African Welfare Programs 
Basic welfare programs were introduced in select African states toward the end of the colonial age. Rather than aiding the poorest citizens, the earliest programs were social security schemes designed to assist affluent wage-earners, predominantly white, in their retirement. The majority, who made meagre wages or subsisted through barter exchange, did not qualify for benefits. African welfare programs remain underdeveloped and their qualifying criteria often exclude the neediest citizens. But increasingly, African leaders are seeing welfare programs both as an effective way to reduce poverty and as a tool for leveraging political advantage.

Welfare Programs in Tanzania

In 2013, Tanzania launched the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) to assist its poorest citizens through small monthly “cash transfers.” The program has rapidly expanded coverage from 2 percent of the population in its first year to more than 10 percent in 2018. With this program, every recipient receives an unconditional sum that translates to about $5. Beneficiaries can qualify for additional funds by enrolling their children in schools and ensuring they attend regular health check-ups. A “cash-for-work” scheme enables members of a beneficiary’s household to earn around $1 per day for contributing labor to public works projects.

PSSN is geared toward Tanzania’s poorest. Funds are directed toward communities in the lowest-income bracket, but each community elects the households it deems most in need. The governing agency then conducts its own checks to ensure the elected beneficiaries are eligible. A 2016 report led by the World Bank found that 48 percent of PSSN beneficiary households land in the lowest decile for consumer spending. At around $13, average monthly cash transfer values represent about one-fifth of total monthly expenditure for PSSN households.

Welfare Program in Kenya 

Kenya began making together a wide-ranging welfare system during the height of the aids crisis. With support from UNICEF, the Kenyan government piloted a cash transfers program targeting households with orphans and vulnerable children in 2004. It was found that most beneficiaries used their transfers to buy basic necessities like food and school supplies, quelling fears the funds would be squandered. As of 2015, approximately 250,000 Kenyan households received transfers at a flat rate of around $21.

Since 2003, the Kenyan government has funded elementary education for all school-aged children. Reports show that this has not only been highly effective in increasing school enrolment and extending the duration of children’s’ education but has also boosted Kenyan test scores to the top level across the continent. However, there are some bad sides to this program as well. Although tuition is paid for, there are still costs that need to be picked up by parents or guardians, such as mandatory uniforms, which can act as barriers for the poorest families. Another critique launched against Kenya public schools is that they are underrepresented in slums and poorer villages, drawing the charge that the policy could be better aligned to help Kenya’s poorest children.

The Future of African Welfare Programs

Many other African states are moving alongside Kenya and Tanzania in establishing what can be called African welfare programs and systems. In 2013, Senegal launched a cash transfers program that now assists around 20 percent of the nation’s poorest households. The Ghanaian and Zambian governments have both taken recent steps to raise revenue for child benefits. Wealthier nations like South Africa and Botswana are building on their existing welfare systems as well.

African welfare programs are emerging far earlier than those in European, Asian or Latin American nations when considered these programs in terms of Gross National Income (GNI). So far, all indications suggest they are helping lift the poorest from dire poverty and are boosting the economy through buoyed consumer spending. Welfare is not going to eliminate poverty on its own, but it may speed along its decline and improve lives as it does so.

– Jamie Wiggan

Photo: Unsplash

opportunity in African slums
Kenya is known as a contrasting country where there is a large gap between the economic and social classes. About half of the 44 million people who live in the African country live well below the poverty line. This makes necessities like clean water and health care seem like luxuries.

With limited opportunity in African slums, many fall ill from lack of sanitation and clean water, as well as food shortages. Others are unable to attend school and are either pushed into violence or become victims of it.

Kennedy Odede – A Ray of Hope

Kennedy Odede was born in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa. Here, Odede and many of his friends and neighbors were subjected to violence, severe gender inequality and a constant feeling of hopelessness stemming from a lack of opportunity. Despite his extreme impoverished conditions, Odede remained hopeful for not only a better future for himself and his birthplace of Kibera but for all the slums of Africa.

As he continued his education and eventually migrated to the U.S., Odede became inspired by visionaries of change, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Like these influential men, Odede wanted to better the world for the vulnerable population.

