Healthcare in Equatorial GuineaIn the small Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, the healthcare system is lacking in many ways. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “45 other countries in Equatorial Guinea’s per capita GDP range spent at least four times as much on health and education during the same period.” A study by the Pan African Medical Journal has reported a “lack of resources and trauma care facilities” and that  “training and informational programs for both healthcare workers and the general public may not be effectively transmitting information to the intended recipients.” Overall, it can be said that healthcare in Equatorial Guinea is in a dire state that certainly calls for assistance.

Things to Know About Healthcare in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Empty Promises. Following the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1991, President Obiang promised investment in social services, primarily healthcare and education. Despite repeatedly saying he would prioritize those two services, financial allocation for funding has been disheartening. According to the World Bank, as of 2017, only 3.11% of the country’s GDP has been spent on healthcare, an increase since 2012, when it stood at 1.26%.
  2. Incorrect Priorities. Instead of allocating money towards improving its healthcare system, Equatorial Guinea has been investing in large infrastructure projects. In 2011, the country spent 82% of its total budget on such projects, a move that was heavily criticized by both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  3. Treatable Diseases are Deadly. Lack of funding means healthcare in Equatorial Guinea lacks diagnostic tools, trained staff, laboratory supplies, vaccines, cheap medication and condoms. The lack of affordable medicine and resources results in patients being reluctant to seek care and also means the most common treatable diseases become the deadliest. According to the Pan African Medical Journal, diseases like malaria, typhoid, sexually transmitted diseases, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses are the most common diseases, but also have the highest rate of mortality.
  4. Underfunded Healthcare Sector. The lack of funding to the healthcare sector in Equatorial Guinea also acts as a deterrent for people to join the profession and causes many to leave, due to the lack of pay. Data indicates that Equatorial Guinea has only three doctors per 10,000 people. Furthermore, because patient payments are not enough to keep facilities running, many also leave due to the difficulties in their ability to provide care.
  5. Traditional and Modern Medicine Conflict. There is a conflict between traditional and modern medicine, which many healthcare practitioners consider a “negative healthcare outcome.” Indeed, the reluctance for many families to consult hospitals to receive care due to the high cost of medication may drive them to traditional medicine methods instead. Though this conflict has been noted before, not many steps have been taken to help mitigate the gap.

Despite the dire state of healthcare in Equatorial Guinea, research does not indicate that the country is receiving much help from aid organizations or other countries to improve the situation. This conclusion indicates a desperate need for aid to better the country’s healthcare system. With help, healthcare in Equatorial Guinea can be drastically improved.

Mathilde Venet
Photo: Flickr

natural resources in equatorial guineaEquatorial Guinea, which lies on the central west coast of Africa, has seemingly abundant resources. Natural resources in Equatorial Guinea range from its tropical climate and arable land to its minerals and labor. However, widespread socioeconomic development spurred by its discovery of petroleum in the 1990s hindered the country’s progress. It has led to issues including political corruption, resource misuse and human rights abuses. As such, natural resources in Equatorial Guinea affect poverty in the country.

The History of Natural Resources in Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea declared independence from Spain in October 1968. However, the regime of post-independence president Francisco Macias Nguema saw declines in quality, maintenance and labor. As a result, previously booming industries of cocoa and coffee exports almost completely disappeared. After Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo overthrew Nguema in 1979, Equatorial Guinea seemed to be moving toward economic revitalization. In the 1980s, the country joined the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa and replaced its currency with one linked to the French franc. However, it was not until the discovery of offshore petroleum and natural gas reserves in 1996 that its GDP skyrocketed.

The IMF estimated that oil production increased from 17,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 1996 to its peak at 280,000 b/d in 2004 before beginning to steadily decline. Real GDP grew by 150% in 1997. Equatorial Guinea remains the third-largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Along with GDP growth, Equatorial Guinea became a trading partner with China, Portugal, India, the U.S. and Spain. This accounted for an increase in government revenue, and the country’s per capita income became the highest in Africa. Natural resources in Equatorial Guinea created this economic transformation. However, today about two-thirds of the population still lives in extreme poverty.

