World Bank’s Efforts in Guyana
The World Bank’s efforts in Guyana have been paramount in helping to achieve growth and positive effects in the country. In the last few decades, the World Bank has made progress in enhancing natural disaster resilience, improving the quality of education and skills, generating private-sector development initiatives and supporting human development.

About Guyana

The Co-Operative Republic of Guyana is a small and sparsely populated South American country. It has an abundance of natural resources, fertile lands and valuable mineral resources such as bauxite and gold, along with tropical forests which cover 80% of the country. With a population of approximately 780,000 people, Guyanese society is ethnically diverse, including Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, Mixed-Guyanese and many more groups. About 90% of this population lives in the country’s coastal area, despite this region only representing 10% of the total land.

Others have historically perceived Guyana’s GDP as the lowest in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC). However, monumental growth (between 20%-40%) has raised the GDP from $6,600 in 2019 to $9,300 in 2021. The country’s heavy dependency on natural resources, especially oil production is a core reason for this growth. Nevertheless, this reliance on these resources means that Guyana is vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and economic conditions.

An updated measure from the World Bank in 2022 found that Guyana’s national poverty headcount is among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) at around 48%. Rates of poverty are the highest in the interior of the country, where communities have limited access to economic opportunities, health care and public services. The country also experiences high emigration and brain drain, with 39% of citizens living abroad.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the population of Guyana. Although 63% of the adult population had received at least one dose of the vaccine by September 2022, it had been confirmed that there had been 71,351 COVID-19 cases and 1,281 deaths in October 2022. Guyana is a small country with a poor healthcare system consisting of a lack of insufficient resources and equipment, something which may reflect these COVID-19 case numbers. The World Bank’s efforts in Guyana have been ongoing since 2016, focusing on three areas:

Strengthening Resilience and Creating Disaster Risk Management Capacities

The Flood Risk Management Project works to reduce flood risks in low-lying areas of the country. The primary focus of this project is to strengthen the institutions that are necessary to reduce flood risks and support flood modeling. In 2020, further funding received approval for the project with the aim to improve Guyana’s climate resilience and reduce the impact of economic disasters. The results of this project should enable more than 90,000 people to benefit from flood risks and 47,600 water users will receive new and improved irrigation and drainage facilities.

Setting Up High-quality Education

The World Bank currently has four ongoing projects aimed at building Guyana’s workforce:

  • The Education Sector Improvement Project: The Education Sector Improvement Project has been working at improving teaching practices and student achievement in math.
  • Secondary Education Improvement Project: The Secondary Education Improvement Project supports secondary school math teachers, secondary school enrollment and school building.
  • Guyana Sector Programme Project: The Guyana Sector Programme Project supports nursery schools and increasing technology use in primary schools.
  • Guyana Strengthening Human Capital Through Education Project: The Guyana Strengthening Human Capital Through Education Project received approval in June 2022. It aims to focus on expanding access to secondary-level quality education, while also supporting vocational training.

The results of these projects have been far-reaching. For instance, the capacity of 600 math teachers worldwide has improved through training and expert feedback. Secondary school facilities grew by expanding the number of additional student spaces. Perhaps the most important result is the development of a new curriculum framework, something which has revised the subjects that the core teaching plans teach.

Laying the Foundation of Private Sector Development

The Guyana Petroleum Resources Governance and Management Project works to develop better legal and institutional frameworks. It will also raise the capacity of key institutions to manage the oil and gas sector so that there are more economic and social benefits for the country. The project will also strengthen the laws and regulations related to health, safety and environmental protection. The outcomes of this project have been positive in improving technical, advisory and capacity measures, along with transparency and governance within the oil and gas sector.

The Future

 Overall, the World Bank’s efforts in Guyana have been far-reaching, supporting the creation of many sustainable and long-term changes in the country. The three areas of focus are monumental areas to champion for the country to increase its economic, social and environmental capital, all of which these projects have successfully addressed.

– Harkiran Bharij
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Guyana's Mental Health Crisis
Guyana’s mental health crisis has plagued the nation for decades. In 2015 Guyana had a suicide rate of 44.2 per 100,000 people. This was far above the global average of 16 suicides per 100,000 people. This has been the case with Guyana for decades. A lack of mental health resources within the nation has perpetuated this cycle of ill mental health and suicide. Many have acknowledged that this dangerous phenomenon requires attention.

