Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia

Slovakia is a country located in Central Europe. It shares its borders with Poland to the north, Hungary to the south, Austria and the Czech Republic to the west and Ukraine to the east. In July 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two independent states: Slovakia and the Czech Republic. From the beginning of its time as an independent state, Slovakia has taken steps to eliminate hunger even though the country suffers from high rates of poverty. In the article below, the top 10 facts about hunger in Slovakia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia

  1. In 2018, Slovakia ranked 16 out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index scale. It has a score of 5.0 which means that its hunger level is very low. In fact, hunger levels in Slovakia are better than in Russia, which has a score of 6.1.
  2. Less than 10 percent of the population in Slovakia are considered malnourished. According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI), about 5 percent of Slovakians are lacking adequate food. The graph shows that hunger levels have been consistently dropping since the year 2000.
  3. The number of people who are considered undernourished in Slovakia is at 2.7 percent. Undernourishment has been declining since 2001 when it hit its peak at 6.7 percent. Even though Slovakia does not suffer from a hunger crisis, they still have to deal with other issues relating to food security and malnutrition. Changes in economic life have led to increased food prices, less spending money for the general population and groups of nutritionally-vulnerable people. Furthermore, changes in the economy have led to difficulties in food distribution. This is a very unique problem regarding the Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia.
  4. In Slovakia in 2011,  61.8 percent of adults were overweight. Men have higher rates of being overweight in Slovakia in comparison to women. Just under 69.6 percent of males are overweight in Slovakia while 56 percent of women are overweight. By the year 2030, it is estimated that the obesity rate for men will be around 28 percent and, for women,  18 percent.
  5. Agriculture is dominated by large scale corporations in Slovakia, so small, local farms are rare. One major problem is that the youth of Slovakia are uninterested in the farming industry. The Slovak Agency of Environment holds out-of-school environmental programs to increase education and training in agrobiodiversity.
  6. In 2005, there were about 81,500 people working agricultural jobs and more than 59,000 people working in the food industry. A decade later the numbers dropped to 51,000 and 50,200.  In 2016, only one-fifth of companies in the agriculture industry expected growth in their market share. Most of the agricultural companies revenue declined that same year.
  7. Between 2007-2014, milk production in Slovakia fell by 10.7 percent; although milk consumption increased by 17.5 percent. Meat production also fell, beef by 25.4 percent and poultry by 12.1 percent, as the result of a decrease in livestock. However, the consumption of beef, poultry and pork fell as well. The inconsistencies are due to constant changes in EU subsidy programs. “Sanctions against Russia leading to an excess of pork, record-breaking grain harvests, and unresolved problem of milk prices are all factors,” said Jiri Vacek director of CEEC research. This may directly affect some of the most important details about understanding the 10 Ten Facts About Hunger in Slovakia.
  8. In 2016, dairy producers experienced a crisis due to overproduction and low retail prices of milk. As an answer to the problem, the Agricultural Ministry stabilized the industry by supporting employment in dairy farming regions and focusing on a long-term solution. This plan included $33 million of support for milk products. Later that year, 1,760 dairy farmers had joined the project, giving financial support to farmers and providing important information.
  9.  In 2013-2014, subsistence farmers made up slightly less than 50 percent of the total number of vegetables produced. The biggest share of subsistence farmers per vegetable was cabbage at around 24 percent, tomatoes were just below 14 percent and carrots at just below 12 percent. Some of the other vegetables include peppers, onions and cucumbers.
  10. Slovakians do not eat enough fruits and vegetables per capita on a daily basis. The WHO/FAO recommends an intake of 600 grams of fruits and vegetables every day. Slovakians fall short of this number by more than 100 grams per day. Slovakians eat an average of 493 grams of fruits and vegetables per capita per day. This may be a factor in why Slovakians life expectancy falls shorter than the EU average.

Slovakia is considered one of Europe’s biggest success stories. When Slovakia originally separated from Czechoslovakia in 1993, the newly independent nation had an uphill battle to climb. However, a decade later Slovakia has taken major strides in becoming a successful, independent democracy. The country is not perfect, however, as Slovakia’s Romany population still suffers from high levels of poverty and social isolation. These top 10 facts about hunger in Slovakia show that hunger is not seen as a major problem.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr


Education in Slovakia has a lot of similarities to the education system in the U.S., however there are a few key differences worth noting.

The first one of these major differences is the years of preschool education. In America, most schools have one year each of pre-school and kindergarten, which most students attend at the ages of four and five, respectively. However, Slovakia has a few years of kindergarten education. Most students attend this when they are between three and six years old. Although this level of schooling is not required, kindergarten is a period where students learn numbers, nature, colors, how to draw, shapes and names of the days and months.