Why the Poverty Level Hasn’t Decreased

Despite the wealth of natural resources in Equatorial Guinea, poverty remains an issue. Human rights abuses and corruption during the Obiang’s regime have raised criticism internationally. As of 2015, only half of citizens in Equatorial Guinea have access to clean water. Newborn immunization rates for polio and measles are among the lowest in the world. Also, government expenditures on health and education are merely 2% to 3% of the total budget. In 2018, the United Nations designated the country 144 out of 189 on its Human Development Index. This measures dimensions including life expectancy, education access and standard of living.

Corruption contributes to poverty in the country. Although Equatorial Guinea has held multi-party elections since 1993, Obiang won his fifth presidential term in 2016 with 94% of the vote. His party also occupies every parliamentary seat. Furthermore, about 80% of the government’s revenue from oil went toward spending sprees on public infrastructure. Construction contracts, however, went to companies partially owned by government officials, including Obiang. Obiang’s son further compounded evidence suggesting government corruption by provoking money-laundering investigations with overseas spending. Thus, the wealth resulting from natural resources in Equatorial Guinea goes not to the people but to the government.

An Unsustainable Future

Many natural resources in Equatorial Guinea also face misuse and exploitation. For example, timber is one of Equatorial Guinea’s most abundant agricultural resources and its main export after oil. The IMF, however, indicated an unsustainable level of timber production in 2001. This resource composed most of the non-oil GDP that grew by 21% in 1999. Environmental damage in the Bioko region, where most of the timber grows, also supports claims of unsustainable exploitation. Despite this boom in timber, the country has mineral deposits that remain untouched due to a lack of extraction and refining equipment. This gold, titanium, manganese, iron ore and uranium could provide balance to the country’s resource exports with the right material.

Furthermore, the 2014 international drop in oil prices reversed GDP growth and caused a recession in Equatorial Guinea. Experts predict that its oil will also run out by 2035. This emphasizes the need for reform and sustainable sources of revenue from natural resources in Equatorial Guinea.

Partnering with the IMF

Recently, Equatorial Guinea partnered with the IMF to recover its economy by promoting sustainable, inclusive growth. The  $283 million program focuses on anti-corruption efforts and economic diversification. This will help monitor public finances, increase social spending and improve governance.

While this partnership with the IMF indicates progress, reform needs to be more widespread and supported internationally. The State Department names U.S. corporations ExxonMobile, Marathon Oil and Noble Energy as among the largest investors in Equatorial Guinea. These corporations and other international entities can use their influential positions to support economic reforms to sustain the country’s resources. They can also support political and social reforms to improve living conditions.

By investing more oil revenue into social programs, legitimate infrastructure projects and the agricultural sector, Equatorial Guinea could build a stable economic future and better living conditions for its citizens. Policy reform like this would also decrease poverty and preserve natural resources in Equatorial Guinea. This way, the country’s natural wealth will exist for generations to come.

Isabel Serrano
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea sits off the west coast of Africa, comprised of the Rio Muni mainland and five volcanic islands. It stands as the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa and one of the largest exporters of oil in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite its wealth of natural resources and fertile soil, the rate of hunger is high, particularly among the rural population. There is a serious disparity: the nation’s elite primarily directs how the country runs and profit off of the nation’s fruitful oil reserves. Meanwhile, there are limited public programs available to aid those experiencing hunger in Equatorial Guinea.

Who is Going Hungry?

More than half of the population – 60% – struggles to meet its daily needs on earnings that amount to less than $1 per day. As a result, malnourishment is common, with 26.2% of children younger than 5-years-old being deficient in the nutrition they need to grow and develop properly.

On average, Equatorial Guinea’s population consumes only about 3.5 grams of sodium per day, which falls short of the global average of 5.6 grams. Overall, the nation suffers a nutritional deficiency across the board, being deficient in calcium, fruit and vegetable intake.

Even though Equatorial Guinea only cultivates about 10% of its land and its cocoa and coffee production decreased in the past 50 years, most in Equatorial Guinea earn their income through subsistence farming.

