How Bangladesh Reduced Poverty
Bangladesh is a country of 159 million people in the Bay of Bengal next to India. Bangladesh struggled with poverty and economic problems after gaining its independence in 1971. However, the country has recently seen economic growth along with a steady decline in poverty. How Bangladesh reduced poverty holds lessons for other countries and one can attribute it to a variety of factors.

Investing in Public Services

In the past six years, Bangladesh has lifted 8 million people out of poverty. The rate of extreme poverty fell from 17 percent to 13 percent, and the overall poverty rate declined from more than 31 percent to 24 percent. Bangladesh has also made great strides in education, health, infrastructure and energy. Primary school enrollment rates have risen from 80 percent in 2000 to more than 90 percent in 2015, and secondary school enrollment has increased from 45 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2015. This jump in education heralds a bright future ahead as Bangladesh invests in its youth.

In terms of health care, the country has achieved an amazing 40 percent decrease in maternal mortality rates, as well as ensuring that 63 percent of pregnant women received maternity care from a trained medical professional in 2015, up from 53 percent in 2007. Bangladesh has also improved its infrastructure by building new roads and water pipelines. People now have better access to schools, health facilities and workplaces, and the pipelines have increased access to drinkable water in rural areas. Lastly, Bangladesh has added over 2,000 megawatts of energy to the national grid and provided solar energy capabilities to over four million households in remote areas. These improvements help households go about daily activities and provide more consistent access to the internet for individuals and businesses. All of these improvements help explain how Bangladesh reduced poverty and may serve as an example for other countries.

Implementing Special Economic Zones

Bangladesh reduced poverty and increased its GDP and living standards thanks to the government’s decisions and international aid. The creation of special economic zones that encourage foreign investment was one major factor in Bangladesh’s economic growth. These zones ensure legal protection and fiscal incentives for investors and allow freer movement of goods and services. These policies make these zones in Bangladesh a safe and profitable place for foreign companies to invest.

Currently, garments and textiles are Bangladesh’s biggest industries, but it is expanding into technology as well thanks to these economic zones. For example, Bangladesh exported 12 industrial robots to South Korea in 2018. While Bangladesh currently has 12 special economic zones, there are plans to create 100 special economic zones and technology hubs to foster future growth. This investment creates jobs and brings money into the economy. Bangladesh is currently trying to direct that new money into new businesses and build the country’s service industries.

The International Development Association

In addition to government policy, the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) were also crucial to Bangladesh’s improving fortunes. Many of the country’s achievements in infrastructure, health, energy and education have come with the help of IDA financing. The IDA has given Bangladesh over $28 billion in grants and interest-free credit. This funding has been crucial to the country’s recent accomplishments. The combination of IDA funding and special economic zones has given Bangladesh the jobs and infrastructure needed to pull themselves out of poverty. International aid has been a crucial factor in Bangladesh’s development.

Bangladesh has made remarkable strides in both economic growth and quality of life. Economic policies that encourage foreign investment and help from the IDA both help explain how Bangladesh reduced poverty in the last decade.

– Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

Kiwanis International Unites Local and Global ActionThink globally, act locally: this sentiment is shared by city planners, activists and businesspeople alike. Worldwide issues can appear so large as to be insurmountable. When a problem’s scale is overwhelming, taking action is a challenge, but small-scale, grassroots actions can make a massive difference over time. The spirit of global thinking and local action is the drive behind Kiwanis International, an international association of clubs that focus on helping children and fighting poverty and disease. The organization’s self-stated mission is to “improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children,” a goal which they pursue through community service projects and fundraising campaigns.

History

In 1914, Allen S. Brown and Joseph C. Prance created The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers in Detroit, Michigan. This original organization was not focused on community service but on professional networking, a far cry from what it would become. In 1915, the name was changed to Kiwanis, from an Ojibwe expression that the founders translated as “We build,” which is now the organization’s motto. Around the same time, the founders began to pivot toward focusing on community service rather than business. Kiwanis was quick to grow, with chapters soon being formed in Cleveland, Ohio and Hamilton, Ontario. In the 1960s, Kiwanis began to expand outside of North America, and today there are more than 600,000 members in eighty nations and geographic areas.

Youth Activity

Many members of Kiwanis clubs are youth — the overarching Kiwanis organization includes K-Kids for elementary school children, Key Club for high-school students and Circle K International (CKI) for college-aged members, all of which focus on leadership skills and service projects. CKI has an established partnership with UNICEF, raising money for UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. CKI’s work with WASH focuses on Haiti, and in the past three fiscal years, CKI has raised more than $58,000 for WASH. CKI clubs also do locally-focused projects, like volunteering at food banks to help feed the poor or decorating trash cans in order to discourage littering.

