stability to the Czech Republic in an uncertain time. Hopefully, their work in the Czech Republic will continue to keep COVID-19 and the drought under control. It seems other countries should take notes as unemployment, hunger, and poverty rates remain relatively low in the Czech Republic.

Ruhi Mukherjee
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has a population of about 10 million people. About 11,000 of these people experience homelessness. However, due to a lack of data collection, this number is inaccurate. According to the Expert Group, which the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs created, around 100,000 people were homeless or at risk of homelessness as of 2017. The government has stepped in to help prevent homelessness, but the current policies in place are not sufficient to reduce homelessness in the Czech Republic.

Current Policies and Issues

Policies are in place to prevent individuals and families from losing their homes. An act on assistance in material need came into effect in 2007. This act regulates how the government provides assistance and assures basic living conditions to people in homeless situations. Additionally, the system serves as motivation to active effort for ensuring a means to meet basic necessities in life and to prevent social exclusion.

According to the act, municipal authorities are responsible for providing benefits in a few ways. One way is an allowance of living. This covers cases of material need that tackles the insufficient income of a person or family. Furthermore, beneficiaries have an entitlement to an allowance of living if the person or family’s income is less than the amount of living after the deduction of reasonable housing costs.

A second way is the supplement of housing. This tackles cases where the income of the person or family including the allowance is insufficient in covering housing costs. A third way is extraordinary immediate assistance. This goes to low-income persons who find themselves in situations that require immediate solutions. These situations might include a serious threat to health, natural disasters, not having enough resources to cover essential expenditures, not having enough resources to cover basic necessities for dependent children and persons at risk of social exclusion. The act helped about 1.2 million people receive benefits in its first year of implementation.

Services for the Homeless

There are services available to help people manage homelessness. These services include hostels, day centers, halfway houses and outreach programs. Day centers offer people emergency assistance, meals and facilities for personal hygiene. Moreover, they distribute clothes and organize cultural and educational programs. However, hostels have proven to be a problem. Owners of hostels have taken advantage of people by up charging their services. Furthermore, the conditions are also substandard and unsanitary.

Additionally, homelessness in the Czech Republic faces a lack of funding for services. Regional and national authorities co-manage the current system of annual calls for proposals. This means that homeless people are reliant on unstable funding sources. As a result, facilities have shut down over time due to the lack of funding.

How the Czech Republic Plans to Tackle Homelessness

The government plans to tackle homelessness with four sets of goals in 2020. The first set of goals involves access to housing. This includes the standardization of state support for public housing and creating a functioning system of homelessness prevention. The functioning system supports formerly homeless people who obtained housing so they do not lose their homes again.

Furthermore, it supports the implementation of tools to enable the transition of people from being homeless to entering housing. It is also working toward more effective use of the existing instruments of the system’s benefits, the reinforcement of the coordinating and planning role of municipalities within extended powers in relation to people in an adverse housing situation and the creation of supporting instruments for implementing those roles.

The second goal has to do with social services. Social services will better respond to the needs of homeless people and people at risk of losing their house in adverse social situations. The third set of goals relates to access to healthcare. This plan is to increase accessibility, create possibilities and focus on prevention with comprehensive healthcare for homeless people. Additionally, this goal also includes raising awareness to the general public, healthcare workers and social service workers to de-stigmatize homeless people.

The final set of goals involves awareness, involvement and cooperation. This plan is to create a network for retrieving information that is concentrated in municipalities. It has extended powers focused on homelessness among relevant stakeholders working with homeless people. This will fulfill conditions for statistics, records, communication, mobility of homeless people and the use of social services. In addition, the plan is to create an effective system of primary prevention through training, education and awareness-raising.

How NGOs Have Helped the Homeless

Homeless people in the Czech Republic often rely on NGOs for assistance. IQ Roma Servis is an NGO that implemented a project called the Housing First concept that provided housing for more than 400 families in the Czech Republic in 2016. The project had a municipality in Brno provide flats to families who previously lived in a form of a homeless shelter. Moreover, families also received intensive case management and a substantial housing subsidy.

A study occurred to understand the effects of this project. As a result, the study found a decrease in the time families spent homeless and found an improvement in housing security. Other positive outcomes include an improvement in the mental health of mothers, decreased use of emergency health services, decreased sickness in children, better social integration of the parents, improved financial security in households, decreased feelings of social anomaly and improvement in overall quality of life.

The government has a long way to go to prevent homelessness in the Czech Republic. If the government provides additional support and organizations to help the homeless population, it should be able to provide aid to more than 100,000 citizens who are at risk.

– Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in CzechiaAccording to the European Consumer Health Care Index of 2019, the Czech Republic’s healthcare system is ranked 14th out of the European Union countries. The European Consumer Health Care Index attempts to provide a ranking based on the perspective of the consumer. Some measures used to determine this perspective include “patient rights and information, access to care, treatment outcomes, range and reach of services provided, and prevention.” In fact, according to the Index, healthcare in Czechia is more successful than initially expected, considering the small amount spent per capita.

Healthcare in Czechia

The Czech Republic spends around 7% of its GDP on healthcare. Other funding comes from employees and employers who pay toward the healthcare system. Anyone who works for a Czech employer has health insurance. The Czech Republic government makes contributions on behalf of the unemployed, so coverage is essentially universal.

Aside from employee-funded and government-funded public healthcare options, the Czech Republic also offers an option for private insurance. The differences between the public and private healthcare systems can be significant. For instance, common problems with the public system include very long wait times for patients, tired and overworked doctors and a lack of English-speaking doctors. These are common issues in public healthcare systems, to which some countries have responded by offering a more expensive but private option, as the Czech Republic does.

Coverage for All

When comparing healthcare in Czechia with other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, the Czech Republic stands out as a “star performer.” Its high ranking is attributed to healthcare accessibility, cost-effectiveness and lack of corruption.

The idea of universal healthcare in the Czech Republic dates back to the 18th century, when the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II built hospitals and organized ways for everyone to have healthcare. By 1900, most European countries had state-subsidized healthcare. The Czech Republic, which was then part of Czechoslovakia, had one of the best healthcare systems in Europe even then.

In an article published by StarTribune, author Bonnie Blodgett explores what she considers to be the most important aspect of Czech healthcare: the idea of “self-administration.” Blodgett dates this back to the year 1989, when the Czech Republic government began to emphasize a bottom-up, instead of top-down, decision-making process.

A prime example of “self-administration” in Czech healthcare, aside from the ability to choose public or private, is doctors’ incentives to practice medicine. In the United States, being a doctor is a well-paying job. As Blodgett points out, some Americans may enter medicine with a primary interest in the financial incentives. This is not the case in the Czech Republic. Instead, doctors and nurses enter the profession to make sick people healthy. This is incentivized by the government, which gives and withholds money based on medical results.

Problems with the Czech System

The system of “self-administration” is not perfect. Many Czech doctors and physicians have threatened to leave the Czech Republic to work in a different European country that will pay them higher wages. Additionally, some critics of the Czech system worry that the government’s insistence on keeping public healthcare as affordable as possible risks turning healthcare in Czechia into a two-tier system. Interestingly, Blodgett points out that many Americans travel to Prague to undergo surgery because of how inexpensive the procedures are compared to in the United States.

Despite potential problems for the Czech Republic’s healthcare system, the country’s determination to keep healthcare affordable and accessible for all citizens is commendable. For now, the Czech Republic remains one of the most affordable and well-ranked healthcare systems in Europe.

Lara Smith
Photo: Flickr

debt in the Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic is a country cradled in Central Europe and is a member of the European Union. Despite its membership in the EU, the Czech Republic opted out of adopting the Euro in favor of keeping its own currency, the Koruna (CZK). Formerly a communist country in the Soviet Bloc, the Czech Republic adopted democratic market-oriented policies following the Velvet Revolution in 1989. With this shift toward free markets and an industrial economy, the Czech Republic experienced a credit boom in the early to mid-1990s. Unfortunately for Czech households, with rising credit comes rising debt in the Czech Republic as well.

A Closer Look at Debt in the Czech Republic

After shedding the yolk of communism in 1989, the Czech Republic embraced free-market policies focused on industrialization and the growth and privatization of business. Deregulation ensued, with particular focus placed on unshackling the banking and lending industries.

Following the credit boom of the 1990s, a reform on the lending system in 2001 provided the opportunity for a slew of private bailiffs to emerge to collect debts racked up throughout the spending boom in the previous decade. These private debt collection agencies often employ aggressive strategies to enforce repayment. The private bailiffs often pursue debts regardless of the debtor’s ability to pay. They utilize brutal strategies for recollection such as freezing bank accounts and siphoning earned income. They even enter into debtors’ homes to seize property.

How Debt Destroys Opportunity

Currently, 863,000 Czechs face at least one seizure order. This means, due to the current legal framework, their income above a certain minimum amount can be forcibly redirected towards debt repayments. This represents roughly 10% of the current population of the Czech Republic.