The Children

Children in Equatorial Guinea face a variety of health challenges, some of which are improving. Over the past decade, the child mortality rate for those under the age of 5 has fallen from 11.4% to 9%. However, the prevalence of severe, long-term weight loss and malnutrition for the same age group has risen from 3.1% to 3.7% in the same space of time. This number is still lower than the average rate of wasting in developing countries, which is 8.9%.

With infants, the WHO recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed babies for the first six months of their lives. In Equatorial Guinea, only 7.4% of infants in this age group are exclusively breastfed. For comparison, in a nation like the United States, this rate is 57.6%. In developing countries like Equatorial Guinea, where people are struggling to meet their own nutritional needs, malnourished mothers may struggle to initiate breastfeeding. People commonly water down formula, since it is expensive and often not accessible, to make it last longer. This system perpetuates the malnutrition of infants.

Anemia, which people often associate with malnourishment, is prevalent in 52.1% of pregnant women. This percentage indicates a large portion of the population that cannot nourish children adequately since they themselves are not nourished.

The Government

Equatorial Guinea’s leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been in power since 1979. While the country’s supply of oil provides for the president and the nation’s other elite citizens, the rest of the nation still struggles to have its basic needs met.

Earlier in the past decade, Equatorial Guinea invested in public aid that would target stunting and wasting in the population, though these efforts dwindled in the years that followed.

As of 2019, Equatorial Guinea has renewed its investment in garnering food security. The nation took an exemplary step forward by donating $30 million to The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), which grapples with tackling agricultural and food security issues. With its finances, the organization brainstorms new financial maneuvers that might help several nations’ attempts to meet their citizens’ daily needs.

While food insecurity and hunger still plague Equatorial Guinea, the rise of new programs, efforts and resiliency in how the nation tackles nutrition bodes well for the nation. As of 2017, Guinea graduated out of the ‘Least Developed Country’ status according to the U.N.’s standards, which measures nation development based on life expectancy, mother and child mortality rates and income. Hopefully, this is a step forward for Equatorial Guinea to progress further into a more food secure state.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Equatorial Guinea
Mariano Ebana Edu’s hit single, “Carta Al Presidente,” made big waves in 2013 for speaking up about poverty in Equatorial Guinea. In this passionate rap song, Edu, who performs under the name Negro Bey, criticizes President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s oppressive government for keeping its citizens in poverty. Although the oil-rich country has experienced rapid economic growth since the 1990s, rampant corruption and wealth inequality prevent large populations from reaping the benefits. Here is some information about poverty in Equatorial Guinea.

Wealth Inequality

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a small country with a population of approximately 1.3 million located on the west coast of Central Africa. Although the country has become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top five oil producers, poverty in Equatorial Guinea remains a major issue. Oil revenues have funded the luxurious lifestyle of President Obiang and his political elite while large populations still lack access to clean water and healthcare.

Human Development Report

Information about poverty in Equatorial Guinea can be difficult to find since Obiang’s government strictly controls the country’s media. In 2019, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Equatorial Guinea 144 out of 189 countries in its Human Development Report, combining life expectancy, education and per-capita income data. According to the U.N., more than half of Equatorial Guinea’s population still lacks access to clean water. UNICEF has found that 26% of the population uses unimproved drinking water sources, and only 66% have access to basic sanitation services.

Healthcare

Healthcare remains a major issue for people living in poverty in Equatorial Guinea, where diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS continue to be a threat. UNICEF estimates that in 2019, there were approximately 900 new cases of HIV in people ages 0-19 and 1,200 new cases in adolescents and young adults ages 15-24. Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) are protective gear to help prevent the spread of malaria, but only 38% of households in Equatorial Guinea have at least one ITN. Meanwhile, 20% of children born in Equatorial Guinea die before the age of 5.

Aid and Progress

Enterprise for Development (EfD) is a U.K.-based organization working to eliminate poverty in Equatorial Guinea. EfD provides grants to poor farmers to help improve irrigation and ultimately create sustainable local enterprises with pro-poor benefits. 

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is a leader in global coordination and advocacy to help end AIDS as a public health threat. Data from UNAIDS shows that in 2019, 23,000 people living with HIV in Equatorial Guinea had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), and hundreds of expecting parents received prevention of mother-to-child transmission services (PMTCT).