CKI’s work is an excellent demonstration of Kiwanis’ overall strategy: clubs organize their own projects based on local needs, while the larger organization tackles large-scale issues, primarily through fundraising. Kiwanis International recognizes both that individual communities have their own needs and that some problems are global. The organization reports that its clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year.

International Projects

The Kiwanis International website lists winners, runners-up and other submissions for their yearly Signature Project Recognition Program and Contest, which recognizes Kiwanis clubs doing great work around the world. For example, the Kiwanis Club of Bendigo, Australia, has a book box program inspired by low literacy rates in the community. The Kiwanis Club of Taman Sentosa in Malaysia runs the Kiwanis Careheart Centre, which offers vocational training and support services to people with intellectual disabilities.

Other projects are larger in scale, such as Threads Across the Pacific, an initiative financially supported by several Kiwanis clubs from New Zealand. Threads Across the Pacific donates sewing machines and other sewing supplies to women in Vanuatu and trains them in sewing, with the goal of helping them pull themselves out of poverty. Projects like these are still regional and focused on the needs of specific communities, unlike Kiwanis’ organization-wide initiatives, meant to combat large-scale, global issues.

One of the international projects Kiwanis International has worked on concerns maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MNT has been “among the most common life-threatening consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices,” and in 1988, approximately 787,000 newborns died of neonatal tetanus. In areas with sub-par maternal healthcare, MNT is a serious threat to new mothers and their babies.

In 2010, Kiwanis International partnered with UNICEF in an effort to fight MNT through vaccinations for women and newborns. Kiwanis pledged to raise $110,000,000 for the project, with clubs around the world hosting fundraisers to contribute to the effort. The project involved vaccinations in fifty-nine countries, and as of July 2019, MNT had been eliminated in forty-six of them. In this context, “elimination” is taken to mean that MNT affects fewer than 0.1 percent of births.

Kiwanis International differs from other organizations in its commitment to empower communities to identify local problems and work toward solving them, without losing sight of the bigger picture. After all, who better to identify problems that trouble a community than the people who live in that community? Kiwanis supports grassroots actions by teaching leadership skills and organizational planning to members through online and in-person training. In turn, Kiwanis clubs support the larger initiatives of Kiwanis International to effect change around the world. This approach to nonprofit organizational structure makes has made Kiwanis projects particularly impactful.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Wikipedia

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in MaltaLocated in the middle of the Mediterranean, south of Italy, Malta is a country made up of a small set of islands full of life and unique culture. Geographically, Malta is just smaller than twice the size of Washington, D.C. and home to nearly 450,000 inhabitants. From 1814 to 1964, Malta was a British colony but has since established itself as a republic, become a member of the European Union and adopted the euro as its currency. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Malta

  1. Malta was the only member of the EU not to have legalized divorce up until 2011. Until then, if married couples wanted to divorce, they had to leave the country to do so. This is largely due to the Roman Catholic Church’s influence over the country’s more than 95 percent Catholic population. The legislation went into effect beginning October 2011, despite opposition from even the prime minister, who worried legalizing divorce would “weaken the family structure in Malta.”
  2. The most common form of transportation in Malta is driving by car. The country permits tourists to bring cars over to the islands for a maximum of six months. There are also rental cars available for those of age. Subsequently, traffic is highly congested. Alternative modes of transportation include taxis, buses and the karrozzin, traditional horse-drawn carriages that have been in use in Malta since the mid-19th century.
  3. Malta’s government offers comprehensive varieties of health care, as well as high-quality dental care, to citizens. People can find multiple pharmacies as well, along with two main hospitals and many health centers. Although Maltese is the main official language of the islands, people speak English across all hospitals, health care facilities and pharmacies.
  4. While Malta is not really a point of conflict or transnational problems, it does have a military branch named the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). This military branch includes all aspects; air, naval and land. While there are not any real international relations issues, Malta does serve as a transshipment point for transportation of hashish — coming from cannabis — from North Africa into Western Europe.
  5. Britain’s military presence in Malta had a massive impact on the country’s economy up until its independence in 1964. Because Malta lacks enough natural resources and has a small, domestic economic market, it relies heavily on other nations for imports. The Maltese economy also leans on the shipbuilding and repair industry, but even that is becoming depleted further and further since gaining independence.
  6. In Malta, 29.8 percent of the population is obese, causing the country to rank 28th in the world for obesity. This is likely due to Maltese citizens’ heavy reliance on cars as opposed to walking or cycling. While some use bicycles, bicycling is largely unpopular due to the poor road conditions and heavy traffic. When not on main roads, it is a bit easier to navigate the streets on a bicycle, making it an increasingly popular mode of transportation.
  7. Literacy rates among citizens 15 years and older are essentially the same at 88 percent. The Maltese Constitution warrants that both men and women have equal rights in terms of employment. Malta established The Ministry of Social Development and Equal Status for Women and has allowed for more married women to participate in the workforce.
  8. Malta expanded education systems to include compulsory schooling for children ages five to 16 in the mid-1980s. As of 2005, Malta further reformed its the education system to include regional colleges that incorporated primary and secondary school educations in addition to a junior college. Malta also has two forms of higher education, the University of Malta at Msida and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology.
  9. Malta imports an abundance of fossil fuels in order to supply its energy. As Malta’s only natural mineral resource is limestone, used in construction, it has extremely limited clean energy resources.
  10. The youth unemployment rate in Malta is 10.30 percent as of April 2019. While this is not a huge portion of the population, youths (those under the age of 24) make up 11.44 percent of the Maltese population.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta highlight that, in spite of the country’s tumultuous history, it has persisted. While there are aspects Malta must improve upon such as transportation reliance and employment rates, Malta is a tiny country with an impressive development story.

Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Quality of Life in IcelandSituated about 400 miles west of Greenland in the northern Atlantic, Iceland is a mid-sized island with a population of around 340,000. Given its high latitude, Iceland’s climate is unexpectedly temperate. Its dramatic landscapes draw millions of tourists each year from around the world. Iceland is governed by parliamentary democracy and has a strong tradition of center-left politics.

Top Ten Facts About Quality of Life in Iceland:

Gender Equality

Iceland has consistently held the number one spot in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap index over the past several years. An article published by The Guardian in 2016 traces this back to a time where Icelandic men would leave their villages for long hunting trips, leaving the women to take charge of the key political and economic decisions in their absence.

Strong Economy

Although hit badly in the 2009 global recession, Iceland has since bounced back, and now ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world. According to data from Focus Economics, Iceland ranked fourth highest in the world for GDP per Capita in 2017.

High Life Expectancy

With a life expectancy of 83.1 years at birth, Iceland ranks seventh in the world for this metric. Iceland also has very low infant mortality rates at just 2.1 deaths out of every 1000 births.

High “Subjective Happiness” Levels

According to the World Happiness Report, ranking each country according to “subjective happiness” indicators, Iceland comes in at number four, behind Finland, Norway and Denmark. The authors of the report argue that the happiness scores—generated from survey results—closely follow six quality of life indicators. These factors are GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, generosity, freedom and absence of corruption.

Low Exposure to Sunlight

Despite its high World Happiness score, Iceland has the 40th highest suicide rate of any nation on earth with 14 suicides for every 100,000 of the population. Iceland’s Nordic neighbors Sweden, Finland and Norway all have high suicide rates despite impressive scores in other quality of life indicators. These numbers led some to draw a link between suicide and low exposure to sunlight during the winter months.

Low Poverty Risk

According to data collected in 2016, less than 9 percent of Iceland’s total population is at risk from poverty, which is about half the combined rate for the 28 countries that make up the European Union.

Political Corruption Rates

Although Iceland suffers from low political corruption compared to global averages, corruption levels in Iceland are the highest of all Nordic states, and recent reports suggest they are growing worse. During her election campaign in late 2017, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir spoke about rebuilding trust after two years of political instability preceding her administration.

Education Quality

Although education in Iceland is funded entirely by the state, from preschool to university, one international education survey calls its quality into question. According to test results collected from 45 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Icelandic children scored below the group averages in math, science and reading.

Homelessness

Despite having one of the world’s most generous welfare systems, Iceland is reportedly struggling with a growing homelessness problem. According to one study, the number of homeless people living in Reykjavik—Iceland’s capital—nearly doubled between 2012 and 2017 from 179 to 349, or about three out of every thousand.

Healthcare

Iceland has a nationalized healthcare system that is largely tax-funded. A recent study ranked the Icelandic healthcare system second in the world, based on a review of comprehensive criteria.

The combination of market forces with a generous welfare system crafted a model that secures a high quality of life in Iceland for the majority of its citizens. But a closer look into Iceland’s education, corruption and homelessness problems shows that even the most affluent and equitable societies carry their share of problems. Historically, Iceland has found success by addressing society’s problems collectively— continuing this approach will serve it well in the future.

