Orphanages in MyanmarMyanmar, previously known as Burma, is located in Southeast Asia, neighboring countries such as Thailand and Laos. Unfortunately, poverty in Myanmar has risen in recent years. As of 2017, roughly 25% of adults live in poverty. Additionally, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that more than 50% of children are impoverished. Due to the rising poverty rate, many adults are unable to support children. They must give them up for adoption or abandon them, creating a large influx of orphans needing shelter. The Myanmar Times reports that in 2018, there were 280 orphanages in Myanmar, many of which had to be newly established, and an estimated 36,000 orphans. That number continues to grow.

Inspiration for Standing With Orphans

Thomas Whitley of Mooresville, Indiana created The Standing With Orphans Foundation in 2012. Whitley explains that his inspiration for starting the project began when he adopted his daughter from China in 2007. He told The Borgen Project that this was his “first insight into orphanages.” Later, a friend of Whitley’s took him to his village in Myanmar to see the orphanages’ conditions there as well. Afterward, his commitment to founding Standing With Orphans was further solidified, and several years later, it came to fruition.

How Standing With Orphans Operates

Food in Myanmar is scarce and often expensive due to natural disasters and trouble with the current economy. Therefore, Standing With Orphans’ main goal is to bring bags of rice and livestock, such as chickens and pigs, to the orphanages. Whitely explained to The Borgen Project that he acquires funds through The Morgan County Community Foundation via the Standing With Orphans website. He withdraws from their allocated funds three times a year and sends it to the orphanages.

The money the organization supplies will typically buy 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of rice. The rice provided through Standing With Orphans allows orphanages in Myanmar to keep the children and workers well-fed. Along with supplying rice, in the past 2 years, Whitely has sent extra funds for buying chickens and pigs. Not only does this livestock give the orphanages a wider variety of food, but Whitley also pointed out that some orphanages have been breeding their pigs and selling them and their piglets as a source of income.

Whitley has also helped to fund solar power equipment installation, pay for school fees, and build two orphanages. While he is more than happy to contribute to various other projects such as these, he reiterated that “feeding the kids will always be the goal.” With around 50% of children living in rural, poor areas of Myanmar dying due to malnutrition in 2017, supplying food is rightly the top-priority for the foundation.

Progress and Plans for the Future

When Whitley first started working in Myanmar, he worked with only 1 orphanage. Today, he helps bring food and livestock to 14 orphanages. Whitely continues to donate and is hopeful to take another trip back to Myanmar this fall to personally deliver rice and livestock to the orphanages. While he is there, he also wants to do what he can to help with any projects they might have. Through his dedication and the donations from Standing With Orphans, Thomas Whitley and his family have greatly helped children in need. The orphanages in Myanmar that he supports were in poor condition, but now they can properly care for hundreds of children.

– Olivia Eaker
Photo: Pixabay

Obesity and Malnutrition in JamaicaCountries in the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, are experiencing severe obesity and malnutrition rates. Since 1999, both Jamaican men and women have shown increasing rates of diabetes and obesity. According to the Jamaica Observer, childhood obesity rates have doubled between 2013 and 2018. This drastic growth has seen a particular prevalence between the ages of 13 and 15. The Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) found that within that age group, 18.1% of boys and 25.2% of girls are overweight. In the same survey, obesity rates in girls increased from 6.7% to 9.9% between 2010 and 2017. Furthermore, The Caribbean and Latin American regions show that more than 50% of women in the population are overweight or obese as of 2013, according to the World Health Organization. In addition, according to a 2016-2017 survey, 54% of Jamaicans older than 15 were deemed either overweight or obese.

Considering these data, obesity rates in Jamaica are a concern no matter what the demographic is. Every day, Jamaicans are unable to maintain healthy, nutritionally-dense diets. So, what is causing obesity and malnutrition in Jamaica?

The Causes

There are many factors to these growing numbers. However, one of the main causes of malnutrition in Jamaica is the lack of availability of essential, whole foods for all citizens. The New York Carib News states that Jamaica produced 144,319 tons of yams, 72,990 tons of oranges and 64,815 tons of bananas in the year 2017. All of this nutrient-dense food, however, is not necessarily supplied for Jamaicans; a mere 2% of Jamaicans consume a sufficient amount of essential foods like fruits and vegetables.

The global average consumption of protein-filled red meat is around 25 grams, whereas in Jamaica, the average is close to 10 grams as of 2016. Adequate protein intake results in stronger bones and muscles and aids in hormone production; Jamaicans are simply not given the opportunities for these benefits.

Moreover, grain and soybean milling facilities, two of the most popular crops in Jamaica, have a large portion of their shareholding with the United States. Such crops are used for many U.S. milk substitutes like soy milk, for example. This is a glaring problem regarding obesity and malnutrition in Jamaica as Jamaicans are not given healthier options for themselves like in the United States.

Sugar intake is also a large reason for malnutrition in Jamaica. In 2012, the Global Nutrition Report found that 61% of calories consumed by Jamaicans come from non-staple food items, or items that are not nutritionally rich (legumes, grains, fruits, vegetables). Jamaica’s consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, like Coca Cola, was 191 grams in 2016. Globally, the average was 95 grams, while the suggested midpoint is a meager 2.5 grams.