In 2019, the International Monetary Fund approved a $280 million bailout to Equatorial Guinea. However, after credible accusations of high-level corruption President Obiang and his senior officials must reveal their private assets before the country can receive the full amount. Equatorial Guinea must also join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in an effort to fight corruption in its oil and gas industries. These reforms can help ensure that foreign aid goes directly to improving the lives of Equatorial Guinea’s poor.

– Stephanie Williams
Photo: Flickr

7 Facts about Sanitation in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a country located on the western coast of Central Africa. Corruption in politics has culminated in a small elite group receiving money and success. Around 44% of the population still lives under the poverty line. Here are seven facts about sanitation in Equatorial Guinea.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Basic Sanitation Services: In 2017, around 66% of the population of Equatorial Guinea were using basic sanitation services. This refers to access to facilities that properly dispose of human excrement. These services are mostly available in the two major cities in Equatorial Guinea, Malabo and Bata. Even though this number has increased since 2000 when the recorded percentage was around 50, it is still low. To put it in perspective, 99.97% of people in the United States had access to basic sanitation services. Moreover, the term “improved sanitation” refers to the use of basic sanitation services at a household level. In 2015, 74% of the population had improved sanitation.
  2. Water Quality: Less than half of the population has access to clean water. Thankfully, UNICEF has been installing rainwater collectors on the roofs of school buildings since 2007, which give students access to clean water all year round. In 2017, 65% of the population had access to basic drinking water services.
  3. Malaria: Experts consider good hygiene to be one of the best ways to prevent infectious diseases. While malaria is a vector-borne disease, poor sanitation conditions often correlate with an increase in malaria cases. In 2015, the National Malaria Control Program completed several tests in Equatorial Guinea to decrease the effects and cases of malaria in the country. The results showed that the prevalence of malaria in rural settings was higher (closer to 60%) than in an urban setting, where it was only 33.9%. The findings of the National Malaria Control Program’s tests and studies will assist in planning preventative initiatives in both rural and urban Equatorial Guinea.
  4. Developmental Assistance: In 2002, Equatorial Guinea received more than $6 million in water and sanitation-related developmental assistance disbursements from the United Nations U.N.-Water program. This money went toward hydroelectric power, drinking water supply, wastewater treatment and more.
  5. Health Care: With the boom of oil in the 1990s, Equatorial Guinea had a great opportunity to improve sanitation and strengthen its public healthcare. However, instead of investing in these facets, the government spent 82% of its budget in 2011 on large-scale infrastructure projects. In comparison to other countries with similar GDP, Equatorial Guinea is failing at providing health care and sanitation for its citizens. Sadly, the government has not stopped this skewed way of budgeting. However, hopefully, criticism from the IMF and the World Bank will initiate change in the next few years.
  6. Sewage Systems: In 2010, the government completed a new network of sewage and rainwater in the city of Malabo. The intention of this project was to serve over 100,000 residents. Consequently, it provides residents with potable running water and better sanitary conditions.
  7. Waterborne Diseases: The quality of water causes waterborne diseases in Equatorial Guinea. In fact, two out of 10 children die before the age of 5. Death is often from diarrhea and other diseases due to poor water quality, like Hepatitis A and typhoid fever. Moreover, typhoid more commonly occurs in rural areas where people lack basic sanitation and have limited access to clean water.

Sanitation in Equatorial Guinea has improved tremendously throughout the years even if it seems like the country still has a long way to go. It has not helped that Equatorial Guinea’s government has not always been supportive of sanitation legislation. Thankfully, outside organizations like U.N.-Water and UNICEF are providing aid.

– Bailey Sparks
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Equatorial GuineaEquitorial Guineans (or Equato-Guineans) are people from the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (EG). EG is a relatively small country of roughly a million people that includes the Bioko Islands as well as Annobon, a volcanic island. These nine facts about life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea reflect a country in progress.

