USAID programs in GuineaAccording to the World Bank, 35% of people in Guinea lived below the international poverty line in 2012, meaning they subsisted on less than $1.90 a day. Around 55% of Guineans lived below the country’s national poverty line in the same year. The U.S. began providing aid to Guinea through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shortly after the agency’s creation in the early 1960s. The relationship between USAID and the Guinean government has remained strong and a number of aid programs continue today. USAID programs in Guinea provide a diverse set of services in various economic and social sectors.

Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services Project

Agriculture is the backbone of the Guinean economy. According to the World Bank, the agricultural sector employs 52% of workers in Guinea and farming is the main income of 57% of rural households. Hence, improving agricultural output and profits is key to reducing poverty and hunger in Guinea, particularly for the rural population.

USAID started the Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services project in 2016 and still runs it in 2021. Feed the Future is a U.S. government program dedicated to eliminating global hunger and food insecurity, with efforts in a number of countries around the globe. Guinea’s Feed the Future program partners with local farmers and organizations, such as the Federation of Fruit Planters of Lower Guinea, which has more than 1,000 members.

USAID also brings in students from the Apprenticeship in Extension, Entrepreneurship and Rural Innovation (AVENIR) program, an initiative created to provide 640 unemployed Guinean college graduates with skills to start up their own agricultural businesses. These AVENIR agents then pass on their knowledge on sustainable farming and good entrepreneurship to Guinean farmers.

The results of the Feed the Future program are impressive, increasing certain crop yields by five, 10 or even 500 tons a year. AVENIR agents bring in technology such as irrigation pumps and solar dryers to increase productivity and decrease harvest waste. Farmers trained by USAID’s AVENIR agents have negotiated for better prices, boosting their profits, and in turn, helping them to rise out of poverty.

Malaria Control and Other Health Programs

Many USAID programs in Guinea work in the health sector, especially in disease control. Malaria, in particular, poses a massive threat to public health, accounting for 14% of deaths among Guinean children younger than 5. Alongside the National Malaria Control Program, USAID works to strengthen the healthcare system and identify new methods of treating malaria. USAID also invests in malaria prevention methods such as insecticide-infused mosquito nets.

Data from the World Bank shows that the malaria-fighting efforts of USAID and others have made a difference in Guinea. The number of average cases of malaria per 1,000 people has decreased from nearly 430 in 2012 to around 280 in 2018. This essentially means that, on average, people in Guinea became 15% less likely to contract malaria.

USAID programs in Guinea also help the country fight the spread of other dangerous outbreaks such as Ebola and COVID-19. The Global Health Supply Chain — Procurement and Supply Management program (GHSC-PSM) helps manufacture and distribute valuable health supplies such as disease test kits, antimalarial drugs and more.

Health services are crucial for all people in Guinea, but especially those living in poverty, who would not have access to reliable, affordable healthcare without the intervention of USAID and other aid programs. By preventing the spread of diseases such as malaria, Ebola and COVID-19, USAID programs improve the quality of life of Guineans living below the poverty line.

The Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project

USAID programs in Guinea also focus on peace and community sustainability. For example, USAID’s Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project (C2P2) works to prevent conflict between competing communities in Guinea, whether the fighting results from religious, ethnic or other differences.

Social science research shows a strong link between poverty and conflict. High poverty rates increase the likelihood of conflict occurring, and when violence breaks out, the people with the least resources often suffer the most. Ending and preventing conflict between various community groups allows people to focus on generating income rather than simply surviving.

The Impact of USAID

Overall, USAID programs in Guinea have a significant impact on those living in poverty, whether the programs focus on agriculture, health services or peace. Continuing to prioritize, fund and expand aid programs is key to improving overall living conditions and reducing poverty levels in Guinea.

Julia Welp
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Guinea
Guinea is a country located on Africa’s west coast. While it is small, Guinea has some of the largest deposits of iron in the world and has a valuable amount of agricultural and natural resources. However, the country continues to have high poverty rates, with 43.7% of Guineans living below the poverty line in 2018. This situation is primarily due to political unrest and a lack of investment in the country’s infrastructure. Child poverty in Guinea also became exacerbated by poor healthcare and a lack of protection against labor and trafficking.

