Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Guinea-Bissau

Once considered as a possible model for African development, Guinea-Bissau is now one of the poorest nations in the world. The nation has struggled to recover from instability created by a string of military coups in the 1980s. Now, the population is crippled with human trafficking, poverty and low literacy rates. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Guinea-Bissau.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Guinea-Bissau

  1. Guinea-Bissau’s population is among the poorest in the world. In 2017, the nation’s GDP per capita was $1,700, ranking it 178 out of 214 nations. The main source of income is substance farming of products like cashews, coconuts and Brazil nuts. Those three crops account for 92 percent of the country’s exports. Furthermore, 67 percent of the population lives below the global poverty rate, 20.7 percent do not have access to improved water sources and more than three-quarters of the population lives in areas without improved sanitation.
  2. Healthcare is exceptionally rare in Guinea-Bissau. Diseases such as HIV, cholera, malaria, typhoid fever and yellow fever are rampant. Almost all medical facilities are located in the capital. There is only one hospital bed per 1,000 inhabitants. These facilities are highly inadequate and poorly funded as medicine only accounts for 5.6 percent of the GDP.
  3. Bissau-Guineans have an average life expectancy of 61.4 years. The nation’s life expectancy ranks among the lowest in the world. High infant and maternal mortality rates contribute to low life expectancy. There is little medical help for giving birth, making it very dangerous. In fact, one in every 19 mothers dies in childbirth. The infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world at 54.8 per 1,000 births.
  4. Caritas Internationalis has a strong presence in Guinea-Bissau. The organization was established in 1982 and operates 41 parishes and missions across Guinea-Bissau. Caritas assists in healthcare accessibility, job training, food security and emergency support. Its most impressive feat was the establishment of 24 different nutritional rehabilitation centers, which monitor vulnerable children and provide support for struggling parents.
  5. As a whole, education is seriously underfunded, accounting for roughly 2.1 percent of the nation’s GDP. Only 60 percent of the nation is literate. However, fewer than half of Guinean-Bissau women are literate. There are two universities throughout the country and several vocational schools. While education is supposed to be compulsory, only 65 percent complete the basic level of primary education. Instead of going to school, many children work to help provide an income. In 2017, 169,200 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were working.
  6. Children suffer from malnutrition. Anywhere from 11 percent to as high as 51 percent of Bissau-Guineans are food insecure, causing malnutrition. Roughly 15,000 children do not have enough to eat. Malnutrition has serious effects on a growing body. A lack of calories leads to underdevelopment, stunted growth and weakens the immune system.
  7. Of all the top 10 facts about living conditions in Guinea-Bissau, human trafficking presents the most danger for the developing country. For boys and girls alike, human trafficking is an unfortunate reality. Many boys who attend Quranic schools end up being forced into begging or labor by corrupt leaders of these Quranic schools. Traffickers have little trouble moving these boys through Guinea-Bissau’s weak borders. Bissau-Guinea girls suffer from sex trafficking and forced street vending. Many girls are recruited believing they will be models, but they are forced into prostitution instead. The government is on the Tier 2 watchlist, meaning it does not meet the standards for human trafficking, but it is making changes. In 2015, the government identified a single trafficking victim for the first time in 10 years.
  8. In March, Guinea-Bissau held a peaceful and successful voting day for the national assembly. U.N. officials hope that this vote will finally put an end the political turmoil that has plagued the nation since 2015 when then-President José Mário Vaz dissolved the government. This election was one of the final steps taken by the U.N. Integrated Peacekeeping Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). This office aimed to reform Guinea-Bissau’s political structure as well as reinforce and rebuild political authority.
  9. Voz di Paz and the U.N. Peacekeeping fund are working together to empower women in Guinea-Bissau. Child marriage is a problem with 24 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 being married before they were 18. Furthermore, 45 percent of women ages 15 to 49 have undergone genital mutilation. The organization Voz di Paz is looking to kickstart culture change. In 2017, Voz di Paz consulted with women across Guinea-Bissau and identified four obstacles that hinder women. These obstacles are social pressure to conform to norms, the distortion of differences between men and women in politics, weak female solidarity and a lack of women within the Defense and Secretary forces. Voz di Paz presented this information at a conference with 50 participants from different communities. The result of the conference was a film produced in January 2018.
  10. The NenitaSá Engineering Foundation seeks to boost education and technology skills. One of their main projects is the STEM after-school club. Through this club, NenitaSá hopes to elevate Bissau-Guinean children’s skills in the engineering field, allowing them greater opportunities to find jobs throughout the world. On a large scale, NenitaSá hopes to increase education levels across Guinea-Bissau, especially for women.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Guinea-Bissau reveal that its citizens are struggling. However, international organizations are taking notice and are striving to institute positive change in this small, West African country.