9 Facts About Life Expectancy in Equatorial Guinea

  1. For the entire population of Equatorial Guinea, life expectancy is now 59.8 years old (61.1 years for women and 58.8 years for men). The overall life expectancy has been trending upward for the last half-century and survival to the age of 65 now stands at 55.7 percent for women and 50.5 percent for men.
  2. The leading causes of death in EG are generally preventable. Some of the leading causes include HIV/AIDS, influenza and pneumonia, chronic heart disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus. While HIV prevalence was estimated at 7.1 percent of the population in 2019, the Equatorial Guinean government is committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. For example, the country has scaled up its capacity to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the percentage of pregnant women accessing antiretroviral medication increased to 74 percent in 2014 from 61 percent in 2011.
  3. Many Equatoguineans also face chronic hunger. According to Human Rights Watch, one in four children is physically stunted due to poor nutrition. Half of the children who begin primary school never transition to secondary schools, which also affects life expectancy. At the same time, the government of Equatorial Guinea took the lead role in 2013 in providing the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) with $30 million to improve agriculture and food security. ASTF’s projects have especially benefitted women, family farmers and youth across the continent.
  4. Poor sanitation and ineffective infection control create a risk of exposure to diseases like diarrhea, malaria and tuberculosis. Inadequate sanitation and unhygienic conditions contribute to increased infant mortality, as 20 percent of children die before the age of 5. Equatorial Guinea is also considered the least prepared country for an epidemic, mainly due to its inability to prevent pathogens and toxins.
  5. Less than half of Equatorial Guinea’s population has access to clean water. The Clean Water Initiative is one effort to meet global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supplying clean drinking water in 18 rural sites.
  6. Frequent and prolonged blackouts, particularly during the dry season, often result from old generators and an unreliable power supply. Electricity can be a matter of life or death in hospitals if medical equipment fails. According to reports, an infrastructure makeover has been underway since 2014 when new roads and power lines were built.
  7. From 2006-2012, a public-private partnership called the Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea (PRODEGE) began working with the country’s education ministry to improve the nation’s education system. A major focus on the training of teachers’ classroom skills aimed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in primary school settings. PRODEGE 2012-2017 sought to amplify the program’s initial achievements on a broader scale by focusing on students in post-primary settings. Both goals align with EG’s 2020 Plan to achieve universal primary school enrollment, which was 84.46 percent in 2012.
  8. Other barriers to longer life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea include a lack of resources such as condoms and trauma care facilities to handle emergencies. Tensions exist between traditional and modern medicine as well, which affect treatment adherence. Finally, the use of various languages across communities and lack of comprehension regarding basic medical terms also hampers communication between health care providers and patients.
  9. Interventions for malaria control and studies of incomplete adherence to TB treatment reveal both promise and peril for the country’s capacity to prevent and treat infectious disease. After eight children were paralyzed by polio in the first half of 2014, their immunity strengthened following disease surveillance and vaccination campaigns. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended that further improvements such as routine immunization and community mapping were key components to preventing another outbreak.

Life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea continues a slow upward trajectory. According to UNICEF, drinking water coverage has improved over the last two decades and sanitation coverage improved as well, estimating at over 70 percent. The number of children attending school has also increased over the last five years. Deprivations remain most severe for children living in rural areas, in the poorest households, with mothers who lack education.

As a small oil economy, at a time when oil prices can fall steeply without warning, the challenges to life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea will persist. The government’s willingness to accept outside assistance from international NGOs may hold the greatest promise for its citizens.

– Sarah Wright
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Equatorial Guinea