In Kenya in 2004, Odede bought a soccer ball for 20 cents and taught people in his area the sport. Upon bringing people together to play, the Kenyan native was able to create open discussions about the pressing issues within the community of Kibera. Those included issues such as food security and gender-based violence. They started discussing ways to create opportunity in African slums.

Shining Hope for Communities

After meeting his wife, Jessica Posner, Odede’s initiatives branched out into a grassroots organization called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).  It was founded in 2009. This nonprofit organization devised a plan to integrate programs for girls’ education and community forums to raise awareness about gender-based violence. SHOFCO’s mission statement pays homage to the mindset of Odede’s visionary inspirations. It reads “Empower communities to transform urban poverty to urban promise.”

SHOFCO set up an aerial network of pipes that brought access to clean water. It was an effort to help decrease Kenya’s alarming child mortality rate. SHOFCO has also set up several health clinics, including 6 in Odede’s home neighborhood of Kibera, where over 165,000 patients were served in 2017. Clinical services were desperately needed in Kibera with HIV and other diseases being endemically prominent.

According to SHOFCO’s annual report, in 2017 the organization helped provide free education and health services to nearly 220,000 people across Kenyan slums. Thus, along with health reform in Africa, the organization continues its initiatives to better education and transform the lives of people.

Educational Programs to Create Better Opportunity in African Slums

The Los Angeles based couple’s organization continued to transform urban poverty and create better opportunity in African slums through their educational programs. SHOFCO’s School-2-School program partners with schools across the United States to support efforts and raise awareness for SHOFCO’s free schooling for girls in Kenya.

This partnership has helped 45 percent of Kenyan girls enrolled in the free schooling program achieve A’s in Kenya’s primary education certification exam. Schools enrolled in the program received a B+ average on the same exam. Both Odede and his wife believe that providing young girls with education is important to fighting poverty as it creates female leaders and speaks for the need to fight for women’s rights.

SHOFCO now runs two schools, one in Kibera the other in Mathare. The schools teach 519 girls from pre-kindergarten up to eighth grade. Aside from traditional academic subjects, students focus on leadership skills and learn about Kenya’s government. This was Odede’s idea to make people realize the need to create more opportunities in African slums.

SHOFCO’s annual budget of $7 million is currently made up of donations and grants from both the U.S. and Kenya. Odede and his wife hope this budget will go well beyond $10 million by 2021. That would allow the organization to create more schools and also continue its efforts in addressing Kenya’s health and water security issues. SHOFCO’s model for lifting urban slums like Kibera out of poverty serves as a guide to how industrialized countries can help create opportunity in African slums.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Flickr

Kenya’s Female Maasai
As is often the case in many poor global communities, Maasailand has a culture of gender inequality. The majority of Kenya’s female Maasai are enslaved by cultural belief systems, denying them from achieving basic human rights. Fortunately, there are advocates working to change this reality and improve women’s rights in Maasailand, Kenya.

Intimate Portrait of Kenya’s Female Maasai

Even in the 21st century, many Maasai women are not educated or only have a partial education. Young women are usually forced into marriage by their fathers into more privileged communities in exchange for cattle and cash. All Maasai girls are subject to a cultural tradition known as the cutting ceremony. It is an annual rite of passage in which girls’ clitorises are cut to signify their transition into womanhood and to mark daughters eligible for marriage. Despite the fact Kenya has outlawed genital cutting to prevent the deaths of even more young Maasai girls, male tribal elders continue to enforce the ritual.

According to the Lööf Foundation, a Swedish nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of international youth, the Kenyan Maasai community lacks adequate health care and Maasai women must travel long distances to receive medical treatment or give birth. The foundation reported that approximately 75 percent of Maasai women give birth on roadsides because the nearest health centers are too far away and that each year one out of every 10 Maasai women and an estimated 20 percent of Maasai infants die during roadside deliveries.

Maasai women can never divorce, except in extreme cases of physical abuse. They are prohibited from remarrying, even if they are widowed in their teens, and merely become the property of one of their husband’s brothers. They will be one of many wives and bear many children, regardless of their health or ability to provide for them.

However, there are various organizations that are working for improving the rights of Kenya’s female Maasai.