Andrew Edwards
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Foreign Aid to Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau is a small country in Western Africa that is facing very big problems. Like many former colonies, Guinea-Bissau has long grappled with political and social instability. As a result, the country is very poor, with over two-thirds of the country living below the poverty line. Due to this reason, its citizens are very dependant on U.S. foreign aid.

Many observers admit that Guinea-Bissau’s history of political instability is the prevalent cause of the nation’s poverty. Accordingly, this instability has played a crucial role in the prevalence of a depressed economy and a large amount of drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, both of which add to the current destabilization of the small African nation.

Having in mind that the instability in Guinea-Bissau is a consequence of drug trafficking and poverty, U.S. foreign aid to Guinea Bissau has focused recently on tackling the drug trade and implementing governance reform. According to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. top priorities in Guinea-Bissau are the promotion of security sector reform, combat drug trafficking, prevention of infectious disease, and implementation of multi-sector reforms. It is understandable that successful implementation of these measures will improve stability in Guinea-Bissau, resulting in increased investment, sustainable development and reduced poverty.

How will U.S. foreign aid to Guinea-Bissau benefit the United States?

As a very poor and unstable nation, the benefits of foreign aid to Guinea-Bissau adhere closely to the conventional wisdom on the subject of foreign aid. To clarify, at the heart of the argument for giving aid to foreign countries is the development of countries that are helped, and increase in their self-sufficiency, which is beneficial for everyone. Foreign aid can help countries and regions become more stable by improving the quality of life while also helping to tackle destabilizing factors. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, this means helping to end the endemic problem of drug trafficking as well as protecting against the outbreak of Ebola and other diseases which could spread to the U.S.

For these reasons, it is no surprise that U.S. funding of counternarcotics and activity in Western Africa has increased in recent years. This includes the capture of various high-level figures in Guinea Bissau. The logic behind this is that by giving foreign aid (including aid to stem drug trafficking), the development of a sustainable economy can be achieved, while citizens of Guinea will become self-sufficient and able to earn a living legally.

Once this environment becomes a reality, Guinea-Bissau could then act as a player who will reduce instability in the region, leading the way to more American investment and the opening of a new large market for American goods. It is also the hope of the U.S. that such aid will create a strong mutually beneficial economic relationship between the two countries.

War on terrorism

One final way in which U.S. foreign aid to Guinea-Bissau benefits America is through terrorism reduction. In recent years U.S. anti-narcotics assistance to Guinea-Bissau and to the region of West Africa has sought to collect intelligence on terrorist activity and illicit trafficking in the region, two issues that are often interrelated. Therefore, by assisting Guinea-Bissau and other West African nations in tackling drug trafficking, the U.S. is also cracking down on the funding of terrorist groups in West Africa. The result is not only the creation of a safer West Africa but a safer and more stable global environment where the risk of terrorist groups targeting the United States is minimalized.

Although U.S. foreign aid to Guinea-Bissau is still ramping up, there are signs already that these actions will have a tangible impact on this small country, West Africa and the United States. There are already signs of progress, and there is hope that continued aid to impoverished West African countries will help to stabilize the region and the world.

Taylor Pace
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau, a former colony disputed by Portugal, France and Great Britain, is located on the west coast of Africa. The country is bordered by Senegal and The Gambia and is a mostly low-lying country. Its economy relies largely on agriculture, yet much of the land remains uncultivated due to unsustainable practices and unstable political conditions. Because of this, sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau is more vital than ever.

Background and Past Issues

The economy of Guinea-Bissau is mostly agricultural but also includes forestry and fishing. Guinea-Bissau produces its own food, and farming is largely based on local subsistence. Some of the most common crops grown in the country are rice, vegetables, beans, cassava, peanuts, potatoes and palm oil. They also raise livestock and catch fish and shrimp, which are used locally as well as exported.

Due to the vast subsistence farming and importing, crop failure and rising prices can be devastating to the population. Guinea-Bissau was hit hard by the global food crisis in 2008 when they could not afford international prices and lacked the resources to keep up with food production. The country has also been affected by the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, which causes soil fertility to decline. Lastly, a lack of resources has allowed much of the fertile land in Guinea-Bissau to go uncultivated.