Human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea is a substantial issue. Corruption and negligence run deep within its government. In Equatorial Guinea, 76.8 percent of the population lives in poverty. These circumstances make the people of this country extremely vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Top 4 Facts About Human Trafficking in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Equatorial Guinea has remained on Tier 3 from 2011 through 2018. This means that the country does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. And they are not making necessary efforts to do so. Although there have not been significant improvements concerning the status of human trafficking in the country, the government made progress by addressing this problem. Fortunately, the U.S. is helping Equatorial Guinea develop a plan for this problem. They are continuing to spread public awareness of trafficking within the country. They achieve this by providing shelter and services to victims and investigating more trafficking-related cases. Despite the government taking steps in the right direction, no traffickers have ever been convicted under the Equatoguinean 2004 anti-trafficking law. The government also failed to report any victims, making the exact number unclear. There have even been reports of general corruption by government employees in trafficking-relating cases.
  2. Equatorial Guinea is a source country for human trafficking. The majority of victims are trafficked in Bata, Malabo and Mongomo. These are three wealthy cities in the country that attract many migrant workers who are easily exploited. Women and girls are most vulnerable to sex trafficking and prostitution. In many cases, parents will send their daughters to work for intermediaries in exchange for money. However, these girls are then exploited into domestic servitude and sex trafficking. For men and young boys, forced labor is most prevalent in the mining industry. Traffickers steal boys who are begging on the streets or providing services such as shining shoes. Children from poorer villages are most vulnerable to exploitation. This is due to a lack of education and economic opportunities. Some traffickers even take children with parents’ consent. They promise the family that they will pay for the child’s education but actually selling them into forced labor.
  3. Combating human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea is one of France’s priorities. The French government acknowledges the severity of human trafficking, specifically in West Africa. In 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France created a strategy to fight this problem. The aim was to decrease trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo. These countries share the same region as Equatorial Guinea. The transnational human trafficking rate in this region is high. The project focused on stopping cross-border trafficking by increasing the country’s security. By addressing human trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea region, the French government is helping the country escape from its cruel grasp.
  4. The U.S. Embassy is involved with the Equatoguinean government. It is helping the country to address and end human trafficking. The Embassy collects significant data for the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Additionally, it recognizes the severity of trafficking-related crimes within the country. In order to end human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Embassy created a list of strategy and recommendations to further anti-trafficking efforts. Some of the main points in this list are:
    • prosecuting traffickers and complicit officials,
    • identifying the trafficked victims and
    • researching the nature of the crime within the country are some of the main points.

A Problem Worth Fighting For

The challenge of eliminating human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea may seem like an impossible task, but it is crucial. This modern-day slavery is a result of corruption and a violation of human rights. Although the status of human trafficking in this nation may seem bleak, the people of the country have reason to be optimistic. Foreign aid from different countries and the acknowledgment of the Equatoguinean government can help eliminate the issue of human trafficking in countries such as Equatorial Guinea.

– Marissa Pekular
Photo: Flickr

Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a small, Spanish-speaking country located off the coast of Central Africa. Similar to many developing nations, Equatorial Guinea continues to work to reduce poverty rates and enhance the quality of life for its citizens.

As part of the effort to meet the targets set by The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), there was a strong focus placed on improving women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. A great emphasis was placed on reducing maternal mortality by strengthening the healthcare infrastructure and expanding the health workforce.

Maternal mortality

Maternal mortality refers to the number of women who die each year due to causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, and/or the period after delivery or termination of pregnancy. The MDG 5 target for maternal health was to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 and to achieve universal access to reproductive health.

This translates to a maternal mortality ratio below 75 deaths per 100,000 live births. In order to meet the MGD goal and improve women’s health in Equatorial Guinea, the country needed to improve access to family planning services, encourage consistent prenatal care and quality health facilities with trained workers needed to be established.

Healthcare Infrastructure

In 1992, the country’s Ministry of Health created The National Plan of Action for Women and Children to increase access to family planning services, prenatal care and skilled delivery. A key component of this plan included strengthening the health care infrastructure by establishing a system of polyclinics, regional, provincial and district hospitals. This introduced accessible care throughout the country, especially in vulnerable regions.

The Ministry of Health also instituted a set of guidelines and regulations for these new facilities to improve the quality of care that patients received. Public health education campaigns were then utilized to increase awareness of the healthcare services and to encourage women to access these services. These efforts were successful in increasing the number of women who were aware of the importance and benefits of prenatal care. In fact, women were much more likely to show up for appointments and go earlier in their pregnancies when they had received antenatal education early on.

Healthcare Workforce

In 2008, to ensure that women received quality care, the Foundation for the Development of Nursing (FUDEN) was formed by The Ministry of Health to recruit and train nurses and midwives. Within its first 5 years, FUDEN successfully trained 153 new nurses and midwives. With this strong emphasis placed on expanding the health workforce, part of The Ministry of Health’s goals is to ensure that each village in the country had at least one trained midwife.

