Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Burkina Faso
Located in Western Africa, Burkina Faso is the country with a lot of problems that are affecting over 20 million of its people.

The unemployment rate has increased constantly in the previous years, and a lot of work needs to be done regarding this issue.

Developments have been made in efforts to reduce poverty, one of them being the work of active labor market program, or ALMPs.

In addition, the National Housing Program is helping in the endeavor to meet the need for affordable housing. There have also been efforts to commit to providing education for all citizens by 2015.

With continued effort, more developments can be seen in aiding people’s lives in Burkina Faso.

In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Burkina Faso are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Burkina Faso

  1. The unemployment rate of the total labor force increased from 2.6 percent to 6.4 percent from 1991 to 2016. From 2000 to 2016, the unemployment rate for women has increased from 2.8 percent to 9.3 percent, and the youth unemployment rate has risen from 3.8 percent to 8.6 percent in the same period.
  2. The country is still struggling to reduce its poverty rate in order to improve living conditions. With population and labor force growth, the country has not yet lifted its people out of poverty by a high number. According to a World Bank report on employment and skills development in Burkina Faso, the country must create more than 400,000 new jobs by 2030, given the population dynamics.
  3. In the same report of the World Bank, a number of solutions to combat and reduce poverty are presented. One way to help all people achieve growth is to create an investment environment that aids people. Another way is to enhance the infrastructure and financial system and bolster economic governance, health and education.
  4. Another strategy to generate jobs and reduce poverty is to find and support the most effective policies. One initiative to combat poverty is the Active Labor Market Programs (ALMPs). The purpose of these programs is to increase the chance of being employed and to increase jobs in the country. ALMPs are comprised of training people in order to get them employment and increasing demand for jobs through initiatives such as public works.
  5. Burkina Faso has a growing housing finance sector. There is a strong correlation between urbanization and housing. As more people are moving to cities, there is also a higher demand for affordable housing. Currently, the urbanization rate in the country is 5.73 percent. One successful way to increase the amount of housing is through microfinance.
  6. Estimates from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development show that the urban population in Burkina Faso will double by 2030. The National Housing Program started by the government is one initiative that is part of the solution to address the need for affordable housing. The initiative endeavors to provide 40,000 houses by 2020 to low-income families. The initiative also aims to provide sustainable solutions for the need for affordable housing.
  7. With the help from some community health initiatives, some progress has been made in bolstering the national health system. The national health system in Burkina Faso is made up of the public and private medical sector. One positive development in this area has been hospital reform, that aimed to deliver emergency care without prepayment.
  8. While the budget of the Ministry of Health has increased, it is still far away from a satisfactory level. The budget increased from $132,6 million in 2007 to $162,3 million in 2009. The percentage of the state budget aimed towards the health sector has risen from 15.21 percent in 2008 to 15.46 percent in 2009.
  9. Burkina Faso has some of the lowest literacy and school enrollment rates in the world. The literacy rate has risen by 30 percent in 2001 to 32.5 percent in 2005. Primary school net enrolment ratio in 2011 was 63.2 percent.
  10. Out of the total children in schools, 65.7 percent of boys are enrolled in school, compared to 54.5 percent of girls. The country has committed to the 10-year Plan on the Development of Basic Education and the National Policy of Integrated Development of Children.

While unemployment has increased and there is still more work to be done in closing the gender gap in education, living conditions in Burkina Faso have improved, as seen in poverty reduction efforts through ALMPs and providing affordable housing.

With more sustained effort, Burkina Faso can achieve more positive developments in helping to enhance the quality of life for all.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Honduras
Honduras, a small country between Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, is home to 9 million people, some of whom are direct descendants of the Mayan civilization.

Both rural and metropolitan regions of Honduras have enormous hurdles to overcome, but in recent years, they have made considerable strides toward ensuring long-term prosperity and security.

