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

economic growth in Guyana
Guyana discovered oil off its coast in 2015 and is on the brink of major economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the projected economic growth in Guyana for 2020 is 86 percent. The projected growth rate is high for 2020 due to ExxonMobil’s oil find in the Caribbean Sea in 2015, which brought hope for change to poor Guyanese. For 2019, GDP growth was 4.4 percent, almost double from the previous year, and the 86 percent projected growth by the IMF shows an increased interest in the development of Guyana. Oil production in 2020 and in the future could bring economic growth in Guyana and add thousands of jobs.

A Potential Future in Oil

Guyana found an estimated 3.2 billion barrels of oil off its coast, with oil production beginning in late December 2019. More than 1,700 Exxon employees are working on extracting oil from Stabroek Block, the oil reservoir, and transporting oil to the Liza Destiny, a storage and offloading vessel. About 50 percent of the 1,700 workers are Guyanese. Exxon expects to produce 120,000 barrels of oil a day in 2020 and estimates 750,000 barrels a day by 2025. The 2025 estimated production would position the South American country in the top 30 countries for oil production. The 750,000 barrels a day estimate would be more oil than India produced daily in 2018. This is one reason for the IMF’s projection of a high growth rate for Guyana, as oil could transform the economy.

Uses of Future Revenue

Oil production in 2020 is exciting Guyanese about the possibilities of changing the country and its people. President David Granger commented, “Every Guyanese will benefit from petroleum production. No one will be left behind.” Guyana’s GDP per capita is about $8,100, which ranks among the lowest in the world. With oil now in production, there is potential to improve its lagging infrastructure and low income. Guyana only has about 500 miles of paved roads, yet almost 2,000 miles of unpaved roads. The President stated that oil could transform the developing country and improve life for hundreds of thousands of Guyanese.

Guyana’s government expects oil revenue of $300 million in 2020 and $5 billion for 2025. This could further enhance economic growth in Guyana and bring the possibility of distributing the money to lagging sectors. In 2019, the government spent $2 billion in its infrastructure. This included constructing or upgrading roads, bridges, highway lights and drains. The East Coast of Demerara Road Widening Project affects more than 100,000 of Guyana’s 777,000 population. Guyana approved about $500 million for the project that focuses on upgrading roadways along the coast. Most of the population resides near the coast and along the Demerara River. Guyana could not only use oil revenue to further develop Guyana but also to add jobs, as the ExxonMobil operation is already showing.

The Impact of Guyanese Oil Revenue

There is steady economic growth in Guyana, as one can witness from its GDP rising from 2.1 percent in 2018 to 4.4 percent in 2019. The IMF’s projected 86 percent growth rate for Guyana in 2020 expresses big expectations for the South American country. Although Guyana’s potential future wealth is good news, the developing country will need support in transforming its newfound wealth into positive change for its people. Every poor country that strikes oil does not always manage natural resources well, yet with the right tools and guidance, Guyana could reduce its 35 percent poverty rate by adding jobs and transforming into a developed economy.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Sanitation in Guyana
Despite Guyana having the image of being a land of many waters, the country underfunds and underregulates its litter, sewer and waste management, thus compromising sanitation in Guyana. The country, however, shows excellent foundations for sanitary progress with controlled landfills, water and sewer improvements.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Guyana

  1. Underfunded Waste Management: Foundations for Guyana’s Solid Waste Management exist within The Municipal and District Councils Act as it designates the maintenance of sanitary services, including the removal and destruction of trash to the Mayor and City Council. Likewise, individuals must appropriately dispose of trash in receptacles. However, services remain underfunded due to inadequate tax collection. For example, in Georgetown (Region Four) and Linden (Region 10), the collection is respectfully at 70 and 20 percent. Thus, waste collection and transportation are constrained, resulting in irregular pickups.

  2. Unregulated Waste Management: National and regional regulations exist for sanitation, like penalties for illegal littering and dumping at G$5,000-$20,000. However, the Ministry of Health, municipalities, the police force and the EPA follow through on monitoring and enforcement duties at a minimal level. For example, due to a lack of sensitization in waste management, police refuse to see littering as a real issue.

  3. Littering Increases Plastic in Waterways: Littering and dumping persist due to minimal monitoring and enforcement. Data from a 2018 study focused on Guyana’s coastal regions, including Corriverton, 63 Beach, Rossignol, Mahaicony and Georgetown. It indicated that the highest concentration of litter including plastic bags, bottles and fragments was at 48.2 percent. Combined with an underfunded and unregulated waste management system and the forecasted Guyanese waste generation of 0.77 kilograms per person a day by 2024, non-biodegradables in waterways will continue to increase, resulting in blocked drains and exacerbating flooding.

  4. Sewage Access and Wastewater Management: Only 13 percent of the Guyanese population, mostly within the main Georgetown area, have access to modern sewage of flushable toilets, septic tanks, latrines or compostable toilets. As a result, untreated waste contaminates already flooding waters as both the Georgetown and Tucville sewage systems release untreated waste into the Demerara River and Laing Canal, compromising sanitation in Guyana.