The introduction of trained health workers resulted in a direct improvement to women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. The percent of births attended by a skilled health worker increased from 5 percent in 1994 to 65 percent in 2000. The number of women who received prenatal care also increased from 37 percent to 91 percent from 1994 to 2011.

Setting the Goals for 2020

Through improved access to facilities and trained health workers, there was a great improvement in women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. The country successfully achieved MDG 5 with an 81 percent reduction to maternal deaths. As Equatorial Guinea looks to meet the Horizon 2020 goals, there will be a continued focus on improving maternal mortality and women’s health.

The Ministry of Health has developed plans to implement a nationwide reproductive health policy and to use a “Reach Every District” strategy to ensure that all regions are provided with the same resources to improve the health of all citizens. Hopefully, these plans will capitalize on the success of the MDG and continue to improve women’s health in Equatorial Guinea.

– Chinanu Chi-Ukpai
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Equatorial Guinea
People often think of foreign aid as the provision of emergency assistance without many tangible benefits in return. However, providing foreign aid offers numerous benefits to countries such as the U.S. For the U.S., Equatorial Guinea is by far one of the most important potential trading partners in the world, and aid to Equatorial Guinea is one of the surest ways to create such partnerships. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea, as it gains access to one of the world’s largest energy exporters.

Equatorial Guinea and Its Neighbors

In order to see how the U.S. benefits from providing aid, it is important to first understand the situation in Equatorial Guinea. As a largely underdeveloped country, Equatorial Guinea also suffers from the woes that plague many of its continental neighbors.

Political turmoil and internal corruption have caused sharp drops in foreign development assistance to the country since 1993. For example, in 2013 the government cracked down on freedom of assembly by shutting down protests and arresting political dissenters, sparking international outcry.

In addition, worsening economic conditions have caused the country’s economy to shrink by nearly 25 percent since 2014 despite this trend of reversed growth being rare among African countries. Most African states have managed to maintain positive economic growth rates in spite of rampant poverty.

For example, although Equatorial Guinea’s fall in growth stabilized at -3.2 percent in 2017 from its all-time low of -9 percent in 2015, most of its neighbors have maintained positive growth rates for years.

Cameroon to the north had GDP growth of 3.2 percent for 2017 and hasn’t dipped below zero since 1993. To the south, Gabon had a growth rate of 1.1 percent for 2017. Although Gabon’s growth has steadily declined since 2008, Equatorial Guinea is unique for having a consistently negative rate several years in a row.

Increasing Economic Prosperity

Nonetheless, the country has a strong export-based economy. In 2016 alone, Equatorial Guinea exported around $4 billion worth of goods, while importing a little over $1 billion. Its trading power has made it one of the few countries in the world with a trade surplus, especially one of that magnitude.

Equatorial Guinea’s economic health relies heavily on its natural resources. In 2016, its largest exports consisted of crude oil (which comprised over half of its exports, at $2.79 billion out of $4.06 billion) and petroleum gas (which accounted for approximately $762 million). Increasing global demand for oil, coupled with heavy reliance on this finite energy product, could make Equatorial Guinea one of the most important developing economies in the 21st century.

The Value of Foreign Aid and Investment

Equatorial Guinea’s economic potential suggests that it is a viable potential trading partner for any country, and providing foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea may be a strong gage for determining how robust such potential trade agreements could be. Increased foreign aid could encourage Equatorial Guinea to work with donor countries in opening new supply chains through trade agreements, complementing international development assistance with long-term economic partnerships.

Providing foreign aid will also help Equatorial Guinea grow its economy and reach its full potential. For example, as foreign donors began slashing development funds to Equatorial Guinea between 2010 and 2014 (from $85 million to $520,000 respectively), its economy began to contract several years later, from $22 billion in 2012 to $12 billion in 2017.

However, despite such alarming figures, there has been some help in the form of an increased focus on infrastructure development. In 2015, China agreed to commit $2 billion to Equatoguinean infrastructure. This support has not only helped revitalize Equatorial Guinea’s economic growth but also brought Equatorial Guinea and China closer together diplomatically.

Equatorial Guinea and the U.S.