Personal debt in the Czech Republic can become financially crippling for many people. Those with outstanding debts have their income siphoned away to pay the interest. This leads many to enter into the black market to find jobs which would not disclose their income. This expansion of the black market is exacerbating a labor shortage within the Czech economy.

People who accumulate even small debts such as those from telephone bills may face compounding debt traps. This is a result of poor financial literacy and loose regulations on lenders and financial institutions. In addition, there are laws that make bankruptcy declaration extremely convoluted and difficult. This legal and institutional framework of the Czech debt system regressively places an undue burden upon the middle and lower classes to pay debts which they cannot afford. Thus, it stifles economic mobility and magnifies the financial hardships faced by the Czech people.

Finding Ways Out of Debt in the Czech Republic

Fortunately for many within the Czech Republic, various government and non-government solutions are being implemented. Financial literacy is critical when navigating the complex landscape of personal debt, which is one of the main services that Czech nonprofit People in Need provides. People in Need offers debt advisory services to Czech citizens to help them understand financial planning, borrowing and repayment of loans. People in Need also helps debtors legally defend themselves from unjust collections strategies as well as petition for bankruptcy. This can be an important tactic for alleviating debt in the Czech Republic.

The Czech government is also aware of these systemic issues. As of 2017, Parliament has debated bills addressing these strict policies regarding seizures and bankruptcy. Since the early 2000s, the law allows companies to better collect their loans by paying collections agencies. These agencies can cause the fees owed by debtors to skyrocket, potentially over ten-fold. This is due to costly collections processes as well as fees collected by the agencies. Both the government as well as nonprofit organizations like People in Need are working on ways to lower fees. They also work to expand access to the possibility of bankruptcy and more generous debt relief.


The Czech Republic serves as an important case study in national debt policy. Even a relatively rich country in Europe can still place undue financial burdens on its lower classes through inadequate lending laws and aggressive privatization of the credit industry. The work being done by nonprofits and the government should act as an example in reforming household credit markets and hopefully create a more just and forgiving landscape for lenders within the Czech Republic.

– Ian Hawthorne
Photo: Flickr

 Sanitation in Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or Czechia, is a bordered country in Central Europe with a population of 10.69 million. Around 98% of the population has access to sewerage systems which the country has carefully manufactured so that the water is clean and safe to drink right away. Even some of the people with lower social and ethnic status have access to this water. Here are nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic that detail how its sanitation has evolved.

9 Facts About Sanitation in the Czech Republic

  1. Clean Water Access: In 2017, calculations determined that 98% of the population had access to clean water. Since Czechia is a landlocked county, all of its water flows out of the country and into neighborhoods. New water sources are dependent on the atmosphere’s participation. Drinking water is dependent on ground sources which are based on hydrologic basins.
  2. Health Care: With highly qualified staff in hospitals, private care is usually more expensive than regular public health care. Many of the private hospitals are more equipped to work with patients and have a service-oriented approach to medical care. This allows patients the advantage of getting medications faster. Although it takes longer to receive medical treatment in public care, some health care workers speak English. This serves as a high advantage to expats and hospitals that receive heavy subsidies, however, hospitals are equally accessible to all insured persons. The health care system also offers mental health care through inpatient facilities. With healthy sanitation, the hospitals are better equipped and have a high rate of patient recovery especially with good water sanitation.
  3. Soil Sanitation: With good precipitation and weather changes, the growing season is in good condition and produces quality vegetation. Growing quality produce keeps the population healthy and the precipitation helps prevent the spread of diseases.
  4. Sanitation in Schools: Kids in the Czech Republic have good sanitation in schools, and because of this, they have actually encouraged other schools to improve their hygiene. The Czech Republic Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia provided support to the Girl Friendly Schools: improving sanitation, hygiene and health education in the Cambodia project in 2018. To date, this project has helped 2,415 students in 12 different schools gain higher quality sanitation.
  5. Waste Sanitation: Czechia has a waste problem. Households do not produce as much garbage as the U.S. but still need some improvements considering that most waste comes from schools and neighborhoods.
  6. Waterborne Illness: Between 1995 and 2005, only 33 outbreaks of waterborne illness occurred, affecting a small amount of the Czech Republic’s population. Only 27 outbreaks of unsafe drinking water caused them, coming from sources like pools and mineral water springs. There were reports of some small cases but no serious cases seem to have occurred.
  7. Food Safety: A microbiological compliance test on food supplies occurred in 2018 and showed that 146 batches were unsafe for human consumption. The foods that this test found unsafe were mostly vegetables, dairy and meat products. About 67 catering facilities shut down because of poor hygiene. Since the country still must make progress to ensure food safety, it is discussing laws to help improve food safety. These laws will make it easier to control food safety and ensure that catering businesses meet standards going forward.
  8. Sustainable Development of Sanitation: The Czech Republic ranks as the seventh most developed country. Because Czechia has always had clean water and overall decent sanitation, the country has fostered sustainable communities and maintained healthy economic growth since the beginning, causing it to rise in the rankings. It has already met one of the goals for the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and is on track to complete more. The country hopes to meet more goals by 2030.
  9. Safely Managed Sanitation Services: In 2017, four out of 10 people used sanitation that was safely managed. In 2015, 3.4 billion people used a safely managed sanitation service in comparison to only 2.1 billion in 2000. Though some areas still lack managed sanitation, safe sanitation services serve most of the population.

These nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic show how the population has gained quality sanitation. There are still areas that are in the process of improvement. In general, the country’s sanitation is in good condition and is safe for both citizens and visitors.

– Rachel Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Czech Republic
In the European Union, the Czech Republic ranks second in terms of the risk of its population falling below the poverty line. A record low of 3.4% of the Czech Republic’s population is at risk of poverty according to Eurostat data. This is in comparison to the average of 10% of the European Union’s population that poverty threatens. With that in mind, here are five facts about poverty in the Czech Republic.

5 Facts About Poverty in the Czech Republic

  1. The Czech economy has been on an upward trend, which has helped young people. The improvement of the Czech economy has helped reduce the poverty rate in the country. The GDP growth rate and unemployment levels are among the best in Europe. The unemployment rate for the country was 2.9% in 2017, which ranks among the top tier in the world. The GDP growth rate of 3.18% in the Czech Republic is among Europe’s best and the GDP rose to $245.2 billion in 2018 in comparison to $186.8 billion in 2015. This has benefited young employed Czechs between the ages of 18 and 24, of whom only 1.5% were at risk of poverty in 2017. With a high labor shortage, this in turn has increased the wages young Czechs can attain.
  2. Women are at a higher risk of poverty. The Czech Republic has one of the highest wage gaps between men and women. On average, a Czech woman’s salary is 22% lower than her male counterparts. Women on a pension and single mothers are the two groups that poverty in the Czech Republic most affects. Mothers who come back from maternity leave often see a reduction in pay after returning to work, up until age 50. Women, who on average live six years longer than their spouses, often see a rise in their expenses after the death of their spouses.
  3. Education plays an important role. Education plays a large role in determining poverty status in the Czech Republic, especially among youth. Children whose parents are relatively low-skilled and low-educated are one of the highest at-risk groups for poverty in the EU. However, children of the well-educated in the Czech Republic are among the lowest risk for poverty in the EU. Because of the risk of poverty from their parents, some children struggle with living in adequate housing while trying to maintain their education. For those children who struggle to finish their education, SOS Children’s Villages will assist them with job training and living facilities.
  4. Measures that the new government introduced have helped. The new administration, which took power in 2014, has undertaken reforms to increase social welfare and attract financial investment. These reforms have improved the living conditions in the country which have played a role in reducing poverty. The Czech Republic also introduced an online tax reporting system that should increase revenues and decrease tax evasion. The economic reforms have resulted in a budget surplus (1.6% of GDP in 2017) and a decrease in unemployment from 6.1% in 2014 to 2.9% in 2017, as well as increased GDP per capita by over $2,000 from 2015 to 2017.
  5. Housing costs are expensive. For two straight years in 2017 and 2018, the Czech Republic had the least affordable housing in Europe according to a study by Deloitte Property Index. The average Czech worker will have to work 11.8 years in order to have enough money to be able to afford a home. This was the highest figure in the study and 59% higher than the average. Factors relating to the housing market include lack of new apartments on the market, regulatory measures by the Czech National Bank and public sentiment. However, some cities like Ostrava do have affordable housing and housing is becoming more affordable in other cities as well.

These five facts about poverty in the Czech Republic highlight a few key points. New government measures have helped in the fight against poverty as well as the growth of the Czech economy. Young people have been doing extremely well in the country which has helped bring the overall poverty rate down. However, the nation can still do more work in the fight against poverty, especially in terms of helping female workers in the country and making housing more affordable. Overall, one can be optimistic about how the Czech Republic is taking further steps to reduce poverty in the country.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Flickr