Health in Guinea

Health in Guinea has been a constant issue that contributes to poverty. The average life expectancy for men is 53 and the average life expectancy for women is 56. Moreover, the infant and maternal mortality rates are high because there is a lack of medical resources in Guinea. Numerous children die from curable and preventable diseases, such as yellow fever, polio, measles and malaria.

Furthermore, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 shed light on other healthcare issues in Guinea. Guinea was one of the Ebola epicenters and, unfortunately, there were not enough doctors, nurses, beds or equipment to aid those in need. With every available resource needed to fight the outbreak, treatments for preventable medical conditions were often not available. Additionally, child malnutrition rose because of the Ebola epidemic, as food prices went up and many families could not afford to eat. Roughly 320,000 children under the age of 5 need medical treatment for malnutrition.

Child Labor and Trafficking

It is estimated that there are about 5.6 million children under the age of 18 in Guinea. Roughly 670,000 of them are growing up without their parents. Many of these children have lost their parents because of AIDS. The significant number of orphans has forced children to work, which is a violation of human rights. There is a lack of oversight for mining activities, so children often end up working in the dangerous conditions of the mines. The harmful substances in mines are dangerous and unsuitable for adults, let alone children. Additionally, children who work in the mines generally drop out of school because they are not able to work and receive an education at the same time.

Child poverty in Guinea has also resulted in child trafficking and sex trafficking. However, there is a concerning lack of data on this topic. Child trafficking remains a big concern in Guinea. In court cases, many of the alleged perpetrators go unpunished. Furthermore, the victims of trafficking are not given the support they need to reintegrate into society.

SOS Children’s Villages

To improve the lives of children in Guinea, it is imperative that support, healthcare and education are provided at an early age. SOS Children’s Villages is an organization that supports children who do not have parental care. With the help of donors, governments, communities and other organizations, it assists impoverished communities and disadvantaged children. SOS Children’s Village’s strategy is solely geared toward sustainable development goals in areas such as child protection, poverty, education, health, inequality and proper work hours. The organization works with locals to aid families that are vulnerable to poverty, so young children can grow up with their families

Candice Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in GuineaFemale genital mutilation is one of many forms of violence that women face all over the world. In Guinea, according to UNICEF, 97% of women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation (FGM) in Guinea is a significant issue in the fight for global gender justice.

Background of Female Genital Mutilation

The practice of FGM is deeply rooted in tradition and culture. According to the FGM National Clinic Group, FGM is commonly viewed as a traditional initiation ceremony that marks a girl’s transition into womanhood. Some communities see FGM as an act that increases a girl’s marriageability. Others perform FGM because of the belief that it will ensure girls’ virginity and suppress the sexual desire of women so as to prevent adultery. FGM is a dangerous practice that perpetuates violence against women and holds no health benefits. While the practice of FGM is widespread today, the origins of the practice remain unclear.

Additionally, the practice of FGM is inextricably linked with poverty. UNICEF states that 56% of mutilated Guinean girls aged 0-14 fall in the most impoverished economic quintile. This fact expresses a clear intersectional overlap between gender and class. In particular, lower-income women in Guinea are disproportionately impacted by FGM. The overlap of gender and class reveals a link between women’s rights issues in the fight for global poverty relief.

Abolishing Female Genital Mutilation

Despite the fact that female genital mutilation is banned nationally and internationally, the practice continues in Guinea. The U.N. reported that although the majority of women and girls in other countries are against FGM, in 2012, 76% of women and girls in Guinea were in support of the practice. Guinean women tend to be in favor of the excision due to social pressures and fears of being unable to marry due to being uncut. Global support against the practice has helped to alleviate the suffering of women in Guinea. By amplifying a strong global movement against female genital mutilation, more women will realize the serious health consequences of FGM, and thus, more women will support its ultimate abolition.

In a 2020 publication by Reprod Health, “positive deviance” is seen as an important strategy for women and girls in Guinea. Positive deviance refers to girls challenging cultural norms by denying FGM practitioners access to their bodies without their consent. Reprod Health argues that this can ultimately lead to an updated and reformed public health action that fully rejects and abandons female genital mutilation in the country.

Taking Action Against FGM

The Coordinating Body on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (CPTAFE) in Guinea advocates for the eradication of FGM in Guinea. CPTAFE’s efforts contributed to an article in the Guinean Constitution “that upholds the right to physical integrity of the person and condemns all forms of inhumane treatment.” This prohibition must be interpreted as banning the practice of FGM. The CPTAFE created four FGM films to raise awareness about the harms of the practice. The organization also educates the public through informative resources, media broadcasts and educational training. The CPTAFE is working with the Guinean government to strengthen legislative prohibitions against FGM.

The Road Ahead

Female genital mutilation is an outright human rights violation. However, there is strong opposition both nationally and globally with the “positive deviance” movement and NGO action and involvement. While progress needs to continue to completely eradicate female genital mutilation in Guinea, these efforts are powerful in the fight to empower women and uphold women’s rights.

Sebastian Fell
Photo: Flickr

2021 Ebola Outbreak In February 2021, the West African country, Guinea, announced that it was facing an outbreak of the Ebola virus, the first the country has seen since the 2013-2016 outbreak. However, this time around, the 2021 Ebola outbreak may be different than that of five years ago.

What is the Ebola Virus?

The Ebola virus is a hemorrhagic fever that is often fatal with a mortality rate that is anywhere from 25% to 90%. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids. Ebola survives in nature by spreading between forest-dwelling bats and some other animals, though it sporadically transmits to humans when contact is made with a diseased carcass. Before the epidemic in 2013, most previous Ebola outbreaks occurred in rural communities with cases in the single or double digits.

Previous Ebola Outbreaks

The 2013-2016 epidemic was the largest Ebola outbreak by an unprecedented margin and was the first time the World Health Organization (WHO) considered the disease a major global public health threat. The epidemic, which also began in Guinea, took hold quickly and easily for many reasons. There had previously been no outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa. This caused people to assume the symptoms were that of Lassa fever, a more common disease in the region. The virus had been circulating for three months before the World Health Organization declared an outbreak in March of 2014.

The disease quickly spread within and around Guinea since the systems for contact tracing and containment were weak. By July 2014, it had reached the capital of Guinea, Conakry, and the neighboring capitals of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Funerary traditions and rituals increase transmission because they include touching and spending time with the dead body so traditional burial practices were forbidden.

By the time the WHO designated the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, it was borderline out of control. By the end of the epidemic, Ebola had erupted in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The disease also spread to other countries in Africa, Europe and the U.S. This resulted in nearly 30,000 cases with more than a third of fatalities.

The 2021 Outbreak of Ebola

In February 2021, one Ebola case was confirmed in the village of Goueke in the southeastern region of Guinea. As of March 3, 2021, the number has reached 17 reported cases, 13 of which are confirmed, along with seven deaths.

However, there is less cause for concern than there was five years ago. Though Guinea’s healthcare system needs improvement, past mistakes and experiences have prepared the region better than ever. The world is certainly better positioned to successfully manage the most recent Ebola outbreak.

Reasons for Optimism

  1. Speed: WHO personnel are already working with the Guinean healthcare system to squash the virus before it becomes a major outbreak. A week after the first case was reported, people began setting up testing sites, contact tracing and treatment facilities. Efforts were also made to improve community engagement to stop the spread.
  2. Prevention: President George Weah of Liberia and the WHO are taking preemptive measures to prepare Liberia and Sierra Leone for the possibility of the spread of the virus.
  3. Science: Since the last major outbreak, the WHO has approved two vaccines for use against the Ebola virus. In fact, unlike the last time, when there was no vaccine at all, 500,000 vaccines are ready to be delivered wherever there is an outbreak. The Guinean health ministry has already set up three vaccination sites in the region near the outbreak and had vaccinated more than 1,000 people at the end of February 2021. It is also using a system called ring vaccinations. This interrupts the spread by vaccinating people directly connected to an Ebola case.
  4. Precedent: There have been outbreaks of Ebola since 2016, and thanks to the above, none have gotten out of control. When the DRC had an outbreak in 2018-2020, nearly 50,000 people were already vaccinated, slowing the spread. Many other countries have approved the vaccines in preparation for a possible outbreak within their own borders.

Global panic arises whenever a deadly disease resurfaces in impoverished communities. However, sufficient preparedness, resources and lessons learned will likely ensure the 2021 outbreak of Ebola is short-lived.

Elyssa Nielsen
Photo: Flickr

Four Facts About Homelessness in GuineaThe Republic of Guinea is also known as Guinea-Conakry and most commonly, Guinea. Guinea is a country located on the northwest coast of Africa. Guinea’s 13.4 million population is quite diverse. It contains 24 ethnic groups and 25 languages. In addition, Guinea has incredible mineral wealth. Despite Guinea’s rich natural resources, Guinea’s residents suffer from myriad poverty-induced socioeconomic problems. Around 55% of Guineans live in poverty, with rates disproportionately high among rural dwellers, women and young people. This widespread poverty has predictably led to high rates of home insecurity and homelessness in Guinea. Here are fast facts on homelessness in Guinea.

4 Facts About Homelessness in Guinea

  1. The majority of Guinea’s population has insecure housing. In 2012, only 31.5% of Guineans had shelters with permanent walls. This means that 68.5% of the population is without adequate housing.
  2. Homelessness in Guinea varies greatly by demographic. Gender, ethnicity and occupation-based discrimination and inequality plague Guinea, leading to stark wealth disparities. Though subsistence agriculture is the backbone of Guinea’s economy, farmers typically suffer from abysmal living conditions. Around 71.1% of Guineans work as subsistence farmers while around 21.8% suffer from food insecurity. Female farmers are especially marginalized. Though women play a crucial role in agriculture, they are often denied land, education and employment. This often leads women to work for little to no pay. These disparities in wealth and resources are reflected in Guinea’s homeless population.
  3. Climate and global health disasters have exacerbated the problem. Guinea is prone to frequent natural disasters such as flooding and bush fires, especially in rural areas. For instance, catastrophes repeatedly destroy housing in Guinea’s poorest regions. In addition, Guinea was a primary target of the 2013-2016 West African Ebola virus epidemic. The 3,806 Ebola cases and 2,535 deaths devastated Guinea. This required its government to direct its resources toward eradicating the disease rather than homelessness and other social ills. Widespread infections of malaria and HIV/AIDS pose a similar, ongoing drain on Guinea’s wealth.
  4. Foreign aid is crucial to combating homelessness in Guinea. Numerous organizations are currently working to help Guineans achieve quality living conditions. Plan International has been operating in Guinea since 1989 to help alleviate the social problems that lead to homelessness, specifically by empowering Guinean children. Additionally, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Guinea is another vital group. It helps vulnerable Guineans, including those who are homeless, resettle in countries with better housing options. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also provides essential aid. It operates in Guinea since 1964 to provide food assistance and strengthen the Guinean government. In March 2015, it provided more than $7 million to the cause.

Homelessness in Guinea is not an isolated issue; it is a direct result of the nation’s high incidences of poverty, disease and discrimination. Fortunately, foreign aid has the potential to eliminate these issues. Past foreign aid investments have transformed the lives of Guineans. For example, China invested $526 million in a 240-megawatt dam that more than doubled the country’s electricity supply in 2015. Similar actions can help ensure that every Guinean has a roof over their head.

Abby Tarwater
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuineaGuinea, a nation on the west coast of Africa, has a population of 13.1 million people. With 55% of its population falling below the poverty line and 21.8% of households considered food insecure, hunger in Guinea is one of the nation’s most pressing issues. Hunger and malnutrition are particularly urgent problems for children, with 24.4% of Guinean children suffering from stunting. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse and has put many of Guinea’s most vulnerable citizens in danger.

Factors Limiting the Potential of Guinea’s Untapped Natural Resources

Guinea is rich in natural resources and has a climate capable of supporting a variety of crops. Its economy relies heavily on mining and agriculture, but poor infrastructure, lack of education and corruption have prevented Guinea from using its natural resources to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. The situation is further complicated by political instability in surrounding countries resulting in many refugees fleeing to Guinea, putting further stress on the food supply and economy.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, agriculture accounted for 19.8% of Guinea’s economy in 2017. Although this is a significant portion of the economy, there is room for considerable growth in the industry. Many farmers are limited by poor infrastructure that prevents them from having access to profitable markets and forces many to practice subsistence farming on small plots of land. This greatly reduces the potential productivity of farmers and leaves many households, particularly in rural areas, without sufficient food supplies and dangerously vulnerable. Guinea has an extreme wet season and is prone to flooding that can wipe out entire fields, leaving subsistence farmers with no food for their families.

In addition to flooding, Guinea is susceptible to a variety of natural disasters that threaten food security for many Guineans. In the dry season, bush fires can burn through fields, and disease outbreaks in the last decade, such as Ebola and COVID-19, prevent many people from obtaining the resources that they need.

Emergency Relief and School Feeding Programs

With hunger in Guinea remaining so high, school attendance and literacy rates are very low, as children must leave school to work. The World Food Programme reports that only 32% of Guinea’s adult population is able to read and write. This issue is even worse for women, who had an adult literacy rate of 22% in 2014 compared to 43.6% for men. Women also account for 60% of those who suffer from chronic hunger in Guinea.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working to address hunger in Guinea since 1964 in a variety of ways, including providing emergency food assistance during crises and school feedings. In the last decade, WFP’s emergency response has helped the Guineans who are most vulnerable during floods and Ebola outbreaks. Their school feeding program has reached 150,000 students, offering school meals that encourage attendance. The program also includes take-home rations for girls in their last year of primary school to incentivize the education of young girls.

Programs Developing Sustainable and Local Food Systems

The World Food Programme runs Smallholder Agriculture Market Support (SAMS) and Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programs that work to provide farmers with financial and technical support while also building sustainable food systems. These programs have been able to improve crop yields and connect farmers with stable and profitable markets, including the school feeding program.

The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) also operates in Guinea, in an attempt to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. WAAPP works to help farmers in Guinea increase their crop yields by adopting improved crop management practices and using more productive crop varieties. Post-harvest losses are a large issue for many Guinean farmers, but these losses have been reduced through WAAPP and the implementation of small-scale food production. WAAPP has been able to reach 120,000 Guineans and increased their beneficiaries’ income by 30%. This program indirectly impacts many more people, as more productive farms require more workers, which creates jobs and stimulates economic growth.

The result of these initiatives is the development of a sustainable food system focused on local markets that rely less on transportation infrastructure and remote markets. If successful, this focus on local markets may simultaneously address multiple challenges for both producers and consumers. Farmers generate more revenue and are more productive; households are incentivized to send children, including girls, to school, which increases the national literacy rate; and the number of hungry children falls. With continued development, systems like these will be able to feed more people and leave many farmers more resilient to disease outbreaks and flooding, ultimately reducing hunger in Guinea.

Despite these efforts, political instability and COVID-19 have created new challenges that keep many people in Guinea in poverty. Programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP have succeeded in helping those that they can reach, but they are still unable to help the majority of Guineans. Corruption and political unrest further exacerbate food insecurity and lead to underfunded domestic aid programs. If the underlying corruption and political instability can be addressed,  increased funding to build necessary infrastructure and sustainable food systems through programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP could reduce poverty and hunger in Guinea while fostering a sustainable and strong economy.

William Dormer

Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts about Poverty in GuineaGuinea is a small, impoverished West African country that has been featured in the news due to the 2015 Ebola outbreak. The virus strained the nation’s already struggling economy. Despite this, the disease did not affect the average life expectancy. Still, Guinea faces many issues that are harmful to life expectancy. Here are nine facts about life expectancy in Guinea that reflect these concerns.

9 Facts about Life Expectancy in Guinea

  1. The average life expectancy is only 59.8 years with 59.4 for men and 60.4 for women. Guinea ranks about average when compared with its West African neighbors. For instance, Sierra Leone is among the lowest at only 54 years in 2017, while Ghana is among the highest at 63 years. 
  2. Guinea’s life expectancy has increased steadily over time since 1960 with a slight dip in the early 2000s. Despite the fatal impact of Ebola on individuals and communities, the virus did not affect the course of growth for the average life expectancy in Guinea. 
  3. The country has extremely high infant and maternal mortality rates. In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was one of the worst in the world with 549 deaths per 100,000 live births. The infant mortality rate was 60.3 per 1,000 live births in 2016.
  4. About 55 percent of Guinea’s citizens live below the poverty line. This is thought to be due to the prolonged political instability since the nation’s founding in 1974. Furthermore, while 90 percent of the country’s exports come from mining, few such jobs are available; Guinea employs only 2.5 percent in this sector. 
  5. Approximately 24.4 percent of children face chronic malnourishment due to widespread poverty. During the 2018-19 school year, The World Food Programme provided hot school meals to 131,895 children in 896 schools in addition to take-home rations to 12,155 girls who are in their final year of school.
  6. About 14 million people in Guinea experience year-round transmissions of malaria and 25 percent of hospitalizations among children under 5 can be attributed to the disease. USAID support through the President’s Malaria Initiative aims to reduce the malaria mortality rate by 50 percent in Guinea as well as other sub-Saharan African countries. 
  7. Only half of the country’s population has access to public health care services. Access to health services (under 30 minutes) is 38.9 percent with a rate of use of 18.6 percent. This makes Guinea especially vulnerable to pandemics such as the recent Ebola virus. A major hurdle for the country will be expanding health coverage nationwide by strengthening the delivery of such services.
  8. In rural regions, 142 out of every thousand children die each year. This is because rural regions in particular lack clean water, access to health services and a proper sanitation system. Of those living below the poverty line, 80 percent live in rural areas. U.N. and NGO assistance makes up 26.9 percent of all expenditure on health
  9. USAID’s Health Finance and Governance project is working with Guinea’s Ministry of Health to improve transparency and accountability in the delivery of health services. Such methods include better responses to crises such as the 2015 Ebola outbreak. 

These nine facts about life expectancy in Guinea reflect that the nation still has much to improve on before life expectancy reaches the levels seen in western countries. To reduce high mortality rates from tropical diseases such as malaria, better access to health care is a must. Fortunately, some of the funding from the President’s Malaria Initiative is tackling some of these issues.

– Caleb Steven Carr
Photo: Flickr

The Link Between Agriculture and Poverty Reduction
The link between agriculture and poverty reduction has significant documentation. Developing countries that have risen from high levels of extreme poverty have seen improvements in agriculture and an increase in farmers’ wages that cooccur with drops in the poverty rate. According to an OECD report, one can attribute 52 percent of poverty reduction to growth in agriculture incomes. In addition, for a measure of 1 percent GNI growth, agriculture contributed the most to poverty reduction. The policy that seemed to work the most was significantly increasing the protection of agriculture exports by reducing high taxes on exports and reducing overly inflated exchange rates. The greatest advantage of improving agriculture is that the poorest of society benefits the most. The lower the literacy rates, the stronger the poverty-reducing effect.

Vietnam

Changes in Vietnam over the decades exemplify the link between agriculture and poverty reduction. It lifted its people out of extreme poverty by focusing on improvements in its agriculture sector. The poverty rate was northward of 60 percent in 1990 and fell to just 20.7 percent in 2010. Vietnam lifted an estimated 30 million people out of poverty in total. During that time, the government incentivized farmers to invest in their land. Instead of food shortages, the country was able to export its commodities at a surplus. Multilateral trade agreements formed, and the country moved from a closed economy to one open to trade. In the 1980s, Vietnam had food shortages, and today it is a major exporter of rice to world markets.

Indonesia

Some developing countries did not focus on developing their agriculture sectors. In addition to this, those countries experienced the opposite trend. In contrast to Vietnam, Indonesia slowed in poverty reduction last decade. Overall growth in this sector has been weak with researchers making little progress. The poverty rate declined by only half a percentage point in each 2012 and 2013, which was the smallest declines in the last decade. One of the reasons might be a recent trend where small farmers experience eviction from their land in favor of large companies. These companies then use the land for palm oil and rubber. However, are signs that suggest that the agriculture sector may be rebounding. In 2017, there was an increase in both agriculture employment and production. Currently, 32 percent of Indonesians work in the sector. Additionally, rice production went up to 75.4 million tons and up from around 70 million tons in 2014.

Guinea

Guinea is another country that focuses on other sectors for its economic growth. Mining makes up 80 percent of Guinea’s exports, and agriculture makes up the rest. Despite mining being a lucrative industry, it only employs 2.5 percent of the working population. Based on simulations using the 2014 population census, the poverty rate increased to 57.7 percent. Surprisingly, experts often cite Ebola as one of the causes, but low agriculture productivity is an equally large problem.

There is plenty of room for growth in this sector, both in terms of technology and land area farmed. In addition, farmers use very little agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and mechanization. In contrast, there are signs that agriculture is becoming more of a focus. The country has decided to invest in agriculture. In 2018, Guinea allocated 12.5 percent of its budget to agriculture, up from the current level of 7.3 percent. Additionally, IFAD and the Guinean government reached an aid agreement that will raise wages for 65,000 rural farm families and aims to increase family farm production.

For the poorest nations, choosing the sector to focus on reducing poverty is important. Evidence suggests that the link between agriculture and poverty reduction is strong. Developing countries that invest in the agriculture sector and promote policies that benefit farmers tend to fare better in this respect than countries that focus on other sectors.

Caleb Carr
Photo: Flickr

Maternal health in Guinea

Guinea, officially known as the Republic of Guinea, is a country in West Africa with a significant amount of natural resources, such as bauxite and iron ore as well as gold and diamond mines that could bring the country immense wealth. However, due to its reliance on agriculture and the Ebola outbreak of 2014, the country remains in poverty and has some of the lowest health rates in the world. The philanthropic focus on eradicating Ebola has shifted funds from maternal health to ending the Ebola crisis, endangering the lives of women and children. Improving maternal health in Guinea needs to become a priority.

Maternal Health in Guinea

Of the numerous social problems facing Guinea, maternal health is one of the most detrimental to the country. The neonatal mortality rate in Guinea is 25 deaths per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate is 679 women out of 100,000 live births. This compared to a global neonatal mortality rate of 18 deaths per 1,000 live births depicts a country struggling with maternal health development. Throughout the country, only 36.1 percent of children are vaccinated and approximately 31 babies die each day while 21 babies are stillborn.

One aspect of maternal health that could use improvement is prenatal care and scheduled doctor visits. In rural areas, fewer than 40 percent of women receive prenatal treatment while 71 percent of women in urban areas attend doctor visits before the birth of their child. These low percentages of prenatal care correspond to equally low rates of women who give birth in facilities with trained personnel. The main reason women do not want to give birth in facilities is the mixed-gender wings. Women feel uncomfortable giving birth where men are present.

Global Funding to Reduce Maternal Mortality

To combat these statistics, the government of Guinea and various non-profit organizations are implementing programs to help improve the health and mortality of infants and mothers. In 2018, the World Bank approved $55 million in funding for the two poorest regions of Guinea, Kindia and Kankan. This money will go to improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

The grant was distributed to two different associations. The International Development Association will receive $45 million to provide low to zero-interest rates for programs that improve economic growth and reduce poverty. The Global Financing Facility will receive $10 million to prioritize underinvested areas of maternal and infant health.

In 2015, the USAID began the Maternal and Child Survival Program in Guinea, which improves the quality and availability of maternal and infant services. The goal of this program is to empower district-level lawmakers to strengthen local centers through a bottom-up approach. Through this initiative, MCSP has established seven healthcare facilities with 42 healthcare providers and 125 healthcare educators.

Focusing on Maternal Health

In 2015, the IDA approved a grant to implement the Primary Health Services Improvement Plan as part of a five-year plan to improve maternal health, child health and nutrition in Guinea. The grant specifically targets health centers by increasing the number of health centers and the availability of equipment and supplies in these centers.

Due to many centers focusing on fighting Ebola, this plan improves the availability of medicines in health centers, restores drug funds within health facilities, supports training in financial drug fund management and covers any financial gap to produce medicines in subsequent years. Additionally, the grant provides three-year training and continuous mentoring for nurse assistants. Furthermore, it recruits unemployed nurse assistants to work at these health centers.

Improvements Made

Since these initiatives began, there has been a significant improvement in developing maternal health in Guinea. The number of births attended by trained health professionals between 2016 and 2018 improved from approximately 27,000 personnel to 44,000. There were also 8 percent more women who received prenatal care by attending at least four doctor visits before the birth of their babies.

Similarly, the Ebola Response Project, although meant to target people affected by the Ebola breakout, has positively affected maternal health development in Guinea by helping fund a new maternity center in Koba. This center helps women attain the privacy they desperately desire by providing two separate wings for men and women. At this center, specifically, a program was initiated to distribute clothes, mosquito nets and soap to expecting mothers to encourage visiting the center.

Maternal health development in Guinea has been steadily improving through programs and governmental plans; however, there is still much work to be done. Although infant and maternal mortality rates are dropping due to an increase in health centers and personnel, a continued increase in funding and a restructuring of fund management is necessary to continue to improve maternal health in Guinea.

Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guinea
Education is the key to a healthier, more economically developed society, especially when every child has a chance to benefit from it. Guinea, a small country in West Africa, is no exception. Although girls’ education in Guinea is often impeded by gender bias and traditional views of women’s roles in society, the country has made great strides to create a more equal education system. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Guinea.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guinea

  1. There is a steep drop in girls’ enrollment between primary and secondary school. While close to 77 percent of girls attend primary school, only 25 percent of girls of secondary school age are attending. This dramatic difference is largely due to teen girls dropping out to help at home or as a result of child marriage.
  2. Gender bias hinders girls’ education in Guinea. Families with multiple children, especially those in rural areas, tend to choose to educate boys instead of girls. Guinean girls face the issue of being taken out of school to help with younger siblings and assist with cooking or other housework. This significantly affects their ability to keep up with schoolwork, which furthers the likelihood of dropping out altogether.
  3. Child marriage is a major barrier to girls’ education. In 2017, Guinea adopted the African Union campaign to end child marriage. Since the campaign’s launch, while 51 percent of Guinean girls are married before the age of 18, only 21 percent are married before 15. This number shows a slow but marked progress in keeping teen girls in school.
  4. A lack of proper toilet facilities keeps many girls out of school. For girls of menstruating age, the ability to dispose of sanitary pads and wash their hands in a single-sex bathroom is essential. UNICEF estimates that 10 percent of female students in Africa will skip school during their periods due to improper facilities, resulting in missed lessons and raising the likelihood of abandoning school altogether.
  5. Gender-based violence also poses a problem to girls’ education in Guinea. Sexual harassment—even assault—is not an uncommon occurrence for female students. Additionally, some male teachers may demand sexual favors for a passing grade, even if the student has earned a high mark on her own. While there is a lack of statistical data in regards to these assaults as they are often unreported, they are a common enough occurrence for families to worry about their daughters’ safety at school.
  6. There is a major disparity in literacy rates between urban and rural areas. While 53 percent of women ages 15 to 24 in urban areas are literate, only 15 percent of those in rural areas can say the same. As families in isolated areas are more likely to keep girls home to help with chores, especially if school is farther away, getting an education is much more of a challenge for rural Guinean girls.
  7. Girls’ enrollment in secondary school is still low, but primary school enrollment has seen a significant increase. Between 1990 and 2014, the number of Guinean girls enrolled in primary school quadrupled, largely due to millions of dollars of donations from the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund. This money was used to build more schools in rural areas and hire thousands of teachers, leading to a significant increase in enrollment.
  8. The Ebola epidemic of 2014 severely impacted girls’ education in Guinea. Students missed at least 33 weeks of school during the Ebola outbreak, which put girls more at risk for dropping out altogether to support their families through marriage or work.
  9. In 2004, Guinea launched the National Plan of Action for Girls’ Education. This program was designed to build interest in girls’ education, especially at the primary school level. The initiative partners with organizations such as the European Union and UNICEF to provide income and resources for schools and actively steers the “offer of education” in favor of Guinean girls, who are more likely to drop out of school. While the program has been active for several years, Guinea still faces obstacles in bringing educational opportunities to girls in rural areas.
  10. UNICEF has implemented several local associations, known as COMEFs, to support girls’ education in Guinea. These associations work to empower Guinean mothers, who often lack education themselves, to become vigorous supporters of their daughters’ schooling. UNICEF’s main objectives are ensuring safe classrooms, helping families purchase school supplies and demonstrating how education leads to a financially healthy future.

Education is a powerful tool, especially for girls who so often find themselves fighting to stay in school. The top 10 facts on girls’ education in Guinea prove that while progress may be slow, it is still happening. Implementing programs to bring educational opportunities to girls in rural areas, discouraging child marriage and eradicating harassment in the classroom is essential to create a more equal platform for education in Guinea.

– Holli Flanagan
Photo: Flickr