A high sugar diet is detrimental leading to many health problems like fatty liver disease, and such is apparent in Jamaica in the form of diabetes and obesity. In an article by Vital Strategies, 87% of Jamaicans feel that sugary drinks are a large reason for the country’s obesity rates, calling for policy proposals.

The Solutions

Some solutions to this problem include the potential tax on sugary drinks. In other Latin American and Caribbean countries, like Barbados, a tax on sugary drinks has shown positive effects. Within the first year of the tax, Barbados’ consumption of these drinks decreased by 4.3%, while bottled water sales increased by 7.5%. If implemented, obesity and malnutrition in Jamaica may see a decline from said tax as well.

In regards to Jamaican export policies, there has been some attention to the issues that CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) raises, including completing the intraregional integration scheme as well as creating ways to implement CARICOM into its relations with the United States. With the resolution of these issues, Jamaica may be able to better its relationship with the U.S. foreign economy. This may then create more opportunities for more nutrient-dense imports.

Not only this, but there have been school policy proposals put forth in an effort to decrease these numbers, according to the Jamaican Information Service (JIS). Such proposals being the National School Nutrition Policy. This policy promotes physical activity and nutrient-enriched meals as a priority in schools across Jamaica. Not only will these focuses benefit students’ long-term physical health, but Jamaican Senator Reid asserts that they too will improve psychological and social development.

This model emulates Brazil’s efforts for similar concerns with childhood obesity. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Brazil has experienced one of the most successful school feeding programs created more than 50 years ago. The program managed by the National Fund for Education Development (NFED) and the Ministry of Education has provided staple, nutrient-rich foods to 45 million children across Brazil. With hopes for similar results, the Jamaican National School Nutrition Policy was set to be finalized during the 2019-2020 school year.

In a country with a lack of readily available staple foods, malnutrition in Jamaica continues to be a problem across the country. Through efforts like school feeding programs and a tax on sugary drinks though, young children and adults alike will see long-term physical benefits. Perhaps through these reforms, Jamaica will continue with more policy changes in its imports and exports to reverse the growing numbers of obesity and malnutrition in Jamaica across the country.

– Anna Hoban
Photo: Pixabay

top ten malnourished countriesAccording to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 815 million people around the world suffer from malnourishment. Hunger strikes a nation when violence, conflict and any type of instability is present. Here are the top ten malnourished countries based on the malnourishment rates of countries around the world.

10 Most Malnourished Countries

  1. Central African Republic (CAR): CAR is known to be the hungriest country in the world. Half of its population suffers from hunger. CAR has “suffered from instability, ethnic violence and conflict since 2012.” This has disrupted food production and has displaced more than a million people. CAR has the highest malnutrition rate at 61.8 percent.
  2. Zimbabwe: A combination of the economic crisis and the devastating drought from October to May has resulted in Zimbabwe’s 46.6 percent malnutrition rates. About 5.5 million people will need food assistance by 2020. More than two million people are already facing severe starvation.
  3. Haiti: Haiti has gone through hurricanes, floods, political instability and earthquakes that account for its high levels of hunger. About 22 percent of children are chronically malnourished, and 66 percent of children under the age of five are anemic. Half of the 10.7 million people in Haiti are undernourished. Haiti’s malnutrition rate comes in at 45.8 percent.
  4. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: More than 10 million people, around 40 percent of the population, are in need of “urgent food aid.” Due to the drought the country experienced earlier this spring, its crops went through “dry spells” and “heat waves,” leaving one in five children stunted.
  5. Zambia: The drought from 2001-2002 has driven Zambia into a “massive food deficit” that affected more than 2.3 million households who are dependent on rural agricultural. About 58 percent of the population are “classified as extremely poor,” hungry and food insecure. About 25 percent of children under five are underweight, and 6 percent are severely malnourished.
  6. Madagascar: Due to extreme weather conditions, long droughts and locust attacks, 1.4 million people in Madagascar are in food crisis. At least 43.1 percent of its population is malnourished. Deforestation is another key issue since 85 percent of its rainforests have vanished because of “cooking and slash and burn agricultural practices.”
  7. Uganda: Because of issues of land evictions, fake seed supplies and problematic farming methods, Uganda’s malnutrition rate stands at 41 percent. More than 1.6 million Ugandans are in a food crisis. About 82 percent of malnourished children cases go untreated, resulting in many other health problems. About 15 percent “of all child mortality cases” in the nation are related to undernutrition.
  8. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): The food situation in DRC is so dire that people are resorting to prostitution and joining armed forces for extra money. Due to conflict-related issues, about 15 million people in the nation are going hungry. This is higher than the 7.7 million people in 2017.
  9. Yemen Republic: Yemen has a 39 percent malnutrition rate. More than 2 million children are suffering from malnutrition. Food insecurity in Yemen is due to the “large scale displacement, high food prices, endemic poverty, and influences of refugees and migrants.”
  10. Chad: Chad has been suffering from “political instability, social unrest and conflicts” ever since its independence in 1960. Additionally, its consecutive drought and random rains have resulted in failed harvests. The National Nutrition Survey of 2018 states that global acute malnutrition rests at 13.5 percent, of which 4 percent is severe malnutrition. The U.N.’s Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that about 4.5 million people face food insecurity.

Organizations Combatting Malnutrition

Organizations like Action Against Hunger and UNICEF are trying to combat malnutrition. The World Food Programme helps 86.7 million people in 83 different countries every year. It delivers “food assistance in emergencies” and works with communities to “improve nutrition and build resilience.” It has helped each one of these nations listed above. It had especially helped Yemen in 2013 when it provided food assistance for more than five million people.

IFRC and the DPRK Red Cross have also helped highly vulnerable countries like North Korea. IFRC has given about 77,000 Swiss francs to the national Red Cross efforts to help 22,000 people. Red Cross has also created around 100 community greenhouses to grow vegetables to help feed communities. DPRK has also helped by deploying water pumps during droughts so communities can water their crops.
Malnutrition is a serious issue that affects many countries. Populations in developing countries and countries in conflict are the most vulnerable. Efforts from organizations to combat malnutrition are making a difference. However, the top ten malnourished countries on this list are still in dire need of aid.

Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Madagascar

Madagascar, a small island off the coast of Africa, is the fourth-most malnourished country in the world. Malnourishment can harm the immune system, bone structure and organs of the body. Below are five facts about malnutrition in Madagascar and solutions to malnourishment.

5 Facts about Malnutrition in Madagascar

  1. Natural disasters cause food insecurity. Madagascar experiences dangerous cyclones, floods and droughts every year. These natural disasters leave poor citizens in crisis (Phase 3) and emergency (Phase 4) phases of food insecurity, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network’s Integrated Phase Classification. This means that families struggle to have the minimum amount of food necessary for survival, and they experience high or very high acute malnutrition. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is one organization that provides humanitarian aid to Madagascar. In addition to emergency food resources, FFP also introduces malnutrition recovery techniques and food-for-assets tasks in which a household member receives a supply of food in exchange for help with water management. As of 2019, USAID estimates that the regions of Madagascar that are hardest hit by natural disasters will decrease to the stressed (Phase 2) phase of food insecurity, thanks to humanitarian assistance.
  2. Malnutrition worsens the measles outbreak. As the measles outbreak continues to worsen in Madagascar, children are at the highest risk for disease. Seventy percent of deaths caused by measles complications are of children ages 14 and under, and nearly half of the child-aged population in Madagascar is still susceptible to the highly contagious disease. Direct Relief is working with the Ministry of Public Health to decrease malnutrition in Madagascar and to fight against measles. They have implemented Vitamin A vaccines to treat children with measles, and the vitamin also improves nutrition. Since 2013, Direct Relief has been present in Madagascar to help during epidemics and to support child health.
  3. Stunting is a dangerous effect of malnutrition. Stunting occurs when a child grows up to be too small for his or her age due to a lack of necessary nutrients in infancy. Infancy is a critical stage of development, and if a child is not properly nourished, he or she will face irreversible challenges throughout his or her life. For example, stunted children tend to have difficulty focusing on tasks. If a child is stunted, he or she will earn 26 percent less income than average. This is dangerous for Madagascar because seven percent of gross domestic product is lost due to malnutrition. World Bank initiated a 10-year Improving Nutrition Outcomes Program to decrease malnutrition in Madagascar by providing nutrient interventions in infancy. The goal is to decrease malnutrition by 30 percent.
  4. Anemia is another dangerous side effect of malnutrition. Regions of Madagascar with the highest levels of anemia also have the lowest consumption rates of healthy, iron-rich foods, suggesting a link between anemia and malnutrition. Anemia in children can lead to developmental delays and decreased adult productivity, but anemia in pregnant mothers can lead to early delivery, low birth weight and even infant death. USAID currently treats anemia in Madagascar with iron folic acid (IFA) supplements for women of reproductive age. Since its implementation, anemia in women has decreased from 46 percent to 35.3 percent. In children, anemia has decreased from 68.2 percent to 50.3 percent.
  5. The World Food Programme is working to improve conditions. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides humanitarian aid in Madagascar in many forms to combat malnutrition. So far, they have reached 650,000 of the 850,000 people living with food insecurity. The organization brings nutritional and cash assistance to those living with malnutrition, daily school meals for children and seeds in order for families to plant crops. The WFP may have saved the country from plunging into famine, but more can be done to eradicate malnutrition in Madagascar.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

malnutrition in haitiHaiti is a small island, yet it is the western hemisphere’s most impoverished nation. One of the many ways that poverty affects Haiti is through hunger. In 2015, 22 percent of Haitian children were suffering from malnutrition. Health is something that affects everyday life and is reflective of a country’s standard of living. In other words, learning about how malnutrition affects Haiti is important for understanding poverty and the development of this country.

Haiti’s History

Haiti became independent from the French government in 1804. This formerly colonized nation was the first country to achieve freedom through a slave rebellion. When Haiti became independent, most western countries (such as the U.S.) did not recognize the nation’s independence. This prevented any foreign trade from occurring with Haiti.

The first country to acknowledge Haitian independence was France; however, the acknowledgment was met with conditions. The French claimed that their economy would be hurt due to a loss in slave labor and, because of this, Haitians would have to repay the French with 100 million francs. The debt was not fully repaid until 1887 and, consequently, created negative effects on Haiti’s economy.

The country also regularly encounters natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Since 1998, Haiti has faced 10 hurricanes in addition to other tropical storms. With a lack of infrastructure, every environmental disaster takes a large toll on the economy. After the 2010 earthquake, 1.5 million Haitians were displaced and the country was said to have faced $7.8 billion in losses.

The Role of Nutrition

Today, Haiti has a GDP per capita of $870, and 59 percent of the population works for less than 2 dollars per day. With such high rates of poverty, it’s no surprise that the country also suffers from malnutrition. There are some key facts to understanding how malnutrition affects Haiti.

  • Approximately 40 percent of the country is malnourished. In fact, one in five children is malnourished. In addition, 80 percent of rice, the country’s major food source, is imported, thus creating a large dependence on foreign exchange.
  • Agriculture in Haiti is also dependent upon external factors. Only 10 percent of the land is irrigated, making consistent rain a necessity for food production. When there is a drought, food production is affected. Lack of adequate crops increases malnutrition.
  • One-third of Haitian women suffer from anemia. Anemia is an illness that can be caused by iron and vitamin deficiency. It prevents oxygen from flowing through the blood to muscles and tissues, but it can be easily prevented through proper nutrition.
  • In rural areas, fewer than half of the people in Haiti have access to clean drinking water. Water is often contaminated. In 2010, the country faced a globally infamous earthquake. When U.N. workers arrived to provide aid, they accidentally created a cholera outbreak that spread quickly through the water. Since then, 770 thousand Haitians have been affected by the illness, creating an added risk to water consumption.

Who is Helping?

While the majority of Haitians still suffer from malnutrition, progress has been made. Hands up for Haiti is one nonprofit that is aiming to reduce issues surrounding nutrition in three different ways. The first way is through a supplement called Medika Mamba, a nutritional pill that is primarily nut-based and is high in calories. The pill is provided to 600 children each year on the bases of medical evaluation. The second way is through educational programs that teach locals how to grow small plots of food to support their families. Lastly, the organization offers centers with professionally trained medics to treat illnesses relating to malnutrition.

Understanding how malnutrition affects Haiti is key to recognizing the effects of poverty. The country’s long-standing history of natural disasters and colonization has affected its current economic situation as well as the health of the nation. However, nonprofits such as Hands up for Haiti have been making large strides within the country, giving a hopeful outlook to the future of this nation.

Photo: Flickr

What is Food Insecurity?What is Food Insecurity? Food insecurity occurs when a person is consistently unable to get enough food on a day-to-day basis. This epidemic plagues millions across the globe, resulting in malnutrition, chronic hunger and low quality of health. When a person lives with hunger or fear of going hungry, they are considered to be food insecure. It is important to understand why food insecurity happens and what can be done to alleviate it.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity can be broken down into three aspects. The first is food availability, which means having physical access to a food supply on a consistent basis. The second is food access, which means that a person has the resources, such as money, available to obtain and sufficient amount of food. The third is food utilization, which addresses how a person consumes food and whether or not they use the food available to maintain a nutritious diet. It is important to note that proper sanitation and hygiene practices also contribute to food utilization.

On average, more than 9 million people a year die from global food insecurity. Unfortunately, poverty and food insecurity have long gone hand-in-hand because people living in poverty are less likely to have sufficient resources to buy food or produce their own. Families without the resources to escape extreme poverty are likely unable to escape chronic hunger as well. There are several factors contributing to the large number of people who are food insecure.

  1. The steady growth in human population contributes greatly to the increase in food insecurity. With more people on Earth comes more mouths to feed. The rate in which food is grown simply isn’t able to keep up with the projected population growth.
  2. Another contributing cause of food insecurity is the global water crisis. “Widespread over-pumping and irrigation” are leading to a depletion of water sources needed to produce agriculture and produce. Water reserves in many countries have dropped drastically, directly impacting food supplies in these countries and others.
  3. Recent climate extremes and natural disasters also affect food supplies, ruining communities and the agriculture within them. Climate change has impacted crops, forests and water supplies, ultimately spiking prices in areas that are already affected.

The Impact of Food Insecurity

Food insecurity impacts individuals, families and communities far and wide. Although the number of people living with hunger has dropped since the 20th century, there are still more than 800 million people in the world without food security. In developing countries, nearly one in six children is malnourished and poor nutrition accounts for almost half of deaths in children under five. While Asia has the highest population of food insecure people, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence with 25 percent of the population living in hunger.

Food insecurity can lead to many health problems if a person is not getting the nutrients they need. Malnutrition is an issue that can affect all aspects of one’s health. While food insecurity directly impacts all these people, it indirectly impacts the whole population. The problem of food insecurity is a product of behaviors that people do every day, and it has the ability to affect people who may not even know it.

Combatting Food Insecurity

Despite a large number of impending causes, there are still actions that can be taken in daily life to contribute to combating food insecurity. Urging the government to make nutrition programs that emphasize nutrition as a priority is one way to help in the fight. Even if someone is not exposed to food insecurity in their personal life, they can still put pressure on the government to make policies that could help people in developing countries fight this epidemic.

There are also a number of programs and nonprofit organizations that rely on donations and aid in order to make a big difference. The World Food Programme and World Health Organization are two examples of charities that devote time and resources to combating malnutrition and hunger. Donating food to a local food bank or volunteering at one are more hands-on ways to make a difference. Of course, an emphasis on foreign aid and public policy are two of the most impactful ways to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

While the numbers may seem staggering, there has been a 17 percent decrease in global food insecurity since the 1990s, but with awareness and effort, that number could be improved. There is reason to believe that, given the right tools and commitment, global food insecurity could become a more manageable problem in years to come.

Charlotte M. Kriftcher

Photo: Pixabay

Life Expectancy in Laos

The both ethnically and linguistically diverse country of Laos is a landlocked, independent republic in Southeast Asia. It is home to about 7 million people, representing just 0.9 percent of the world’s total population. The average life expectancy in Laos is currently 65.8, but the number has gone up in recent years. The information below will provide 10 facts about life expectancy in Laos and what action is being taken to improve it.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Laos

  1. Currently, the life expectancy of the total population in Laos is 65 years. Men in Laos have a lower life expectancy than the average rate at 62.9 years, and women’s life expectancy is approximately 67 years.
  2. The maternal death rate in Laos is one of the highest in the Western Pacific Region. According to the Laos Maternal Death Review, 54 percent of maternal deaths were caused by complications from postpartum hemorrhage. In 1990, 905 women per 100,000 live births had died. Given this statistic, the primary focus of the ministry and WHO has been developing a voucher program that ensures free delivery of pre and postnatal care for women.
  3. In conjunction with WHO, the ministry is providing free health services to women and children in 83 districts in 13 provinces. As of 2015, the mortality rate has dropped to 197 deaths for every 100,000 live births. This drop can also be largely attributed to the work being done by the UNFPA, which is providing counseling on family planning and training midwives to match international standards.
  4. Assisted childbirth was almost unheard of in 2007, and death during childbirth was considered common if not likely. Since 1995, the Ministry of Health has begun to recognize the importance of having trained and skilled professionals present during birth and is working to decrease the number of home births in the country. As of 2015, the maternal mortality rate had decreased 75 percent. Only eight other countries had been able to accomplish that goal.
  5. As of 2017, heart disease and stroke accounted for 22 percent of deaths in Laos. Since 2007, the number of deaths from stroke has risen 5.6 percent, and deaths from heart disease have risen 3.3 percent. Most cardiovascular and respiratory problems stem from smoking and high rates of air pollution.
  6. In March of 2019, the Pollution Control Department reported that there had been a large number of wildfires in Laos and neighboring countries. Forest fires in Thailand had caused air pollution levels to become hazardous. Currently, air pollution levels are more than 20 times the safety limit. Residents have been advised to wear safety masks to prevent smoke inhalation, and officials are working to bring down toxicity levels by spraying water into the polluted air.
  7. Malnutrition has also been a persistent problem in Laos and can lead to cognitive difficulties, delayed development and high mortality rate. In 2015, 17 percent of the population was considered malnourished. Additionally, 45 percent of deaths of children under five are linked to undernutrition. Food security, diet diversity and water and sanitation all contribute extensively to the malnutrition issues. Fortunately, UNICEF has been able to advocate for nutritional programs and interventions with the hope of lowering the mortality rate.
  8. In September of 2018, Ministries of Planning and Investment, Agriculture, Public Works, Transport and Health teamed up with the World Bank to tackle the malnutrition problem in Laos. These organizations have developed a program that is focused on the critical development that occurs in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The ministries and World Bank intend to establish welfare programs, diversify food production and improve hygiene and sanitation by ensuring clean water is accessible in rural sectors of Laos.
  9. Drinking water in Laos is often contaminated with dangerous chemicals and waste, particularly in rural areas and schools. Only 66 percent of the nearly 9,000 primary schools in Laos have functional water supply systems and latrine facilities, causing widespread health complications. UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Education and Sports to implement a program called WASH, which improves water, sanitation and hygiene in conjunction with one another. Through the program, UNICEF is implementing effective hygiene practices, providing access to safe water and ending the practice of open defecation in rural communities.
  10. Government health expenditures have gone up more than 2 percent in the last four years in an effort to provide universal health coverage by 2025. The nation continues to work towards protection from infectious disease, and while the progress has been slow, with continued government funding health coverage is likely to expand.

Many of Laos’ SDG’s are still far from being accomplished, but the 2018 country profile from the WHO suggests that improvements have been made that will eventually lead to an overall increase in life expectancy. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Laos provide insight into what steps toward improvements have already been made and what still needs to be accomplished. The hope is that Laos will continue to increase its overall life expectancy, reaching an average age of 70 by the year 2030.

Anna Lagattuta

Photo: Everystock

Poverty in Madagascar
Even with the 2013 election of a new president that ended a five-year political deadlock, poverty in Madagascar was still a huge problem. Electing Hery Rajaonarimampianina brought fresh hope to the people of Madagascar. However, the National Assembly voted to impeach him after just 18 months of his presidency because they did not feel that he was following through with his campaign promises. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, but the political situation remains unbalanced. Even though Madagascar has rich soil for crops and a wide variety of wildlife, it has been damaged by years of political turmoil, so poverty remains an ongoing issue.

Political and Economic Instability

If political stability can be restored, it could mean great things for Madagascar. John Stremlau, the vice president of peace programs at the Carter Center in the United States said after the 2013 election, “It has great resources, it has great promise, but it has been hurt by the sanctions that have been in place now for five years. The per capita income is very low, down to less than a dollar a day for 90 percent  of the people, so that this is a new beginning, an opportunity, but the hard work of building a democratic process has only just begun.”

The best way for Madagascar to reduce poverty is by utilizing economic growth. Multiple cities were hit by harsh weather in 2017, which affected agriculture in the areas. Rice crops, a popular trade food and export item, were ruined. The production of rice fell while the price of it increased. While working on repairing the damage from lost crops, the country has increased economically in other ways.

Besides rice, items like cloves, vanilla, cocoa beans and essential oils have flourished, increasing the performance of goods exported to other countries. Economic growth has increased from 4.2 percent to 5.0 percent from 2017 to 2018. With this growth, the country is more likely to achieve its goal of reducing the number of people living below the poverty line by the year 2020. The next step is to provide financial inclusion to those without access to financial services to further ensure the rise out of poverty.

Poverty and Malnutrition

Food poverty affects the children of Madagascar much more than the adults of the country. More than half of Madagascar’s children are chronically malnourished, creating an effect called “stunting”. They are half the size they should be, and some children will not even make it to secondary school, let alone adulthood. Malnutrition damages the body and mind, sometimes irreversibly.

Malnutrition is an increasing concern for parents. “They are seven, they should be much bigger,” says Rasoanandranson, a mother of five children. Her boys at eight years of age resemble five-year-old children. Families grow small quantities of crops rich in nutrients like sweet potato, avocado and maize, but the harvest only lasts two to three months tops. Unfortunately, mothers like Rasoanandranson are eventually forced to sell their food for other much-needed household items, hygiene items an school supplies.

There is still hope for these families and in the near future. In May 2017, the country set out to achieve their goal of reducing malnutrition from 47 percent to 38 percent by 2021. The goal can be achieved by building more nutrition centers and recruiting more volunteers to educate villages on proper nutrition. There is another player to this game that will help fight malnutrition, and that’s clean water and sanitation services.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Poverty in Madagascar has affected the water and sanitation systems as well. More than half of the people in Madagascar do not have sanitation systems or access to clean drinking water. There seems to be plenty of water in the capital city of Antananarivo and other nearby cities, but the water is severely contaminated. Trash lines the edges of rivers and streams, and heavy rains wash away street debris into the water supplies. Waste from households without proper sanitation systems also gets washed away into the water supply.

On top of contaminated water, the piping systems that were previously installed are defective and leak at least 40 percent of clean water. With the population rising, conditions will only worsen; however, volunteers are working improve the piping systems and to educate people about safe water practices and sanitation. They have even started facilities to wash clothing to prevent people from further polluting the river by washing their clothes in it.

Programs like USAID, WaterAid and WASH are trying to improve conditions by first educating the community about food security and environmental programs. Secondly, they plan to improve local, community-based governance of water and sanitation resources. Thirdly, they will roll out a program called Triggering Health Seeking Behavior Change to promote good hygiene at the household levels. The final process is access to credit for the people to microfinance products for clean water and sanitation systems. With all the issues from malnutrition and contaminated water, how is Madagascar’s healthcare?

The Healthcare System in Madagascar

In the capital city Antananarivo, there are public and private hospitals that provide basic medical treatments and small operations. However, for more complex surgeries, patients are transferred to a hospital in South Africa. Although Medical services are actually free to the community, people who can afford it are advised to take out private, international health insurance for situations involving being transferred to a larger hospital for more extensive surgeries.

The most common diseases in Madagascar are malaria, leprosy and tuberculosis. The healthcare system is working to combat these diseases and, going back to the lack of clean water, it is strongly advised that people boil tap water before drinking or using it to cook. Though most of the hospitals are in cities and towns, Christian missionaries run hospitals in rural areas in case some people can not make it to town, but they cannot reach all areas.

Nonprofit organizations and volunteers are currently working to improve access to proper education about nutrition, sanitation and financial stability. Madagascar is on its way to becoming a better country for its people. Hopefully, the political situation will improve, and the government will begin doing its part to end poverty in Madagascar.

– Kayla Cammarota

Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Mali
Mali is a West African nation that is abundantly rich with culture and history; however, it is ranked at 16 out of the world’s 20 poorest countries. As a result of a vulnerable economy, the citizens of this vibrant nation have endured continuous economic hardships. Listed below are details regarding the top 10 facts about living conditions in Mali.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Mali

  1. A large number of people in Mali have epilepsy. In Mali, It is estimated that fifteen out of 1,000 people are afflicted with epilepsy, including young children. Unfortunately, in developing countries, only 6 percent of those with epilepsy receive sufficient medical treatment. The poor living conditions in Mali for these individuals is caused by social stigmas and supernatural ideologies that have remained prevalent in Africa despite advances in clinical treatment. The Ministries of Health and Education are collaborating with traditional healers to create educational campaigns that oppose the spreading of misinformation about epilepsy.
  2. Rural women have a harder time accessing health care services. Approximately 90 percent of Mali’s destitute population lives in rural areas. A majority of women living in rural areas are unable to afford modern preventive and maternal health care. Alternatively, they resort to using traditional medicines. During illness or pregnancy, women in these communities depend on social support from their daughters and mothers-in-law. Furthermore, the husband is responsible for gathering financial assistance from his family to support his ailing wife.
  3. Malnutrition causes significant health risks for children. Predicted increases in hunger could have disastrous impacts on the well-being of Mali’s youngest citizens. Children between the ages of six and 59 months are more at risk for anemia, with a prevalence of 82 percent. Out of the 16,391 children surveyed for malnutrition, 376 were suffering from severe to acute malnutrition and another 1,646 with moderate acute malnutrition in 2013-13.
    Policymakers may concentrate on implementing adaptive measures that focus on projected areas of climate change and food vulnerability that could reduce the financial and health repercussions of climate change in Mali.
  4. Hazardous conditions are affecting adolescents. Adolescents in Mali are at risk for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) associated diseases. Approximately 2.8 billion cases of diarrhea affect children annually. Furthermore, infections associated with WASH often lead to a decline in academic achievements. The Ministry of Primary Education has reported that only 44 percent of primary schools in Mali have access to a water point, and a bathroom was only installed in 58 percent of the schools. The WASH program was implemented to provide hygiene improvements such as establishing water points, toilets and providing hygiene products to schools.
  5. There are significantly low educational completion rates. In 2006 through 2007, the completion rate for primary education in Mali was only 54 percent. Educational obstacles are especially severe for children living in rural areas. It is estimated that more than 890,000 children in Mali from ages seven to 12 are not enrolled in school; that is four out of 10 children who are not receiving a basic elementary education. Educational improvements and increased education funding are important factors in improving the living conditions in Mali. However, in 2006, only 8.5 percent of all international aid was allocated to Mali’s education sector.
  6. Household income doesn’t translate to child well-being. The living conditions in Mali are generally assessed by the poverty level of each individual household. However, the unique needs of children are not always addressed by household level incomes. For example, regions such as Tombouctou have poverty rates below the average at 33 percent, but a child deprivation level of 72 percent. Whereas, in Sikasso, where the poverty rates are at 86 percent, 37 percent of the children are not deprived. Prospective analyses of Mali’s child poverty levels can serve as potential intervention guides.
  7. Extreme poverty is on the decline. An individual living on less than $1.90 a day is considered to be in extreme poverty. Between 2011 and 2013, the extreme poverty rate in Mali increased from 47.8 percent to 50.4 percent. However, as a result of successful agricultural production, the rate fell to 42.7 percent in 2017. Industrialized agriculture is imperative to improving the living conditions in Mali.
  8. Mali’s agricultural outlook is positive. Nearly two-thirds of Mali is covered by the Saharan desert. However, despite the geographical barriers, Mali has the highest agricultural potential of the Sahel Region where 80 percent of Malians rely on rain-fed agriculture to make a living.
  9. The economy is improving. The living conditions in Mali have been significantly influenced by economic and monetary changes. Mali’s economic climate is improving; since 2014, Mali has had a 5 percent increase in economic growth every year. Furthermore, Local banks are starting to expand their lending portfolios, and the investment climate is profiting from the monetary and economic improvements due to an increase in foreign investment.
  10. Rural citizens adapt to climate variability. Mali has undergone significant environmental, cultural and economic changes. Citizens in rural areas often depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. Therefore, to cope with the climate changes that affect their resources, citizens along with development planners are adapting strategies to support sustainable local investments.

The living conditions in Mali are based on an intricate junction of resource scarcity and economic mobility. With the support of global investors and the contributions of scientific researchers, improvements in industrial, educational and agricultural disparities are being made and better living conditions are being improved. However, further legislative conversations must occur in order to ensure the preservation of intervention programs and foreign investment continues.

– Sabia Combrie
Photo: Flickr

PA 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Yemen
Historically, Yemen has been one of the poorest of the Arab countries. Since the civil war that broke out in 2015, the U.N. has found some alarming statistics on the state of the nation. In 2018, the number of Yemeni living in poverty is at a high of 79 percent, a 30 percent increase since 2017. The country is also experiencing other hardships as a result of the war. This includes concerns such as food insecurity, sanitation, healthcare access, nutritional needs, education, lack of access to clean water, a wavering economy and the displacement of people. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Yemen, both the causes and solutions to demonstrate the progress everyone has made.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Yemen

  1. Food insecurity is a problem that is currently impacting 60 percent of Yemen’s population. Save the Children estimated that, since the beginning of the war in 2015, as many as 85,000 children may have died of hunger. Governments, like the U.K for example, have taken action in response. The U.K. has allocated enough funds to provide £170 million in aid for the 2018-2019 year, meeting the food needs of 2.5 million Yemenis.
  2. Malnourishment is having a severe impact on 3 million pregnant or nursing women as well as on children. Thankfully the World Food Programme (WFP) has also been working to combat this. In 2018, WFP used direct food distributions or vouchers to provide 12 million people monthly rations of edible seeds and legumes, vegetable oil, sugar, salt and wheat flour. The organization has also been providing nutritional support to approximately 1.5 million women and children as well. However, humanitarian efforts are also struggling to reach Yemen. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemen airspace. Yemen is an import-heavy country, requiring 10 to 15 thousand metric tons of food, this blockade is pushing Yemen even further to the brink of famine.
  3. The lack of basic healthcare is also having a negative impact on the long-term health of the Yemeni. The war effort has practically demolished the country’s healthcare system. In addition, fewer than 50 percent of healthcare facilities are functioning, leaving approximately 16 million people without access to basic healthcare. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that in 2017, a cholera outbreak infected nearly a million people. Despite being a completely treatable disease, thousands of people died from it.
  4. Contaminated water supplies have also contributed to the spread of waterborne diseases. The collapse of the wastewater management systems, mostly in Houthi-controlled territory, led to the previously mentioned cholera outbreak. In addition to cholera, contagious diseases like diphtheria are spreading to the immunocompromised population as well. Thankfully, both the ICRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been sending fuel for electric generators to power hospitals, blood banks and labs as well as petrol for ambulances and clean water to try to mitigate the problem.
  5. Rising fuel prices are aggravating other existing issues, like food security, and contributing to the shortening life expectancy. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, in 2017 Yemen ranked at 176 in terms of life expectancy with the average age of 65.9. In comparison, the U.S. ranks at 43 with an average age of 80. In 2016, the U.N. shared that the global average life expectancy was also much higher at 72 years. In the last three years, food costs have increased by 46 percent, partially due to the cost of fuel prices increasing higher than 500 percent of what they were before the conflict. The more expensive fuel is, the higher the food transportation costs are, which leads to more expensive food and the higher likelihood that people are going to go hungry.
  6. The declining economy is also limiting the purchasing power of the Yemeni, making it difficult for them to buy basic necessities. The World Bank notes that household incomes have been continuously declining, partially due to the fact that, traditionally, agriculture has been a source of income for poor households, but it’s now being restricted by several factors. In efforts to combat this problem, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided $2 billion to the Central Bank system of Yemen (CBY) as well as an oil grant of $1 billion. This action should help to revitalize the private channels and imported financing facilities previously provided by the CBY for food.
  7. Displacement of the Yemeni has also had a considerable impact on their life expectancy. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2 million people who have escaped the country don’t have access to basic needs like food, water, shelter and healthcare. In response, the UNHCR has also been taking measures to mitigate these problems. The UNHCR provides basic necessities like blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets, buckets and emergency shelters. The organization has also provided healthcare services like psycho-social support and worked to prevent the spread of cholera. While refugees travel to these campus for safety, they are still susceptible to danger. Just last month, eight civilians were killed and 30 were injured from after a camp for displaced people in Yemen’s northwestern Hajjah province was bombed.
  8. International Rescue Committee (IRC) is another NGO working to alleviate the burdens of the Yemeni. Since 2012, the IRC has worked to promote cholera awareness, run medical treatment centers, screen and treat children for malnutrition and train volunteers to work in local communities. The IRC has provided primary reproductive care to more than 800,000 people, counseling mothers and caregivers on safe feeding and breastfeeding methods.
  9. Organizations like Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF) have also initiated considerable positive changes. Some of their highlights of the 2018 year include sending 1,300 water filters to people in need, distributing a month’s worth of food rations to 110,000 people and providing school bags and supplies to kids. These supplies were given primarily to families in Aslim, Hajjah, an area close to Saudi Arabia where many are unable to access to aid agencies.
  10. In addition to international organizations, passionate individuals are taking action to help the Yemeni. Ahman Algohbary is using his passion for photography, social media skills and ability to speak English to draw attention to the conditions people are going through in Yemen. His images online have led to people sending donations that are being used to sponsor families so they can reach clinics where they can receive nutrition treatment.

The problems that the Yemeni face are essentially all related, making them difficult to resolve. The conflict, for instance, has led to a decrease in funds and focus on vital public services, leading to the failure of sanitation and healthcare. However, international organizations like the UNHCR and ICRC are all stepping up to provide aid to thousands of families. Even individuals on a grassroots level are doing what they can to improve the situation. The 10 facts about the life expectancy in Yemen demonstrate the severity of the issue but also the ability for people all across the world to come together in efforts to help others.

Iris Gao
Photo: Flickr