In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras that detail the successes and setbacks of the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Honduras

  1. In 2016, the Honduran government declared a national emergency regarding the Zika virus. In response to the emergency, cooperation with various humanitarian aid organizations, such as UNICEF and the national child protection institution called Direccion de Infancia, Adolescencia y Familia (DINAF), resulted in a 99 percent decrease in newly reported cases in 2017. While this reduction is a massive improvement, especially in the span of one year, there are still around 191 cases of Zika that require proper education and care.
  2. In recent years, the homicide rate in Honduras has fallen significantly. While the homicide rate decreased by approximately 30 percent between 2012 and 2016, it is still one of the highest in the world with 59.1 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants per year. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala form a particularly violent region plagued by political corruption, drug trafficking and post-war instability known as Central America’s Northern Triangle.
  3. A large portion of Honduras is part of the Dry Corridor. The Dry Corridor is an area of Central America that has been experiencing prolonged and more frequent droughts in recent history. This area covers the central-southern region of Honduras that are often hit by water shortages and dwindling agricultural yields. In years of extreme weather conditions, crop losses are reported to be as high as 60 percent in areas of maize production and 80 percent in regions of beans.
  4. Food insecurity remains a serious problem, especially in rural areas. In the past four years, ceaseless drought has amplified this issue. Twenty-three percent of children under the age of 5 across the country experience stunted growth. The rate of stunting jumps up to 40 percent in areas of the Dry Corridor.
  5. The poverty rate in Honduras is among the highest in Central America. Data from 2016 show that more than 66 percent of the total population is living in poverty, with higher concentrations along the southern, western and eastern borders. These are rural areas that overlap significantly with the Dry Corridor, creating a region where roughly 20 percent of the people experience extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day.
  6. Honduras relies heavily on the production of renewable energy. Out of the total electricity produced in Honduras, 32 percent comes from a combination of different renewables, and in addition, 25 percent comes from hydroelectric alone. This positions Honduras above the United States, Japan and Spain in global rankings measuring a country’s percentage of total electricity produced from renewable sources. One plant in Nacaome has created more than 300 jobs since it’s development and more similar projects are underway all across Honduras.
  7. The city of San Pedro Sula in northwestern Honduras was once known as the most violent city in the world. Pervasive drug cartel presence in the area fuels much of the violence. In 2013, the murder rate was at staggering 168 homicides per 100,000 people. In 2015, the city was able to rid itself of this undesirable title after local government partnered with UNICEF Honduras, Asociacion Colaboracion y Esuerzo, the Ministry of Education and many other organizations to develop programs focused on providing educational resources for young people and families who are victims of the violence.
  8. Sanitation and clean drinking water are nowhere near ubiquitous for the most vulnerable populations in Honduras. More than 630,000 people lack access to clean drinking water and one million lack access to sanitary human waste management facilities. In 2004, the World Bank funded Honduras Water and Sanitation Sector Modernization Project that decentralized water and sanitation utilities, giving more control to small municipalities. The project has improved water services for 108,000 families and sanitation services for almost 4,000 families.
  9. The distribution of wealth and resources is among the worst in the world. According to the most recent World Bank data on income disparity, Honduras is the second most inequitable country in Central America. Urban areas possess the vast majority of wealth and resources. More than half of the population that is considered to be living in extreme poverty resides in rural areas, many of whom are indigenous peoples.
  10. Access to reliable sources of credit is limited but improving. For the most susceptible parts of Honduras, micro-lending programs are providing solutions outside of traditional banks. In addition to proving more than 400,000 Hondurans living in rural areas with financial education and services, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has created a microcredit program in the form of 77 local investment projects that are facilitating entrepreneurship in 26 municipalities in western Honduras.

The urban centers of Honduras are making significant advances in the face of extreme economic instability, sociopolitical strife and rampant crime.

In rural regions, a harsh, ever-changing climate looms while international aid programs focused on infrastructure, food security and financial independence provide crucial assistance.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras help illustrate that the country has the potential to drastically transform itself to better serve its people, as well as the global community.