– Jamie Wiggan
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Cambodia
Currently, Cambodia has the 122nd highest ranking in the world in terms of life expectancy. The men in the country are projected to live an average of 67.3 years and the women are projected to live 71.2 years. The following top 10 facts about life expectancy in Cambodia will provide a better understanding and insight into how the Cambodian people live and what mostly affects their lives.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Cambodia

  1. According to the World Health Organization, Cambodia is one of the six countries that has made the greatest progress when it comes to raising the country’s life expectancy. Cambodia came forth on the list, behind Maldives, Ethiopia and Liberia. Since 1990, Cambodia has increased its life expectancy rate from the previous average of 54 years to 72 years in 2012.
  2. Cambodia has also managed to lower its mortality rate. In 1990, Cambodia had a mortality rate of 116 per 1,000 live births. This rate was lowered to 40 per 1,000 live births by 2012.
  3. Cambodia’s increase of funding of health organizations from GDP has aided the rise of the country’s life expectancy. In previous years, Cambodian people have had limited access to quality health care, which was primarily due to the country’s political instability. This led to an increase in major health problems, such as malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases.
  4. Cambodia has struggled with an unbalance in the country’s age structure, due to a genocide that occurred in the country from 1975 to 1979 during the Khmer Rouge years. Because of this, about 63 percent of Cambodia’s population was under 30 years old, with around half of the country’s population younger than 15 years old.
  5. Cambodia has never had a McDonald’s. While there have been many countries, such as Iceland and Bolivia, that have managed to drive McDonald’s out of their countries, Cambodia remains one of the few countries that McDonald’s has never had a presence in. Cambodians have plenty of other popular American fast-food chain restaurants, such as Burger King and KFC. They even have their own version of McDonald’s, known as “Lucky Burger.” However, this lack of presence from such a major fast-food chain restaurant has helped Cambodian citizens to maintain their commendable national diet.
  6. The insects featured in many Cambodian dishes may have better health benefits than was previously thought. Studies have proven that eating bugs could combat obesity, which plays a significant role in determining how long a person might live. Insects are also reported to be low in carbohydrates and fat content while being rich in protein, healthy fats, iron and calcium. This strange eating habit has indirectly influenced life expectancy in the country.
  7. Cambodian diet mostly consists of fish, vegetables and rice. This type of diet provides people with many kinds of vitamins and minerals as well as doubling down on healthy fats and lean protein. For these reasons, researchers have referred to this type of diet as being one of the healthiest diets to follow.
  8. In 2014, Cambodia’s increased growth in its rice market led to a massive decrease in its poverty rate. For the country that previously had a poverty rate of 47.8 percent in 2007, Cambodia managed to significantly lower this rate to an astounding 13.5 percent in 2014, mainly due to the rice exports.
  9. Cambodia increased its productivity in rice markets through raised prices and a better transportation system. This provides a good example of how Cambodia managed to improve its economic structure, particularly for its rural population. Cambodia has been recorded to have one of the fastest-growing rates for its economy in Asia. For the past decade, Cambodia has had an average growth rate of more than 6 percent.
  10. More than 90 percent of Cambodians were reported to live in impoverished rural areas. These people are heavily dependent on agriculture and are directly affected, as seen with the improved rice market productivity, by changes made in Cambodia’s economic system. Improved conditions in the country can have a huge effect on life expectancy in Cambodia, as this can lead to a separation from the current status of a low-income country.

In many ways, these top 10 facts about life expectancy in Cambodia show how far the nation has come in an attempt to recover from the severe consequences it has suffered because of the instability and corruption of its past political regimes. At the same token, some of these facts are an example of opportunities that the country can use to continue its growth and to achieve the goal of alleviating poverty.

– Jordan Melinda Washington

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Zambia
Zambia, a southern African country with a population of 15.5 million, is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent due to copper mines and agriculture diversification. However, despite its economic growth, Zambia is still one of the poorest countries in the world with 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line and 40 percent of those people living in extreme poverty. With a fast-growing population and high youth unemployment rates, Zambia is still facing the challenge of widespread poverty. In the article below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Zambia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Zambia

  1. According to Habitat for Humanity, around 64 percent of Zambian’s live under $2 a day and people that are extremely poor live under $1.25 a day. However, due to the rapidly growing economy, living in Lusaka, the country’s capital, is more expensive than living in Washington D.C.
  2. Zambia is experiencing rapid urbanization due to the increased job and higher income opportunities. The current urban housing shortage is around 1.3 million housing units. This figure is expected to increase to 3 million housing units by 2025. Due to the lack of housing, it is reported that about 70 percent of the urban population lives in slums with critical water and sanitation problems. Habitat for Humanity has been trying to reduce housing poverty in the country for a few decades. and has served about 3,500 families and continues to improve the housing conditions for many Zambians.
  3. Fertility rates in Zambia are on the rise. Between 2013 and 2014, the reported fertility rate was 5.2 percent of children per woman. It is reported by the United Nations that Zambia’s population is projected to increase by 941 percent by the end of the century, making it the highest projected growth rate in Africa.
  4. In many areas, Zambia has an inadequate sewage system and many Zambians lack a proper toilet. According to National Public Radio (NPR), it is reported that about 6.6 million people in Zambia lack a proper toilet. The country has an acute sewage issue with pit latrines covering about 45 percent of Lusaka. When the pits are filled there are either emptied by the local authority or the owners just fill them up and construct new ones.
  5. It is estimated that 4.8 million people in Zambia do not have access to clean water and rely on rivers and lakes that are contaminated with feces. The contaminated water is used as drinking water and to cook food which leads to diarrhea and cholera. However, WaterAid is helping countries like Zambia to get access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.
  6. Approximately 2,000 children under the age of 5 die on a yearly basis due to contaminated water and poor toilets. In 2013, statistics showed that more than 3,500 new-born babies died of infections that were linked to unsanitary water in Zambia.
  7. Zambia is one of the 20 countries have pledged to end child marriage by 2020. Around 6 percent of Zambian girls are married before the age of 15. However, child marriage rates have reduced from 42 percent to 31 percent in 2014. To reduce the child marriage rate, Zambia has adopted the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia.
  8. Zambia, like many other African countries, has been battling the challenge of hunger for many decades. About 1.12 million children under the age of 5 in Zambia suffer from chronic malnutrition. Furthermore, there is about 60 percent prevalence of anemia among young children in Zambia.
  9. According to the CDC, HIV/AIDS and TB are the top diseases in Zambia that cause death. However, HIV/AIDS-related deaths have declined by more than a third. Also, the infection rates among young children have declined from 14,000 in 2005 to 7,300 in 2017.
  10. Access to education in Zambia has increased rapidly. However, the quality of education is still lacking. USAID is putting in the effort to improve the quality of education by implementing education programs that target the performance of the students and teacher.

Zambia’s economy is improving rapidly. However, living conditions have hardly improved over recent years. People are still struggling to get access to basic survival resources and are living in unsanitary conditions that give rise to chronic diseases. One of the adverse effects of the growing economy is it has widened the inequality gap. Despite the country’s growing economy, 60 percent of the population is still struggling to make a living. However, the living conditions in Zambia can improve if the government focuses on implementing programs that will reduce the overcrowding, the improve the quality of education and help provide clean water to every citizen. Zambia may have grown economically, but the fight for poverty reduction is yet to come.

– Komalpreet Kaur
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Cyprus
Cyprus, a Mediterranean island with a population of 1.2 million, has endured several different occupations by major powers since the birth of the civilization. Beginning with the Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian and Roman Empires, Cyprus was then taken by the French Venetians and then the Ottoman Empire (from 1571 to 1878). The United Kingdom was the last imperial body to control Cyprus, from which Cyprus gained independence in 1960. In the article below, the top 10 facts about living conditions will be presented and will try to show how the people in this country live and what impacts their lives.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Cyprus

  1. Since 1974, Cyprus has been politically and ethnically divided into two territories- Northern and Southern Cyprus. Northern Cyprus is a de facto state of Turkey and populated primarily by Turkish Cypriots, while Southern Cyprus governs itself and is populated primarily by Grecian Cypriots. While Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus as a Turkish territory, the rest of the world considers Northern Cyprus a part of the Republic of Cyprus, along with Southern Cyprus. Both Greek and Turkey are official languages in Cyprus. This division mostly impacts people in the country and reunification talks have been held in order to improve the situation.
  2. Cyprus joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 and has benefited politically and economically since its admission. Living conditions in Cyprus improved as the nation gained access to European treaties and European Union law to resolve internal unrest, and also the increased security that comes with EU membership. Today, more than half of Cyprus’ trade happens within the EU, expanding its markets farther and with more ease than that would be possible without the membership status.
  3. Cyprus has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union despite the economic crisis of 2013. The nation’s economy grew 3.9 percent in 2017 and is predicted to continue growing in 2019 in the wake of expanding employment and a flourishing tourism industry.
  4. Poverty in Cyprus is notoriously hard to track, but it is presumed that the number of people at risk of poverty has been steadily decreasing over the last few years, starting from 28.9 percent in 2015, 27.6 percent in 2016 and to 25.2 percent in 2017. Improvement in poverty rates is largely due to continued economic growth, coupled with a rise in income in the nation.
  5. Along with a reduction in poverty, unemployment rates continue to fall in Cyprus. From about 15 percent in 2015, the unemployment rate fell to 13 percent in 2016 and further to 11 percent in 2017. In 2018, the unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent, among the lowest in the EU.
  6. Global Finance Magazine ranked Cyprus 32nd in its 2019 list of the world’s safest countries. This ranks the country higher than the United Kingdom (38th), Japan (43rd) and the United States (65th).
  7. Education completion rates in Cyprus have been maintained at high rates. School completion rates hover between 97 and 98 percent, except for the year Cyprus divided in 1974 when the education completion rate was 64 percent. The political and social unease of this time is to blame for this dip in education completion rates, as the number went right back up the following year.
  8. Matching its high education completion rates, Cyprus’ literacy rate sits at around 99 percent, ranking the country among the best in the world regarding this issue.
  9. The life expectancy in Cyprus is around 80.5 years, which is comparable to neighboring countries Malta (81.8 years) and Greece (81.04 years). This rate is higher than the one in the United States (78.69 years).
  10. Health care in Cyprus is comparable to health systems in other developed nations. Split into public and private sectors, health care in Cyprus is generally free or very inexpensive for citizens and persons from EU nations. Emergency treatment is free for citizens, and EU nationals are eligible for free health insurance at public hospitals, which are located in all major cities.

While living conditions in Cyprus are already good, life in the nation could be improved by the reunification of the North and South. By some estimates, reunification could improve Cyprus’ GDP by as much as $5.7 billion in only five years, as Southern Cyprus would be less vulnerable to the economic problems of Greece and also gain access to Turkish markets. If the two territories gain free access to each other, the economy will benefit as a whole, improving further the Cypriotic economy and living conditions in Cyprus as a whole.

– Jillian Baxter
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy in Mexico
Before jumping into this discussion about life expectancy in Mexico, it seems important to explain the importance of measuring life expectancy when attempting to solve the problem of global poverty. Life expectancy, just like malnutrition and infant mortality statistics, shows how well a certain country is living.

If you notice that a country has high life expectancy rates while malnutrition rates are low, one can assume said country has beneficial living conditions and most likely, low poverty rates. From certain facts about life expectancy in Mexico, one will not be able to the whole story about living conditions and poverty in Mexico but will be able to gain some insight on how do Mexicans live.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mexico

  1. Mexico’s life expectancy in 2018 was at 77.5 years, up from 76.9 in 2015. Mexico’s overall growth in average life expectancy increases by 0.24 percent annually. As a middle-class country that is still dealing with cases of extreme poverty and violence, Mexico scores much better than the global average life expectancy of 72 years. However, much work still needs to be done to improve living conditions to ensure higher life expectancy in Mexico.
  2. Between 2005 and 2015, average life expectancy in Mexico actually declined. Life expectancy in the country was 77.8 years for women and 72.6 for men in 2005, but by 2015 the figures decreased to 77.6 for women and 71.9 for men. This is in stark contrast to most of the world where life expectancies are rapidly increasing elsewhere. According to the National Population Council (CONAPO) report, recent fluctuations in life expectancy are a reflection of changes in mortality levels due to the increase in older adults and deaths related to diabetes mellitus and violent causes.
  3. There is a noticeable gap between life expectancies based on the various regions in Mexico. For example, in 2015, Mexico City was the region with the highest life expectancy at 76.2, while Guerrero had the lowest life expectancy at 72.7.
  4. Life expectancy in Mexico is predicted to increase to 79 years by 2050. The gap between the highest life expectancies in a state and the lowest is supposed to shrink as well from the 3.5 years in 2015 to 1.7 years in 2050.
  5. It is predicted by the Lancet, that because of United States’ stagnancy in life expectancy, as well as increases of this category by Mexico, the two countries will be on par with each other in life expectancy by 2030. It should be noted that this comparison was based on women’s life expectancies in these two countries.
  6. Heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes, in that order, are the biggest killers in Mexico. However, from 2007 to 2017, deadly interpersonal violence skyrocketed 215 percent to become Mexico’s fourth biggest killer of people.
  7. Diabetes is such an epidemic in Mexico that in 2017 Mexico declared a national emergency to combat this disease and to provide support and better care for the 13 million Mexicans that currently have diabetes. The country has tried to prevent it with a soda tax and a public awareness campaign. Among the 35 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mexico accounts for the most hospitalizations related to diabetes.
  8. Before 2007, around 10,000 people were murdered each year in Mexico. However, since the start of the war on drug trafficking in Mexico, homicide rates have increased. In 2018, a new record was set as 28,816 people were murdered. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in December 2018, has promised to “calm” the country after 12 years of a militarized crackdown on drug-related organized crime.
  9. The United States gives $290 million a year to Mexico in foreign aid and nearly three-quarters of that money goes to counternarcotics programs. The drug wars in Mexico are very bloody and obviously create conditions that are violent and unsafe. It is not a bad decision to fund the solving of the violent drug problem in Mexico, but the U.S. would undoubtedly benefit in putting more money into programs that would better the living conditions in Mexico directly. Only $500,000 of the funds went to emergency response. Very little money, if any, is given to Mexico to create better water access and 21st-century technology that can increase life expectancy in Mexico.
  10. The infant mortality rate in Mexico is 11.60 deaths per 1,000 births. This statistic places Mexico in a better ranking than countries like Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China. However, Mexico’s rate is still double than that of the United States. 

To be certain, Mexico, just like every country on this Earth, can do better in terms of creating the conditions to make life expectancy rise, as well as making poverty fall. To those that may not know much about Mexico’s performance in the eradication of poverty and its symptoms, this fact sheet hopefully gave insight into what life might currently be like in this Central American country and what can be improved.

Kurt Thiele

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is an island country located in the Atlantic Ocean. The population totals at just over 400,000 people. The total GDP stands at $11.6 billion, and the country has a market economy. The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americans today and their economy is finance and tourism based. These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas presented below will illustrate the way of life on the islands.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Bahamas

  1. The capital of Nassau is home to almost 70 percent of the total population. Second and third largest cities are Lucaya and Freeport. More than 300,000 people live in these three cities. The majority of the economy is located here, and like any major cities, they contain elite suburbs and impoverished slums.
  2. The majority of revenue coming into this tropical country is through tourism as 60 percent of total GDP comes from this industry. In 2007, tourism provided over two million jobs to Bahamian citizens. Just under 50 percent of the working population is directly employed in tourism and another 20 percent are employed indirectly.
  3. The U.S. provides the country with the majority of its tourism and international trade. Economic state in the Bahamas relies heavily on the economic state of the neighboring country. The financial crisis of 2008 negatively affected the country. The GDP decreased by 2.3 percent.
  4. The cost of living in the Bahamas is 31.75 percent higher than the cost of living in the U.S. This includes the prices of groceries, rent and restaurants. When comparing the gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than $22,000 with the one of the U.S. at $58,207, the poverty level seems much more extreme. The U.S. is encouraging the Bahamas to diversify its market, specifically with agricultural exports to increase their GNI.
  5. The national poverty rate of the Bahamas sits at a little more than 9 percent. The highest rate is around 20 percent in the Other Family Islands, home to 6 percent of the population. The Other Family Islands sit well outside the reach of jobs created by tourism, hospitals and education while the main islands of Nassau and Lucaya, Freeport contain a plethora of resources.
  6. Education has seen considerable growth in the Bahamas in the past 60 years. Almost $5 billion was invested to implement computer labs in public schools and teachers were provided with extensive training in technology. Education is compulsory from the ages of 5 to 16. The government allocates 20 percent of the budget to the public school system. The gross enrollment rate for primary school was over 95 percent in 2016 and the gross enrollment rate of secondary school was a little over 90 percent. These positive changes have contributed to the country’s 96 percent literacy rate.
  7. The infant mortality rate has decreased from over 11 deaths per 1,000 births in 2007 to just over five deaths per 1,000 births in 2017. The government has established the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative to reduce deaths due to lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer. Even though health care is improving, there is still work to be done in the prevention of spreadable diseases. In 2013, close to 500 individuals died from AIDS. This unfortunate number demonstrates the high infection rate of HIV/AIDS within the country. Since 2013, the government has increased education as well as immunization for adults to reduce the spread of diseases such as hepatitis B, yellow fever and influenza. All children enrolled in school are required to be vaccinated and these vaccinations start after the first 28 days of life. They include hepatitis B, meningitis, polio and influenza.
  8. Natural disasters contribute heavily to economic hardship and living conditions in the Bahamas due to poor infrastructure. The Bahamas sustained $3 billion worth of storm damage from the years 1950 to 2014. Hurricane Frances that wreaked havoc on the Grand Bahamas island in 2004 caused a 14 percent drop in the country’s GDP. The last hurricane to hit the island country was hurricane Irma that tore through the Caribbean killing 24 people in 2017. It was reported that Irma matched the financial blow of hurricane Matthew that cost the country $600 million in damages.
  9. Most endangered categories are children, single mothers, the elderly and the homeless. The Great Commissions Ministry is working to address the homeless and hunger within the Bahamas. They offer services such as daily food packages, job assistance, housing assistance, a drug abuse program and emergency housing for those who lack the basic necessities needed to survive. Hand for Hunger is also working hard to end hunger in the Bahamas by striving towards their goal of making sure every individual in the Bahamas has three nutritious meal every day. They do this by collecting donated food that would initially go to waste from grocery stores and restaurants and putting in front of those who need it most.
  10. There is little to no fresh water resources in the Bahamas since there are no freshwater rivers or streams available. The primary source of drinking water comes from groundwater which must be desalinated. The Carribean Development Bank and Government of the Commonwealth have launched a project to improve the water supply. The project aims to improve the infrastructure of potable water to 3,400 households.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas show the development of this island nation that has become one of the richest countries in the Americans, mainly due to its location and tourism. They also indicate fields where improvement is needed, such as prevention of spreadable diseases and freshwater resources.

Natasha Eckelbarger
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Romania
Among the European Union (EU) nations, Romania has been considered as one of the most severely underdeveloped for a long time. Some of the worst housing conditions on the continent can be found here, along with a great risk of poverty. However, there are reports of an improving economic climate and rapidly rising incomes indicative of consistent progress. Potential challenges for the country are citizens leaving in more prosperous countries, resulting in negative population growth and threats to the nation’s economic progress. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Romania show a country grappling to maintain both its post-communist prosperity and its people.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Romania

  1. Compared to 23.5 percent of Europeans, about 25 percent of Romanians were considered to be at risk of poverty in 2016, including over half of all people living in rural areas. This rate is higher for adults supporting children at 42.5 percent, particularly single parents at 58.2 percent. An estimated 22 percent of the population already live below the poverty line.
  2. Factors including overcrowding, environmental disturbances like pollution, noise or violence and difficulties keeping homes heated have been measured in Romania by the European Commission. Sixty percent of Romanians live in detached houses with one room per person, with 96 percent of those owning their own home. However, in 2016, 13.8 percent of Romanians reported being unable to heat these homes and 20 percent of the population lives without an improved source of sanitation.
  3. Economic growth of 4 percent was recorded in 2018, down from 7 percent increase the year before, mostly due to slowing foreign investment. Consumption among the Romanian people has helped the economy, rising rapidly due to decreased taxes, alongside exports and trade with EU member states that opened up after Romania joined the EU in 2007. Corruption and slow restructuring following liberation from communism in 1989 have withheld real economic stability.
  4. Average household income in 2016 was about $3,300, a massive increase from about $700 in 2001. Household spending has also increased, from $1,900 in 2006 to $2,800 per capita within 10 years. These increases have likely resulted from Romania’s economic growth, successful exports to the EU and the complete removal of income tax on low-income pensioners, allowing for greater disposable income for older people in particular, who make up most of Romania’s population.
  5. The unemployment rate has declined to 3.7 percent in 2018 from 7.2 percent in 2010. However, the youth unemployment rate is dramatically higher, at 16.8 percent, likely contributing to massive youth migration that search work and better living opportunities. It should be noted, however, that employment does not prevent individuals from becoming at risk of poverty. Over 20 percent of Romanian men and 15 percent of women considered at risk in 2016 were employed.
  6. Romanians experience the fourth highest rate of severe material deprivation in Europe. In 2016, 23.8 percent of Romanians could not afford at least four out of nine necessary material items set by the EU, compared to 7.5 percent of Europeans. Necessary materials include a complete meal every two days, paying for unexpected expenses, an annual vacation, adequate heating, a car, washing machine, color television, telephone and paying for routine bills.
  7. Groups like the estimated 2.4 million Roma people in the country suffer a higher rate of poverty than the ethnic majority. They have been historically persecuted and enslaved and continue to suffer prejudice. Around 42 percent of Roma cannot afford health care and suffer from increased exposure to diseases of poverty. Employment for Roma is estimated at only 42 percent for males and 19 percent for females, compared to over 60 percent employment among the general Romanian population. Many Roma people are subject to human rights abuses, including forced eviction, with little social welfare assistance to fall back on.
  8. Only 7.2 percent of Romanians reported having bad or very bad health in 2016 compared to 8.8 percent of other EU citizens. UNAIDS estimated in 2017 that 16,000 Romanians were living with HIV/AIDS, many as a result of poor hygiene practices that led to an AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. The overall population has a life expectancy at birth of about 75 years, just below the European average of 79 years.
  9. Emigration to neighboring countries and more prosperous European nations like the U.K., Italy and Germany has been significant since the 1990s. An estimated 3.9 million Romanians live outside their native country, leading to a consistently declining population. The Romanian economy is currently suffering from a shortage of skilled laborers and dwindling supply of young workers, prompting initiatives by the Romanian government to draw its citizens back into the country with incentives for reintegration.
  10. Many nonprofit organizations have worked in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989 to help the nation restructure and better serve its people. Habitat for Humanity has worked in Romania since the 1990s, serving 58,000 families and helping to replace crumbling communist-era apartment blocks, install plumbing and access to water. UNICEF works with the Romanian government and other organizations to create support networks for Romanians living with AIDS and to fund HIV/AIDS research. Several World Bank projects are also underway, including reimbursable projects to restructure Romania’s social welfare systems and provide higher quality education and health care.

Romania is currently one of the most underdeveloped nations of the European Union. Due to this reason, many young people are leaving the country, in search of work and better living conditions. However, various nongovernmental organization and government are working to improve the living conditions for the young people and other citizens of the country.

– Marissa Field

Photo: Flickr