  5. Disease from Disposal and Flooding: Due to litter and untreated sewage, flies, rodents and mosquitoes spread deadly diseases including typhoid, cholera, dysentery, leptospirosis, dengue, yellow fever, malaria and filariasis. On the other hand, contaminated water spreads diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and dysentery. For example, from 1996 to 1998, gastroenteritis deaths increased from 2,200 to 8,604. However, the country shows excellent improvement given that although such diarrheal diseases ranked number two for causes of death in Guyana at 8.9 percent in 1990, and that by 2010 it was number 12 at 2.9 percent of total deaths.

  6. Contaminated Water: Drinking water contamination is mostly due to improperly disposed of waste, including household, animal, agricultural, industrial, chemical and untreated sewage. Despite water contamination, safe drinking water is more accessible than previously. In 1994, only 88 percent of the population had such access as opposed to 98.3 percent in 2015. Such success is in part due to initiatives like the 2008 Turn Around Plan with Guyana Water Inc (GWI), that completed the rehabilitation of 100 kilometers of networked pipes and 24 Tucville sewer pumping stations. To further TAPs’ success, the 2012-2016 Water and Sanitation Strategic Plan increased Hinterland water coverage to about 80 percent, treated water coverage to 50 percent and invested $1.5 billion in new meters, pumps, motors and panels.

  7. Legal Disposal in EPA Landfills: While illegal methods of disposal threaten sanitation in Guyana, legal methods exist as a remedy. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency approved controlled dumping sites in at least six out of 10 regions because it intends to protect the environment from contaminants in the disposed waste.

  8. Improved Sewage in Georgetown: Local systems in Stevedore Postal Housing Scheme, Wortmanville, Werk-en-Rust and Albouystown to Queenstown received maintenance thanks to aid from GWI in 2016. For instance, the organization invested a part of its G$80 million capital to reduce blockages that illegal dumping caused.

  9. Upgraded Sanitary Facilities Outside of Georgetown: In 2016, loans from the Caribbean Investment Facility of EUR$10.6 million and the Inter American Development Bank of $16.8 million aided in The Water Supply And Sanitation Infrastructure Improvements Project of upgrading sanitary facilities. About 1,000 families across Georgetown and outer areas of Cornelia Ida, DeKendren, West Coast Demerara, Diamond, Herstelling, East Bank, Demerara, No. 19 Village Corentyne, Sheet Anchor, Good Bananen Land, East Canje and Berbice benefitted from Sanitary upgrades, signifying an important step as only 13 percent of the population had access to sanitary services before.

  10. GWI Sustainable Development Goal: GWI seeks sustainable water and sanitation management by 2030. Thanks to the loans this article discussed above, the free installation of 335 septic tanks in September 2019 should ensure that progress. The initiative favored those of low economic standing, including single mothers, teen girls, elderly and disabled, thus providing these demographics with an important human right.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Guyana show that it is on a progressive path. Developments such as legal disposal, improved sewage and sanitary facilities, eradicate water contamination and instead allow for Guyana to work on being the land of abundant clean water.

– Elizabeth Yusuff
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Guyana
Guyana is located in the northeastern corner of South America. After gaining independence from the British in 1966, it has struggled economically and politically, but the recent find of over five billion barrels worth of oil should bring in vast amounts of money. These 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana go to show the great potential the country has to improve its population’s quality of life.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Guyana

  1. Poverty: Unfortunately, Guyana is very poor as over a third of its population lives in poverty. Along with this, Guyana ranks 164 out of 228 nations in human development.
  2. Political Parties are Ethnically Based: There are multiple ethnic groups in Guyana. Forty percent of Guyana’s population is South Asian and are descendants of those brought over for indentured servitude. Meanwhile, about 30 percent are Afro-Guyanese (Guyanese of African descent) are the descendants of ancestors who went to Guyana to work the plantations. Additionally, 20 percent have mixed heritage and 10 percent are indigenous. These differing ethnicities have led to the formation of a number of political parties. There are three main political parties including the People’s National Congress, the People’s Progressive Party, the Alliance for Change and several smaller political parties. These parties include the different ethnicities present in the country, which has led to issues. Some people feel that President David Granger favors his own ethnicity.
  3. Political Tensions: An example of Granger favoring his own ethnicity over others is when he cut subsidies for the sugar industry while making no cuts against the government bureaucracy. This is problematic because a majority of the government is Afro-Guyanese, Granger’s ethnicity, whereas most people who work on sugar plantations are Indo-Guyanese. Although there have been some ethnic-related tensions, Granger has made improvements. An effort to lower the rate of AIDs, which has become an issue for all in recent years, shows this. Since 2010, the rate of AIDS and HIV has increased by over 10 percent.
  4. Emigration: An important point among these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that there is a significant amount of emigration that takes place each year. In 2013, over 7,000 people emigrated. A study also determined that 40 percent of people in Guyana would emigrate if they could. Motivators to leave the country might be a lack of political support and job opportunities. In order to combat this President Granger has raised funds to improve the national public university and increased teachers’ salaries.
  5. Human Resource Drain: Many people leave Guyana because of a lack of jobs. The current unemployment rate in the world is around 5 percent, whereas, in 2017, Guyana’s unemployment rate was 12 percent. Many young Guyanese people are moving to large cities such as New York to secure work. Even though the jobs they get might be low paying, stressful and below their educational levels, having a job that pays is better than not having employment. People who come to work in big cities often send money back to their families in Guyana. All of this emigration leads to the country having a reduced number of human resources. Many of the people who leave have skills and are professional. In fact, 80 percent of students from the University of Guyana leave the country statistically.
  6. Improving Education: Many qualified individuals are leaving the country. A focus on improving youth education has occurred to combat the loss of educated people. An example of this is a partnership between the NGO Family Awareness Consciousness & Togetherness with the U.S. Government that aims to support youth education. The NGO has received a grant of $64,800, which will provide after-school activities, lessons and homework based around arts, sports and life skills. This program is for 80 children between the ages of 10 and 18 in the town of Corriverton, Guyana. Eventually, the NGO hopes to spread these after-school activities to the surrounding communities.
  7. Newfound Money and Potential Issues: The mass amounts of money from oil could present some issues because of the current political tensions. Troy Thomas, the head of global anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, stated that “corruption is rampant.” An example of the corruption that Thomas speaks of was in December 2018 when the governing coalition lost a no-confidence vote, yet disregarded the results. It responded by challenging the vote in courts, which resulted in the occurrence of protests. On September 20, 2019, hundreds of People’s Progressive Party Civic supporters and members protested outside of a hotel where President Garner was to deliver a speech to the business community, who were mainly his ethnicity, Afro-Guyanese. Members and supporters of the People’s Progressive Party Civic feel Granger will use the newfound money from oil to only help the Afro-Guyanese.
  8. Oil to Help the Economy: Among the 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that the country’s newfound oil should greatly improve the economy. Predictions determine that the overall economy should grow by 86 percent by 2020. This is 14 times more than China’s predicted rate. Along with this, according to the International Monetary Fund, the oil revenues should reach $631 million by the year 2024.
  9. Guyana and Greener Practices: Guyana has made a commitment to the Green State Development Strategy. This is a long-term plan that will use the money from oil to improve the lives of all ethnicities within Guyana. To achieve this goal, Guyana hopes to create quality education, social protection and low carbon development that is resilient. These things will lead to new economic possibilities. This strategy calls for using the country’s investments to implement more environmentally friendly practices. Guyana will focus on how this change affects agriculture, forestry, energy and road transport infrastructure. By 2040, Guyana wants to transition to nearly 100 percent renewable and clean energy sources for generating electricity. Another main aim of this strategy is to provide all people with necessities, including safe and affordable housing, water, sanitation facilities and electricity.
  10. The Green State Development Strategy to Create Jobs Through Tourism: A focus of the Green State Development Strategy is to lessen poverty through things such as creating more jobs. A way that this strategy hopes to create jobs is through tourism. In 2018 alone, tourism led to the creation of 22,000 jobs. The Guyana Tourism Authority stated that tourism is the country’s second-largest export sector, bringing in nearly $30 million to the economy in 2018. The Ministry of Business in Guyana predicts that tourism and travel will make up nearly 8 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019.

When it comes to these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana, the country has faced political and economic issues, but this has the potential to change soon. After finding over five billion barrels worth of oil off the coast, Guyana’s potential for economic growth skyrocketed. Predications state that Guyana’s GDP should triple within the next five years.

This new influx of money will allow Guyana to improve the lives of all ethnicities within the country. Guyana should be able to achieve this by investing money into education, job creation, natural resources and tourism while using greener practices.

– James Turner
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana
Guyana is a country in northeastern South America that Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname border. In 1966, the country gained independence from its English colonizers. Since the liberation of Guyana, the country has found itself in political unrest that has resulted in an inability to thrive economically. As the country has grown and developed as an independent entity since 1966, it has seen a drastic improvement in life expectancy through government initiatives and treatment development. The 10 facts about the current life expectancy in Guyana will display that.

Though Guyana boasts rich gold, sugar, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice industries – with great potential for expansion – the country still finds itself struggling to come out of poverty and attract foreign industry. However, in May 2019, the Guyanese government paired up with the U.N. Environment to tackle establishing the Green State Development Plan. The plan would work to develop sustainable economic growth in the country while still protecting its vast natural resources. The project would also work to diversify the Guyanese economy and steer them away from their current resource-reliant industry. Guyana would slowly transition into being a low-carbon developer bolstering a diverse economy, draw foreign investment, lower emigration rates and produce an ever-bettering quality of life for its people. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana

  1. Between 1997 and 2017 there has been a 13.47 percent increase in Guyana’s population. Population distribution in 1990 showed a consistent pyramidic tapering with zero to four having the greatest representation in the population. Afterward, there was a fairly consistent tapering off as age grew with the only seemingly notable inconsistency being with children five to nine-years-old. However, the shape became irregular in 2015, possibly due to a massive Chikungunya outbreak in 2015. In the age categories of zero to nine and 25 to 39, there were massive drops in population density.
  2. Sanitation is key in preventing many of the diseases that plague Guyana. In 2014, the Ministry of Public Health developed a plan to take action to improve the coverage and quality of waste management predominantly in rural areas. The plan started in 2015 and will end in 2025. It should improve the health and lifespan of many citizens.
  3. In 2015, Guyana became one of only 28 countries worldwide to adopt a national suicide prevention plan. The Ministry of Health issued the program after the World Health Organization called on it in 2014 for having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Guyana has an average of 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, four times the global average.
  4. Between 2005 and 2008, the leading causes of infant mortality in Guyana were respiratory disorders (31 percent) and congenital malformations (9.7 percent). For the respective years of 2005 and 2008, the infant mortality rates were 34.20 per 1,000 births in 2005 and 31.80 per 1,000 births in 2008. As of 2017, the reported rate has dropped to 26 per 1,000 births. Though still higher than the average in developed countries – the U.S. has an average of 5.5 per 1,000 births (2015)– there is a noted improvement in the country.
  5. From 2002 to 2014, the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in Guyana dropped to 1.9 percent from 3.5 percent – a 1.6 percent drop. This drop is because of an AIDS protocol that a collective effort from UNAIDS and the National AIDS Committee of Guyana put in place. HIV/AIDS positive mothers take antiretrovirals which is a prescription drug that suppresses the growth of the virus and lowers the likelihood of the infected passing along the disease. After birth, within 48 hours, infants receive a course of antiretrovirals. Afterward, children receive tests at six and 18 months to look for the infection. No one has documented the number of children this protocol has saved, but early detection of the virus is key not only to the individuals’ survival if they do become infected with HIV, but also to lower the spread of the virus.
  6. Fifty-five percent of Guyanese people emigrate from the country. This leaves the country with a deficit of skilled workers like health care professionals. This lack of health care professionals augments the effects of diseases on the Guyanese people, as they cannot receive care if there is no one to give it to them. This lack of a staffed health care industry leads to lowering life expectancy.
  7. Due to the terrain of Guyana, there is great disparity in the delivery of health services from those who live on the more accessible coast to the predominantly indigenous peoples who live in the interior of the country. To help fight this disparity in 1991, the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) set up to help support and lobby in favor of creating more protections for the indigenous peoples of Guyana.
  8. Guyana’s resource reliant industries, gold and timber, require many of the coastal inhabitants to travel to the interior of the country to work. However, because of this migration, there has become a link with the spread of malaria. Guyana is 60 percent rainforest, and those forests mostly concentrate inland where a majority of indigenous people dwell. As coastal workers come into the inland to work, they may bring malaria. However, those coming into work have the resources to return to where they came from and receive treatment more readily. The indigenous people cannot receive care because of an inability to travel to the coast, as well as the difficulty there is in bringing treatment inland to them.
  9. In 2015, more than 200 people died of AIDS in Guyana. The country ranks as number 30 globally in adult HIV/AIDS prevalence. HIV is an incurable disease that will progress to AIDS and death without the treatment of antiretrovirals.
  10. In September 2016, Guyana started receiving funding from the U.S. government for efforts into Zika infection prevention and reducing the spread of the virus. With the funding, Guyana established The Maternal and Child Survival Program and worked to expand the capabilities of the Ministry of Public Health to provide therapies to affected children and their parents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana show that although Guyana is still struggling with disease control and various disease’s effects on life expectancy, it is taking great initiatives to work towards improving and solving its current issues.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Oil Discovery in Guyana
The 2018 oil discovery in Guyana means this former British Colony can expect a massive increase in wealth by the early 2020s. The country found over three billion barrels worth of oil off its coast and it will likely positively impact its future economy. By 2020 Guyana will be a major petroleum producer. This may lead to a 300 percent increase in Guyana’s GDP by 2025.

For a country that heavily relies on agricultural, mining and lumber exports such as sugar, rice, bauxite, timber and gold, the oil revenue will heavily impact the Guyanese economy. As of now, Guyana’s agriculture industry experiences many ups and downs because of its vulnerability to floods. Between 1990 and 2014, floods were responsible for 93.6 percent for Guyana’s economic inactivity.

Currently, the oil project is still under production so it does not account for any percentage of the GDP. The oil and gas revenue, however, for the 2017 fiscal year is $2.8 billion. This accounts for only 14 percent of the Guyanese revenue generated by extractives.

As of 2017, 36 percent of Guyana’s population lived in poverty with unemployment rates almost reaching 12 percent. Education and trade learning are essential for the elevation of a country out of poverty. However, many are unable to continue their education after primary school. Youth from 15 to 24 make up 40 percent of the population, yet unemployment rates for them are 22 percent. Fortunately, with the recent oil discovery, Guyana’s oil industry has hired 10 more graduates of the University of Guyana in 2018 than it did in 2017. However, since the oil discovery, Guyana’s unemployment rates have remained around 11 to 12 percentage. As of 2019, oil and gas companies claimed 51 employees making up only 0.02 percent of the population.

What is the Resource Curse?