In contrast, the U.S. has no trade agreements with Equatorial Guinea. In fact, it currently exports more to Equatorial Guinea (at $278 million) than it imports (at $193 million), signaling a large trade imbalance for Equatorial Guinea.

Furthermore, the U.S. does not supply any foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea. However, it does provide a generous amount to Equatorial Guinea’s neighbors; in 2017, Cameroon received approximately $80 million in U.S. foreign aid funds, while Gabon received over $2 million.

Increased foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea is one of the most practical ways to improve trade relations between the two countries. Each nation has something that the other needs. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the U.S. has plenty of foreign aid funds available (specifically, a foreign assistance budget of $50 billion in 2015) to improve the economic outlook of Equatorial Guinea.

Additionally, as one of the largest oil harvesters in the world, Equatorial Guinea has a slew of energy reserves available to export to the U.S., at a total of 1.1 billion barrels of oil as of 2012. It is evident that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea, due to greater access to a growing Equatoguinean hydrocarbon sector.

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Equatorial Guinea

A diversified import sector is critical to the financial well-being of any country. For the U.S., an oil industry with diversified imports creates stable international supply lines and an even stronger economy. Equatorial Guinea’s resources and economic potential suggest that it could be an ideal trading partner.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea by improving relations between the two states and opening up new energy markets for American consumers. In addition, robust trade agreements could yield incentives for elevated oil production, thus helping to reverse Equatorial Guinea’s negative economic growth.

– Vincent Giordano

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea

Agrarian-minded agents have shared farming methods online that enable sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea for traditional tribespeople who grow Tabernanthe iboga, a shrub that has many uses in traditional tribal medicinal practices.

One important use of Tabernanthe iboga is to provide hunters and fisherman with stamina and a reduced need to eat and drink as they are hunting and fishing. Iboga also has a lot of other medicinal properties that make its cultivation and use important to the people who live in Equatorial Guinea and surrounding areas. Tabernanthe iboga has been shown to help with diarrhea and various disorders of the mind, and some traditional healers even claim that it helps lessen pain in people who have AIDS.

The Internet Helps Iboga Growers

Before learning new farming methods that encouraged sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea, some of the farmers growing Tabernanthe iboga employed more environmentally destructive slash and burn methods to harvest the plant. Through self-agency by using information about farming available online, the farmers learned about the importance of not removing the whole plant so that the crop can continue to grow in the future, and the need to replace the soil so that the nutrients required to grow the plants do not get destroyed.

The farming methods that were shared online by agrarian-minded agents and used by Iboga growers provide a beacon of light that promotes and supports sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea. However, companies that are not agrarian-minded have passed laws that restrict farmers in Equatorial Guinea from sharing their seeds with other farmers. Such laws, which are designed to protect the profits of biotechnology firms that have created new seeds, hurt farmers in developing countries.

Seed Sovereignty Addressing Restrictions

A political movement called Seed Sovereignty is attempting to repeal the legislation that makes it a crime to save and share seeds. This movement is attempting to restore the right to use seeds to the farmer so that sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea and other areas of the world is possible without needing to buy new seeds each year.

Farmers who violate the law and decide to share the seeds from their harvest with other people can go to prison. In some areas of Africa, the farmer who defies the law by sharing his seeds can spend up to 12 years in prison. Agrarian-minded agents take the opposite approach and empower farmers in places like Equatorial Guinea to protect the plants they grow by sharing their seeds and environmentally-safe farming techniques with others rather than putting them in prison for sharing their knowledge with other people.

An Online Repository of Sustainable Agriculture in Equatorial Guinea

The promotion of methods that support sustainable agriculture practices is needed to help preserve biodiversity and empower farmers in impoverished areas of the world. They offer this help by sharing the knowledge required to farm without destroying the environment so that farmers can produce without worrying about destroying the natural resources that they depend on for food and medicine.

Farmers in Equatorial Guinea have access to new methods to sustainably grow Tabernanthe iboga because of the information shared online by agrarian-minded agents. Tabernanthe iboga is an important plant in Equatorial Guinea, it is a part of their rich culture, and farmers can ensure that Tabernanthe iboga will always be there by growing it using sustainable farming methods.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Google