Organizations Empowering Kenya’s Female Maasai

  1. The Lööf Foundation is constructing the Kenswed Maternity and Health Center in Ngoni, Kenya. The center will provide both prenatal and antenatal care, as well as general health care to the public and sexual education to youths. The foundation hopes the center will reduce the high maternal and infant mortality rates.
  2. The Maasai Education, Research and Conservation (MERC) Institute works to preserve the Maasai culture and community. It partners with various types of organizations and the Kenyan government to ensure Maasai people’s empowerment and to establish social policies that will create benefits like universal clean water access. MERC co-founded the Maasai Girls Education Fund and also supports schools dedicated to girls’ education.
  3. The Maasai Girls Education Fund (MGEF) provides scholarships to all Maasai girls. Scholarships are all-inclusive and cover everything from uniforms and books to personal hygiene supplies. MGEF also offers performance monitoring, counseling and provides community education workshops to address the social customs and cultural beliefs inhibiting girls’ education. Workshops are open to anyone with the authority within the community to influence cultural change. MGEF provides business training and seed grants to rural Maasai women. Upon completing their educations, girls have the economic independence and ability to assert their rights as women. The goal is to increase female education enrollment by giving them the necessary tools to economically better their families and educate their children.
  4. Katy Leakey, the proprietor of Fair Trade Winds, started The Leakey Collection, a line of jewelry created by Maasai women to help their families combat the financial hardships resulting from prolonged droughts. The jewelry is made from reeds that would otherwise be burned to plant grass for cattle feed. The reeds are cut, dyed and crafted into bead-like pieces called Zulugrass. Her business model enables Maasai women to be entrepreneurs, not employees. These women take Zulugrass kits back to their communities and employ others to assist them. This newfound empowerment is enriching the lives of Kenya’s female Maasai by making them happy, independent and resilient.

The Story of Nice Leng’ete

As children, Nice Leng’ete and her older sister, Soila Leng’ete, would flee their homes during genital cutting season. Then one year, Soila did not run. Nice kept reminding Soila they were fleeing for a purpose, but despite Nice’s pleas, Soila still surrendered herself to the centuries-old custom. The trauma Soila endured ingrained itself in Nice’s memory. She made her life’s mission to protect other Maasai girls from the same fate by founding a program that travels to villages throughout Maasailand collaborating with elders and girls to form new, symbolic rites of passage in place of cutting. According to a January 2018 New York Times report, Nice Leng’ete had saved 15,000 girls from genital cutting thus far.

Kenya’s female Maasai experience heartbreaking living conditions that are a direct result of cultural beliefs and traditions that consider women as less valuable. Due to these reasons, the Maasai women are forced into marriage and a life of manual labor. However, the power of change shall not be doubted, and for Kenya’s female Maasai, the proof lies in the advocates working to improve their lives forever.

– Julianne Russo

Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in Kenya
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is addressing the issue of clean water in Kenya. Currently, 41 percent of Kenyans (19 million people) still lack reliable, safe water sources for drinking water. While on vacation in the Maasai Mara region, Wright witnessed the challenges faced by locals, especially females, when it came to collecting drinking water and decided to start a fundraising campaign with the goal of building two wells in the village he stayed in.

The Global Issue of Clean Water

The availability of clean water has been a major issue across the globe. In July 2010, the United Nations deemed access to clean water and proper sanitation a human right. Yet in 2017, 2.1 billion people still lacked safe drinking water and 4.5 billion did not have sufficient sanitation services. Without safe management of sanitation services and wastewater from cities, businesses and farms, waterways are likely to be polluted. When these water sources are used by community members as drinking water, many health risks arise.

Contaminated water and poor sanitation remain the most common reason for child mortality and are associated with diseases including cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid and polio. By creating the infrastructure for water services, an impoverished community can significantly reduce the number of preventable health issues.

K.J. Wright’s Fundraiser for Wells in Kenya

Clean water infrastructure, however, can be expensive. To build a single well in the village K.J. Wright visited will cost $20,000. In order to adequately cover the expense of two wells, Wright has set a goal of $50,000 for his fundraising campaign. He will personally be donating $300 for every tackle he makes during the football season, which has added up to $1,500 as of November 2018. He has also created an online donation page through Healing Hands International for individuals wishing to support clean water in Kenya.