Finding Solutions

Sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau has become vital to solving these problems. In a direct response to the crisis in 2008, the revitalization of agriculture and specifically rice production became priorities. Several regions within the country have suitable land for rice production, yet these lands were uncultivated and caused citizens within these regions to fall into poverty, as they are isolated from other areas of food production.

With new sustainable practices, rice production has now doubled in these areas. The European Union has also created a financing program to rehabilitate 300 kilometers of road in the area, allowing for a more efficient transport of goods. More sustainable practices and projects like these are also vital to combating climate change, a problem the country has been facing the effects of for years.

Future Projects

Guinea-Bissau has also turned to cashew nuts to enhance production. In 2013, cashew nuts accounted for 87.7 percent of the country’s total exports. The industry has been increasing since the late 1990s, and now 85 percent of people living in rural areas depend on these orchards in some way for their livelihoods. This has allowed for great economic improvement, yet the lack of biodiversity involved with this monocultural practice leaves citizens extremely vulnerable. If crops failed or were struck by disease, hundreds of thousands of citizens would be negatively affected.

The most important feature of sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau is now education. Non-governmental organizations like Agrisud International are working with people within the country to promote and teach more sustainable practices. They have also been working with the country’s government to make these practices public policy. With the continued support of international organizations and the government, Guinea-Bissau’s agricultural practices will only continue to improve.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau
Since the early 1980s, one of Guinea-Bissau‘s main goals has been to develop and improve its fundamental facilities and services. Some of the needs for successful infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau include improvements to:

  • Transportation
  • Electricity Access
  • Telecommunications



With 2,734 miles of roads in Guinea-Bissau, only 10 percent are paved. This has attracted foreign aid in the form of sealing the main road to the northern border and constructing a major bridge at Joao Landin.

Guinea-Bissau has many rivers that can be accessed for coastal shipping, but the water transport needs major improvement. Bissau is the main port, and there have been plans for a European Union-sponsored deep-water port that will specialize in minerals and link to Guinea by rail.

Since the elimination of the privatized national airline, Guinea-Bissau has had to rely on foreign-owned carriers. The Guina-Bissau civil war that lasted from June 7, 1998, to May 10, 1999, severely disrupted flights and the main airport reopened in July 1999. In 2000, the country had about 29 airports but only three with paved runways.



Guinea-Bissau has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa. This rate indicates the number of people with electricity access as a percentage of the total population. Electricity is not accessible to a large part of the population, mostly due to corruption and inefficiency. The country is completely dependent on petroleum products, despite its own high energy potential, especially in hydroelectric power.



The government of Guinea-Bissau announced its intention to liberalize the telecom industry, extend telecommunications to the whole country and introduce a cellular network. The internet access for the network would be provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In 1997, there were 8,000 telephones in the country, and in 2000, there was one internet service provider with about 1,500 internet users. As of July 2016, less than 1 per 100 people in Guinea-Bissau had a fixed phone line, but more than 70 percent of people had a mobile cell phone. The country now has five internet service providers and about 66,000 internet users.


Rehabilitation Projects

The World Bank conducted various projects to improve the infrastructure of Guinea-Bissau. The goal of its Social and Infrastructure Relief Project (SIRP) was to improve job opportunities and financial status for low-income workers through the support of activities with high social and economic benefits. The bank committed $15 million to the project.

Results for the SIRP in Guinea Bissau were satisfactory. There continues to be a need for assistance in the development of more detailed procedures and in fully implementing the introduction of the accounting system.

The purpose of the bank’s Multi-Sector Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (MIRP) was to improve the access to power, water and road infrastructure services. The World Bank committed $5 million to the project, but the results were not as successful as the SIRP.

Initially, the program leadership expected the private sector to participate and contribute to the energy and water sectors. However, the willingness of the private sector to get involved in a volatile political environment was overestimated and unrealistic. Additionally, there was an imbalance of supervision between project groups. 

With continued efforts to improve the infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau, the country is headed for advancement and progress.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Guinea-Bissau
Hunger in Guinea-Bissau is a fact of life. Slightly less than triple the size of Connecticut, Guinea-Bissau is a small West African nation of a mere 1.7 million people. Unfortunately, Guinea-Bissau is also among the world’s poorest countries, with exports in 2016 totaling a mere $163 million. Of this figure, approximately 80 percent of exports come from cash crops, specifically cashews. As a result of the economy relying on cash crops, therefore, over two-thirds of Bissau-Guineans live below the poverty line.