– John Chapman
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living conditions in the Philippines
The Philippines is a country that is home to over 100 million people, all of which reside in more than 7,017 country’s islands.

As of late 2015, it was estimated that 21.6 percent of the population in the Philippines lives in poverty. This percentage has been reduced from 26.6 percent back in 2006, and many other changes have been made to improve the living conditions in the country. Other goals are also set to reduce the poverty number further. In the text below, these goals and changes are described.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Philippines

  1. In the Philippines, bottom 10 percent of the population survive on the annual income of $1,641. The average annual income of Filipino families is about $5,000 a year and these families spent a little over $4,000 on needed expenses in a year. That is nearly three times the annual income of the poor families.
  2. Those with more family members are more at risk of poverty in the Philippines. They have to make more money to survive in a nation that is flooded with inflation, lacks income equality among different sectors and lacks jobs in general. An estimated four out of 10 people that are poor have jobs but they are usually paid less due to the lack of a proper education.
  3. Being a nation that consists of islands surrounded by water, the Philippines is always at risk for environmental threats and natural disasters. The country is prone to tropical storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and volcanic eruptions. Luckily, government officials have the help of USAID and different nongovernmental organizations that aid the country in efforts to reduce the impact of these disasters.
  4. In some areas, only about 30 percent of children complete their education. This can be mostly credited to a lack of financial funds in the household. Some children have to drop out of school to help the family financially by working in menial labor jobs. This prevents them from securing a higher paying job in the future.
  5. The country is currently going through a record high inflation crisis that is greatly affecting the cost of food. The Philippines has an inflation rate of 6.4 percent, the highest in 90 years as noted by Reuters. This inflation has caused the cost of food prices to rise by 8.5 percent. As an example, in order to afford 25 kilos of the cheapest rice, families must secure $60 of their monthly household budgets.
  6. The Philippines is one country that utilizes child laborers for some of its industries. While the Philippines hasn’t outlawed the use of child labor, it has taken moderate steps to ensure the safety of child workers in certain fields and completely abolishing the use of child labor in others. In 2017, the government made crucial changes to the employment and working guidelines of children in the agriculture sector.
  7. There is a large crisis on the island of Mindanao, one of the three largest islands of the country, where two feuding groups of people have left the island in complete disarray. The battles between them left communities damages and displaced many people that left the war-torn area or have had their homes destroyed. The effects have caused the island to become one of the most poverty-ridden areas in the Philippines.
  8. Those facing poverty conditions in the Philippines sometimes have no access to electricity, water and proper sanitation facilities, just a few of the basic necessities human beings need. They are also expected to have less access to things like health care and education, which plays a dominant role in one’s ability to get out of the life of poverty. Lack of education is often a large determinant in a household’s financial instability.
  9. The country has strict laws involving the incarceration of children. With the rising cost of food and the number of children suffering from malnourishment, many are turning to a life of drug-related crimes to make ends meet. These children are often caught and punished severely at the hands of the Philippines’ criminal justice system. Children often go through different forms of torture and endure lack of food and adequate accommodations.
  10. The government is implementing a long-term solution to tackle the poverty conditions people are facing. The plan is set to reduce poverty to at least 15 percent by the year 2022. The strategy is set to focus on creating new and higher-paying jobs, prioritize health care and help the poverty situation on Mindanao to open up valuable resources.

Poverty-reducing efforts have been made by the government to decrease the number of those that suffer from poverty in the Philippines.

In order to ensure the end to the vicious cycle, the country needs to consider education reform to better educate the youth of the country and keep them out of the corrections system.

They will also need to put an end to the feud in Mindanao if they have any hope in securing the funds to turn their poverty reduction dreams into a reality.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

poverty, egypt, life conditions
Egypt is an African country known for its rich culture, extensive history and seemingly otherworldly monuments. However, not many people are familiar with the living conditions in this country. For example, over a quarter of the population in Egypt is below the poverty line. To elaborate on the specifics of the living conditions, 10 facts about life in Egypt are presented in the text below.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Egypt

  1. Ten million children in the country are considered multi-dimensionally poor, meaning they are deprived of daily necessities such as clean water, access to proper health care and education. These children lack some or all of mentioned necessities. What makes the situation even worse is that over 50 percent of the Egyptian population is under the age of 20.
  2. Starting in 2014, the Egypt government began to concentrate on enforcing a reforms program for the country’s economy. The program has yielded gradual improvements and should continue to persevere. As an example, in the fiscal year 2018, GDP grew at a 5.3 percent rate, compared to 4.2 percent in 2017.
  3. In Egypt’s capital, Cairo, roughly 11 million out of the total of 17 million inhabitants live in extra-legally formed housing, otherwise known as the slums. The slums are very underdeveloped forms of shelter for those that cannot afford proper housing and amenities. Fortunately, nongovernmental organization Habitat for Humanity has helped build and renovate roughly 33,000 homes in 33 different communities since 2017.
  4. Inhabitants of the slums don’t have access to basic needs and services such as electricity, water pipes and sewage system. These people, in general, suffer more from asthma, allergies and renal failure because they live in such unsanitary conditions and don’t have as easy access to proper drinking water. The homes that Habitat for Humanity help construct are built with proper, durable materials and employ safe sanitary systems.
  5. The political unrest mixed with the fear that security at ancient sites is not guaranteed has resulted in an increase in unemployment, a devastation in the tourism industry and consequential damage to the country’s economy.
  6. The education system is similar to that of the U.S. in the sense that there are 12 official years and education in municipal school is free. However, the schools, especially those of higher education, are heavily underfunded and a lot of people cannot afford to send their children to higher quality confidential schooling. With the help of CARE, an organization combatting poverty around the globe, education is becoming more available. CARE serves to promote and support education to those who aren’t able to afford it.
  7. Egypt is very rich in its own culture but the country is also influenced by the surrounding countries. This fact has resulted in a very diverse culture as well as the population. The main influences in the country are those from France, other African countries and Mediterranean countries.
  8. Egypt’s total population exceeds 90 million making it the most populated country in the Middle East. The population is diversified and, along with the rich history, this makes the country a real hub for culture.
  9. Egypt’s Minister of Education, Tarek Shawky, has come to the decision to implement teaching English in schools, starting from the kindergarten. This way, children will be given an opportunity to learn English at an early age and to become competitive at the global market.
  10. The country has been in a state of political unrest and turmoil with the price of basic goods and necessities rising obscenely and placing too many people below the poverty line. The streets of Egypt were a site of unrest in which political activists, protesters and journalists were thrown in jail is not so distant history. However, Egypt’s economy and the country as a whole, for the first time in a while, is in with the hopes of bringing this turmoil to peace. A bright moment for the country was participation in the World Soccer Cup held in Russia.

Through the U.S. education system, kids growing up learning about ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptian lifestyles but they never really learn about what life is like in modern day Egypt.

These 10 facts about life in Egypt provide a little bit of insight on the culture and day-to-day life of Egypt’s people in today’s world for the people that do not know what the current situation is. They also give an insight into the country’s potential of the recovery after rough years mixed with war and fear.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in North Korea
Refugees and journalists consistently cite dire living conditions in North Korea, one of the most repressive authoritarian nations in the world. Leaking information from the secretive police state, they report firsthand knowledge to outsiders. According to these sources, the North Korean government commits severe human rights abuses against its citizens, and the government can barely feed its own people.

A 2014 U.N. Commission of Inquiry report cited numerous human rights abuses in North Korea, including murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, forced abortions and sexual violence. The government extracts unquestioning obedience through public executions, arbitrary detention, forced labor, tight travel restrictions and religious persecution. Citizens have no basic freedoms such as the right to expression, assembly, political opposition or independent media. A sociopolitical stratification system divides North Koreans into three classes: “loyal,” “wavering” and “hostile.”

The specter of prison is one means of keeping the population in line. North Korea’s draconian three generations rule punishes the entire immediate family if one member is convicted of a serious crime. The next two generations born in the camp are then detained there for life. Existence in the camps is extreme. Clothing and food are so scarce that prisoners survive on rats and anything else they can catch. Inmates are frequently left stunted and deformed from long hours of hard labor. Twelve-hour days, seven days a week is the normal work schedule.

Life outside of the prison camps has its own grave challenges. Living conditions in North Korea are characterized by deprivation. The elite ruling class enjoys basic benefits of modern life such as indoor plumbing, cars, meat, coffee and a few luxury items. The middle class receives sufficient food and occasional new clothes. Most people, however, struggle to survive. Half of the nation’s 24 million people live in extreme poverty. North Korea’s annual GDP per capita is $1,800, making it 197th in the world and only 2 percent of South Korea’s.

One-third of North Korean children are stunted from malnutrition. For most people, meat is an unaffordable luxury. They subsist on fermented cabbage known as kimchi, rice, corn and porridge. Most homes are heated by open fireplaces, and many have no flush toilets. Electricity, for those fortunate enough to have it, is unreliable and sporadic. Power might be available for only a few hours each day. Frequently, cell phones are used as flashlights during outages.

Theoretically, education and healthcare are free in North Korea. However, school children must provide financially for desks, chairs, building materials and heat. Patients must provide their own medications, pay for heat and cook their own meals at home.

Still, living conditions in North Korea are showing some improvement, particularly for the elite who are privileged enough to reside in the capital of Pyongyang. According to the South Korea Central Bank, the North Korean economy grew by almost 4 percent in 2016. Despite spotty service and no internet, there are now 1.5 million mobile phone users. Even in smaller cities outside of Pyongyang, electric bikes from China and Japan can be seen mingling with the country’s ubiquitous bicycles.

In Pyongyang, people are buying smartphones, tablets, hi-fi speakers and HDTVs. With the exception of accessing the internet, North Korean smartphones have similar capacities to those in other nations. In place of the internet, citizens use a state-controlled intranet. There are North Korean versions of Google, Facebook, chat rooms and online dating. Food courts in Pyongyang malls offer American-style fast food restaurants serving milkshakes and French fries. Skating rinks opened in 2013, ushering in a rollerblading craze for those wealthy enough to afford skates.

Despite difficult living conditions in North Korea, its people make the best of their circumstances. In some ways, their lives are not so different from those in democratic countries. North Koreans play video games and beach volleyball. They enjoy picnics complete with food, beer and karaoke. And of course, their teenagers take lots of selfies. Hope remains that the situation can improve so that all of its people can enjoy the living conditions that its wealthiest citizens currently do.

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

The widespread poverty, hunger and disease in Central Africa has consistently resulted in the lowest life expectancy in the world. While the global average of life expectancy has risen by roughly five years in the past two decades, central African countries continue to dwell at the statistical bottom. At a typical life expectancy of 50 years, the global community must increase funding and accountability to ensure that poverty and disease cease their decimation of central African populations.

The central African country of Chad was estimated to have the lowest life expectancy in the world for 2017. Chad is a country of 12 million people, 40 percent of which live below the poverty line. While the country began oil production in the early 2000s, Chad’s poverty rate is expected to continue its rise. In part, this is due to the country’s high mortality rate and low life expectancy. To gauge the ability of the U.S. and other developed nations to help increase Chadians’ average lifespan of only 50.60 years, it is first necessary to examine the causes of death.

Early Deaths

Children in Chad die from all sorts of illnesses, from malaria and respiratory infections to prematurity and diarrhea. Because so few Chadians have access to birth control, as only approximately five percent use contraception, the birth rate in Chad is growing. 43 percent of the population is aged 14 or younger, and that figure is rising. The risk of dying by this young age is 44 percent for boys and 39 for girls, as of 2012.

Furthermore, Chad has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Extreme poverty, poor to no maternal health care and adolescent pregnancy has contributed greatly to the high maternal death rates. In a country with the lowest life expectancy in the world, the extreme poverty rates must decrease and better access to maternal healthcare is essential if the country is to improve.

Diseases

Chad, like many African nations, is no stranger to disease. Lower respiratory diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS and diarrhoeal infections are dangerously common. Lower respiratory infections alone killed 24,700 people in 2012. The risk factors for falling prey to these diseases are lack of adequate healthcare, a rarity of potable water and the hot and arid climate. As the largest of Africa’s landlocked countries, Chadians are forced to walk long distances for water.

As only 28 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the vast majority of Chadians do not have quick access to necessities such as water and healthcare. As the country with the world’s lowest life expectancy, it is vital that Chad provide better access to these basic human needs to the entirety of its landscape.

The U.S. is in a unique position to provide monetary and medicinal assistance. Maintaining accountability with the Chadian government regarding these resources would be the most effective way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are going to good use and can be reflected by a rising life expectancy for the people of Chad, and all over Central Africa.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in North Korea
Despite the prevalence of media censorship and manipulation, North Korea carries a reputation for widespread poverty and a less than competitive economy compared to the rest of the world. The growth domestic product (GDP), or market value of all final goods and service from a nation in a given year, is ranked at 197 in the world, and the country’s focus on military showmanship is contrasted with its desperate need for food aid and other forms of economic assistance.

Given such circumstances, the cost of living in North Korea is far below other regions of the world. According to the Korea Institute for National Unification, “the standard of living has deteriorated to extreme levels of deprivation in which the right to food security, health and other minimum needs for human survival are denied…” With more than half of North Korea’s population living in extreme poverty, resources to sustain a basic quality of life are nearly impossible to access.

Indeed, the cost of living in North Korea is unrepresentative of the economic hardship faced by most citizens. Workers typically earn between two and three dollars a month from the government, and mismanagement in currency caused inflation to rise to figures as high as 100%. The Public Distribution System (PDS) continues to be the main source of food for more than 18 million people, approximately 70% of the population as of 2016, and unreliable electric power and water supply is also common.

Prevalent starvation in the countryside is contrasted with seemingly higher quality life in Pyongyang, the country’s capital. There is a plethora of new high-rise apartments, cheap plastic surgery costing as little as two dollars, and foreign fashion trends. Beneath this lies forced labor as a cheap means to polish the external appearance of the city.

This past year, living conditions worsened as a dry spell from April to late June severely damaged the production of rice, maize, potatoes and soybeans, potentially leading to added food shortages. It was determined to be the worst drought the country has faced since 2001. The call for international intervention draws many complications, particularly in regard to the country’s recent activity in nuclear weapons development.

Although North Korea earns foreign currency from the trade of millions of tons of coal with China every year, accounting for a third of all its official exports in 2015, military expenditures remain high, worsening the cost of living in North Korea and suppressing overall quality of life. Ongoing nuclear weapons testing made several countries question whether or not to continue its foreign aid programs in the region. Despite the fact, the United Kingdom and the United States continue sending aid. North Korea received more than £4 million in foreign aid from the U.K. over the past six years, and more than $8 million to assist vulnerable women and children.

Nonetheless, the proliferation of private enterprise, though still officially illegal, made it possible for individuals to generate profit in 2017. Beyond production requirements given directly to the state, farmers and factories are able to seek customers of their own. Six taxi companies now operate in Pyongyang, and Minis, a home-goods store, became the first foreign chain to open in North Korea this past April.

This recent economic growth has broader implications for the North Korean government, potentially undermining arguments supporting socialist superiority over capitalist systems. Information combating widespread propaganda already started slipping in with foreign goods and products. The potential for a better cost of living in North Korea and higher quality of life is increasing, suggesting that the future may just hold fewer poverty constraints and broader human rights opportunities for the country’s citizens.

Katherine Wang

Photo: Flickr