Women and girls are particularly affected by this problem because water sources are often miles away, and females are usually the ones expected to collect water for the family. Aside from the health impacts of walking great distances daily, the time invested in this chore also prevents many girls from attending school.

Seeing this had a profound effect on Wright. Commenting on his trip to Kenya, Wright said, “I noticed this young girl had dirty brown water. So, I just wanted to help this community. The young ladies have to walk many miles twice a day just to bring back water, and when they do get the water, it’s not even clean. […] I just want to bless this community that blessed me.” By building these two wells, Wright will be helping these young women not only by reducing the time it will take to collect water but also by giving them access to a clean water source.

Changing Lives

Local access to safe drinking water will drastically alter the lives of residents and improve the overall health of the village. Clean water in Kenya is just one example, but celebrity efforts, such as the steps taken by Wright, can have significant positive impacts on impoverished communities.

Fundraising campaigns and advocacy from public figures affect change quickly and can reach diverse audiences that otherwise would not be educated on issues of poverty, clean water, women’s rights and more. Wright plans on returning to Kenya next year and hopefully will continue supporting the world’s poor and inspiring others to take action as well.

– Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts Living conditions In Kenya
Kenya is a culturally rich country located in Eastern Africa along the equator and is one of the most significant places for paleontological discoveries about human’s ancestors. The presence of ethnic diversity within a population of 48.5 million people has amplified its cultural and linguistic wealth but, sadly, it has also been a source of conflict.

Despite the reoccurring security issues, including terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab, Kenya has been achieving some tremendous changes in the political, structural and economic spheres through various reforms. These reforms were a result of a change in the constitution that took place in 2010 and has overall played a key role in the sustained economic growth and social development. The nation continues the deal with some pertinent issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change.

These top 10 facts living conditions in Kenya portray the living conditions in Kenya through the positive changes occurring as well as the challenges the country faces.

Top 10 Facts Living Conditions in Kenya

  1. The 2010 constitutional changes meant a significant part of changing the gears toward development for Kenya as it addressed historically rooted issues such as geographic, demographic and human rights issues that have been an obstacle for the progress of the nation.
  2. As a result of the changes, three years after the constitutional improvements took place, Kenya had a peaceful election for the offices of the National and County Government with demands for fair resource allocation and accountable service delivery.
  3. Kenya has made some commendable achievements including the fulfillment of some of the Millenium Development Goals such as the decrease in child mortality, universal primary school enrollment and the lessened gender gap in education.
  4. Kenya is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies in Africa with a growth rate near 5.8 percent, despite the setbacks caused by the 2008 global economic recession.
  5. Although the overall economy in the country is increasing, the gap between the rich and poor have been growing immensely. Almost 42 percent of the country’s population continues to live below the poverty line.
  6. Due to this great gap between the rich and poor the achievement of Millenium Development Goals, social security, in particular, have been a point of debate as the large part of the society still does not have sufficient access to basic services such as health care, education and clean water.
  7. The Kenya 2030 Vision development programme has the potential to change the lack of access for the larger part of the population through devolved health care as well as free maternal care that could greatly improve health care outcomes.
  8. In December 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced what he called the “Big Four”, four pillars that will be most important in his last term as president and that are: manufacturing, universal health care, affordable housing and food security.
  9. There have been some security issues in recent years with a growing number of attacks due to the Islamist militant Al-Shabaab movement that has set camp in the neighboring country, Somalia. Some of the most infamous ones include the devastating attack in 2013 Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and the attack on Garissa University in 2015.
  10. In recent years, Kenya has been dealing with a humanitarian issue as a result of the influx of refugees coming from Somalia that have reached over 500,000 people, while refugees immigrating from South Sudan amount to over 30,000 people.

As a country with a tremendous number of young people, skilled labor, a revised constitution and infrastructural resources, Kenya has the potential to be one of the leading nations in the Eastern African. In order to reach such heights, however, it is essential that the country produces and implements sustainable solutions for its security, social and political problems while putting efforts to alleviate poverty.