The resource curse refers to the idea that countries with a significant amount of their own natural resources experience little economic growth, development and more authoritarianism. The oil industry is unpredictable, and when governments tend to rely on it, citizens suffer. Several countries that were once in Guyana’s shoes, like Nigeria and Venezuela, experienced corruption and a contradicting lack of economic growth when their oil business began to boom. The influx of wealth that accompanies the discovery of oil, transparency, accountability and active oversight are important for avoiding the feared resource curse.

Venezuela, Nigeria and the Resource Curse

Venezuela’s oil reserves are larger than any other country’s. Since Venezuela’s focus on oil meant that it ignored other industries, however, poverty in Venezuela has reached devastating highs. Children have been suffering from malnutrition at alarming rates, and as of 2018 up to two million people have fled the country.

In Nigeria, the influx of oil came with a bevy of problems including theft of oil pipes, damage to nearby ecological systems, oil spills and abuse of the natural resource wealth. According to the World Bank, only one percent of the Nigerian population benefits from just 80 percent of the revenue brought in by the oil. The attention and support that Nigeria received for its oil industry also meant that the country neglected other industries like agriculture.

The EITI and NPPDG in Guyana

Upon the recent oil discovery in Guyana, the country has become apart of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the New Petroleum Producers Discussion Group (NPPDG).

The goal of the EITI is to ensure that a country is managing its natural resources in a way that benefits its citizens as much as possible. Some key standards of the EITI include informing the public, providing transparency within governments and companies dealing with the natural resources and holding those in power accountable.

As of 2019, the EITI has introduced new transparency requirements. One requirement impacting Guyana specifically is the contract transparency requirement. This states that by the year 2021, all participating countries must publish new oil, mining and gas contracts. Guyana has committed itself to the formulation of new contracts along with three other countries.

The purpose of the NPPDG is to help emerging oil producers make effective policies and decisions and remain proactive. Governments receive training sessions, mentorships and existing techniques via current successful oil-producing countries. Countries can provide one another with advice and support when facing novel challenges. In a summary of the most recent NPPDG meeting, consistency and politics were topics of discussion for Guyana. Because oil-production is a long-term project, keeping plans consistent and on track despite the occasional election of new leaders is a topic of concern for Guyana. This is mainly because prior to the discovery of the oil, Guyana began its Low Carbon Development Strategy. In this strategy, the country developed plans to fight climate change through sustainable development. According to the report, participants of the meeting are concerned that the recent oil discovery and subsequent oil production may not fit in with the Low Carbon Development Strategy.

Guyana’s New Sovereign Wealth Fund

Another proactive step taken by the Guyanese government since the oil discovery in Guyana includes the recent approval of the creation of a sovereign wealth fund. A sovereign wealth fund comprises of money from the country’s natural resources and a country uses it to boost its economy. With a sovereign wealth fund, Guyana has allowed the opportunity for other industries it relies on, such as sugar and gold, to benefit from the revenue that the oil will produce. Furthermore, since the oil industry is somewhat unpredictable, the sovereign wealth fund will allow the country to save up money in the event of hard times.

All in all, this oil discovery in Guyana could have an extremely positive impact on the Guyanese economy. Looking at other successful oil-producing countries for guidance, and learning from other country’s mistakes will allow Guyana to make the best decisions for its citizens.

– Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr

Health Systems in Guyana

Access to adequate health care is slowly improving throughout South America’s 14 countries, thanks to increased funding and awareness of current medical issues. However, the field is continuously evolving in attempts to adapt to current and future health-related endeavors. Often considered as part of the Caribbean region due to its coastal northern location, the country of Guyana has made significant strides in improving its health care system to meet modern standards. In December 2013, Guyana unveiled a new health initiative entitled “Health Vision 2020”, which was set to be a cornerstone of Guyanese health policy moving forward. Though significant strides have been made, many of the milestone goals laid out by the initiative were not met. Some still have yet to be achieved. Though there is much progress left to be made, health systems in Guyana are improving.

Health Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals

At its initial reveal in late 2013, Health Vision 2020 set out to systematically improve the health systems in Guyana. In doing this, the initiative aimed to also create more jobs in the field and improve health literacy. The initiative aimed to meet these goals while also attempting to meet the standards set forth by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In line with the MDGs, Health Vision 2020 sought to improve many aspects of health in Guyana. For example, to increase life expectancy to over 70 years of age and to decrease maternal and infant mortality rates. Health Vision 2020 aimed to do this while also reducing incidence, prevalence and factors that contribute to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Furthermore, the initiative hoped to achieve this all by 2015 (or make significant strides toward these targets by the set year).

Guyana aspired to achieve these goals through one central crux: communication and awareness. This would lead to the establishment of adequate health centers and the improvement of general health literacy. Despite this, education and information regarding these matters were only the first steps in improving health systems in Guyana.

The 2015 targets of Health Vision 2020 were not met, despite trends in a positive direction. For example, as of 2018, general life expectancy has improved to 68.5 years among both sexes. This was an improvement from 67 years in 2010. Another example is that maternal mortality remains high at 229 deaths per 100,000, while infant mortality has dropped to 20 deaths per 1,000.

Diagnosing the Problem

A possible explanation for why Guyana was not able to meet these 2015 targets may be centered around the geography of the nation. The population of the coastal nation is extremely spread out. This makes it difficult for the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other aid-related parties to reach every person. However, efforts have been made in improving the quality of life for all the people of Guyana. For example, approximately 98 percent of the population now has access to clean water. Additionally, 84 percent of the population has access to quality sanitation.

Furthermore, these goals may not have been met due to the allocation and availability of funds. As of 2018, only 5 percent of Guyana’s gross domestic product (GDP) was spent toward its health systems. In 2014, donor expenditure of donor funds dropped to just above 7 percent from 40.1 percent. A 2018 update on health systems in Guyana emphasized that this might be because the nation does not have proper strategies for channeling aid in from donors. This fluctuation in funding leads to instability and insecurity in the health care field.

Furthermore, the report “Country Cooperation Strategy 2016-2020” highlights international cooperation as an integral component to improving health care resources and systems in Guyana. The report emphasized that the nation lacks sufficient health workers and other human resources.

Moving Forward

Guyana is on the right track in improving the health and wellness of its people. Unfortunately, it currently lacks several of the resources to achieve its goals. These are vital resources ranging from consistent funding to a well-rounded workforce. Despite these deficiencies, Guyana has made significant strides toward the goals. The country has also been labeled a figurehead nation in addressing health systems of low- and middle-income countries. It has worked successfully with outside governments and organizations in the past to help curb the burden of disease. This partnership has also helped to spread awareness of health-related issues. Hopefully, these issues can be addressed in order to meet Health Vision 2020’s goals of providing adequate, long-lasting health systems in Guyana.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Guyana

Guyana, an English-speaking country situated on the northern coast of South America, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The country tallies about 29.2 suicides for every 100,000 deaths, a number surpassed only by Lithuania and Russia. This unsavory statistic can be an important indicator of a country’s relationship with mental health. The seven facts about mental health in Guyana show the variety of complex and interconnected factors that contribute to its high suicide rate.

7 Facts About Mental Health in Guyana

  1. Poverty in rural areas and alcohol abuse are major risk factors for poor mental health. While anybody can struggle with mental health, there are certain social patterns in Guyana that put some communities at greater risk for developing mental health issues like depression. Health workers have cited poverty in rural areas and the prevalence of alcohol abuse as possible factors that increase the risk of depression in Guyana.Rural poverty: About three-quarters of Guyana’s population lives in rural areas, both along the coast and in the interior. Of the 12 percent of people living in the rural interior, about 73.5 percent live in poverty and of the 60 percent of people living in rural communities along the coast, about 37 percent live in poverty. The poverty levels in these more remote communities are much higher than in urban areas, and they represent more dire situations as access to resources is more limited. About 70 percent of the country’s suicides take place in these rural areas.Alcohol abuse: Some health experts have suggested a link between alcohol abuse and poverty in rural regions of the country. An article by NPR cited Guyanese government psychologist Caitlin Vieira in saying, “In these rural communities, there is nothing to do but drink.” Alcohol abuse can have detrimental effects on mental health, especially if the consumer is already struggling. In the long-term, experts have suggested that dependence on alcohol can worsen mood disorders such as depression. In the short-term, excessive drinking lowers inhibitions and can result in impulsive suicide.
  2. There is a severe lack of trained mental health professionals. With very few healthcare professionals trained in mental health treatment and those who are trained working primarily in urban centers, Guyana’s most at-risk populations often cannot receive the care they need. Part of the reason there is so few people trained in this field is because Guyana has an extremely high emigration rate. With over 55 percent of the country’s citizens living abroad, there are typically not enough professionals in medicine generally to meet the population’s needs. Luckily, the government is mobilizing to address this issue. In 2015, Guyana pledged to a National Suicide Prevention Plan that aims to increase the number of trained mental healthcare workers. Over the past two years, about 120 medical doctors have received training for depression and suicide intervention and are now scattered across the country. The number of psychologists and psychiatrists in the country remains low, at around 27, but has increased from just seven in 2014.
  3. Access to treatment facilities is extremely limited. Along with the lack of healthcare professionals, access to adequate mental health treatment facilities in Guyana is very limited. There are only two inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the country, and only one allows women. While some people find it easier and more effective for trained healthcare workers to visit their communities, others benefit from and require the immersive atmosphere of inpatient care. More health workers are being trained, but presently there does not seem to be any plans to expand care and rehabilitation facilities.
  4. The stigma surrounding mental health stops many struggling citizens from seeking help. The stigma around mental health in Guyana is stubborn and pervasive. Especially in the rural communities where people are most at risk, talk spreads quickly and citizens avoid getting the help they need for fear of backlash from their neighbors. Part of the reason for this stigma involves the Mental Health Ordinance of 1930, which continues to serve as the legislative framework for mental health services. The document refers to people suffering from psychological disorders as “idiots” and “deranged,” language that establishes those seeking help for mental health issues as unwelcome outcasts. Some areas even attribute mental illness to witchcraft, further ostracizing those struggling. Fortunately, researchers at the University of Guyana are working to address the problem. To promote wellness, they plan to study and share “local practices for building community mental health resilience” among certain Guyanese neighborhoods. Because these stories and solutions are community-based and not focused on the individual, the study is expected to decrease the stigma around mental illness and promote collective acceptance.
  5. Fear of prosecution also acts as a deterrent for seeking help. Aside from stigma, fear of prosecution and mandatory enrollment in a treatment facility are other reasons why people do not get treated for mental illness. According to the NPR article, 85 percent of patients seeking treatment end up spending more than five years in psychiatric facilities with no legal protections outlining their right to leave or refuse treatment. People are scared that if they seek help, they will be sent away with no way to protest. Additionally, because suicide is illegal in Guyana, those considering taking their lives are sometimes fearful that a report will get them in legal trouble. The police operate the country’s suicide prevention hotline, a fact that intimidates many people, even though very few have been prosecuted. Many citizens suffer in silence for fear that there will be consequences if they seek help.
  6. East Indians have the highest suicide rate among ethnic groups in Guyana. According to the National Suicide Prevention Plan, East Indians made up about 80 percent of Guyana’s suicides between 2010 and 2013, even though East Indians make up just about 40 percent of the population. Some have considered the history of East Indians in Guyana an important indicator of why suicide rates are so high. When slavery was abolished in the 1800s, landowners enlisted indentured servants from India as the new form of cheap labor. Therefore, despite being the largest ethnic group, East Indians have always been associated with poverty and low status in Guyana.
  7. Progress is ongoing. In addition to the various aforementioned steps being taken to address mental health in Guyana, a non-profit organization called The Guyana Foundation has been instrumental in developing “sunrise centers” in communities with high suicide rates. These centers focus less on psychiatric treatment and more on community-based wellness programs to reshape suicide-prone areas from the ground up. Sunrise centers offer courses that teach valuable life skills, such as IT training, photography and music lessons, in order to increase economic opportunities and provide stress relief.

As a result of the efforts from non-profits and legislation like the National Suicide Prevention Plan, Guyana’s suicide rate has dropped from 44.2 percent in 2014 to just under 30 today. While it is clear that improvements are being made, the country still has a long way to go in holistically addressing mental health. An overhaul of the outdated legislative framework surrounding mental illness may be the next step towards improving mental health in Guyana.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Pixabay

 

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana
Guyana, a nation located on the Northeastern shoulder of South America, has continually made efforts to improve its education system but the country’s social, political and economic problems have had a devastating effect on it. The lack of funding for education had lead to poor conditions in schools, but Guyana’s government has implemented the Education Sector Plan 2014-2018 in order to improve its education system at all levels. In the text below, 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana are presented.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana

  1. The gender disparity in education between Guyanese boys and girls continues to grow as they transition into higher grade levels. Girls are outperforming boys in numerous subjects and are more likely to stay in school while boys tend to discontinue. Primary school enrollment for girls was 83 percent, compared to the same figure for boys that was at 95 percent. Secondary school enrollment for girls is 100 percent while it is 96 percent for boys. Primary completion rates for girls is 97 percent and for boys- 98 percent. At the tertiary level, enrollment for girls is twice as high compared to boys.
  2. In 2013, girls in the coastal areas of Guyana scored 15 to 23 percentage points higher in Math and English than those in the hinterland areas of Guyana. These results are partly due to the higher percentage of poverty and lack of school resources in hinterland areas.
  3. The teaching profession is seen as the feminization of schooling because women dominate this field. In 2012, 70 percent of secondary education teachers were female and only 27 percent were male. This result is due to tight gender roles in Guyana as girls are seen as more nurturing, open-minded and cooperative. Boys tend to choose non-traditional subjects such as Science and Technology.
  4. The Ministry’s Labour Department is responsible for creating the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment, which is a 12-week technical and vocational education and training program that targets out-of-school-youth in Guyana. Compared to boys, there was a higher rate of girls that signed up for service occupations such as health services, home economics (623 girls, 8 boys) and IT/Clerical (183 girls, 30 boys).
  5. First Lady Sarah Granger and Minister of Telecommunications Cathy Hughes have implemented Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Guyana that encourages girls to pursue non-traditional careers. They believe that Information Communications Technology (ICT) will provide girls and women with essential skills that will “promote literacy, improve access to health care, and enable the exercise of legal rights and participation in government.” Girls in STEM are the future that will allow Guyana to succeed. Women are a part of present too, as 30 percent of Guyana’s Parliament are female. This percentage of women in Parliament is active since 2005.
  6. Guyana has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and it is one of two countries that are a part of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. The knowledge about HIV prevention among young girls aged between 15 and 25 is about 50 percent. For young boys, the knowledge about HIV prevention is 40 percent. Knowledge about safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention increases with education level for both boys and girls. It is important to educate girls about prevention because girls are more likely to get HIV/AIDS to due biological, socio-cultural and economic reasons. Encouraging girls to stay in school is a way to ensure a better quality of life and an important factor in preventing HIV/AIDS.
  7. Teenage pregnancy between the ages of 15 and 19 affects 97 out of 1,000 girls in Guyana. The teenage pregnancy rate is the second highest in the Caribbean and South America. Young girls between the ages of 15 and 19 with higher literacy rates have lower adolescent birth rates. Girls who remain in school are less likely to become pregnant.
  8. The Education Sector Plan (ESP) of 2014-208 was created to provide a quality education for all of Guyana’s citizens. Its main objectives were eliminating illiteracy, strengthening tolerance and modernizing education. The ESP has made huge progress in regards to improving access to education at all levels, increasing the proportion of trained teachers and providing more access to interactive technology, computers and upgrading physical facilities in particular.
  9. After ESP 2014-2018, students improved 14 percentage points in English but did not improve in Mathematics. ESP is still trying to tackle this lack of progress. ESP was also able to professionally train 70 percent of teachers. It also provided and implemented numerous support programs, including School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Health and Family Life Education as well as School Welfare Program.
  10. Too often, girls are not able to reveal their full potential in improving Guyana’s economy due to discriminatory social norms, incentives and legal institutions. Girls often tend to be overworked, underpaid and sexual harassed in the workplace. A major issue that hinders girls’ education and work is gender-based violence. The World Bank Report of 2017 revealed that only 53 percent of females aged 15-64 participated in Guyana’s labor force compared to 80 percent of males of the same age. This result is the reason why The National Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Violence was established.

Although most of these 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana shed light on the need for improvement in education, progress is still being achieved. Plans and actions are being supported by the Guyanese government and numerous organizations that are willing to help. Education for both girls and boys is key to improving Guyana as a whole.

– Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

GuyanaIn April 2018, Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an international organization devoted to advancing childhood education, reaffirmed its commitment to improving education in Guyana with a $1.7 million grant. This grant intends to strengthen the Early Childhood Education Program, which strives to improve literacy and numeracy levels in several remote regions of the country. Backed by the GPE and The World Bank, this grant will also positively contribute to girls’ education in Guyana.

Literacy and Numeracy Results

The results of these efforts are notable in literacy and numeracy scores among nursery school students. The percentage of students attaining a level of “approaching mastery” or higher in emergent literacy assessments rose from 39.58 percent to 68.30 percent between 2016 and 2017. Similar gains occurred in emergent numeracy levels, in which the percentage of students achieving a level of “approaching mastery” or higher rose from 41.91 percent in 2016 to 77.03 percent in 2017. These gains indicate significant improvements in boys’ and girls’ education in Guyana.

A Gender Gap in Education

According to certain indicators, girls’ education in Guyana has grown stronger than boys’ education. In June, the University of Guyana hosted a symposium on the underperformance of boys in the Guyanese education system. During the symposium, Dr. Mairette Newman, representative of The Commonwealth of Learning, noted three key statistics, which indicate a widening gender gap in Guyanese education:

  1. Girls outperform boys in literacy tests, once they transition into higher grade levels.
  2. Boys are more likely to drop out of secondary school than their female counterparts. (In early education, the ratio of boys to girls is one to one. However, at the secondary school level, the ratio is two to one, in favor of girls).
  3. Boys are less likely to transition into tertiary education programs.

According to Dr. Newman, girls normally have an advantage, since teachers prefer “female” qualities in the classroom, such as the ability to work well in groups and be introspective. All of these factors contribute to girls outpacing boys in the Guyanese education system.

Gender Barriers

While the symposium touched on this gender inequality in education, it did not address how these inequalities and gendered expectations also affect girls’ education in Guyana or limit girls in society. Though growing numbers of Guyanese women succeed in school and participate actively in public life, significant gender-related barriers still exist.

The Guyana Empowered Peoples Action Network (GEPAN) explains that children take on specific gender roles early in life. While girls take on household tasks, society encourages boys to be independent, as future “providers.” These gender roles continue into adulthood and expose women to limitations and violence in Guyana. For example, in 2014, UNICEF reported that at least one-third of Guyanese women experience sexual violence. These barriers and violence make it difficult for women to reach their full social and economic potential.

Women’s Empowerment

Luckily, Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, has already begun to address these gender-related issues. Last month, she held a Girls’ Empowerment Workshop, designed to inspire and empower girls (ages 10-15), encouraged girls to pursue non-traditional career paths and fight through prejudices to achieve their goals. As the First Lady emphasized, education is the first step to empowerment for women, which will strengthen economic development. For the First Lady, women’s empowerment and girls’ education in Guyana are crucial to the future success of Guyana. This movement for women’s empowerment also goes beyond the First Lady’s initiatives.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications launched a program for girls and women in Information and Communications Technology, a field dominated by males in Guyana. The program, Guyanese Girls Code, is a free, three-month course which teaches beginning coding and programming to girls (ages 11-14). Over forty girls enrolled in the initial class. According to Cathy Hughes, the Minister of Public Telecommunications, the classes strive to bring women into the ICT sector and give them opportunities to gain the education they’ll need to succeed. Hughes hopes that bringing girls into the ICT sector will offer new perspectives and talent, which will be crucial for advancing Guyanese society.

Thus, education and women’s empowerment in Guyana are intimately linked. For women’s empowerment to advance in Guyana, education must remain a priority. With the support of organizations such as GPE and World Bank, Guyanese leaders strive to continue strengthening education and addressing gender inequalities in the classroom and society.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr