Child Poverty in Uganda
Many know Africa as having a high amount of poverty. Uganda is becoming one of the most impoverished countries, which is significantly affecting the children. The life-threatening impacts children in Uganda face every day include malnutrition, health assistance deprivation, access to education, shelter deprivation and exposure to crime. Here are five life-threatening impacts pertaining to child poverty in Uganda.

5 Life-Threatening Impacts Due to Child Poverty in Uganda

  1. Malnutrition: One of the biggest problems with child poverty in Uganda is malnutrition. Child hunger and malnutrition result in poor health and failure to reach educational potential. Malnutrition in young children can result from a lack of nutritious food but disease, including diarrhea, can also cause it. At least half of all children aged 6-59 months old are anemic as a result of malnutrition. In 2003, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture created a policy that aims to “reduce malnutrition among children; reduce low birth weight among newborns; and eliminate micronutrient deficiencies (in vitamin A, iodine and iron).”
  2. Health Assistance Deprivation: Most of the children in Uganda lack access to healthcare assistance and are not able to receive vaccinations at a young age because of their inability to afford them. According to the UNICEF Child Poverty and Deprivation analysis, “Children slept under treated bed nets to prevent malaria, which was the (leading) cause of 27% of deaths in Uganda in 2016.” A significant amount of children, mostly orphaned, have been suffering from HIV/AIDS in Uganda without any medical treatment. Without parents to provide for their children, the children end up being unable to access any medical assistance. Furthermore, small households with a single parent and a single child are more prone to catch illnesses.
  3. Access to Education: As a result of child poverty in Uganda, children are not always able to garner education and they frequently lack access to school supplies because of the inability to afford them. A majority of the children are unable to read or write, causing Uganda to have one of the highest illiteracy rates in Africa. Lacking nutrition in diets may cause them to miss school; even if they attend class, they may have trouble focusing on their lessons. In Uganda, the deprivation rates are increasing, with nine out of 10 children not having access to educational resources like uniforms, books, chairs and desks.
  4. Shelter Deprivation: Most Ugandan children in poverty live in rural areas with their families. In Uganda, the typical poor family is one that cannot afford access to basic necessities of living. This includes shelter, water, food, beds, blankets and cooking equipment, etc. Additionally, poorer families are not always able to afford any damages that might occur to their homes, causing the damages to worsen over time. A common living condition that the poor in Uganda have to deal with is leaky roofs, which may cause dampness in dwellings and the formation of mold. Also, most children live in households that are unable to put aside money for emergencies. Moreover, they cannot always afford to replace broken pots and pans that their households use for cooking.
  5. Exposure to Crime: Due to Child Poverty in Uganda, a growing number of children are becoming victims of criminal activity. Some forms of crime include theft, housebreaking, abuse, assault, defilement, murder, property damage and robbery. The percentage of defilement cases involving juvenile offenders rose from 28% in 2008 to 42% in 2010. The most frequent form of crime children and their families have experienced in Uganda is theft and housebreaking. Child abuse is more common in girls than boys, with 60% of child abuse crimes involving girls. Even if the crimes are not violent, the constant exposure to such crimes can cause an impact on the social and psychological health of a child.

Save the Children

The life-threatening effects of malnutrition, limited healthcare access, lack of education, shelter deprivation and higher exposure to crime rates could significantly increase if no one addresses child poverty in Uganda. Luckily, the organization Save the Children is aiming to fight for children’s rights to education, healthcare and safety around the world. In 2020, Save the Children and its donors changed the lives of over 552,000 children in Uganda by providing education, protection and health assistance.

While child poverty in Uganda is prevalent, the efforts of Save the Children have had a significant impact. Through continued work, child poverty should continue to reduce in Uganda and around the world.

– Mary McLean
Photo: Flickr

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa with a population of more than 15 million people. Today, more than 70% of the country’s population experience poverty. The people of Somalia struggle with food insecurity, vulnerability to human trafficking and youth unemployment among other challenges. One issue, in particular, is malnutrition in Somali children.

Food Insecurity

The most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report on Somalia projects that 22% of the population or 2.7 million people will struggle with acute food insecurity in the coming months. The main factors contributing to food insecurity are locusts, floods, droughts and low amounts of rainfall.

Malnutrition in Somali Children

The current food insecurity crisis facing Somalia has placed more than 800,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition. Nutrition surveys taken in 2020 measured Global Acute Malnutrition levels of 36 population groups in Somalia on a scale increasing in intensity from Acceptable (IPC phase 1) to critical (IPC phase 4). Specifically:

  • Nine out of 36 population groups in Somalia faced critical levels of Global Acute Malnutrition. This means that more than 15% of the population of children in these regions are suffering from acute malnutrition.
  • A total of 28 population groups suffered from severe (IPC phase 3) levels of malnutrition. This means at least 10% of the population experienced acute malnutrition.
  • More than 34% of Somali children are in need of treatment for acute malnutrition.

