Life Expectancy in LaosThe 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

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New Zealand
One of the most tragic effects of poverty is large populations of people going hungry. Many poor people cannot afford to feed themselves or their children. While New Zealand might not be on the list of countries in dire need of poverty assistance, families there are suffering. The top 10 facts about hunger in New Zealand highlight this.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New Zealand

  1. A study in 2017 discovered that 23 percent of the elderly population in New Zealand were malnourished.  Many elderly citizens find it difficult to access the supermarket and purchase groceries. This leads to the inability to cook meals and they end up being hospitalized due to malnourishment. However, once elderly citizens are moved to hospitalization or residential care, they have better access to food and nourishment.
  2. In 2016, the need for help from the Salvation Army had gone up by 9 percent. The organization handed out over 54,000 emergency parcels to citizens of New Zealand in the span of a year. There were 319 new individuals who required help each week. The head of ministries of the New Zealand sector stated that requests for aid came not only from those who were in extreme poverty but also from those living off minimum wage.
  3. In Auckland City alone, the request for food parcels went up almost 50 percent between the middle of 2015 and the end of 2016. The City Mission, a volunteer-based program in Auckland City, exceeded its budget by $100,000, leaving a huge hole in the city’s budget. According to the City Mission, with rising housing costs, bill costs and changes in other benefits, people were more inclined to cut back on their food spending to cover the price of every bill.
  4. According to The New Zealand Herald, The Red Cross used to have a program that fed children breakfast every day in low-income communities. However, due to lack of support from funders, the program had to end. This created a dramatic rise in hunger among children. In 2011, it was determined that this rise in hunger was due to a 7 percent rise in the cost of food. So, the 2.6 percent rise in income did not help most families
  5. Two programs, Kickstart and KidsCan, replaced the Red Cross breakfast program and went on to feed almost 40,000 children in schools across the country. This number was almost a fifth of the child population in schools which was around 229,400. At the time, there were 20,000 children on a waiting list to join the program since the government did not have enough funding to feed more than 40,000. To fix this, the community members pledged $15 a month to the program.
  6. Another one of the facts about hunger in New Zealand is that growing food on their own is not a simple solution for many who go hungry.  In order to grow a sufficient garden, you need quite a bit of resource. According to the Spinoff, a New Zealand paper, low-income citizens find it difficult to get access to the needed resources. Also, since they have to work hard to earn, they do not have enough time to invest to grow a garden.
  7. Housing in New Zealand is not as permanent as American housing. On average, families move every 15 months. To build a sustainable garden that will provide food for a family, people need to live in the same place for longer than 15 months. Also, growing a few plants in small pots is not enough for a family.
  8. Some claim that one of the reasons for hunger in New Zealand possibly comes from the “media bombardment” of eating healthy or dieting. Cutting back on food and exercising works for people who have plenty of nourishment, but when citizens who are already malnourished see this, it makes them feel as though the small amount of food they can manage is not good enough.
  9. On the other hand, there are reports on how fast food is killing the impoverished population in New Zealand. Fast food is cheap and easy to access but does not provide enough nutrients. It is also creating the opposite problem of hunger: an obesity crisis.  If elementary schools conducted nutritional education programs, it would help battle obesity problems as well as problems of malnourishment.
  10. On a brighter note, The Hunger Project, an NGO based all over the world, has a special division in New Zealand. They are aiming to cut back the hunger significantly by 2030 to meet the poverty reduction goals set by the United Nations. In New Zealand, the organization has been working since 1983. It has helped lead a strike against hunger with various communities across the country.

The crisis is not as bleak as the facts about hunger in New Zealand may make it seem. The government is aware that things need to be changed and that the focus needs to be on children who go hungry. Various bills geared towards government-funded food programs have gone through the system. Also, the Salvation Army and other nonprofit organizations are working together to bring relief. New Zealand, thus, hopes to see a reduction in hunger by 2030.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Indonesia
In a country that is spread to more than 13,000 islands in the southern part of Asia, Indonesia has a population of roughly 267 million people. This makes Indonesia the fourth most populated country in the world.

Of these 267 million, an estimated 10 percent found themselves living in poverty throughout the country in 2017. With the hopeful expansion for opportunities for economic growth, this article presents the top 10 facts about living conditions in Indonesia, the country that lies in the area of active volcanos.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Indonesia

  1. Indonesia sits on what Johnny Cash refers to as the “burning ring of fire” of the Pacific that is responsible for 90 percent of the Earth’s earthquakes. Due to its 127 active volcanos, Indonesia falls victim to many earthquakes and other natural disasters stemming from the natural phenomenon. Since 2004, there have been 13 reported earthquakes that have caused irreparable damage to Indonesia’s infrastructure and took the lives of thousands of people.
  2. A known side effect of Indonesia’s earthquakes are the tsunamis that inevitably follow. These tsunamis are making the country’s coastlines barely inhabitable. In September 2018, the latest tsunami struck Indonesia and claimed the lives of over 1,500 people, according to CBS. In addition, Indonesia experiences a period of harsh rainfall for a couple of months each year which leads to damaging floods and landslides in some parts of the country.
  3. Indonesia has an unusually high life expectancy rate of 71 years. This number was much lower in the past but thanks to government-funded health programs for the poor, 111.6 million people now have access to health care. The government isn’t stopping at this number either and they predict that in 2019, 95 percent of the population will be enrolled in the health program making it universally accessible.
  4. Indonesia is classified as a lower-middle-class country. However, like in most world countries today, there is large income disparity between the very poor and the very wealthy. While the top 20 percent of the population has a food budget of up to $100 dollars a day, people of lower income are living off on less than $1 a day.
  5. The country lacks access to food. Due to its coastal environment, transportation is scarcely limited which affects Indonesia’s ability to access goods such as food staples. Rice is one such staple that Indonesians depend on for meals but the price of it has risen up to 70 percent higher in comparison to other nearby countries making it inaccessible to low-income households.
  6. Malnutrition is a huge problem among Indonesia’s children due to the lack of a well-rounded diet caused by rising food prices. An estimated 37 percent of children aged 5 years or younger are stunted in growth. This causes them to develop serious health problems later in life as a result. In children 15 and older, obesity is becoming more common because of nutritional deficiencies.
  7. Over the last few years, many of Indonesia’s leaders have dedicated initiatives to combat the poverty problem in the country. In 2014, the number of funds dedicated to decreasing the income inequality in Indonesia was increased by 2 percent and focused on education and health programs. From 2015 to 2018, leaders increased the budget again from 9 to 12.8 percent and aimed it toward Indonesia’s infrastructure.
  8. One of Indonesia’s many projects targeting changes in the country’s infrastructure is aimed at connecting its many islands and bringing the country into the 21st century. The country hopes to provide internet to people in rural and urban areas alike by extending a cable underwater. This initiative could have a profound effect on the literacy and education rate in Indonesia and can be another step closer to poverty eradication in Indonesia.
  9. Indonesia sets 20 percent of its annual budget aside for education expenses, but money doesn’t always equal the education. An overwhelming amount of children in Indonesia lack some of the fundamental education skills like reading, math and science needed to be successful in life.
  10. Lack of clean water and inefficient sanitation is also a big problem in Indonesia. UNICEF reports that one in eight households do not have access to clean water that has been linked to the high number of deaths caused by diarrhea. Lack of proper sanitation facilities has led to 29 percent of people in rural areas defecating in public.

In recent years Indonesia has proven to be very successful in poverty reduction. This was done by improving the infrastructure and closing the gap in income inequality by connecting the country’s islands. The top 10 facts about living conditions in Indonesia presented above prove it.

The only thing that seems to be in the way of Indonesia’s success for unity and poverty reduction is the towering threat of natural disasters. While money is being allocated to assist the poor, progress is being swept away by its frequent natural disasters that add to the rate of poverty in the country.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Child Malnutrition in North Korea
One in five children
in North Korea is malnourished. The United Nations claims that 200,000 children in this country are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Child malnutrition in North Korea is a growing concern of various humanitarian organizations. Aid programs find trouble reaching the country due to trade restrictions and only a few groups are allowed to enter North Korea. Although the percentage of children stunted by malnutrition in North Korea has dropped from 28 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2018, children are still facing severe malnutrition and are in need of immediate assistance.

World Food Programme Role in North Korea

A very big problem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is that it suffers from a drastic food shortage. The World Food Programme (WFP) has stated that a combination of the country’s harsh climate, rocky terrain, lack of farming technology and the recent 2015 drought have all contributed to a significant reduction in harvest.

WFP provides several programs to the country such as food for work program, food for nursing or pregnant women and support of factories that produce fortified meals. However, WFP has recently had trouble finding funding as many donors are unwilling to fund North Korean programs even though the country’s sanctions do not limit aid programs.

UNICEF in North Korea

UNICEF has expressed that there is a dire humanitarian need in North Korea. As of 2017, they had screened 90 percent of children under the age of 5 with severe acute malnutrition in the country and have treated 19,000 of those children.

One of UNICEF’s focuses is nutrition and sanitation interventions, specifically for children and mothers who just got their babies, in order to help combat child malnutrition in North Korea. The organization has stated that it needs $16,5 million to meet all of its goals for the country in 2018. These goals include providing children and pregnant women with nutrition, proper hygiene and safe drinking water. UNICEF is not the only group focused on the needs of new mothers and children.

First Health Steps

First Health Steps Canada is another on-ground organization attempting to battle child malnutrition in North Korea. The group mainly focuses on children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. They have two programs that are called Soymilk and Sprinkles that are used to provide necessary nutrition to young children all over North Korea.

Through the Soymilk program, they deliver soybeans to North Korea that are then turned into soymilk and delivered to daycares and elementary schools. Their Sprinkles program delivers micro-nutrient packs to pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children. The group also works on the ground and has visited the Yonsa county after Typhoon Lionrock to ensure that building supplies and food have been delivered. First Steps has provided an invaluable aid to the food insecure people of North Korea.

Organizations such as UNICEF, First Steps and the World Food Programme are attempting to find solutions to the dire need of food security and child nutrition in North Korea. Although a lot of progress has been made in the last decades, child malnutrition in North Korea is still a high priority issue.

Although it seems bleak, there is hope since more aid workers and groups are finding it easier to access the country. Officials of the country have also been cited as wanting to focus more effort on the economic stability of the country which could ensure the health of their people. As more focus is being put on humanitarian needs and less on political tensions, food security in North Korea is certainly going to improve in the upcoming period.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in SudanLocated in Northeast Africa, Sudan is the third largest country of the African continent with a current population of more than 41 million people. The biggest problem country is facing is the poverty rate that is currently about 46.5 percent and continues to increase. This does not only affect men and women living in Sudan but children as well. In the text below, 10 facts about poverty in Sudan are presented.

Facts about Poverty in Sudan

  1. In 2018, about 7.1 million people in Sudan are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, while 5.5 million experience food insecurity and are in danger of starvation, according to the USAID. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) also reports that almost 50 percent of refugees in the country are experiencing food insecurity. Because of this, malnutrition rates continue to increase, growing not only above the emergency threshold, but even higher. Around 32 percent of Sudanese children are chronically malnourished.
  2. Sudan’s climate conditions such as soil erosion, desertification and recurrent droughts, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), are also causing low and variable productivity since agriculture produces 40 percent of GDP and employs over 70 percent of the labor force in rural areas of Sudan.
  3. USAID states that the consequences of the economic crisis are also fuel shortages, currency depreciation and high inflation levels. These issues have increased transportation costs and food prices, obstructing humanitarian operations in Sudan. The shortages could also increase not only food production costs but curb yields in upcoming harvest seasons.
  4. Almost 550,000 breastfeeding mothers and babies in 2010 were lacking needed additional nutritious foods. In 2015, maternal mortality rate involved 311 deaths per 100,000 live births while the mortality rate for children was 65.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  5. Sudan remains a high-indebted country that has accumulated sizeable external arrears. IFAD states that by the end of 2014, Sudan’s external debt was $43.6 billion in nominal terms, and around 85 percent of this amount was in arrears.
  6. In response to the rise of food insecurity and hunger in Sudan, USAID happens to be the largest donor of emergency food assistance to Sudan. The Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with WFP and UNICEF to provide emergency assistance to those in need. The FFP assistance currently supports more than 2.5 million food-insecure people in Sudan per year.
  7. According to the UNICEF, 3.2 million people were internally displaced, including almost 1.9 million children in 2016. UNICEF provided access to the drinking water supply through operation, maintenance and water chlorination services to about one million displaced persons and refugees.
  8. IFAD has prioritized Sudan for more than 20 years and their loans help increase agricultural production through environmental practices and distribution of improved seeds. Their activities include promoting land reform, harmonizing resources for nomads and farmers as well as promoting equitable distribution of resources. They also ensure representation of both women and youth in grass-roots organizations and guarantee access to microfinance for women. This is very important since 24.7 percent of women in Sudan are unemployed.
  9. WFP, thanks to the E.U. Humanitarian Aid, has been able to provide five months of nutritional support to 86,600 children under the age of five and to pregnant and nursing women in 2017.
  10. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) started the educational program that began in July 2013 and continues to improve the learning environment in Sudan, providing and distributing almost six million textbooks and strengthening the education system. Almost 1,000 additional conventional and community classrooms have been built through this program which benefits over 52,000 students. Over 3,400 communities and 4,800 students in the country also received school grants.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Sudan bring not only the awareness of the people’s lives but reflects how much change and development is being brought to the country. These issues can be solved and poverty rates can be improved.

Organizations, including the few listed in the text above, will continue to develop and come together, bringing not only hope to the people but also dedication, ensuring a better future for the people in the country.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions In MexicoThe Pew Research Center reported that the number of unauthorized immigrants coming into the U.S. has stabilized at the number around 11 million, with 55 percent of immigrants coming from Mexico. In recent months, several news outlets have reported on numerous deportations and cases of illegal immigration throughout the U.S. What kind of living conditions do the Mexican people endure in Mexico if they feel that their only chance for a better life is to flee to the U.S.? More than 400,000 people were deported back to Mexico in 2016 alone. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Mexico shed light on the conditions that those returning encounter.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Mexico

  1. There have been major strides to reduce Mexico’s poverty rate over the years. One contributing factor to the reduction of poverty has been the program Prospera that gives struggling mothers an incentive to send their children to school and provide their children with regular health screenings. However, even with programs like this one, 43.6 percent of Mexico’s population still lives in poverty.
  2. Many Mexican households resort to meals consisting of rice and beans. They are cheap, easily accessible and don’t have a short shelf-life. The National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted in 2012 revealed that as a result of poor diet, Mexican families suffer a nutritional imbalance that leads to a risk of obesity and malnutrition.
  3. Mexico has various food assistance programs for families in need. One such program is Liconsa that provides milk to families with children and to those living under the national poverty line. A study conducted comparing food assistance programs in Mexico to those in the U.S. found that food stamps can comprise half of a household’s income in the U.S., while urban programs in Mexico make up only for 3.8 percent of a family’s income.
  4. Mexico is home to some of the worlds’ most active and dangerous drug cartels. Mexico’s war on drugs has claimed the lives of 245,999 citizens from 2007 through March 2018. The year 2017 saw the highest homicide number with over 29,000 victims.
  5. Sixty-one percent of the working population in Mexico has paying jobs and this number is low considering the national employment average is 67 percent. However, those that have jobs are expected to work longer hours to afford the costs of living. Thirty percent of Mexico’s workforce has to work 50 hours or more per week to survive, and this is the reason why it is more convenient for many to work elsewhere and send money back home.
  6. Mexico’s average household income peaked at $4,169 per year in 2008. Over the last ten years, there has been a sharp decline in yearly income per household in Mexico. In 2016, Mexican households were averaging a mere $2,718 per year. In order to afford the bare minimum costs of living in Mexico, one would need to be making at least $3,193 a year.
  7. Mexico was once home to one of the world’s worst slums, Ciudad Neza, home to 1.2 million people in 2016. Ciudad Neza has been transformed into a working community that now has access to clean water and sewage systems. It is a vast improvement from the make-shift squabbles with no electricity that people used to live in. It is by no means perfect and still draws in a great deal of crime, but progress has been made giving hope to many that still live without basic necessities.
  8. At less than $4 a day, Mexico holds one of Latin America’s lowest minimum wages. Income inequality can be credited to Mexico’s wage restriction policies that attracted foreign businesses to use Mexican workers as a cheap form of labor. State taxes have also played a significant role in keeping families in poverty by not taxing its citizens based on their income level.
  9. As of 2004, Mexico has ensured that a majority of its citizens receive health care through a universal health care plan. Before its establishment, only half of the working population were covered under their employers’ health insurance. Since its formation, Seguro Popular (health coverage for all in Mexico) has gone from supporting 3.1 million people to supporting 55.6 million people.
  10. Many changes have been made to Mexico’s water supply and access to proper sanitation facilities. Ninety-six percent of people in Mexico had access to clean drinking water in 2015, a vast improvement from 82.3 percent in 1990. From 1998 to 2005, the Mexican government oversaw the expansion of its Water and Sanitation for Rural Communities program aiding 4.8 million people with clean water and sanitation.

While there is still more to accomplish, Mexico has set forth legislation and policies that have greatly improved the quality of life for many of its citizens.

In July 2018, the Mexican people elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their next president. In addressing the problem of poverty in Mexico, Obrador has promised to cut the salaries of higher paid government workers to support education for the children of Mexico and pensions for the elderly. With new leadership and fresh ideas comes promised change, and stable living conditions for all of Mexico might be on the horizon.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Venezuela

Venezuela is in crisis. On the verge of economic collapse, riots proliferate in the streets along with demands for an end to the populist, authoritarian government. Much of this anger is directed at President Nicolas Maduro — since his arrival to office in 2013, poverty rates in Venezuela have increased dramatically. Many struggle to provide for their families as food and medicine become scarce. Below are the top 10 facts about poverty in Venezuela that are essential to know.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Venezuela

  1. Poverty in Venezuela is an epidemic. Nearly 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty. According to estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, this is a dramatic increase from 2014 when 48 percent of Venezuelans lived in poverty. Maria Ponce is an investigator with the local universities researching the food shortage, and she stated that “this disparity between the rise in prices and the population’s salaries is so generalized that there is practically not a single Venezuelan who is not poor.”
  2. Economic statistics are disappearing. In an attempt to stifle economic outrage, the Venezuelan government ceased publication of poverty statistics in 2015. It is now the responsibility of universities and sociologists to report on the current state of Venezuela and provide alternative sources of information. Luis Pedro España, a sociologist at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, estimates that up to 70 percent of households in Venezuela could fall below the poverty line this year. It would be the highest rate of poverty since statistic tracking began in 1980.
  3. Venezuela is experiencing ‘hyperinflation.’ Venezuela is experiencing one of the worst inflation rates in history. According to Robert Renhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, Venezuela “is one of the most severe hyperinflation situations that we’ve known about since the beginning of the 20th century.” And the nation shows no sign of stopping. Currently, Venezuela’s inflation rate sits at 27,364 percent, dooming those without savings or foreign aid to poverty.
  4. Oil industries in Venezuela are crumbling. Many economists blame Venezuela’s heavy reliance on oil exports for the poor economy. One of the world’s largest exporters for oil, Venezuela was reported to possess 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves in 2012. Since then, production of crude oil in Venezuela has dropped heavily. Global Data, a digital media company, has predicted that by the end of 2018, Venezuelan crude oil production would drop by one million barrels a day.
  5. Government corruption is deeply rooted. Other economists blame deep political corruption and government mismanagement for Venezuela’s poverty crisis. Despite months of protests, Maduro has recently cemented his power by replacing an opposition-controlled legislative branch of the government with loyalists. Since then, thousands of Venezuelans responsible for running the large oil exports have been fired or arrested in an act of power consolidation for Maduro. The White House has issued a statement reporting that President Trump refuses to speak to Maduro until “democracy is restored in that country.”
  6. Minimum wage in Venezuela is $6.13. In an attempt to control inflation, the minimum wage in Venezuela was recently raised 58 percent. Based on current exchange rates, this values at about $6.13. Yaimy Flores, a Caracas housewife, struggles to provide basic necessities for her family. Her household income, provided by her husband’s minimum wage job as a janitor, is 5,196,000 bolivares a month. That is approximately $20. Much of the food they eat is dispersed from government programs and hygiene products are rationed. Despite working long hours in dire conditions, Venezuelans are barely scraping by on the minimum wage under heavy economic inflation.
  7. Food crisis leads to “Maduro diet.” Malnutrition is spreading. According to a recent survey, over two-thirds of Venezuelans report losing an average of 25 pounds in the last year and 61.2 percent of Venezuelans report going to bed hungry. Doctor Marianella Herrera states that “people are developing strategies to survive but not to feed themselves.” Iron-rich foods, such as maize and vegetables, have been nearly eliminated from the Venezuelan diet while government food programs fail to end the hunger.
  8. Medicine is running out. Due to the poor economy, Venezuela is experiencing a severe medicine shortage and hospitals are struggling to stay open. The Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela estimates the country is experiencing an 85 percent shortage of medicine. This has forced many Venezuelans to seek medication, often expired or unaffordable, on the black market. Meanwhile, President Maduro continues to refuse foreign humanitarian aid, blocking pharmaceutical shipments from entering the country.
  9. Government food subsidies aren’t enough. Iron-rich foods, such as maize and vegetables, have been nearly eliminated from the Venezuelan diet, and programs like CLAP — a government subsidized food box platform — fail to end the hunger. Initially, these packages included products like eggs, chicken and pasta and were distributed in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Originally a ‘temporary measure,’ these boxes have become a method to generate government dependency and supply nearly half of Venezuela’s food requirements.
  10. Venezuelans are fleeing the country. In the past two years, nearly one million Venezuelans have fled the struggling nation, one of the biggest migration crises in Latin American history after the mass exodus following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. Many Venezuelans report they no longer feel safe in their home country and have lost hope in government officials.

A Fork in the Road

Poverty has encapsulated the nation with seemingly no end in sight. These top 10 facts about poverty in Venezuela aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the crisis in Venezuela and how it affects everything from inflation, to food and medicine.

Although the Venezuelan government still refuses to accept foreign aid, supporting local organizations in Venezuela allows for humanitarian aid to be distributed in poverty-stricken areas. As for the future, many Venezuelans envision only two possible directions: either Maduro leaves, or they do.

– Brooke Fowler

Photo: Flickr