Bilen Kassie
Photo: Flickr

Aviation Industry in Africa
Accounting for just 3 percent of the world’s total travelers, the aviation industry in Africa is poised for tremendous growth as the booming middle-class demand for air travel constantly increases. As governments from various African countries work to grow this industry, they bring opportunities for foreign investment with it as well as economic growth and job creation across industries.

Since Africa has always been known as the world’s poorest continent, the growth of the economy in this sector can bring much-needed improvements to eradicating the poverty of the population.

Key Players

Out of the countries with rapid growth in the aviation industry in Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya have proven determined to make air travel a primary focus on economic improvement.

In the years leading up to Ethiopia’s recent turn to privatization of various industries with the goal of increasing foreign and domestic investment, Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s national flag carrier, has quadrupled its passenger count, detailed plans to vastly expand destinations and announced a massive overhaul of their terminal in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Seeking to enter into the competition of African air travel, Kenya Airways has made a goal to increase its presence within Africa and across the globe. The national flag carrier of Kenya has also followed Ethiopian Airlines’ example and has reopened flights to conflict-plagued Mogadishu, looking to benefit from trade possibilities with Somalia.

Besides Ethiopia and Kenya, various other African countries, seeing the success of these countries and possibilities for themselves are determined to expand their aviation industries, thereby boosting investment and global presence.

Affected Markets

While the effects of growth in the aviation industry in Africa are obvious for that sector, the growth in other markets cannot be understated.

As airlines in Africa become more affordable and plentiful for Africans and connect more diverse destinations for foreigners, the prospects for trans-continental and foreign tourism increase greatly. The more tourism a country can offer, the more workers in that industry are needed which increases job opportunities.

Similarly, as African airlines reach more destinations at more competitive prices, the potential for trade within Africa and abroad are heightened. In the past, airplanes carrying goods for trade have not been able to reach many of their destinations directly. Instead, they need to transfer at one of the larger air travel hubs that are often well out of the way, increasing costs. With increased destinations, a trade will become more profitable, improving the economies of both the country selling and the country buying the goods.

Looking Forward

Airline companies around the world are noticing that Africa is having the most potential for growth in the global aviation industry. With one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the world, a rapidly growing population, large percent of middle-class population and changes in trade policy opening up possibilities for global exports, African demand for air travel will rise exponentially in the coming decades.

If African countries’ governments invest in increasing their national carriers’ fleets and renovate airports, it will not only make air travel more convenient for casual flyers but will also incentivize investors to visit and support local markets.

The aviation industry in Africa is undergoing massive overhauls as governments, investors and citizens realize the value of efficient and forward-thinking air travel. Growth in this market has the potential to have a huge impact on the development of African economies and allow them to compete on the global stage. With the development of economies, a decrease in poverty will surely follow.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Flickr

 

Solar Power in Kenya
Solar Power in Kenya is helping farmers in this Eastern African country sustain agriculture and save money. Solar-irrigation makes perfect sense in Kenya, considering the low rainfall and ample sunshine in the country.

Solar Project

East and Central Africa’s largest solar power plant will soon be completed in Kenya and will be producing 54.64 megawatts of electricity into the national grid. This is the first time Kenya will develop a major solar power plant to harness the abundant solar energy available in the country in order to reduce energy costs.

The objective of this project funded by the World Bank is to increase access to electricity services in underserved counties in Kenya. The solar project is intended to achieve the government’s objective under Vision 2030 that aims to transform Kenya into an industrialized middle-income country.

It is estimated that four out of five families in Africa depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but only 4 percent of families utilize irrigation and instead rely on scarce rainfall. Switching to irrigated agriculture increases yields up to 90 percent when compared to rain-fed farms, but high diesel costs make irrigation unaffordable for smallholder farmers.

Solar-powered Water Pumps

In 2015, the USAID funded Kenya Smallholder Solar Irrigation (KSSI) project. Two solar-powered water pumps were distributed to two farmers over a three month period as a test for the project validity. The study concluded that one farmer could expect an increase in gross profit of 350 percent after paying off a 22-month loan, and the other farmer was projected to have a 235 percent increase after paying off a two-year loan.