Mental Health and Suicide in Guyana

Guyana consistently ranks among the highest in the world for suicide rates. Suicide rates across the world have been decreasing but the Americas remains an anomaly in the trend. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Guyana has led the way when it comes to increasing suicide rates in the Americas. Guyana has the highest suicide rates in the Americas but this unfortunate status occurs among some groups within Guyana more often than others.

Guyana is an extremely ethnically and naturally diverse nation. The two largest ethnicities in Guyana are its Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese populations. About 40% of Guyana’s population is Indo-Guyanese and 29% is Afro-Guyanese. Other ethnicities include Chinese, Indigenous and mixed populations.

Despite Indo-Guyanese people making up less than half of Guyana’s population, they account for 80% of recorded suicides. The majority of those who commit suicide in the nation is between the ages of 15 to 34. Men are also four times more likely to commit suicide in Guyana than women. This means that young Indo-Guyanese men are more vulnerable to suicidality than other demographics in the nation.

Suicides in Guyana are also spatial uneven in their occurrence across the nation. About 70% of suicides in Guyana are in rural parts of the country. These are typically Extremely poor rural areas where low-income agricultural labor jobs are the predominant mode of employment for men. Women in these regions are typically stay-at-home mothers. Studies have begun to show that rural lifestyles have had a massive impact on suicidality in Guyana.

Identifying Root Causes

The conditions rural Indo-Guyanese residents have experienced have largely shaped Guyana’s mental health crisis. These rural regions are typically devoid of any mental health facilities or services. Many residents turn to substances such as alcohol to cope. Alcohol is comparatively easily available and thus a culture of drinking has developed in such regions. Some research has suggested that alcoholism is a leading factor in suicide.

Access to agricultural products in Guyana’s rural regions means that many locals use these products to poison themselves. Pesticide consumption is the most common method of suicide among Guyana’s rural residents. This evoked restrictions on the purchase of such pesticides. The effectiveness and feasibility of these restrictions have recently come into question.

Interventions and Outside Help

The severity of Guyana’s mental health crisis has created a sense of urgency. Many different entities have responded to this call to action. As of 2022, the Guyanese government has been discussing the prospects of decriminalizing suicide attempts. This may give suicidal individuals more confidence in seeking help.

De Montfort University has embarked on a research project to tackle Guyana’s mental health crisis. A team of researchers including Dr. Tania Hart are working with rural communities to increase mental health resilience. Participants in the community have received mental well-being resources and avenues through which to express mental discontent.

The U.S. has provided various forms of assistance to Guyana. Health is the one area that U.S. assistance under-serves. U.S. funding and intervention have funded initiatives to fight things such as HIV/AIDS and drug trafficking as well as youth engagement projects. The Americas Innovation Fund is one such initiative that has a particular focus on access to quality education. Given the success of previous U.S. initiatives in Guyana, there is great hope for the prospects of mental health funding.

A Brighter Future

Guyana’s mental health crisis is beginning to attract international collaboration. The Guyana Foundation has begun partnering with international organizations and NGOs. Those in the U.S. and Canada have been the focus of this outreach for support. Mental health facilities and suicide intervention programs are the main initiative recipients of funds. With the help of U.S agencies, Guyana could beat its mental health and Suicide crisis much in the way it has tackled HIV/AIDS and its drug trade.

Bryce Mathurin Lindsay
Photo: Flickr

Impacts of COVID-19 in Guyana
Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America, shares borders with Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil. According to 2021 data from the World Population Review, Guyana is the 17th most impoverished nation on the continent. Guyana’s economy relies mostly on its natural resources and has seen great improvements since the discovery of petroleum and gas reservoirs in 2015. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the country socially and economically. Fortunately, foreign aid is contributing to Guyana’s recovery and the safeguarding of its population during COVID-19 in Guyana. Here is some information about the impacts of COVID-19 in Guyana including measures to help the country deal with the pandemic.

The Impacts of COVID-19 in Guyana

Similar to the rest of the world, Guyana has not been exempt from the impacts of COVID-19. By September 19, 2021, Guyana reported a total of 29,553 COVID-19 cases and 725 deaths.

In 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assessed the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana and found alarming results. Telephone survey results indicate that about 10% of respondents cannot access healthcare, mostly because health centers are not equipped with the necessary medical supplies and limited healthcare facilities lead to overcrowding.