The next level beyond kindergarten is primary school, which is required by law. In America, primary school is called elementary school and is six years long, and leads into two years of middle school. In Slovakia, primary school is split into two sections. The first section starts at age six and is four years long (first to fourth grade) and the second section is five years long (fifth to ninth grade). By the time students finish this level of education, they should be about 15 years old. In America, at 15 years old, students would already be halfway into their high school education.

Secondary schools are where the most differences show between American and Slovakia. High school education in America is still focused on core subjects like history, science and math, although they usually delve deeper into the subject matter. Rather than general subjects, you can specialize in certain subjects. For example, it is no longer just science class – you can usually pick between biology, chemistry or physics. Secondary education in Slovakia focuses not only on higher education in these subjects, but vocational training is a key aspect. This better prepares students for the future job market, and also this blend of general education and vocational training is what makes education in Slovakia so effective. The Legatum Institute releases a yearly ranking of countries based on certain aspects. In 2016, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index, Slovakia ranked 30th out of 149 countries evaluated, compared to the U.S., which was ranked eighth.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), attending secondary education gives students a significant advantage in the job market. Employment rates for those who complete upper secondary education is 70 percent and that rises to 82 percent if they complete tertiary education as well. However, the rate of employment for those without upper secondary education is 30 percent, which is against the OECD average of 55 percent.

Slovakia and America have different ideologies about education, but it is clear that Slovakia’s focus on higher education and vocational training especially have hugely benefitted Slovakia in terms of education for its citizens.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Slovakia Poverty Rate

Slovakia is a country that tends to get overlooked when considering global poverty. While media entities and NGOs focus on African and Asian nations, eastern European countries like Slovakia do not normally make headlines.

The story behind the Slovakia poverty rate, however, is worth discussing. With the 2015 figures coming in at 12.3 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook, this number should be scrutinized.

Since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993, Slovakia has had an odd growth experience. In the last 13 years, for example, Slovakia’s poverty rate has cycled between 13.3 percent and 10.6 percent, according to the World Bank. The CIA World Factbook’s 2015 figure of 12.3 percent shows a slow decrease following the 2011 peak of 13.2 percent, which was the second of two peaks over the last 13 years.

To be clear, the fact that the Slovakia poverty rate is decreasing is a good thing. The country’s low-cost labor force has made it an attractive hub for foreign investment in central Europe in recent years. According to OECD, Slovakia’s GDP growth rate is projected to be 4.1 percent, which is a respectable number for any country and outpaces many economic powers like the United States.

The question that remains, though, is whether or not this advancement, and particularly the decrease in the Slovakia poverty rate, is sustainable. The upward trend in the Slovakia poverty rate from 10.6 percent in 2006 to 13.2 percent in 2011 could be an anomaly due to the 2008 financial crisis. With an economy highly based on labor that focuses itself on volatile industries such as energy, Slovakia must diversify its economy if it wishes to continue its recent economic growth.

It will be interesting to see how Slovakia develops as the country pulls itself out of poverty, unemployment and the like. Whether or not this recent growth is truly sustainable remains to be seen, but there are high hopes for the young country.

John Mirandette

Causes of Poverty in Slovakia
The country of Slovakia was once known as Czechoslovakia until its peaceful dissolution in 1993, which in turn created the Czech Republic. Today, the country is home to more than five million citizens with a population that has been steadily growing over the past decade. According to The World Bank, Slovakia also has a poverty rate of 12.6 percent, which roughly equals just less than 700,000 people. The causes of poverty in Slovakia are varied and run deep through the country’s history.

One of the suggested causes of poverty in Slovakia is its prolonged dependence on factories. During its time as Czechoslovakia during World War II, the country served the Nazi regime by supporting the war machine with supplies and troops and by aiding its efforts to ethnically cleanse Europe.

After World War II, Czechoslovakia came under the control of the Soviet Union and focused on industries such as coal mining, producing steel and machinery. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, the demand for these industries decreased, leaving many workers out of a job.

The industries of Slovakia are still focused on heavy machinery production, mostly the production of cars. This, combined with the fact that the industries of Slovakia lack any competition among one another, is one of the main causes of poverty in Slovakia. It should be noted that stronger product market competition could assist in alleviating this cause.

Furthermore, Slovakia ranks low on the list of European Union countries in terms of innovation. Within the European Union, Slovakia ranked next to last in knowledge-creation and ranked last for innovation and entrepreneurship. Slovakia also lacks investment in education and the application of information technology.

Ethnic poverty is very prevalent among the population of Slovakia, particularly within the Roma population. Roma are considered some of the poorest and most marginalized group in the entire country. The Roms became marginalized during WWII, and many who survived fled the country. Those currently living in Slovakia today live in shanty towns or ghettos.

Despite the hardships that Slovakia has endured, there is positive news about the economic situation in the country. According to The Slovak Spectator, “the labor market surpassed several milestones: 1) the number of jobs in the economy rose to an all-time high; 2) the number of jobless declined to pre-crisis levels; 3) the unemployment rate declined below the eurozone’s, for the first time ever.” Though there are sure to be challenges ahead, the country seems to be on the right path to solving the causes of poverty of Slovakia.

Derrick Chariker

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Slovakia

Located in Central Europe, just south of Poland, lies the Slovak Republic – otherwise called Slovakia. After returning to a market economy at the end of 1989 after the Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution” and suffering some brief years of economic hardship after its separation from the Czech Republic, the country has implemented many economic reforms. Today, the 5.4 million inhabitants of Slovakia enjoy an open economy with strong growth and a sound banking sector. Despite its economic success, however, Slovakia is still affected by a number of harmful diseases. Here are the most common diseases in Slovakia today:

Ischemic Heart Disease
A condition characterized by narrowed heart arteries, thus reducing blood flow to the heart, ischemic heart disease can eventually result in unexpected heart attack. Also known as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease was assessed to be the most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia in 2005. By 2015, it was still the most fatal, but the prevalence of deaths by the disease had fortunately decreased by 16.8 percent.

Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease refers to any disease affecting blood flow to the brain. Such disorders often result in aneurysms, carotid stenosis, intracranial stenosis, vertebral stenosis, stroke and vascular malformations. In 2015, cerebrovascular disease was the second most fatal common disease in Slovakia, and had been for the past decade. However, the disease had fortunately decreased in prevalence by 17.4 percent within those 10 years.

Lung Cancer
A type of cancer beginning in the lungs, lung cancer can cause a person to cough up blood, experience chronic fatigue, have recurrent respiratory problems and lose weight unexpectedly, to name just a few symptoms. Smoking is cited as a high risk factor for developing lung cancer. In 2005, lung cancer was the third most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia. In 2015, it remains so, but the prevalence of death by the disease has decreased by 2.8 percent.

Thankfully, the most common diseases in Slovakia have been decreasing in prevalence for the past decade. In addition, it was announced in 2015 that Slovakia would be focusing on assessing the country’s public health situation, including working on running more effective public health campaigns. Obviously, Slovakia is dedicated to improving the country’s health standards and reducing the prevalence of the most common diseases affecting its citizens.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in SlovakiaThe state of human rights in Slovakia, an EU member state located in central Europe, is in need of major reform. The discrimination against the Romani people – also known as Gypsies – has been carried out in various forms, such as restrictions on the right to education and ill treatment by police forces.

The Roma population, which constitutes approximately two to four percent of the Slovakian population, is the second largest minority group in Slovakia. The most prevalent type of discrimination against the Romani people in Slovakia has occurred in the education system, in the form of segregating Romani children. A joint report by the Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), published on March 1, 2017, revealed that Romani children are regularly assessed as having “mild mental disabilities” and are sent to special schools that provide an inferior education. Although Slovakia had already received a threat of fines from the European Commission two years ago for breaching EU discrimination laws, racial segregation in schools is still rampant across the country.

Another form of discrimination that is representative of the current state of human rights in Slovakia is the ill treatment of Roma by the police. According to the Slovakia 2016 Human Rights Report published by the U.S. Department of State, a number of NGOs and members of the Romani community have reported incidents of police officers abusing suspects both while being arrested and after being imprisoned. For instance, in 2010 a Romani minor who was arrested for robbery claimed that police officers committed acts of violence against him in order to force him into giving a confession. In July 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the state failed to carry out an adequate investigation into this incident and ordered the Slovakian government to pay €1,500 to the minor, in addition to legal costs.

The aforementioned cases of discrimination illustrate that human rights in Slovakia are in need of substantial improvement. While numerous members of the Romani community are already fighting for social inclusion and equal opportunities, efforts from the civil society and government will be crucial in eliminating such deep-rooted human rights issues.

Minh Joo Yi

10 Facts About Refugees in Slovakia
Over the past several months, the influx of migrants in Europe has notoriously prompted headlines about the manageability of refugees and illegal immigrants on the continent. To explore the details about one country in particular, here are 10 facts about refugees in Slovakia:

  1. As of 2015, the foreign population in Slovakia is about 1.56 percent of the total population, numbering approximately 84 thousand people. This is one of the lowest rates in the entire European Union.
  2. Rates of migration are dramatically rising since Slovakia’s admission into the EU in 2004. The total number of foreign-born residents has quadrupled and continues to increase by approximately 8,000 new arrivals each year.
  3. The highest percentage of new migrants originate from Ukraine and nearly half come from Slovakia’s bordering countries, also including Poland, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. Outside the EU, the largest populations represented are from Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Russia, Vietnam, China and Syria.
  4. The most commonly reported reason for applicants seeking to relocate to Slovakia is for work. As for arranged arrivals, they typically utilize refugee camps in Slovakia as a backup when neighboring camps, often in Austria, face added strain.
  5. Numerous politicians in the country sparked controversy in 2015 with public statements regarding how Slovakia would only accept Christian refugees: “We could take in 800 Muslims but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?” Many leaders retain the political belief that Slovakia is happy to help as a transit country but do not intend to house refugees in Slovakia as a final destination.
  6. Slovakia’s political stance is also in disagreement with many of their EU partners. Last year, a Syrian refugee relocation referendum was passed and originally arranged for Slovakia to take on a mere 1,000 out of 40,000 new refugees. However, Slovakia was one of only four countries to vote against the agreement, eventually conceding to 200.
  7. Socially, Slovakian citizens also oppose new refugees. Frequent marches and demonstrations against the perceived ‘Islamization of Slovakia’ are known to occur. As another example, the townspeople of Gabčíkovo, home to a major camp in the country, voted with a 97 percent majority to disallow fresh entrants because they value the culturally homogenous history of the country.
  8. Refugees in Slovakia are aware of the backlash as well, and reportedly often arrive in the country dissatisfied. In this respect, the views of the refugees are consistent with that of the government – Slovakia is meant to be a transit country on the path to Western Europe or the United States.
  9. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), formal legal regulations are also lacking regarding the status of many refugees. Slovakia does not have an established legal framework to define statelessness or people in flight, and there are also some difficulties with establishing dual citizenship. However, the UNHCR is also helping to overcome some of these barriers by sponsoring training programs and establishing assessment mechanisms.
  10. In addition to the camp in Gabčíkovo mentioned above, other major refugee camps are located in Rohovce and Humenné. Often such camps were originally intended to be temporary shelters during certain international crises but were later extended or reopened after prolonged instability. These areas are all near Slovakia’s borders with Hungary and Ukraine.

As a relatively poorer nation of Eastern Europe, Slovakia’s concerns for accommodating a large number of migrants socially and economically may prevail, but it is important to also ensure that refugees in Slovakia are welcomed to the highest possible degree. As the UNHCR rhetoric reiterates, Slovakia’s cooperation with resettlement arrangements is greatly needed for the most vulnerable citizens around the world.

Zachary Machuga

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Slovakia
Slovakia has only been a state for less than three decades; it became independent from Czechoslovakia in 1993. Since then it has struggled to break the cycle of poverty. Having experienced hard economic reforms to join the European Union, the country is known as the eurozone’s second poorest member.With a population of 5.4 million and a weakening employment rate, poverty in Slovakia continues to rise.

According to the “Phenomenon of Poverty and Economic Inequality in the Slovak Republic,” Slovakia has a poverty rate of 13 percent, which equates to about 700,000 people.

 

The Harsh Effects of Poverty in Slovakia

 

In a study, 32 percent of respondents said their living standards are lower than they were before 1989. Working class families with three or four more children, the elderly and the handicapped have felt this burden the most.

Moreover, those at risk of poverty is totaled at 112,200 people, representing 20.6 percent of Slovakia’s total population. Citizens whose income is below 60 percent of the median income face a 13 percent risk of living in poverty.

For the above reasons, citizens have been forced to rely on government programs to get by, putting the state in deeper debt.

Additionally, ethnic poverty is well apparent. Romas are marginalized from the rest of the population, they live the worst off, in shanty settlements grappling with little to no money. Around four percent of the population suffers from “severe housing deprivation.”

Moreover, unemployment continues to increase; the long-term unemployment rate in the Slovak Republic stands at 8.8 percent compared to the OECD average of only 2.6 percent. The share of children living in workless households stands at 6.9 percent and lies below the OCED average.

Studies have shown that the problem arises from economic inequality and an absence of business competitiveness throughout the country. Additionally, a lag in technological development has led to inadequate modern infrastructure — one of the primary ways for generating revenue.

To counteract the rate of poverty in Slovakia, the state established the Institute for Subsistence Law — those whose monthly income is below a minimum fixed amount, are entitled to social assistance benefits.

Furthermore, the EU also recognizes this increase of poverty throughout Europe as seen with the European Commission’s ten-year economic plan called “Europe 2020.”

They plan to raise the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69 percent to 75 percent. They also aim to reduce the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25 percent, lifting 20 million people out of poverty from the current 80 million in the region; including Slovakia.

Marcelo Guadiana

Photo: Flickr