Compared to years past, more populations have improved to phase 3 as their acute malnutrition levels decrease. Malnutrition levels have improved due to continued humanitarian aid efforts and accessibility to milk. The ongoing pandemic and seasonal challenges may lead to increased levels of acute malnutrition as food access decreases and the ability to get aid to at-risk populations becomes more costly.

Combating Malnutrition

Save the Children is a humanitarian organization that has been working in Somalia since 1951. The organization has helped more than 500,000 children by providing food, water and medical assistance to at-risk populations. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to cause further harm to Somali children, Save the Children has created an emergency fund to increase the amount of aid it can provide.

Action Against Hunger is another humanitarian organization that has been combating malnutrition in Somali children since 1992. In 2019, the organization had provided aid in the form of food, water and health services support to more than 600,000 people. The organization helped more than 20,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition and provided health services to more than 160,000 pregnant women. Action Against Hunger plans to continue supporting Somalia. It plans to expand existing health services for the Somali people and empower the Somali healthcare system.

With millions being affected by food insecurity and more than 800,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition, Somalia is in need of continued humanitarian support. Continual improvements to healthcare, food and water systems have improved the lives of millions of people. The ongoing pandemic and droughts are obstacles in the way of continuing progress in combating malnutrition in Somali children. With these issues, the need for continued humanitarian support only grows.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Peanuts Reduce PovertyEvery year, more than three million children under 5 years old die as a result of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), making it the largest killer of young children. In developing countries, including sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda, Malawi and Haiti, malnutrition is a severe issue that pediatricians and scientists are looking for a simple way to solve. Some of these ideas are successfully showing how peanut butter and peanuts reduce poverty and save lives.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition starts in the womb. Therefore, scientists intend to stop malnutrition and anemia in young mothers hoping to give their babies a more nutritional start to life. In Malawi, roughly 50% of all pregnant women and nearly a third of nursing mothers are anemic and in need of a higher calorie diet that can start with peanut butter.

The Power in a Peanut

Peanuts contain more plant protein per ounce than any other nut, making it a powerhouse for nutrition. Only one ounce of peanuts reduces malnutrition by providing an adequate source of niacin and magnesium. Peanut butter is also a good source of fiber and contains other essential nutrients. The nutritional value in peanut butter creates better nutritional and health outcomes, necessitating fewer hospital visits for young children.

Peanuts also contain healthy oils that are “trans-fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats.” As a high caloric nut and an impressive source of nutrients, peanuts reduce poverty because the nut addresses malnutrition in malnourished children and young mothers, helping them to gain weight and maintain a balanced diet.

Peanut Butter With a Punch

Peanut butter alone is a good source of nutrition and calories but scientists working to eradicate malnourishment have amped up the standard peanut butter recipes to cater to undernourished bodies.

The most talked-about of these miracle nutritional products is Plumpy’Nut, a nutritional, protein-packed peanut-based paste. Plumpy’Nut comes in portioned plastic wraps that are easy to store and easy to open, making it a resilient food for unstable conditions. Unlike some other ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF), one does not need to mix Plumpy’Nut with water, cutting down the risk of spreading disease.

Nourimamba is a similar peanut-based product that includes extra protein. Packaged in jars, hospitals mostly use Nourimamba to treat severely malnourished children. These jars of sweetened paste also end up in schools as snacks for children.

Dr. Mark Manary founded Project Peanut Butter, an organization in Malawi that helps to feed malnourished children in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Ghana. The organization uses a locally sourced, protein-rich and high caloric peanut butter known as “chiponde” to treat severe malnutrition.

While peanut butter is already a nutritious food, these pastes pack a greater punch in the fight against malnutrition. These products have a long shelf life and require no preparation, making them the ideal snack for undernourished individuals.

Positive Impacts on Poverty

Getting peanut butter into hungry stomachs is the top priority, but in the process, the nut helps uplift developing nations. In addition to addressing malnutrition, these peanut butter products create jobs that can break the cyclical poverty malnourished children are born into.

The Mwayi Wathu Peanut Butter Processing Group, supported by Oxfam and the Catholic Development Commission of Malawi (CADECOM), produces peanuts and peanut butter. This cooperative addresses malnutrition with its products while creating local jobs to stimulate the economy.

Peanuts Reduce Poverty

W. K. Kellogg graciously funded Accesso’s nutritional snack program, which aimed to feed 11 schools in central Haiti. As a result of this initiative, enrollment at the schools increased by 20%. The jobs that the program created allow parents to send their children to school. These families were unable to afford educational endeavors before.

Accesso works with 7,400 local farmers and has tripled the profits of farmers through its agribusiness model. Through this model, farmers strengthened their income and the organization can provide nutritional peanut snacks to more than 4,000 children every single day.

Part of this improved agribusiness model is the spicy peanut butter, Lavi, which holds the promise of opening up new markets for these developing nations. Accesso, the organization that championed the creation of Lavi, aims to expand its business to global markets, especially the United States, where demand for peanuts is high. As the most commonly enjoyed nut by U.S. citizens, more than two-thirds of all nut consumption in the U.S. is peanuts, making it a powerhouse in helping foreign farmers increase their incomes and rise out of poverty.

The benefits of nutritious peanut butter products show how peanuts reduce poverty in developing countries, tackling several concerns at once.

Veronica Booth
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in NepalIn 2019, the malnutrition rate in Nepal was 43% for children under 5 years old. Malnutrition is defined as a lack of nutrition and can be a result of either being underfed or not eating enough nutritious foods. When children suffer from chronic malnutrition, it can result in stunting, which can permanently affect a child’s growth physically and cognitively. For the first two decades after 1990, malnutrition in Nepal decreased. Thereafter, malnutrition progress slowed down. Currently, malnutrition in Nepal is still a serious issue that needs addressing.

Malnutrition in Numbers

Nearly 66% of children between 0-5 months old are exclusively breastfed. Between 6-24 months old, only 36% of babies receive a minimum acceptable diet. Additionally, as little as 47% of these children receive diversified diets with the proper nutrients.

Mother Fights Malnutrition

To help fight malnutrition, adolescent girls, women and children, need access to better nutritious diets and associated nutritional care. According to UNICEF, “The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer an extraordinary window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences.” In this critical period, preventative intervention is vital. This includes breastfeeding support,  supplementary foods for infants and micronutrient supplementation for women and children.

Bimala Chaudhary is an example of a mother who has been educated on the importance of nutrition. On a monthly basis, Chaudhary participates in a mothers’ group meeting where female community health volunteers teach mothers about how to improve both their own nutrition and the nutrition of their children. The mothers have been taught lessons that include the importance of handwashing and how to prepare nutritious porridge.

The health volunteers also visit Chaudary’s home to provide one-on-one nutritional counseling. A USAID-supported radio program called Mother Knows Best further emphasizes the lessons she learns through the women’s group. She also receives SMS messages to remind her to take her daughter for visits at the clinic in order to monitor progress.

To help the community, Chaudhary shares what she learns from the meetings with other mothers. Her end goal is to make sure no children are malnourished in the future.

Solutions

Since the 1990s, a lot of progress has been made to fight malnutrition in Nepal. The current country program (2018-2022) works to improve nutrition in Nepal. Adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children receive special focus. UNICEF supports the Government of Nepal in the implementation of comprehensive nutritional strategies. These strategies include deworming children, vitamin A supplementation, iron folate supplementation and nutritional education and counseling.

The Nepal Youth Foundation has developed child malnutrition treatment centers. These Nutrition Rehabilitation Homes (NRHs) treat severely malnourished children, teach mothers about children’s health and train professionals on best nutritional practices. These homes bring in critically-underweight children for three to four weeks to help improve their health through a monitored diet. For a long-term solution, caregivers and mothers are taught how to make nutritious meals. They are then encouraged to share these lessons with their communities. Since the first NRH was opened in 1998, 15,000 malnourished children have been restored back to health.

Food for the Future

By increasing the nutritional education of communities, malnutrition in Nepal can improve. With both short and long-term solutions, organizations like UNICEF and the Nepal Youth Foundation improve the lives of mothers and children.

Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Sudan
Sudan, a country in northeast Africa, is Africa’s third-largest country by area. After years of conflict and political instability, this vast country continues to suffer from underdevelopment and poverty despite its Human Development Index increasing by 52% from 1990 to 2017. One group that suffers the effects of poverty the most is Sudan’s children. Despite making recent gains in development, child poverty is still a major concern throughout Sudan because of its various humanitarian crises. Here are some important things to know about child poverty in Sudan.

Child Poverty Overview

According to UNICEF, 36% of Sudanese live under the poverty line. When children live in poverty in Sudan, they face violence, lack of schooling and health problems. In 2018, 1 million Sudanese children encountered global acute malnutrition because of food insecurity, poor health services and unclean water supply. The financial status of families often dictates access to resources. In Sudan’s poorest families, children have 2.1 times the risk of death in comparison to children in financially stable homes. To combat malnutrition, UNICEF has partnered with local farmers and communities to cultivate peanuts. Using peanuts, UNICEF creates Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a peanut paste that provides sufficient nutrients for malnourished children. UNICEF and partnering communities’ procurement of RUTF is making significant advances in addressing malnutrition.

Inter-Communal Violence

Violence and conflict harm many Sudanese children. Over a single weekend in January 2021, an inter-communal conflict in Darfur, Sudan killed 83 people, including children, and forced many families into displacement. Often separated from their families, displaced children live in horrible conditions and do not have access to health services. Some Sudanese children, mainly boys, even participate in armed conflict.

Registration of Children

In Sudan, 33% of children 5 and under have not registered with civil authorities. Registering a child at birth means the child is eligible for schooling, health services and other government activities. Parents often find obtaining registration difficult because of registration fees and insufficient registration centers. Registration rates vary by state with the average rate of registration being 67%. The highest rate of registration is in the Northern state with 98.3% and the lowest rate is in Central Darfur with only 30.9% of children registered.

UNICEF works in Sudan to ensure Sudanese children have appropriate registration. In 2019, UNICEF registered over 175,000 children in states with low registration rates like East Darfur, Gedaref, North Darfur and White Nile.

Child Labor and Overwhelmed Schools

Past political instability in Sudan led to a struggling economy. Because of this, many families struggle financially causing children to leave school to support their families. The government banned child labor but often leaves the ban unenforced in the informal sector. About 25% of Sudanese children participate in child labor. Common jobs for children are trading and carpentry. In Khartoum, Sudan, children earn $1 to $1.50 per day.

 Of all Sudanese children, aged 5-13, 3 million of them do not attend school. Although Sudanese law ensures free education, headmasters at schools often charge a fee meaning families cannot afford school to send their children to school.

In addition to children leaving school due to their families’ financial concerns, poverty overwhelmed Sudan’s school system. UNICEF’s Ministry of Education reported that Sudan built its school system to hold only 60% of the children which left 40% of children without the opportunity to receive an education. The government does not have the resources to accommodate all Sudanese children. Beginning in 2015, The African Development Bank (AfDB) implemented a project in Sudan that works to improve learning conditions by enhancing teaching capacity and developing technology training. AfDB plans to complete this project by the end of 2021.

Child Protection Programme

Within the past few decades, Sudan increased its Human Development Index and transitioned to a lower-middle-income country. While Sudan accomplished major developments, child poverty in Sudan continues to be an issue. UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme (CPP) in Sudan is making strides toward relieving child poverty in Sudan. CPP began in 2018 and plans to achieve results by the end of 2021. One way UNICEF accomplishes this is by working with national and state governments in Sudan to ensure that it appropriately meets the budgetary needs for children’s health, education and social protection. The program plans to ensure all children in Sudan have protection by offering care services and social support. Thus far, CPP provided services to over 1 million children.

UNICEF’s CPP utilizes the ‘whole child’ approach. The ‘whole child’ approach acknowledges that children need protection throughout their childhood, from infancy to teenagehood.

The ‘whole child’ approach recognizes that Sudanese teens face violence and danger because of the ongoing conflict. UNICEF’s CPP in Sudan intends to support Sudanese children who the armed conflict affected. In 2019, CPP provided 1,039,769 children with child protection services. CPP increased the number of social service workers in Sudan from eight to 12 per 100,000 children. Social service workers collaborate with the Ministries of Social Welfare and Justice to protect children from violence. In all, UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme works to form an environment free of violence and neglect, that supports all Sudanese children. Organizations, like UNICEF, continue to advance Sudan toward a country free of child poverty.

While child poverty in Sudan continues to evoke concern, the country has progressed and will continue to do so in the future as organizations, like UNICEF, address crucial problems affecting Sudan’s children.

– Bailey Lamb
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in AfghanistanEvery day, people all throughout Afghanistan face not only the public health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic but also a lack of accessibility to food, employment and a sense of stability. A study by Jean-Francois Trani and Washington University in St. Louis discussed how challenges like these may lead to both increased poverty and increased disability. They also identified how disability and poverty may overlap or compound the suffering of individuals. Here is some information about the link between disability and poverty in Afghanistan.

Challenges for Children in Afghanistan

In an environment with varying challenges, illness, injury, neglect and malnourishment can lead to lifelong health concerns and disability for children. Likewise, the chronic stress of struggling to sustain the life of a family in the midst of violence and trauma may also lead to debilitating psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the crisis of disability and poverty in Afghanistan.

Mothers and grandmothers like Haji Rizva (only identified by the first name for her safety), struggle to feed their children. She thinks specifically of her 18-month-old granddaughter, Parvana, who had been constantly vomiting and too weak to move for days. “We didn’t have enough to feed her,” Haji Rizva told NPR while waiting in the ward for malnourished children at Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. “Sometimes we only have tea for two, three days. We don’t even have bread.”

Around the same time, and in the same city, fathers like Kahn Wali Kamran told the Associated Press that they fear finding their young children dead when they return home from work each day. With a surge in large bombings, targeted killings and other forms of crime (including armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom), the future appears increasingly dangerous and uncertain.

The Link Between Disability and Poverty in Afghanistan

The Asia Foundation studies suggest that 17% of Afghan citizens suffer from some form of disability and 8.9% have severe impairments and are dependent on others. Additionally, after decades of uninterrupted conflict, the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) noted that despite the lack of comprehensive study and measurement of mental health in such a volatile region, it conservatively estimated that more than half of the population suffers from some form of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Halfway across the world, Trani’s 2012 study examining the links between poverty and disability using data from Afghanistan and Zambia has become relevant once again. The study noted that it is logical that disabled individuals may be more likely to be poor, as they have a higher cost of living, and a diminished ability to perform certain tasks, especially those they may require for employment. People with PTSD may be unable to complete tasks, communicate effectively and stay calm, making it harder to acquire and maintain employment. However, poverty and disability as concepts are difficult to define, as they both take many dimensions into consideration.

Defining Poverty

Generally, the amount of income a household earns determines poverty status, and what necessary commodities that the family in that household would be able to acquire. However, because all households have different needs and expenses, this is an unreliable measurement. Instead, the capability to live in a state of well-being, and have a reasonable life expectancy, quality nourishment and shelter, basic education and access to health care should be factors when considering poverty. Trani noted that low income is a cause of poverty, not the definition of poverty. In this way, violence, too, is a cause of poverty, and so is disability.

This creates an unforgiving cycle that allows both poverty and disability to increase in prevalence. When a person is in poverty, like Kamran or Haji Rizva, they are unable to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. Without proper shelter and protection, Kamran’s children are more likely to suffer severe injury, potentially leading to lifelong physical disability. Likewise, without proper nutrition, Parvana and other kids like her are less likely to grow and develop properly leading to weakened muscles, bones and organ systems. Poverty, in this case, causes injury. Injury then causes disability. This lowers employment opportunities, causing disabled individuals to fall further into poverty, putting them at greater risk of traumatic stress, further injury and other sufferings. This is the cycle of poverty and disability that has captured Afghanistan for decades.

The Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan

Fortunately, OCHA has recently updated its ongoing Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan to take greater action to help marginalized groups through the violence and the pandemic.

“Given the scale of vulnerability in Afghanistan, this effort will be guided by a range of both new and well-established technical working groups focused on gender, disability inclusion, gender-based violence (GBV), child protection, accountability to affected people (AAP) and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA)” wrote Parvathy Ramaswani in the plan’s updated introduction.

OCHA Measures

The efforts in regards to the pandemic will be largely consistent with others around the world, introducing sanitation protocols and vaccine distribution to the best of their ability, as reducing the spread of the pandemic will naturally provide relief to people caught in the poverty-disability cycle. As in developed countries, people with preexisting conditions are much more likely to develop complications from COVID-19 like pneumonia, infection and organ system failure. This could affect various disabilities that people develop from genetic conditions, malnutrition, previous infections and other injuries. Physical disability is quite prevalent in Afghanistan, so complications and deaths are also a greater concern than in some other areas.

From a psychiatric disability standpoint, the response plan is more targeted, directing resources and funding to local hospitals and clinics to seek out trauma patients who have not received adequate treatment prior to 2021. “With the volatile security situation creating higher trauma needs and associated disabilities, secondary trauma care continues to be a critical need,” the report noted. OCHA will continue to monitor the mental health of citizens closely through 2021, trying to care for those it missed in previous psychiatric treatment initiatives.

Help is on the way for people like Haji Rizva and Kamran, to prevent them and their children from developing new health concerns or complications from COVID-19. The OCHA response plan aims to reach 86% or more of the existing disabled population in Afghanistan.

– Anika Ledina
Photo: Flickr

Côte d’Ivoire Health Care
Côte d’Ivoire health care has faced challenges in recent years and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a 2020 Helen Keller International report, Moriame Sidibé, a mom and homemaker from northern Côte d’Ivoire was a “Vitamin A Hero” because every six months for the past three years she spent three full days walking door to door and village to village to give young children Vitamin A and deworming pills. Sidibé faced challenges because sometimes she needed to convince mothers of the importance and safety of the pills, coax the children to swallow the pills and mark the children’s fingers with black ink so she would not accidentally give them a second pill.

Sidibé left her own four young children to do this, but it was worth it to her because she has training as a community health volunteer who is part of a collaboration between the Ivorian government, Helen Keller International, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Nutritional International fighting the extreme form of malnutrition in children called micronutrient deficiency or “hidden hunger.”

The Situation

Twenty-five percent of Ivorian children get enough calories, but not foods with sufficient Vitamin A, zinc, iodine or iron.  That “hidden hunger” puts one in four Ivorian children at risk of blindness, impaired brain development and some fatal infections. Deworming pills kill the parasites that prevent children from absorbing micronutrients including Vitamin A, and together the deworming pills and the Vitamin A can save children’s lives. In December 2019, the campaign reached 5 million children or 98% of all Ivorian children, an incredible accomplishment of a ministry of health working with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trained community health volunteers.

Côte d’Ivoire, the West African nation of 25 million, enjoyed a strong 8% average GDP growth between 2011 and 2018. According to the World Bank, the country had one of the strongest economies in sub-Saharan Africa due to an expanded middle class that supported demand in industry, agriculture and services. The Côte d’Ivoire health care indicators, however, lagged behind other less-developed nations, and in 2018, Côte d’Ivoire ranked 165 of 189 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index.

As noted in a 2020 Oxford Business Group report, planned increases in health care spending should improve these indicators. Côte d’Ivoire spent $1.8 billion on health care in 2016, $2 billion in 2019 and intends to spend $2.3 billion in 2021. The country invested in access to services, renovation and building of medical facilities, and development of technical platforms aligned with international health standards. The Ivorian government worked with a number of programs like the Helen Keller International Vitamin A Heroes; however, then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Despite COVID, Côte d’Ivoire Health Care Initiatives Regroup to Persevere

Based on the World Health Organization COVID-19 transmission guidance, the Vitamin A Heroes collaboration discontinued its door-to-door campaign. Nevertheless, during the pandemic, the campaign has resolutely distributed Vitamin A and deworming pills at local health clinics when children come with their families for other reasons. Once the pandemic subsides, it will renew its crucial Vitamin A Heroes campaign.

Predicted to Rebound Post COVID and Target Health Care

Côte d’Ivoire’s pre-COVID targeted investment in health care services, facilities and technical innovation gives Côte d’Ivoire health care a positive outlook according to the Oxford Business Group report. The International Monetary Fund predicts that Côte d’Ivoire’s GDP growth will climb back up to 8.7% in 2021 as the new investment in Côte d’Ivoire health care parallels the successful investment in other sectors.

Moving Forward, Côte d’Ivoire to Roll Out Planned Health Care Initiatives

One example of a Côte d’Ivoire health care collaboration of governmental, NGO and local organizations that launched during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is Harness the Power of Partnerships. Harness the Power of Partnerships is a Côte d’Ivoire health care initiative to use faith-based organizations in the HIV response. Faith-based leadership is working with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) on long-term strategies to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS and to keep Ivorians on their antiretroviral therapies. This PEPFAR/UNAIDS program exemplifies how the Ivorian government continues to partner with non-government groups, including local groups, in order to improve Côte d’Ivoire health care indicators.

Improving Côte d’Ivoire health care will not be an easy task, but creating collaborations with international powerhouses like PEPFAR, UNAIDS, Helen Keller International and local nonprofits and community leaders is definitely a strategy worth watching as COVID-19  subsides and the Ivorian economy rebounds.

– Shelly Saltzman
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Madagascar’s PovertyMadagascar, an island country located in the Indian Ocean, is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with 75% of its population living in poverty in 2019. Due to the country’s insufficient infrastructure, isolated communities and history of political instability, the economy of Madagascar has long been incapacitated and heavily dependent on foreign aid to meet the basic needs of its people, with food being the most urgent. In recent times, Madagascar’s poverty has been further impacted by more crises amid the country’s continued search for economic stability.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Madagascar’s economy has drastically worsened and so has Madagascar’s poverty as a result. With an already frail economic climate before COVID-19, the pandemic has negatively affected both the rural and urban areas of Madagascar, as precautionary measures enforced by the government are obstructing the flow of food and job opportunities, further stifling the already impoverished. Movement restrictions, one of many precautionary measures being enforced by the government, have cornered the most poverty-susceptible households to stay in place versus finding labor opportunities through seasonally migrating. Without the freedom to move about and access markets, these rural households are hard-pressed to find food and urban households are feeling the economic effects of this as well.

Drought in Madagascar

About 1.6 million people in southern Madagascar have suffered from food shortages since 2016. The reason for this food shortage: drought. Ejeda is one of many Madagascar villages that finds its villagers trekking miles away from their homes to dig holes into sand beds around rivers in search of water. If water is found, these villagers are then tasked with transporting it miles back home. Three years of recurrent drought in southern Madagascar has almost entirely eradicated farming and crop yields.

Declining Tourism Industry

Tourism in Madagascar is a significant source of annual revenue for the country. Home to lush national parks and scenic beaches, it is estimated that the fallout of COVID-19 has taken away about half a billion dollars of tourism revenue from the country since the pandemic began. Travel restrictions in Madagascar have gradually been eased but the damage has been done as people are simply not traveling unnecessarily during COVID-19. This loss of tourism revenue has been widely felt as it has added to the people’s ongoing struggle with poverty in Madagascar.

Poverty in Madagascar continues to worsen due to COVID-19, drought and the ensuing loss of tourism. With an already feeble economy before these crises, poverty has been intensified in both rural and urban areas as these crises continue to play out.

The Good News

Madagascar’s poverty has increased but there is good news to be found. A dietician and missionary from Poland named Daniel Kasprowicz recently raised 700,000 PLN through an online fundraiser to build a medical facility for malnourished children. Construction on the building has already started, and as poverty is expected to increase throughout Madagascar for the foreseeable future, it is believed that the facility will be opened and treating the malnourished by February 2021. In a time of crucial need, foreign aid means life or death in Madagascar and no act of assistance goes unnoticed.

– Dylan James
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Angolan Children
Global poverty has a detrimental effect on health, specifically on the health of children. Statistically, malnutrition impacts children the most as 3.1 million children die annually from a lack of nutrition, according to the World Hunger 2018 report. In Angola, the leading cause of children’s death is malnutrition. In the World Vision report on countries struggling with malnutrition, Angola ranks as number one for countries that have the weakest commitment to fighting malnutrition in children. This goes to show how malnutrition is a critical issue for Angolan children, which requires more attention. Here is some information about malnutrition in Angolan children.

The Effects of Malnutrition

Although malnutrition includes both undernutrition and overnutrition, the majority of the focus is on undernutrition as it is a significant effect of global poverty. The Leader of Intersectional Nutrition working Group and Nutrition Advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres, Dr. Kirrily de Polnay, MBBS, MA, MSc told The Borgen Project that, “The reason why we often focus more on undernutrition is that less than 20% of undernutrition children receive care.” Undernutrition in children tends to come with other direct health issues such as vitamin deficiency, wasting, growth stunting and fetal growth restrictions. Undernutrition can also worsen the effects of underlying health problems and diseases. This includes children with recurrent illnesses like measles, malaria, diarrhea and other chronic diseases. As a result, malnutrition creates a higher risk for already vulnerable children.

Undernourished children in Angola have a higher risk of infection, delayed development and death. These children also tend to develop non-communicable diseases in their adult lives, creating a cycle of poor health that can also result in severe malnutrition. These effects can lead to harsher consequences later in their lives. This includes little to no economic growth, which causes low incomes and generational poverty.

Malnutrition and Poverty

Poverty accounts for the majority of malnutrition cases in children. About 40% of Angolans live below the poverty line. This in turn creates a high rate of malnutrition, specifically in children who are more susceptible to the consequences of extreme poverty. Malnutrition is the main cause of child death, which the high infant mortality rate reflects.

One can further break the causes of malnutrition down into food insecurity, unhealthy household conditions and inadequate health care. All of these causes tend to lead back to the overarching problem of poverty. Moreover, the potential causes of malnutrition in children are a result of both socio-economic and political factors in Angola.

Current Plans

The number of malnourished children is currently increasing with more than 2.4 million people and severe malnutrition in Angola affecting 85,000 children since 2019. The number of people in Angola affected has doubled within the past year and expectations have determined it will increase. World Vision described the current situation regarding malnutrition as the number of hungry people can stretch across the world one and half times in southern Africa alone.

Even though Angola has a major problem with malnutrition, the country has been on track to control the current problems. According to the Global Nutrition Report, Angola is specifically targeting the maternal, infant and young child nutrition sectors of malnutrition. Some of the current successes include:

  • An increase in the number of infants reaching the birth weight target by 15.3%.
  • Mothers exclusively breastfeeding about 37.4% of infants (0 to 5 months), which is helping provide infants with adequate nutrients.
  • A lower average (4.9%) of children under 5-years-old experiencing wasting in comparison to the South African region.

Medecins Sans Frontieres

The way in which organizations are helping countries like Angola with child malnutrition is by directly providing care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kirrily de Polnay provides a great example of this direct help she is a part of with Medecins Sans Frontieres. Medecins Sans Frontieres has 101 projects that include all continents except Australia where it treats malnourished children and also implements preventative activities. It mostly works in Africa where it focuses on treatment as it is a medical emergency organization. Dr. Kirrily de Polnay describes the organization’s work as: “We run outpatient centers treating children with malnutrition, and we also run inpatients in hospitals treating children with both malnutrition and other medical complications.” Direct aid is crucial regarding health care and can reduce the number of malnourished people globally.

UNICEF

UNICEF is one of the few organizations that are helping to decrease the effects of malnutrition in Angolan children. Some of what UNICEF has been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic has included:

  • Providing training to 445 frontline health care workers in various Angolan provinces.
  • Teaching health care workers in Angola effective ways to treat severe acute malnutrition and implementing vitamin supplementation protocols.
  • Implementing leading mother-led Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measurement protocols in Angola. MUAC measurements help improve screening and early identification of malnutrition in children and reduce serious complications.
  • Continuously advocating for a secure energy response in Luanda within the Provisional Health Office.
  • Producing infant and young feeding pamphlets and counseling cards regarding both malnutrition and health awareness for COVID-19 and distributed them among 49 health facilities across Luanda.
  • Helping over 14,000 caregivers of young children (0-23 months) receive the necessary counseling regarding nutrition and over 57,000 children received nutrition services.

Prevention

Through the recent help it has received, Angola has shown how it is able to increase the care necessary to circumvent the problem of malnutrition in children. However, more work is necessary to make a significant impact on the children who malnutrition affects.

Dr. Kirrily de Polnay recognizes the need for more action, specifically with decision-makers who should be more receptive and open to listening to organizations and people in areas of concern. Dr. Kirrily de Polnay also extends this call to action to regular people, stating that, “Writing about it, talking about it, making sure you are really informed about all the very different multifactorial causes of malnutrition is really important.”

Overall, it is important that people collectively help at all levels from building awareness to giving direct aid when it comes to not only malnutrition in Angolan children but also all the other various issues that stem from global poverty.

– Zahlea Martin
Photo: Flickr

impact of conflict on poverty
Conflict can be a catalyst for an array of poverty-related events. It can impact poverty by depleting resources, interrupting supply chains, destroying infrastructure, taking lives and much more. Unfortunately, this trend has held in the country of Mali, which currently shows the significant impact of conflict on poverty.

Conflict Background and Economic Impact

The Mali War is an ongoing conflict that began in January of 2012. Since then, violence between the North and South of Mali has ebbed and flowed in severity but never subsided. Malian people, including the Tuareg, in the North of Mali, have expressed resentment and concern, as they feel that governmental groups and political factions have been neglecting their concerns and treating them unfairly. Ethnic divides, fundamentalist fighters and an unstable political system are a few issues that have caused this conflict.

There have been thousands of deaths and thousands of more people fleeing the conflict. As mentioned previously, many connect the weak economic sector in Mali to the outbreak of unrest and violence. Almost cyclically, this violence is now negatively impacting the economic sector. Before the conflict broke out, tourism accounted for more than 40% of Mali’s GDP. Researchers estimate that 8,000 people lost their job due to the drastic decrease in tourism after the conflict began. The economic connection highlights the ranging impact of conflict on poverty.

Many of those living in the North of Mali, mostly Tuareg and Arab groups, depend on the agricultural sector for their income. The government has invested very little in this sector and focuses primarily on tourism and the export of gold and cotton from the South. This has led many agricultural producers in the South to grow jaded towards the government due to their increased likelihood of experiencing extreme poverty.

The Impact on Public Health

Roughly 1 in 3 children in Mali are facing chronic malnutrition. An annual average of nearly four million people in Mali do not have access to an adequate amount of food. More than half of Mali’s children and young adults are illiterate and have been pushed out of school due to displacement. Many children in Mali are at great risk of being recruited into militant groups, further threatening their safety, educational resources, and ability to climb from poverty.

At its base level, the conflict in Mali threatens public health by the sheer loss of life it has caused. In 2018, hundreds of civilians were killed by armed groups. The byproducts of this violence caused even more people to experience extreme poverty, malnutrition and death. Additionally, more than 200,000 people have fled Mali altogether to avoid the violence. This stunts Mali’s economic growth, which reaffirms the dangerous impact of conflict on poverty.

Current Aid and Support Efforts

A military coup ousted the former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, on August 19th, 2020. President Bah Ndaw became the interim leader of Mali and will hold the position until an election can be held. Some are hopeful that if a legitimate election can be held, much of the conflict in Mali will subside. In the meantime, many local and international nonprofit organizations have mobilized to aid in poverty-reduction efforts throughout Mali.

  1. For example, World Vision began providing aid in Mali in 1975, even before the conflict. In 2012 during the height of the conflict, World Vision provided aid in the form of food, clean water, and shelter to more than 150,000 people throughout Mali. Additionally, more than 60,000 children in Mali are currently benefiting from World Vision’s child sponsorship program. The program allows donors to provide monetary assistance to and communicate with an impoverished child. Many of these sponsored children in Mali reside within conflict-ridden areas.
  2. Peace Direct, another nonprofit organization, focuses on peacebuilding efforts in Mali. They support communities in their implementation of peacebuilding; in 2019 alone, they supported more than 20 projects throughout Mali. Peace Direct realizes the importance of community growth, both physically and emotionally, to peacebuilding. A lack of communal trust can be detrimental to poverty reduction, as teamwork makes progress more effective and efficient. Additionally, the building of trust and understanding among conflict groups is essential to support continued growth and stability throughout Mali. This trust will prevent future conflicts and allow Mali to focus on joint economic growth and poverty-reduction tactics throughout their country.

    3. “The Peacebuilding Stabilization and Reconciliation Project,” run through USAID, began in April of 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in March of 2023. This project focuses on rebuilding many of the conflict-ridden areas throughout Mali, providing rehabilitation resources to those impacted by the violence, increasing civic engagement and helping Mali’s government introduce barriers to prevent violent outbreaks in the future. USAID believes that providing community members with an active role in their governance will decrease dissent, enhance democratic values, reduce the likelihood of future conflict and decrease the joint poverty level throughout Mali. Success will also ideally increase GDP and overall well being while mitigating the impact of conflict on poverty in Mali.

The Future of the Region

The domino effect that violence can have on the prosperity of a nation is not a surprise. Violence decreases an individual’s ability to focus on economic growth or public health. It overtakes governmental initiatives and attention from the media, forcing poverty-related issues to take a backseat. The importance of the international community supporting peacebuilding efforts in Mali remains essential. The path toward peace will trickle-down benefits for many subsets of Mali’s society and will decrease the occurrence of extreme poverty throughout the nation.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: UN Multimedia