Furthermore, almost 60% of respondents reported concerns of not having adequate food during COVID-19 and “22% have skipped meals since the pandemic” began. Spending more than 60% of their income on food supplies is the reality of 18% of respondents. Income cuts affect 20% of respondents, with businesses closing down or “reduced work” accounting for 70% of these income losses. People who have had to dip into their savings due to financial difficulties make up 52% of the respondents and roughly 70% of “households indicated a need for priority assistance, including cash, food and hygiene products.” The financial impacts of COVID-19 impact women-headed households the most as 76% required financial help.

Foreign Aid Counts

In 2021, Guyana has received three shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility — a partnership between “global [nonprofits] and leaders in vaccine development and distribution,” totaling 100,800 doses. France has also donated 19,200 extra doses to Guyana. These numbers together represent approximately 23% of all doses administered up until September 2021 when the same percentage of people had been fully vaccinated and 44% had at least started the vaccination protocol.

In June 2021, the World Bank approved $6 million in financial aid for the Guyana COVID-19 Emergency Response Project. This aid is not only for the purchase of vaccines but also for awareness-raising efforts and overall improvements in the country’s health system.

Finally, the United States has been one of the major allies improving Guyana’s situation, donating $1.3 million to aid Guyana’s COVID-19 response. The global superpower also benefits from helping Guyana stabilize socially and economically since the two countries have strong bilateral economic relations; the nations rely heavily on each other for imports and exports of goods, for example. In August 2021, the U.S. also shipped 146,250 cost-free Pfizer vaccine doses to the country. Guyana’s Ministry of Health stated that it has enough doses to immunize all Guyanese adults thanks to its foreign “friends.” Widespread vaccination is essential in fighting the global pandemic and reducing social-economic instability.

Looking Ahead

Guyana’s economy has been growing exponentially since the discovery of oil and gas reserves on its coast. However, the pandemic has impacted the well-being of a great part of the population with widespread job losses, income cuts and difficulties accessing healthcare, among other challenges. Foreign aid plays an essential role in Guyana’s path to recovery, mostly by accelerating immunization and promoting the improvement of the country’s health system. The United States is one of Guyana’s main donors and partners, benefiting directly from Guyana’s upturn.

– Iasmine Oliveira
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in 2020
“Everyone is growing.” At the end of 2019, this was the World Bank’s outlook of the economic trajectory for the year 2020. The global economy was steadily growing and strengthening, and only a select few countries were facing GDP and economic contractions. Here is a look at the countries that experienced economic growth in 2020.

COVID-19’s Impact on the Economy

At the end of 2020, the World Bank sang a much different tune than what it did at the end of 2019. After the onset of a global pandemic, the majority of the world’s economies have taken a turn for the worst, the year turning out to be one of the worst in terms of economic growth and development. A far cry from the projected global GDP growth of 2.5%, as in June 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the world would close out the year with a GDP growth rate of -4.9%.

For some countries such as Spain, the U.K. and Tunisia, economic growth in 2020 had already fallen by around 20% by the year’s second quarter compared to the same period of 2019, a record quarterly fall for many countries. In other countries such as Taiwan, Finland, Lithuania and South Korea, the economic impact was much less than 5% contractions in GDP.

However, while the problem of economic recession was common for most nations, there were a select few that were not only able to ward off a negative growth pattern but steadily grew in the face of a global crisis. According to reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in October 2020, only 16 countries would sustain economic growth in 2020 of more than 1%, and 11 would grow at a rate between zero and 1%. That leaves a whopping 167 nations facing economic contraction.

5 Countries that Experienced the Highest Economic Growth in 2020

  1. Guyana: Guyana currently has the fastest growing economy globally, with an economic growth rate of approximately 26.21% in 2020. The mainland country serves as home to one of the most promising newly discovered oil basins globally and a vast supply of other natural resources. The recent oil discoveries and new production began in late 2019. Guyana’s economy is expanding fast and expects the GDP to more than double by 2025. Therefore, while it is likely that the Guyanese economy did face setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the explosion of its oil industry has been able to keep the country’s economy heading in the right direction.
    2. South Sudan: After facing stunted economic growth in the 2010s due to civil unrest, the relatively newly independent South Sudan faced harsh humanitarian and food insecurity crises. However, in 2018, the country signed a new peace agreement, followed by the reopening of many of its oil wells, boosting its main revenue source. Between 2018 and 2019, the country gradually maneuvered itself back into a steady growth pattern that maintained a 4.11% growth in GDP in 2020.
    3. Bangladesh: Over the years 2016 to 2020, the Bangladesh economy has recorded a 7.6% growth in GDP. Such rapid expansion has allowed the country to graduate from the U.N.’s list of Least Developed Countries (LDC). Because of its now stable macroeconomic environment, buoyant domestic demand and export-oriented industry-led growth, Bangladesh has been able to maintain an approximate 5.2% growth rate during 2020, with predictions that it will see an increasing growth rate of 6.8% in 2021 and the coming years.
    4. Egypt: Similar to Guyana, the Egyptian economy has recently benefitted greatly from lucrative natural gas discoveries. Though the pandemic and global economic crisis hit the country’s economic growth in 2020 due to a sudden fall in tourism, remittances and exports, its previous main sources of income, the revenue from its oil discoveries, was enough to stabilize growth in the economy. Already, the Egyptian economy is on the path to recovery with a projected 2.76% growth in 2021, before returning to its previous growth levels averaging at 5.28% in the coming years.
    5. Benin: Due to intentional and effective key economic and structural reforms in recent years, Benin reached a growth rate of 6.41% between the years 2017 and 2019. Therefore, while economic activity did slow for the country heavily dependent on re-export and transit trade, it was able to sustain economic growth in 2020 at a rate of approximately 2%. As the world adapts to and moves towards the end of the pandemic and global economic crisis, expectations have determined that Benin’s economy will return to faster growth rates of around 5% to 7% in the upcoming years.

Looking Forward

It was low- and middle-income emerging economies that were better able to sustain a growth trajectory throughout the 2020 global economic crisis. In fact, China, which the COVID-19 pandemic hit first, has been the only trillion-dollar economy that sustained positive economic growth in 2020. Economic growth is crucial for reducing and eradicating poverty and can lead to social improvements in affected countries. Therefore, the hope is that the countries that are not on the above list will return to pre-pandemic growth rates, and the five fastest-growing nations of 2020 keep developing at this level.

– Rebecca Harris
Photo: Flickr

The Inherited Burden, Combating Homelessness in GuyanaIn 2015, David Granger became the president of Guyana, the Caribbean country located in mainland South America. He defeated then-incumbent President Donald Ramotar, whose party, the People’s Progressive Party, stood in power for 23 years. Granger inherited the bane in his predecessor’s side: homelessness in Guyana.

The Housing Crisis in Guyana

Guyana has many informal settlements, such as Tiger Bay. The government is having a difficult time handling the housing crisis. In 2016, 52 families lived in Tiger Bay, located in the center of Georgetown, Guyana’s capital. Ramotar administration’s failed solution to the housing deficit was to give plots of land to those who could not afford it, thus forcing them into crippling debt. This is akin to winning a free car and being unable to keep the prize because the taxes are too much. Only 55% of those plots are now occupied. If the issued land plots did not begin construction within a designated timeframe, the land reverted to the government, but the debt that came with renovating the land remained with the citizens.

Many of those land plots are on former plantations with water-logged soil and sparse infrastructure. The government prioritized low-income families and state employees in their housing schemes. One scheme involved turnkey apartments, which are apartments that are already remodeled and ready for rental. A study from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2016 estimated that the country had a deficit of 20,000 homes for low-income families and 52,000 properties in need of repairs. The housing situation has also led to citizens of Tiger Bay adopting unhygienic practices because of a lack of proper plumbing.

President Granger and Homelessness in Guyana

On June 1, 2019, seven months after he lost a vote of no confidence, President Granger vowed to combat homelessness in Guyana. He said he would, “like to leave the office when there is not a single homeless Guyanese… every Guyanese will have a roof over his or her head.” President Granger based his vow against homelessness on the Guyanese constitution. The constitution states that “every citizen has the right to proper housing accommodation.” The president stated his new idea will not connect to his predecessor’s attempts to fix homelessness in Guyana.

In February 2020, former President Granger addressed the country and announced himself as “the man with the plan” to save Guyana. One of the problems Granger plans to fix is housing. To that end, the president announced the National Squatter Regularisation Commission (NSRC). The NSRC will use funds from the National Treasury to eliminate squatting and homelessness in Guyana.

In 2017, the Central Housing & Planning Authority (CH&PA) allocated approximately $43 million to have 72 houses built for squatters. The CH&PA stated that some of the squatting areas would become regulated and develop into proper housing schemes, while others, like Plastic City, will be relocated. Plastic City is among the 173 settlements the government targets. In the first half of 2019, the CH&PA supplied 541 houses, which was 54.1% of the target for 2019.

Guyana’s 8 Goals to Combat Homelessness

In 2015, the country gave itself eight goals to accomplish by 2020:

  1. Finish infrastructure before allocating the lots.
  2. Begin construction of the homes.
  3. Promote partnership between the private and the sectors to simplify the provisions of social infrastructure and community services.
  4. Foster community involvement to identify and implement community projects.
  5. Coordinate projects with the collaboration of governmental and non-governmental organizations.
  6. Integrate developmental planning.
  7. Regulate and contain squatters.
  8. Complete the divestment of land.

The Progress of Eliminating Homelessness in Guyana

From 1998 to 2007, the government ran the Low-Income (LIS) to increase ownership of land and housing that have valid equity not tied to the government. It wanted to put equity in the hands of the people. Once the program ended, the Guyanese government received a loan of $27.9 million for a second version of the LIS. This incarnation of the LIS was focused on improving the qualities of impoverished families by granting them access to housing. That program ended in 2015. Subsequently, the CH&PA acquired another $3.1 million for the Hinterland Housing Project, a spin-off of the second LIS.

On February 28, 2020, the CH&PA handed 43 houses to the people of Sand Creek Village. The houses were built as part of the Hinterland Project. Of the $3.1 million granted to the Hinterland Project, approximately $311,358 was assigned to the Sand Creek Village.

In Guyana, the homeless population faces stigma and is looked down upon by fellow countrymen. Citizens see the homeless population as people who have “failed” because of personal choices and not because they are victims of socio-economic failings that they have little to no control over. As a result, many homeless people suffer from poor mental health.

In March 2019, humanitarian organizations focused their efforts on Georgetown. The Raising and Extending Arms to Care and Help (REACH) and Potluck teamed up with local volunteering physicians and donors to assist Georgetown’s homeless population. The vulnerable population received new clothes, assistance in baths and new haircuts. In 2018, the organization reached out to 100 people to raise $100,000 for “society’s forgotten citizens.” Additionally, the Potluck NGO assisted the Guyanese homeless population by providing blood pressure and blood sugar testing and giving out over-the-counter medications.

– Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in GuyanaWith a population of less than 1 million, Guyana is a country located in the northern region of South America. Guyana’s richness in natural resources including gold, timber and sugar, render its economy highly dependent on its exports, a sector that accounts for more than 60% of its GDP. Guyana’s last official poverty measurement was in 2006. According to the results, 36.1% of the population in the country were living in poverty, including 18.6% that were living in extreme poverty. According to the Guyana Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2011 to 2016, the country has made some progress in poverty levels since 1992. Despite progress, Guyana is one of the poorest countries in South America, which indicates that the country continues to struggle with poverty.

5 Facts about Poverty in Guyana

  1. The poverty rate is high. According to the Inter-Development Bank (IDB), the poverty rate in Guyana measured as the percentage of people living on less than $5.50, reached 41.2% in 2017. The IDB has also shown that poverty disproportionately affects the country’s rural non-coastal areas where it amounts to more than 50%. The latter statistic denotes significant disparities in poverty concentration along ethnic lines since approximately two-thirds of the Guyanese population living in the rural interior communities are indigenous.
  2. Poverty greatly affects children and young adults. In terms of age group, Guyanese children are the poorest. Children aged 16 or younger in Guyana face a high poverty rate of 47.5%, while for young adults between the ages of 16 and 25, that figure exceeds 33%. This data potentially indicates the country’s troubled economic standing.
  3. The emigration of trained or skilled people is problematic. The brain drain of skilled workers in Guyana hinders necessary contributions to developments in various economic sectors such as healthcare. Guyana’s unemployment rate stands at 12%, while the percentage of unemployed youth exceeds 20%, according to a 2017 study. This factor makes it difficult to keep trained professionals in the country.
  4. Environmental instability affects economic growth. An additional challenge against economic growth in Guyana is related to fluctuations in climate and weather conditions. In addition to gold, sugar and timber, the export of bauxite, shrimp and rice is also a major source of income to this Latin-American nation. Natural disasters such as floods, to which it is highly susceptible, have been responsible for nearly 94% of the negative impact on Guyana’s economy, according to a 2016 UNICEF study.
  5. Malnutrition seriously affects the indigenous population. Statistics indicate that 25% of indigenous children are stunted, a figure much higher than the national average. Estimates have also determined that 16% of newborn indigenous children in Guyana are underweight (below 2500g at birth).

Although data shows that the moderate poverty rate (people living on $2 per day) had slightly declined, poverty in Guyana continues to cripple the country in vital areas, leaving much to be done to improve the situation. In spite of the country’s natural resources, Guyana does not meet its economic potential. To alleviate the long-term implications of poverty, it is imperative that poverty in Guyana continues to be a focal point of international aid and developmental endeavors.

Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

development in Guyana
Guyana is a nation that is full of rich history. It received its name from its early indigenous populations who named it “Guaina” or “land of water.” Guyana was its own land for many centuries before the Age of Exploration. However, in 1498, Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the country and he claimed it for Spain. It was not until numerous decades and many European leaders later that the nation declared its independence in 1970.

Since declaring its independence, the nation of Guyana has faced many struggles including widespread poverty and hunger, however, throughout the past three decades, there have been significant improvements in both of these areas. The Guyanese government’s development projects as well as numerous nonprofits have made lasting changes throughout the country. Here are two examples of projects that have helped advance development in Guyana.

Guyanese President Desmond Hoyte’s Economic Recovery Program

Due to long-lasting droughts, high rates of emigration, political uncertainty and many other factors, the nation of Guyana has experienced many economic stalls throughout its time in independence. In addition, competing parallel markets and decreases in agricultural production have played roles in Guyana’s economic struggles. In the 1980s, the country faced a complete economic collapse, while also having almost 50% of its population living in extreme poverty.

In an effort to address these issues and approach development in Guyana from an economic standpoint, Guyanese President Desmond Hoyte announced his Economic Recovery Program in 1988. The goal of this project was to restore economic growth, absorb parallel markets, eliminate payment imbalances and to normalize international financial relations. In order to meet these goals, the government liberalized harsh regulations on foreign exchange relations, removed price controls on key goods and devalued the Guyanese dollar to match market rates. These were only some of the decisions and changes that Hoyte and his government made while implementing his program, however, each of them was very impactful in its own ways.

Almost no positive change occurred within the first two years of the project and there were even some negative effects. However, by 1991, Guyana’s debt had lowered to a point at which the nation could receive international loans and foreign investment had surged. This program was the foundation for the nation’s sustained economic stability and opened the door for further development and growth.

The Guyanese Government and Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) Long-term Investment in Early Childhood Education

The Guyanese education system has lacked sufficiency for decades. There is a significant disparity between the education that students living in the more urban and populated parts of Guyana receive and the education that students in the more remote regions receive. For example, it is very common for students living in remote areas to lack the necessary resources to facilitate adequate education as well as to have teachers with less training.

In an attempt to address these issues and disparities and to approach development in Guyana from a human capital standpoint, the Guyanese government and the GPE decided to make a long-term investment in the nation’s education system. This program focused on strengthening teacher forces through training, constant monitoring and evaluation. It also provided students with learning materials in the form of resource kits and teacher use manuals. The project also held training sessions for the primary caregivers of students across the nation in order for them to be able to support their children’s education at home. This project took a very well-rounded approach to mitigate education disparities and issues in Guyana and continues to have a lasting effect today.

According to the Guyanese Ministry of Education, this program helped improve literacy rates within students living in the hinterland and riverine regions by 139% and improved numeracy rates by 133%. There were also significant improvements within coastal and urban populations. Although this project ended in 2018, the Guyanese government made sure that it could provide identical services going forward in perpetuity.

A Bright Future Lies Ahead

Guyana has proven to be a model for development and growth. The projects and programs that have emerged throughout the nation have turned the country around and set it on a positive path towards continuous success. These projects and many others have accelerated development in Guyana and have made clear that the possibilities are endless for this small South American country.

– MacKenzie Boatman
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuyanaGuyana is a country located on the northeast corner of South America. Due to economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, hunger in Guyana has dropped by almost 50%. Though food availability is not a problem, making food accessible to the rural and remote populations remains a challenge. Here are five facts about hunger in Guyana.

5 Facts About Hunger in Guyana

  1. Between 50,000 and 60,000 Guyanese suffer from undernourishment. Though about 21% of the Guyanese population suffered from malnourishment in previous decades, that number was reduced to less than 10% in 2015. The Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that by 2050 Guyana’s agricultural sector would need to produce 50% more food than in 2012 to counter this. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to increase investments to help improve Guyana’s agricultural capacity.
  2. Guyana met an internationally established target in the fight against hunger. Guyana halved the number of malnourished people between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, being one of 38 countries to do so. In 2008, around 6% of children under the age of 5 suffered from mild to moderate malnutrition. This was down from 11.8% in 1997. In June 2013, Guyana was honored at an award ceremony in Rome held by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for reducing the number of people facing hunger in the country.
  3. Raising agricultural productivity helps counter hunger. Over 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This means that if agricultural productivity increases, access to food may improve. Campaigns such as the Grow More Food Campaign, the Basic Nutrition Programme and the National School Feeding Programme assist in increasing access to food in Guyana.
  4. Climate change exacerbates hunger in Guyana. Higher temperatures cause a decline in crop yields, which threatens food security and contributes to malnutrition. Since much of Guyana’s population depends on increased agricultural productivity, this is a serious risk for the Guyanese. Guyana’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2002 projected an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. They are projected to double between 2020 and 2040 and triple between 2080 and 2100. Temperature is also projected to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1995 levels during the first half of the 21st century.
  5. The U.N. is attempting to counter the harm posed to hunger due to changing weather patterns. The FAO has assisted the Guyanese government in developing a plan for risk management in the agricultural sector. Similarly, the Guyanese government plans to create opportunities for carbon mitigation through carbon sequestration and biofuel production. This will aim to lessen the effects of climate change and expand agricultural production.

Though Guyana is not devoid of malnutrition, hunger has been and can be reduced. Ensuring that the Guyanese population has ample access to food, as well as increasing agricultural productivity, can help lessen the number of people who suffer from malnutrition. The U.N. is working to assist Guyana and their support can be a good first step to help lessen hunger in Guyana.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in GuyanaThe catalyst for improvement of Guyana’s healthcare system was the HIV/AIDs crisis, which was difficult to manage as a result of the country’s insufficient healthcare system. Since then, however, healthcare in Guyana has improved substantially. Some of the most notable improvements to Guyana’s healthcare system include an increase in life expectancy, increased immunization coverage, increased education and awareness surrounding health issues and decreased infant mortality rates.

“Health Vision 2020”

Healthcare in Guyana is comprised of both a public and a private sector. The Ministry of Public Health leads the public healthcare sector, which functions as a universal healthcare system for all citizens and residents of Guyana. In 2013, the World Health Organization, in combination with Guyanese government agencies and other key stakeholders, created “Health Vision 2020,” a national health strategy enacted to improve the standard of living in Guyana.

Since the strategy’s enactment in 2013, Guyana has seen an impressive decline in the number of reported malaria cases, which once presented an overwhelming threat to the wellbeing of the population. In 2013, there were 31,479 reported cases of malaria. Just two years later in 2015, Guyana minimized the threat of malaria, reporting only 9,984 cases.

Over a slightly longer period of time, Guyana also saw an increase in life expectancy, progressing from 59 years for males in 1992 to 63 years in 2011. In 1992, females were expected to live for 66 years, while in 2011 female life expectancy reached 69 years. Also notable is the improvement made in the number of children receiving an immunization to measles. The percentage of children who received the measles vaccine amounted to 99% in 2012, up from 73% in 1992.

Although the improvements made to Guyana’s healthcare system are commendable, particularly under “Health Vision 2020,” there are still many issues that Guyana’s healthcare system overlooks.

Equitable Healthcare for Hinterland Communities

Though universal healthcare does exist in Guyana, free healthcare facilities and resources are generally catered to reach the majority of the population. Almost 90% of Guyana’s population lives in coastal areas, whereas only about 10% of the population lives in the rural hinterlands. As a result, there is a far greater concentration of healthcare facilities and resources in the coastal areas. Access to healthcare for those living in the hinterlands of Guyana is limited, given that there are few healthcare clinics located outside of coastal areas. Healthcare clinics located in remote areas offer services inferior in quality.

Non-Communicable Diseases

Guyana’s healthcare system has also been unable to curb the effects of non-communicable diseases. In 2012, non-communicable diseases made up the top five leading causes of death in Guyana. Still today, some of the leading causes of deaths in Guyana include ischaemic heart disease and diabetes. In 2015 alone, diabetes was responsible for 9% of the total deaths in Guyana.

Although non-communicable diseases are non-transmissible, it is possible to reduce the number of those with these diseases, particularly through education and awareness. Many non-communicable diseases are caused by high intake levels of alcohol, tobacco, salt, sugar and a lack of physical inactivity. Heightened public awareness of the causes of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in Guyana would likely reduce the number of those infected.

Healthcare Workforce

While Guyana has managed to recruit more than 500 trained doctors and physicians over the last five years, shortages in the workforce “exist in areas such as registered nurses and nurse midwives, radiographers, medical technologists and social workers.” Part of the problem stems from a lack of incentives for healthcare workers to stay in the public sector and as practitioners in the country. There is also a lack of foreign expertise in the Guyanese healthcare system. Foreign doctors often offer valuable knowledge, especially when dealing with diseases and viruses that might be less common in Guyana.

What Is Being Done?

The Organization for Social and Health Advancement for Guyana and The Caribbean (OSHAG) is a nonprofit organization based in Queens, New York, that demonstrates the possibility for effective solutions to these pressing issues. The organization strives to raise awareness about the need for improved medical services and treatment in Guyana, specifically for cancer patients. OSHAG raises awareness through health education and gatherings of medical professionals with valuable skills to offer to patients in Guyana.

In 2014, OSHAG’s team of medical professionals provided training to nurses within four of the 1o regions that make up Guyana. The team worked to improve the chemotherapy and oncology department at the Guyana Georgetown Public Hospital. Though the organization specifically aims to improve treatment, services and facilities for cancer patients, OSHAG’s impressive leadership and methodology demonstrate what is possible for healthcare in Guyana. With increased awareness, education and foreign interest and investment, healthcare in Guyana can undoubtedly reach new heights.

Though Guyana has made impressive improvements to its healthcare system, there is still room for improvement. Unequal access to healthcare services and facilities, non-communicable diseases and an understaffed healthcare workforce present some of the most pressing problems. However, each of these problems can be addressed through heightened public awareness and education, and increased financial investment and foreign relations.

Stacy Moses
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Fastest Developing CountriesThe world economy is changing every day due to trade investments, inflation and rising economies making a greater impact than ever before. Improvements in these economies have been due to significant government reforms within these countries as well as the administration of international aid through financial and infrastructural efforts. These are the top five fastest developing countries in no particular order.

Top Five Fastest Developing Countries

  1. Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Argentina is actually considered a developing country. Argentina’s economy was strong enough to ensure its citizens a good quality of life during the first part of the 20th century. However, in the 1990s, political upheaval caused substantial problems in its economy, resulting in an inflation rate that reached 2,000 percent. Fortunately, Argentina is gradually regaining its economic strength. Its GDP per capita just exceeds the $12,000 figure that most economists consider the minimum for developed countries. This makes Argentina one of the strongest countries in South America.
  2. Guyana. Experts have said that Guyana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It had a GDP of $3.63 billion and a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. If all goes according to plan, Guyana’s economy has the potential to grow up to 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent in 2020 and 2021. Its abundance in natural resources such as gold, sugar and rice are among the top leading exports worldwide. Experts also project that Guyana will become one of the world’s largest per-capita oil producers by 2025.
  3. India. As the second most populated country in the world, India has run into many problems involving poverty, overcrowding and a lack of access to appropriate medical care. Despite this, India has a large well-skilled workforce that has contributed to its fast-growing and largely diverse economy. India has a GDP rate of $2.7 trillion and a $7,859 GDP per capita rate.
  4. Brazil. Brazil is currently working its way out of one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As a result, its GDP growth has increased by 1 percent and its inflation rate has decreased to 2.9 percent. As Latin America’s largest economy, these GDP improvements have had a significant impact on pulling Latin America out of its economic difficulties. Additionally, investors have also become increasingly interested in investing in exchange-traded funds and large successful companies such as Petrobras, a large oil company in Brazil.
  5. China. Since China began reforming its economy in 1978, its GDP has had an average growth of almost 10 percent a year. Despite the fact that it is the world’s second-largest economy, China’s per capita income is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. About 373 million Chinese still live below the upper-middle-income poverty line. Overall, China is a growing influence on the world due to its successes in trade, investment and innovative business ventures.

This list of the five fastest developing countries sheds some light on the accomplishments of these nations as they build. As time progresses, many of these countries may change in status.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: Wikimedia