The Co-Operative Bank Foundation is partnering with the MasterCard Foundation on a program that will attempt to distribute loans to about 2,500 Kenyan farmers over the next three years. The initiative will be rolled out through some of the bank’s 12,000 cooperatives that distribute loans to members using a group repayment approach. The Co-Operative Bank Foundation will also use the program to educate farmers about financial literacy and how to utilize technology for their own financial needs. These funds will be directed toward pump fundings.

The world’s first solar-powered water pump with a five-year warranty was launched in October 2017, in Kenya. This pump is called SF2 pump and it is capable of delivering up to one liter of water per second. It is smaller, more powerful, more robust and remotely monitored in comparison to standard water pumps. The SF2 can deliver up to a liter of water every second, and lift it up 30 feet vertically. This provides a farm with over 21,000 liters of water per day, whilst avoiding any fuel costs.

Future Plans

Kenya is prepared to spend $2.1 billion on electrification in rural areas focusing on renewable powered mini-grids. As part of the nation’s 2016-2021 strategic plan, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) aims to install around 450 mini-grids powered by solar sources. It is estimated that about 25,000 to 30,000 solar PV products are traded annually in the Kenyan market and that at least every household has owned at least one solar PV product.

Solar Power in Kenya is being implemented at a fast rate and will continue to save farmer’s money spent on irrigation and fuel costs. The efforts to give loans to farmers to buy solar-powered irrigation pumps is a smart investment to help thousands of farmers save money.

 – Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Countries Receiving Economic Aid in 2019
In the fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Federal Government plans on spending $1.24 trillion. Out of this amount, foreign assistance will account for $27 billion. This spending is broken down into several categories including economic development. Approximately $2 billion will be directed toward generating economic growth in developing countries. In the text below, the top five countries receiving the economic aid in 2019 are presented.

Jordan

The first country on the list is Jordan. Jordan will receive $1.27 billion in aid and roughly 48 percent of that money is planned for economic development. The focus of this aid is on a plan called the Microeconomic Foundation for Growth Assistance. The goal of this funding is to create a stable economic landscape that will allow the private sector to invest. This will aid Jordan by creating both monetary and fiscal policies that will allow the government to have a greater control of the economy.

These reforms are needed due to the economic crisis that Jordan is currently facing. Jordan’s debt makes up 94 percent of the country’s GDP. The cost of living has also risen dramatically in the past years. The Economist ranked Amman, the capital of Jordan, as the most expensive Arab city to live in. However, Jordan is working to end its economic crisis. Recently, Jordan received a $723 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and plans to lower the country’s debt to 77 percent of GDP by 2021.  

Afghanistan

The second country on the list is Afghanistan. This country is projected to receive $93 million for economic development. Most of this funds ($57 million), will be aimed toward agricultural development. This money will be focused on the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In 2018, Afghanistan’s GDP increased by five times compared to 2002. However, a large trade deficit threatens Afghanistan’s economy. Most of Afghanistan’s economy relies on imports and this is the main reason why the country needs help in distributing agricultural goods. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided airlifts in 2017 to help export goods to international markets. USAID also provided alternative road transport. In total, this organization helped to move $223 million of goods.  

Kenya

In 2019 Kenya, will receive $624 million of aid from the United States. Out of this amount, 5 percent will be aimed at economic development of the country, totaling $29 million. Almost 80 percent of this money will be for agriculture. Like Afghanistan, the focus of the aid is towards the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In Kenya, agriculture makes up 27 percent of the country’s GDP and it is vulnerable to various kinds of natural disasters, like droughts. In 2014, Kenya reported a national drought emergency and the drought left millions of people vulnerable.

The drought continued to 2018 and USAID is studying the situation and working on solutions to help lessen the impact of the drought. In the period of 2015 to 2017 USAID implemented several programs to help create more drought resistant incentives for farmers. Kenya’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2018, compared to 4.8 in 2017. This is directly related to a better weather situation in the country.

Tanzania

Economic aid directed toward Tanzania is projected to be 1 percent of the aid package, which equals $7 million. This amount will be aimed towards agriculture.

Agriculture makes up for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and around 75 percent the country population is employed in this sector. The United States sees this as an opportunity to increase incomes and living conditions for Tanzanians. USAID has been working on a program in Tanzania known as Feed the Future. This program increases competitiveness, productivity and creates infrastructure so farmers can reach more markets.