With much of the nation’s food being exported, rather than consumed, hunger in Guinea-Bissau is a pressing issue. One in 10 people in Guinea-Bissau is food insecure, with the figure being as high as half of people in rural areas. According to the World Food Programme, hunger in Guinea-Bissau is plagued by three key factors: political instability, irregular rainfall and fluctuating rice and cashew prices on the global market.


Politica and Hunger in Guinea-Bissau


Guinea-Bissau’s political struggles stem from the current president’s dismissal of prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, a politician popular among the people for his work with Western leaders donating to Guinea-Bissau. The national parliament has not met in over a year, and the instability has caused severe issues with access to electricity and water. By prolonging water shortages as a result of political deadlock, Guinea-Bissau struggles to properly irrigate its crops and feed struggling communities. Resolving the deadlock is critical to solving other more pressing matters.

Of course, the issue of water shortages is not helped by irregular rainfall patterns that have likely emerged as a result of climate change. As the nation’s prime exports are agriculturally-based, it is clear that reliable weather patterns are vital to sustaining not only the economy, but the very survivability of the people, as hunger in Guinea-Bissau will only worsen if crops continue to fail. An acute lack of rainfall will also lead to the spread of desertification.

With little industry in the country, even by African standards, Guinea-Bissau is among the most vulnerable countries to the negative effects of climate change, especially given the country’s reliance on agricultural goods to support both the economy and themselves. Sustainable and responsible water usage practices must be undertaken when water is once again made available after the resolution of the political stalemate.

Finally, there is the issue of fluctuating prices. Despite the suspension of donor flows into the country following the dismissal of Pereira, Guinea-Bissau’s economy actually grew at approximately 5 percent in the past two years. With two-thirds of the nation reliant on cashew exportation, however, price shocks to the international cashew market are capable of crippling entire communities and worsening issues of hunger in Guinea-Bissau. In order to combat this extreme vulnerability, the country must diversify its economy far beyond cashew production and exportation, and eventually beyond agriculture as well.

The situation is desperate, but not hopeless. In order to reduce and eventually eradicate hunger in Guinea-Bissau, the first issue to address must be that of the controversial political deadlock in the capital. In doing so, more urgent issues can be addressed by political leaders. The implementation of sustainable water practices and diversification of the entire national economy will alleviate the suffering of communities across the small West African nation and prevent them from happening in the future.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Guinea-Bissau
While the nation does possess legitimate political rights, including free and fair elections, lack of human rights in Guinea-Bissau continues to make victims out of its citizens. As of 2016, these included abuses such as corruption of government officials as well as violence and discrimination of women and children.

The list continues on, according to the U.S. Department of State. Other abuses included unfair and abusive treatment of detainees, lack of due process and human trafficking. No effective action was taken against the perpetrators of human rights in these situations.

In particular, prisoner detention stands out as one of the most grotesque human rights abuses. The conditions of detention facilities are life-threatening, according to the state departments.

“Cells lack running water, adequate heating, ventilation, lighting and sanitation. Detainees’ diets were poor and medical care was virtually non-existent,” stated the human rights report in 2016. The means by which detainees arrive in these deplorable conditions often violates another human right, lack of due process, as authorities often “arbitrarily” arrest and detain people.

Police are, for the most part, ineffective and corrupt, which might result be a result of their lack of regular payment by the state. Lack of funding results in insufficient of training as well as scarce resources for police to carry out their duties properly. Unfortunately, almost all levels of law enforcement are susceptible to coercion, threats and bribes, including the attorney general’s office.

Consequently, unlawful arrests continue to be made, violating human rights in Guinea-Bissau. These include arrests without warrants and the holding of detainees for longer than the permitted period of time. Additionally, military detainees were often not informed of charges against them.

To add to the human rights abuses conducted throughout the justice system, the independent courts, including judges, were “poorly trained, inadequately and irregularly paid and subject to corruption.”

It appears that those accused of suspected of crime in the state have very little security, as human rights in Guinea-Bissau are not enforced. Furthermore, there continues to be no administrative means of addressing human rights violations.

Little progress had been made in improving these conditions, and the justice system remains extremely weak to this day. One of the only few actions of accountability undertaken by the state was in July 2015 in the Oio region, where three officers were sentenced to imprisonment for human rights abuses.

Investigations continue to be made by human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International. The citizens of Guinea-Bissau are desperately in need of intervention from the international community.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau is a small country located south of Senegal. Guinea-Bissau has had tough economic times ever since its independence in 1973. As of 2010, the rate of poverty was 70 percent. Causes of poverty in Guinea-Bissau include political and economic instability.

Political instability is the root of most evils in Guinea-Bissau. There is unrest because there is lack of successful governance. No prime minister has lasted more than a few consecutive months, which shows the uncommitted approach that that has led to a country unable to develop out of dreary conditions. Guinea-Bissau has experienced two coups and a civil war, both of which have affected the political atmosphere in extreme ways. The political atmosphere, in turn, affects the economy. Citizens are not given adequate services or wages, and there is very little regulation of the economy and agricultural practices. In this way, the main causes of poverty in Guinea-Bissau stem from political instability. When a country does not have a functioning government, its economy cannot function either.

Most of the country’s agricultural sector is focused on the production and exportation of cashew nuts. The cashew nut industry provides 85 percent of all jobs, so when this production slows so do a number of jobs available. The number of exports has declined because of competing countries that export the same commodity and the overall underdevelopment of the industry. Production could triple with the implementation of new infrastructure and technology and still be behind international competitors.

The lack of exportation in the cashew nut industry causes economic difficulties on many scales. On a small scale, families are not given as many work opportunities, making it difficult to generate enough funds to live. On a larger scale, funds from the exportation of commodities, such as cashew nuts, are lacking. Unable to generate sustainable revenue, Guinea-Bissau’s economy is underdeveloped.

The main causes of poverty in Guinea-Bissau are most closely associated with political unrest and an insufficient economy. Guinea-Bissau is unable to be economically successful, relying mainly on foreign aid. Agricultural practices can be improved with the implementation of modern infrastructure that speeds up the process and develops the industry. It is important for the U.N. and international financial institutions to coordinate in the absence of a functioning government in order for Guinea-Bissau to further develop.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

Guinea-Bissau is positioned on the west coast of Africa, south of Senegal. In recent years, the total number of asylum applicants from Guinea-Bissau has increased significantly. Among the 1,467 people fleeing persecution, 99 percent of applicants are being rejected from European asylum. To understand why these people are fleeing and why no one will take them in, here are 10 facts about Guinea-Bissau refugees.

  1. The country of Guinea-Bissau has been plagued with corruption and drug trafficking for decades. It is involved with the South American cartels, specifically those involving cocaine. Guinea-Bissau is vulnerable to trafficking. A number of the drugs coming into Guinea-Bissau are becoming more difficult to track because drugs are often brought in by sea and not by plane. The police do not have the capabilities to intercept boats.
  2. The total influx of refugees worldwide has made it difficult for wealthy European countries to take in any more people. There are simply not enough resources for every application for asylum to be granted. Applications are not being put through because the capacity has been reached in prominent European nations.
  3. The anti-immigrant sentiment that some European countries possess is directed mainly at those from Africa and Asia. Many applications are being rejected because of this prejudice, making it more difficult for African refugees to be accepted into their new country. Studies show that applicants with foreign-sounding names are less likely to get a job.
  4. Studies show that in recent years the number of recognized refugees from Guinea-Bissau has decreased dramatically. In contrast, the number of rejected refugees has increased substantially since 2010.
  5. There is little political stability in the country. Guinea-Bissau has a record of military coups (the most recent in 2012), making it difficult for one leader to meet a full term. There were four changes in the position of prime minister in just over a year.
  6. The probability of dying between ages 15 and 60 is 31 percent for males and 24 percent for females.
  7. Life expectancy for both men and women is well below the African average: 57 for males, 60 for females.
  8. Just over 20 percent of the population falls below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption.
  9. Improper sanitation and waste treatment are serious public health challenges. A large amount of the population is malnourished. Malaria is widespread and entails high mortality rates. A large number of health concerns stem from cholera, schistosomiasis, filariasis and leprosy.
  10. Guinea-Bissau is now one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 178 out of 188 in the U.N.’s human development index. This is a measure of average achievement in valuable dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.

These 10 facts about Guinea-Bissau refugees show that there are many considerable issues surrounding the people of Guinea-Bissau, making their case for asylum compelling. However, many European countries are unable to integrate them into their culture. This refusal by affluent European countries leaves thousands of refugees with nowhere to go and their applications for asylum rejected. The lives of these refugees are valuable, yet they have not been treated as such. Many are stuck in their home country without adequate living conditions.

However, improvements have been made. Regarding health and sanitation, The World Health Organization has seen a drop in malnutrition since 2010 and a significant decrease in infant mortality in the last decade. Changes are being made, and, slowly but surely, the lives of people in Guinea-Bissau are improving. As long as affluent countries such as the United States keep giving, Guinea-Bissau will see less emigration and a higher ranking in the U.N.’s human development index.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

6 Things to Know About Hunger in Guinea-Bissau
Located on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau lies between Senegal and Guinea. Since establishing independence from Portugal in 1974, the fledgling nation has struggled to maintain a stable government, most recently experiencing a military coup in 2012. Constant infighting among the country’s leading political factions and the Civil War of 1998, have exacerbated issues of hunger in Guinea-Bissau.

  1. Since Guinea-Bissau gained its independence more than 40 years ago, no elected leader has served a full term. Military coups and constant political upheaval have plagued the fragile democracy. Without a steady government, promises to eradicate poverty and hunger, like the one made by current President José Mário Vaz in a speech following his election win in 2014, have gone unfulfilled.
  2. Sixty-nine percent of Bissau-Guineans live below the poverty line used by the World Bank and over a quarter of the population suffers from chronic malnutrition. According to UNICEF, chronic malnutrition is a form of growth impediment that occurs over a long period of time, showing how persistent food insecurity and hunger in Guinea-Bissau has led to harmful long-term effects for its residents.
  3. In addition to subsistence farming in Guinea-Bissau, agriculture is the main source of income for approximately 85 percent of the population, with cashew nuts as the primary crop. Since many Bissau-Guineans depend on farming for income, irregular rainfall and volatility in the cashew market lead to periods of severe food insecurity.
  4. According to the World Food Programme, 11 percent of homes in Guinea-Bissau are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to proper nutrition. Issues of food insecurity in Guinea-Bissau are worsened by political instability, which disrupts governmental nutrition programs.
  5. In coordination with the government of Guinea-Bissau, the U.N. implemented a strategic five-year plan in 2015, aimed at promoting government and community collaboration in programs that improve nutrition and food security. The U.N. program is part of the Zero Hunger Challenge and the World Food Programme’s Regional Roadmap for West Africa.
  6. To support local agriculture production, the World Food Programme subsidizes the production of fresh vegetables like spinach and okra, and purchases locally produced rice for school meals. This support makes farmers less vulnerable to volatile price changes.

In 2014, Guinea-Bissau held its first elections since the military coup in 2012, and former finance minister José Mário Vaz won easily. As long as he is leading the country, foreign aid will be vital in keeping President Vaz committed to his people and solving hunger in Guinea-Bissau.

Yosef Gross

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Guinea-Bissau
Known as the Slave Coast when it was part of the Portuguese Empire, Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 178th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index, which encompasses life expectancy, education and income. While the rate of infectious diseases has decreased recently, current life expectancy in Guinea-Bissau is still only about 55 years for men and about 56 years for women. Here are the top diseases in Guinea-Bissau.


According to UNICEF, almost four percent of the adult population of Guinea-Bissau lives with HIV. Because of its prevalence, HIV/AIDS accounts for over 12 percent of deaths in the country, making it the second leading cause of death and one of the top diseases in Guinea-Bissau. By partnering with research institutions such as the Aarhus University in Denmark, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced antiretroviral therapy to treat patients with HIV. This treatment has saved thousands of lives and advanced the quality of clinical treatment across the country. At the same time, health officials are spreading awareness about methods of prevention, hoping to lower the prevalence of the disease among the population.

Influenza and Pneumonia

The leading cause of death in Guinea-Bissau, influenza and pneumonia account for more than 13 percent of total fatalities. Although Guinea-Bissau suffers greatly from the diseases, improved health infrastructure and wider distribution of vaccines could significantly reduce their negative effects. By partnering with international organizations like the WHO, Guinea-Bissau can make important strides in eliminating these diseases.


Transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria is another major killer in Guinea-Bissau. According to the WHO, malaria accounted for almost nine percent of total deaths in the country. Unfortunately, it is extremely prevalent among children under the age of five, although only about half of the infected children are treated with anti-malarial drugs. In addition to using preventative measures, such as sleeping under a mosquito net, improving health facilities will allow for better treatment of one of the top diseases in Guinea-Bissau.

These combined efforts will continue to aid in making the much needed improvements to health in Guinea-Bissau.

Yosef Gross

Photo: Flickr