In 2017, over 400,000 Tanzanians have benefited from Feed the Future. This is reiterated by the fact that rice productivity doubled per acre and the average gross margins for horticulture reached $3,900 per acre.

Uganda   

Uganda is projected to receive $461 million in 2019. Four percent or almost $19 million are going towards economic development. Majority of this amount is going towards agriculture development.

Like Tanzania, a large percentage of Uganda’s GDP and workforce are concentrated in agriculture. Twenty-four percent of the country’s GDP is made up of agriculture and farming employs two-thirds of the population.

USAID implemented the Feed the Future Program in Uganda as well. One of the most important initiatives was implementing an e-verification sticker in fruits sold that was intended for keeping track of purchase inputs. This initiative is aimed at combating the $1 billion loss that Uganda faces from counterfeit inputs on yearly basis. It also laid private investors consciences to rest, since they invested over $6 million in Uganda’s agricultural business in 2016.

In summary, the top five countries receiving the economic aid from the U.S. in 2019 are Jordan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The United States government invests billions of dollars every year into foreign aid. One of the best ways to use that money is to invest in economic development, which helps improve the conditions of people living in developing countries.

Economic stability is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring safety across the world. 

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls' Education in Kenya 
Kenya is a country located on the eastern coast of the African continent with ongoing reforms for tremendous political, social and economic development. The first steps of these reforms began with the passage of a new constitution in 2010 that introduced a bicameral legislative house and devolved county government. Whilst these developments are taking place, the country faces challenges fighting poverty, inequality, climate change and the vulnerability of the economy to internal and external fluctuations.

A huge subset of these challenges facing Kenya is girls education. Similar to the countries across the continent, Kenya portrays a reality where girls are denied their right to education due to social and cultural norms, such as child marriage and female genital cutting aside from economic barriers. These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Kenya reveal some of the historical contexts for these hurdles, the challenges for better access and steps being taken toward future goals. 

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Kenya

  1. In 2003, Kenya enacted a law that made primary education free. As a result of this legislation, enrollment rates increased to 84 percent. 
  2. This legislation by the government had a positive outcome at large; however, it was found that in some regions where poverty and gender inequality are particularly high, only 19 percent of girls were in school. 
  3. From the student population that enrolls in the first year of school, one in five (or less) make it to their eighth year. This high rate of dropouts is a result of early marriage, female genital cutting, poverty and other factors. 
  4. Female genital cutting is a historically and culturally rooted social tradition that has reached as high as 89 percent of the female population in marginalized areas such as the Maasailand in Kenya. 
  5. While the practice of genital cutting is illegal in Kenya, lots of parents in marginalized areas still subject their girls to female genital cutting with the aim of eliminating teenage pregnancies and increasing girls’ chances for marriage. 
  6. Although primary education is free, a family still holds the responsibility of paying for textbooks, uniforms and teachers’ salaries. Moreover, if a child is going to school, it also means that they are not spending time contributing to the family’s income. Such an occurrence adds a perceived loss in addition to the cost of going to school. This is particularly worse for girls who are expected to marry early and join their husband’s family. 
  7. In 2016, the U.N. reported that an estimated one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle due to an inability to access affordable sanitary products. 
  8. Despite its many obstacles, Kenya has met some Millennium Development Goals with targets — including reduced child mortality, near universal primary school enrolment and narrowed gender gaps in education. 
  9. A step for progress, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Basic Education Amendment Act requiring the government to provide free sanitary towels to schoolgirls in 2017 and allocated $4.6 million to the gender department ministry for the projects. 
  10. One year of secondary education for a girl in Kenya corresponds to over 25 percent increase in wages; if girls were to finish their secondary education, child marriage would be reduced by at least 50 percent. 

Investing in Girls’ Education in Kenya

Long-standing traditions and beliefs along with high levels of poverty are seemingly huge hurdles to overcome; however, the pursuit of providing more than half of the Kenyan population with access to education is a challenge worth taking — especially when it has the potential for great social and economic returns. 

– Bilen Kassie
Photo: Flickr

AI in African Health Care
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been becoming more prevalent in healthcare systems, helping analyze large amounts of data to improve efficiency in both care and access to medical supplies. AI has also been used to detect health conditions as well as to educate and communicate with patients via mobile phones. In Africa, where healthcare facilities are often underresou
rced and understaffed, AI is beginning to be adopted to make up for these deficiencies. AI in African healthcare has the potential to greatly improve healthcare on the continent, particularly for impoverished and vulnerable populations.

AI in Africa Managing Unstaffed Hospitals

In terms of data analytics, AI has exceeded human ability and with massive amounts of data being compiled within different industries, AI is critical to being able to manage and understand the information that has been collected. Investments in AI companies are also high, with a global investment of over $6 billion in 2017.

African healthcare is in need of new solutions with almost one in two Africans lacking access to modern health services. Even when individuals do have access to facilities, these medical centers are often understaffed. In Nigeria, for example, 80 percent of the trained doctors are seeking employment abroad leaving the nation severely deficient in medical professionals.

AI in African Healthcare and Patients

One of the main ways that AI helps healthcare providers is by prioritizing care for patients. Due to differing levels of patient needs, it can be difficult for medical facilities to make decisions about whom to serve first, particularly when they are underresourced and understaffed. AI in African healthcare helps remove the ethical dilemma by analyzing large amounts of patient data and determining the most efficient and effective way for the doctors that are available to help everyone.

AI also helps with predictive analytics, helping health providers make care proactive rather than reactive. Health care costs skyrocket for patients with more serious conditions and if these conditions can be prevented or treated early, it keeps costs down for both the patient and the facility.

AI in African Healthcare and Medical Supplies

Additionally, AI is used to improve supply chains and ensure facilities have adequate supplies, improving patients’ access to medicine that is potentially life-saving. IT News Africa explains that “an AI-powered chatbot can deliver personalized learning on mobile devices to enhance the supply chain skills of the health workers.”

Kenya has become a pioneer in using AI for supply chains due to a pilot project with the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA). AI is being implemented in 7,000 facilities across the country, and providers are able to interact with it through computer, SMS and voice over mobile data. AI is set to improve the availability of medical supplies by 50 percent.

Provider and Patient Interaction

AI in African health care is also changing the way providers and patients interact, as an AI chatbot could also communicate with patients through their mobile phones, reminding them about appointments or when to pick up their ARVs (HIV) or TB medication. Outside of Africa, a U.S. company called Woebot has created an AI chatbot that can converse with patients and provide simple diagnoses for mental health issues. Similar programs could be developed in Africa, helping those in rural areas get medical expertise without having to travel to a health care facility.

While there are health care facilities in rural areas, they are less likely to be fully staffed and resourced. AI is helping to improve the level of care that patients in these facilities receive by aiding in the diagnosing process. In the absence of a trained doctor, AI can be taught how to recognize and diagnose certain medical conditions.

AI and Cancer Patients

In Kenya, women at rural clinics have begun showing up for their “cervical selfies.” Health care providers take photos, which are then reviewed by AI systems to detect early signs of cancer. In order to train the AI system to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy cervixes, approximately 100,000 photos of cervixes, sorted as healthy tissue, benign inflammation, precancerous lesions and suspected cancer have been uploaded.

While this is a test case for the AI technology, it has the potential to save many lives. Approximately 270,000 women worldwide die from cervical cancer each year, with 85 percent of these deaths occurring in impoverished countries. Cervical cancer is also preventable, treatable and curable if caught early on. It generally takes ten to fifteen years to progress to its most dangerous stage. If AI in African health care can help detect it early, the number of women who reach this point will hopefully decrease.

Other nations have begun using AI to detect other conditions, including breast cancer, cardiac illness, birth asphyxia, eye and skin conditions, and malaria. Detecting malaria requires finding minute parasites in blood samples which can be a challenge for patients with low parasite levels. AI has a greater ability than health care workers to detect these parasites and provide accurate diagnoses.  

Future of AI in African Health Care

Overall, AI in African health care has the ability to more effectively prioritize care, make care proactive instead of reactive, ensure access to medical supplies, communicate with patients and provide more accurate diagnoses. As this technology expands across the continent, health care for Africans, particularly those who currently have limited access to care, will advance greatly and improve the lives of millions of Africans.  

Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr