Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in SomaliaLocated in Eastern Africa, Somalia continues to persist through political unrest. Withstanding colonialism until the late 1960s, civil war, authoritarian government, extreme poverty, environmental devastation and most recently, increased activity by jihadist fundamentalist group Al-Shabaab, educational opportunities may seem bleak, especially for girls. In the face of national struggle, the quest for education persists. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Somalia.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Somalia

  1. Somalia has one of the lowest school enrollment rates in the world. In 2018, 86 percent of Somalis between the ages of 15 and 24 received no education. Eighty-one percent of girls between the ages of 6 and 11 do not attend primary school and 79 percent of girls between the ages of 14 and 17 do not attend secondary school. The percentages for boys in the same age groups are slightly lower at 77 percent and 66 percent, respectively, showing a drastic disparity between genders. Only 1 percent of Somalis completed their post-secondary education in 2018.
  2. Poverty creates a huge barrier to girls’ education in Somalia. 1991 marked the end of a central school system due to political instability. Outside of Puntland and Somaliland (nearby states that offer more stability), private schools require parents to pay for their children’s school fees. However, almost 75 percent of the population lives under $2 per day. Consequently, 96 percent of Somalia’s poorest children never attend primary or secondary school while 50 percent of children belonging to Somalia’s wealthiest families receive primary education and 60 percent receive secondary educations.
  3. There is a huge need for resources for girls’ education in Somalia. Civil war combined with drought and flooding left school infrastructure in poor condition. Girls in particular lack adequate access to sanitation facilities and toilets, further disincentivizing girls from going to school. Additionally, there is a lack of qualified teachers in Somalia. Less than 20 percent of teachers are women.
  4. Close to 40 percent of children in Somalia between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labor. Almost 54 percent of these child laborers are girls, while 44.5 percent are boys. Nearly 40 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work instead of going to school and 20.2 percent of children between the ages of 7 and 14 have jobs and go to school. Child laborers often endure dangerous conditions farming, herding livestock, mining, working in construction or selling goods and services on the streets. Children also face recruitment by groups like Al-Shabaab who force or coerce boys into becoming soldiers while they target girls for domestic and sexual slavery.
  5. Female genital cutting (FGC) affects between 95 and 98 percent of Somali women. Girls and women who aren’t cut are likely to face discrimination and can oftentimes have difficulty finding a husband to support them financially. As a result, families will often arrange the procedure when girls are between the ages of 4 and 11. The invasive procedure often leads to marriage and motherhood, resulting in higher drop out rates for girls in higher grades.
  6. More than half of Somali girls are married between the ages of 15 and 18. By the age of 18, the majority of girls have undergone FGC and are expected to take on the roles of wife and mother, leaving little opportunity to be a student. The combination of high poverty rates, political instability and high fertility rates, marrying daughters to husbands who can provide for them oftentimes seems like a viable option.
  7. Employment opportunities for women in Somalia are limited. Women in Somalia face an unemployment rate of 74 percent compared to 61 percent for men. Somalia’s economy is driven by agriculture, making a formal education seem unnecessary, especially for women who are more likely to perform domestic work or caring for livestock.
  8. The Africa Educational Trust is dedicated to girls’ education in Somalia. Since 1996, the AET has focused on increasing accessibility for girls and other marginalized communities to receive an education. The organization promotes “girl-friendly” spaces, training teachers, rebuilding the school system and supporting the national curriculum framework.
  9. The Somali Girls Education Promotion Programme helped increase student enrollment by more than 16 percent. Over the course of 4 years, the SOMGEP seeks to increase girls’ education in Somalia by shifting gender norms, increasing girls’ participation in school, improving learning conditions and developing girls’ leadership skills. Halfway through the project in 2016, the SOMGEP recorded increases in math and literacy rates along with increased religious support for girls’ education in Somalia
  10. Somalia drafted and approved its National Gender Policy. Over a 10-year period beginning in 2014, the policy seeks to build schools, improve access to schools, promote free primary education, increase enrollment and retention rates for girls and “facilitat[e] development and promotion of … gender-sensitive national curriculum that includes Women, Peace, and Security education.”

Increasing access to girls’ education in Somalia faces challenges such as limited access to schools, political uncertainty, widespread poverty and gender disparity. However, 2012 ushered in an attempt to implement a central authority, including newly elected parliament members and a president who is working towards political and national security, which will hopefully begin to eradicate some of the biggest challenges facing Somalis.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Unsplash

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, withstanding famine, drought, war and terrorist occupations to earn this title. Mogadishu is also a budding tech hub, home to coffee shops, new colleges and even a TedX conference. Underneath these contrasting descriptions of Somalia’s capital city lie two issues that continue the cycle of poverty for the majority of residents, famine and terrorism. The root causes of many of the following 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu can be traced back to these two underlying issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu

  1. The issue of poverty in Mogadishu is being worsened by famine in Somalia’s countryside. More than 500,00 Somalis have been heading toward Mogadishu in search of food, water, and shelter, and around 100,000 have reached the borders of Mogadishu. They are desperately in need of food assistance.
  2. Camps have been set up around Mogadishu to deal with the influx of famine refugees; however, they have been described as “no man’s land”. Leftover members of the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab have attacked international humanitarian workers trying to provide basic services to those living in the camps. For example, a convoy from the World Food Programme was hit by a roadside bomb on May 15, 2017.
  3. This is not the first time a famine has affected the quality of life and poverty rates in Mogadishu. In 2011, a deadly famine raged the Horn of Africa, with Somalia unable to escape its effects. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people moved to Mogadishu to escape the famine’s effects and few have plans to return home. Even though the economy is said to be rapidly growing, most who fled to the city live in settlements and subsist on odd jobs to meet their basic needs. There are concerns that the huge number of young, unemployed people in camps may provide the opportunity for extremism to take hold.
  4. The unemployment rate in Mogadishu in 2016 was 66 percent with 74 percent being women. This high unemployment rate, paired with large population growth and the constant threat of violence, has earned Mogadishu the title of the “world’s most fragile city”.
  5. Organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP) work in Mogadishu to support some of the most impoverished parts of the population. Namely, female-headed households, families with children under age 5 and the elderly. Their soup-kitchen style meal centers serve approximately 80,000 a day. WFP is also working with the European Union’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO) to provide financial assistance to families in need.
  6. There is concern over disease outbreaks, such as cholera, migrating from the countryside to Mogadishu along with those escaping the famine. One employee of the Mercy Corps describes the hospital conditions in Mogadishu as “overwhelming”. When dealing with outbreaks of cholera overcrowding and a lack of resources prove deadly: “The hospital is so overstretched that there is no room or time to properly screen and separate or quarantine the incoming patients, so kids with measles and cholera are side-by-side with kids who are malnourished, but not infected — yet.”
  7. Around 5,000 boys live on the streets of Mogadishu. This group of boys is part of a number children who have been left in the city to fend for themselves. One boy who was interviewed said his family lost everything in the 2011 famine and as a consequence, he was left because they could no longer provide for him.
  8. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s Al-Qaeda franchise, occupied the capital for almost a quarter of a century. To this day, they continue to have control over two neighborhoods of the city where it is impossible for police and government forces to enter. The group often attacks the international airport.
  9. Despite progress being made, terror attacks continue to disrupt the lives of millions. In 2016, Mogadishu suffered at least 46 terrorist attacks. In 2017, al-Shabaab attacks have killed or wounded more than 771 people.
  10. Poverty and climate change are intimately connected in Mogadishu. Just last year, six people died due to some of the heaviest rainfalls the country has seen in over three decades, with more than 750,000 having been affected through property loss. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq underscored the importance of getting to the root of the consequences climate change has had on poverty

Looking Towards Mogadishu’s Future

While these 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu suggest a bleak future, that is not entirely the case. Some experts believe that the rapid growth of Mogadishu will actually spur economic transformation as long as it is accompanied by international aid and careful management. Michael Keating, the U.N. special representative in Somalia, argues that “The massive shift into urban areas can be an opportunity. It is the way of the future, it is what needs to be done to build a different economy, a different country. But that needs huge investment.” More support needs to be given to reduce the suffering of the Somalian population.

Georgie Giannopoulos
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Somalia
Somalia, located at the Horn of Africa, is a country with colorful and diverse traditions, but harsh conditions. Life is not only affected by the climate, but also the treacherous political environment. In this article, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Somalia

  1. Somalia has four seasons, two rainy and two dry ones. These seasons are combined with some of the highest mean temperatures worldwide. These conditions make farming incredibly difficult, in fact, only 0.05 percent of the land is inhabited by permanent crops. Most agricultural employment takes place through livestock. Somalia is also a large exporter of bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts and rice. However, without consistent trade, much of this has gone to waste and has created a famine.
  2. There is virtually no infrastructure in many parts of the country due to the ongoing civil war. This affects the ability of a community to access clean water. Only 34 percent of individuals have access to sanitation services and, because plumbing is uncommon in many rural areas, 50 percent of individuals in these areas practice open defecation. Currently, progress on this issue is created through building wells, as well as implementing community programs to improve sanitation. Mercy USA has built over 580 wells in order to improve water access in Somalia. The WASH program is implementing underground wells that are attached to solar-powered sanitation systems.
  3. Another one of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia relates to clean water access and adequate health care facilities. In 2017, there were over 79,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea or cholera alone. Only 6 percent of Somali residents have access to antenatal doctor’s appointments. The transmission of infectious diseases is amplified by the nomadic tendencies of pastoral clans, and the presence of large refugee camps. The WHO and UNICEF have been able to decrease measles outbreaks by administering vaccines to over 45,000 children in these camps. Nearly 50 percent of children under the age of 1 have been vaccinated for this disease.
  4. Women and children face danger on a daily basis. Armed men often take sexually violent acts against women and girls without prosecution. Children are recruited and indoctrinated by the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. Somalia is ranked as one of the worst five places to be a woman in the world due to the widespread practice of Sharia law and restriction of gender-based freedoms. There is also limited access to health care and the prevalence of human trafficking. The Somali federal government did implement an incredibly comprehensive Sexual Offences Bill in May 2018, the bill that criminalizes sexual offenses.
  5. According to the WHO, the average life expectancy of a Somali individual is 53 years. The average expectancy of an individual to live a healthy life is only 45 years. Due to a lack of access to health care services and adequate sanitation, most adults die of infectious disease. Upon birth, only 9 percent of women are attended by a health professional. Maternal, neonatal and nutritional deaths account for approximately 18,000 deaths across both genders.
  6. The federal government only controls part of the country and formal economic activity is limited to the urban areas. Businesses are scarce due to the probability of looting and high inflation. It is 137 percent more expensive to live in Mogadishu, country’s capital, than in Tokyo. The main income of the country is international trade, but constant civil discourse prohibits this sector from experiencing significant growth. The new Public Financial Management bill should increase the government’s revenue security and control of expenses.
  7. There are two seceded states in the north: Somaliland and Puntland created after the civil war. Constant border disputes between the three regions have created unrest and violence. Around 2.1 million individuals have been displaced by federal government evictions, random acts of violence and climatic conditions. Foreign aid has made efforts to provide assistance to displaced peoples, but Al-Shabaab placed sanction prohibiting humanitarian organizations.
  8. The split between Puntland, Somaliland and the Somali Republic causes constant border disputes. There is no judiciary system to solve these issues and these disputes devolve into violent attacks. The influx of pastoral clans and refugees into major cities and ports during the dry season cause looting and disease.
  9. The government provides exponentially less health assistance than nongovernmental organizations. Regions within WHO jurisdiction have nearly twice the utilization of health services than regions without it. Maternal and child mortality rates are also much lower in these areas. Less than 50 out of 1,000 children die versus approximately 150 out of 1,000 in regions without aid. The Somali federal government has increased spending on health care services and has had 88 percent of the population for tuberculosis tested in regions without organizations’ assistance.
  10. Around 2.1 million people have been displaced internally in refugee camps. The surrounding countries have placed sanctions on incoming peoples seeking asylum due to limited resources. Those seeking asylum are also unable to travel across the disputed borders of Somaliland and Puntland because of convoys along them. With large numbers of people moving around so sporadically, it is also hard to create a consistent source of nutrition.

Poverty and civil war are rampant issues that result in many consequences for Somalia. Humanitarian aid is the main source of help in improving living conditions for over 5.4 million people that are in desperate need. Between the assistance of these organizations and the growing effectiveness of the federal government, the people of Somalia may have a decent chance to live in a comfortable environment.

– Emily Triolet

Photo: Flickr

Displacement in Somalia
Somalia has been affected with several years of bad weather that has led to thousands of people with nowhere to go. Displacement in Somalia is being addressed by various nonprofit organizations that continue to donate to help the cause.

Displacement in Somalia in Numbers

There are an estimated 739,000 people that have been displaced because of the droughts between November 2016 and May 2017. Over 65 percent of the displaced persons are under 18, and one-quarter are under 5 years old. There are an estimated 388,000 acutely malnourished children in need of nutritional support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children.

To add to this statistics, 341,000 new displacements occurred in the first half of 2018 due to the conflict in Somalia, and the number of forced evictions also rose sharply. There were about 191,000 forced evictions in the first six months of the year. In comparison, a total of 166,000 evictions happened during the whole 2017.

Forced evictions are linked to widespread tenure insecurity, disputes over land ownership and the reclaiming of state property, particularly in urban areas. They usually occur without notice and often involve violence and the destruction of housing.

Sagar Cyclone and El Niño Drought

Another natural disaster has also led to displacement in Somalia. In May 2018, Somalia was hit by cyclone Sagar. It was the strongest cyclone in the country’s history with winds up to 100 KPH. The situation was made worse by violence in disputed areas of Sool and Sanaag regions, that displaced more than 10,000 people just after the cyclone hit.

Sagar displaced another 9,000 people in northern Somalia, and it also caused more than 9,000 displacements in Djibouti. These recent events confirm that the Horn of Africa is and will continue to be heavily affected by the effects of climate change.

The drought called El Niño that hit Somalia between 2015-2016 led to approximately 6.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Somaliland and Putnam have experienced below average rainfalls for the last two years, so the El Niño has exacerbated the drought in both cities.

Flash flooding in central and southern regions of Somalia has affected 770,000 people and has displaced 230,000 people so far. In comparison, the average annual displacement of people in Ethiopia, the neighboring country, is 30,000. This is resulting after a widespread drought over four consecutive seasons.

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) gave $5.1 million for humanitarian support and the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) will reallocate funding to places impacted by the floods. This funding is a part of the Flood Response Plan that seeks $80 million to meet the demands of the affected population.

Cholera as an Additional Issue

Somalia had several epidemics of cholera, and in 2017, the country experienced one of the largest epidemics in history. There were an estimated 78,000 cases, including 1,159 deaths in the 16 regions that were reported.

In response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization has implemented several response measures. These include training national, state and regional level rapid response teams, strengthened surveillance and case investigations and dispatched cholera disease kits to local response partners and hospitals.

Displacement in Somalia can be attributed to violence, as well as natural disasters and bad weather in the country.

Continued humanitarian support from the government and nongovernmental organizations for Somali citizens in order to address and fix the problems of those people affected by displacement.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Somalia Child Soldiers
Somalia, a country located on the Horn of Africa, has an ongoing issue with child recruitment by terrorist groups, mostly Al-Shabaab. Children as young as 8 years old are often being sent to the frontline for combat and are taught to transport explosives, work as spies and handle weapons. In the article below the top 10 facts about child soldiers in Somalia are listed.

Top 10 Facts About Somalia Child Soldiers

  1. According to a report issued to the United Nations, 6,163 Somalia children were recruited as soldiers during the period of April 1, 2010, to July 31, 2016. Out of this number, 5,993 were boys and 230 were girls. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization that is in alliance with Al-Qaeda, accounted for 70 percent of the recruited children. 
  2. The Secretary-General of U.N. is alarmed by the increasing number of violations against the young children, including the uprise of recruitment, the attacks made on schools, the act of sexual violation and cases of abduction. For instance, 64 school attacks were reported, out of which 58 are linked with Al-Shabaab.
  3. The U.N. chief reported that some of the children have been targeted with the promise of pursuing an education and job. Generally, the children are promised a better future in exchange for their services.
  4. Boys are captured on the battlefield by intelligence agencies. Most boys are then arrested and beaten during security operations held by the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in the capital of Mogadishu. This leaves children caught in between explosions and government detention.
  5. Interrogations are used against the kids and result in torture and the disconnection with the relatives. In one case, a 16-year-old boy told Human Right’s Watch (HRW) that he was abused by NISA in 2016. He stated that he was taken out of his cell at night and forced to confess. He was bleeding for two weeks, but no one helped him. 
  6. The federal government in Somalia promised to send captured children to The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for rehabilitation. However, only 250 children were released since 2015.
  7. U.S. troops aided Somalia’s security during a raid that took place in January 2018. According to a statement made by a U.S. military official to CNN, the troops rescued 30 child soldiers.
  8. There are 500 U.S. troops currently located in Somalia working as military advisers and conventional logistic personnel. U.S. Navy SEALs are deployed to Somalia to serve as advisors to their security forces.
  9. Recently, the U.S. suspended some aid to Somali troops due to worries about corruption. However, Somali units that are advised by American military personnel are still receiving aid.
  10. Since January 2015, multiple pieces of training of personnel from African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission, and Somali National Army (SNA) on countering the use of child soldiers have taken place. With the support of the British Peace Support Training, these developments help protect the children in Somalia.

Several of these top 10 facts about Somalia child soldiers presented above showcase the work of organizations like AMISOM where the focus is on combating the number of cases of child recruitment.

In order for child recruitment to be fully eradicated in the country, nongovernmental organization, government and foreign agencies must work together. This groundbreaking work will not only help protect the children in Somalia but may also bring hope to end all conflict between the Somali and African forces.

– Kathleen Smith
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia, located in the eastern coast of Africa. This country continues to be challenged with natural disasters along with a lack of political stability and security, which all adds up to the extreme poverty that already affects the country.

After the destruction caused by decades of conflict, a new federal government came to power in Mogadishu according to the guidelines established by the Provisional Constitution in 2012.

The emergence of the new ruling party under this new framework has enabled the country to get international assistance in resolving its ongoing economic and political issues. International relations were further augmented after a peaceful transition of power occurred in 2017 that made the National partnership for Somalia successful, assuring longer-term support from international organizations toward alleviating big issues.

The top 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu presented in the article below portray the different aspects of the challenges facing the capital such as its historical context, ongoing efforts and the hurdles that the citizens need to overcome to achieve better future of the city.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu

  1. In 2017, Somalia’s GDP decreased to 1.8 percent from 2.4 percent in 2016 despite the new deals of international support. The decrease was mainly caused by the severe drought that occurred in 2017. 
  2. Mogadishu is considered to be one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the world, which is mainly attributed to its improving security, economic potential and urban displacement. The Somalia Economic Update (SEU) showed that 70 percent of Somalia’s aforementioned GDP is urban-based.
  3. Somalia did make efforts to stop the recent famine that occurred in 2017 from being widespread, however, the drought still resulted in large-scale food insecurity that affected more than six million people. 
  4. Given that agriculture is one of the main sectors anchoring the economy of the nation, the fact that the agricultural sector had experienced a near collapse from a widespread shortage of water and pasture along with an increase in livestock mortality, had an insurmountable effect on the overall country’s economy.
  5. The emergence of a new federal government in Mogadishu resulted in the establishment of a fiscal policy that has significantly improved sectors like domestic revenue that grew by 26.5 percent, from $112.7 million in 2016 to $142.6 million in 2017. This increase was driven by trade taxes.
  6. There are around 5,000 young boys living on the streets of Somalia’s capital, a trend that seems to have been increasing over the years mainly due to their parents being too poor to provide for them.
  7. The government does claim its responsibility to look after and create ways to ensure the welfare of the children in the streets. However, there is a lack of funds and a lack of action from the international organizations that made previous promises, according to the government.
  8. One of the main effects of the country’s history of conflict and political insecurity affecting the country’s economy is the destruction of much of the statistical infrastructure and important data. This has created a huge challenge in strategic planning due to the lack of reliable economic and development data. 
  9. Following the identification of the data issue in 2012, between October and November 2014, 20 trained Somali enumerators collected data from 1,500 households, putting together a statistically representative sample that encapsulates both residential neighborhoods and camps that house internally displaced people in Mogadishu.
  10. In order to augment this door-to-door data collection, a high-frequency survey initiative has been launched that aims to bridge the gap of accessibility through the use of a dynamic questionnaire loaded on a smartphone that can collect data on expenditure, price and perception within 60 minutes of interviewing a household.

For many experts in Somalia, the capital’s economic prospects and potential to be a leader of the new economy is a given since it resides by the longest coastline on mainland Africa with a prospering private sector, a population dominated by a young labor force and untapped natural wealth. 

In addition, there is a huge trend in the Somalian diaspora community of returning to Somalia with the much-needed economic force for growth and development. Therefore, producing sustainable solutions for the issues of poverty in Mogadishu and the nation as a whole described above is a worthwhile investment with potentially big returns. 

– Bilen Kassie
Photo: Flickr

polyglu

Over the course of the last 25 years, Somalia has suffered a series of devastating droughts. In the most recent one, spanning through 2016 and 2017 there was an absence of rain for three seasons in a row. This drought was particularly devastating in its effects: food scarcity, malnutrition, and the spread of cholera and other diseases.

In 2017 alone, approximately 1.2 million people were acutely malnourished, 80,000 children could no longer attend school and 120,000 children were at risk of dropping out. The crisis in Somalia highlights how the effects of drought and inaccessibility to safe drinking water affects all facets of society.

Access to Safe Drinking Water

Lack of access to safe water is a striking feature in almost all parts of Somalia. Only 45% of Somalis have access to improved water sources and this fact increases the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Cholera is endemic and claims hundreds of lives annually, particularly in densely populated areas. Increasing access to safe water must be accompanied by efforts to ensure the quality of drinking water. Water quality monitoring and house-water treatment, as well as safe storage, are critical in reducing the risk of contamination of water supplies.

Addressing the Problem

Fortunately, a solution is in sight. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Somalia is using a coagulant called Polyglu to treat drinking water in Somalia and to assist those affected by the recent drought. IOM helps to protect migrants, refugees and those displaced within their country.

From November 2016 to March 2017, over 600,000 people were displaced within Somalia. Many were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in search of food and water. A startling 8,000 people are being displaced every day. Since safe drinking water is at the center of their displacement, Polyglu offers an effective and innovative solution that could help hundreds of thousands of people, in Somalia but in other countries as well.

About Polyglu

Polyglu is a powder, primarily composed of a coagulant made from fermented soybeans, which serves to quicken the clotting of impurities found in water. Polyglu is unique in that is a safe and environmentally friendly purifying agent that has been successfully applied in the food and industrial equipment industries.

One gram of the Polyglu powder is capable of treating up to five liters of polluted water, which makes this powder very effective. It has been successfully deployed in India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Tanzania. In collaboration with IOM and the Internally Displaced Person camps in Mogadishu Somalia has used Polyglu to address water-borne diseases and water scarcity. According to locals in Mogadishu, Polyglu has contributed to lowering the rate of diarrhea and other illnesses among Somali children plagued by all kinds of shortages and war.

Moving Forward

While Polyglu has made significant strides in combating water scarcity and water-borne disease in developing countries, much can still be done to ensure safe drinking water in these regions. Although Polyglu can remove many of the pollutants found in water, it cannot completely purify waste water. Thus, it is imperative to allocate more resources to affordable and accessible means of purifying water.

As droughts continue to plague developing countries, Polyglu is just one tool that can be used to ensure access to safe drinking water.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in Sudan
Facts about girls’ education in Sudan are startling as females are at a clear disadvantage. Girls in Sudan are more likely to be illiterate than their regional counterparts, which is concerning as the region around the nation is plagued with female educational suppression.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Sudan

  1. According to UNICEF, 49 percent of girls are missing out on primary education. As of 2017, a total of three million children have been left out of Sudan’s education system, half of them being girls.
  2. In general, Sudan has unegalitarian views towards women. Sudan’s legal system is a strict form of Sharia Law, which limits the rights of women in many respects. The nature of such laws has seeped into Sudanese culture, thus affecting the quality and quantity of girls education for the worse. These laws include punishment for not wearing religious garb in public and institutionalized discrimination against women. When the mantra of the government and its laws is anti-women, the educational system will most likely be anti-women as well.
  3. The laws in Sudan regarding education do not guarantee safety against discrimination. Educators can then easily implement their views on who they allow to enroll in schools. Such views are the norm in Sudan, as is the opinion that women should aspire to be a housewife for their ultimate goal. Sudanese culture follows a strict interpretation of Islam and is often a culture that allows female genital mutilation, honor killings and other violations against women. Such an environment would be hard pressed not to extend such discrimination to education.
  4. In Sudan, the enrollment rate for girls in primary school is lower than that of boys, and there is also a significant gap in literacy between boys and girls.
  5. The quality of  teachers is very low in Sudan in comparison to the rest of the world; there may be up to 110,000 unqualified teachers teaching in Sudan, as 48 percent of teachers in Sudan have only completed primary education. On average, children in Sudan experience either no education (as Sudan has one of the highest out-of-school-children rates in the world) or very poor education from unqualified teachers.
  6. A severe lack of female teachers in Sudanese schools often creates a learning environment much more hostile to girls, which can then deter girls enrolling in school. Only 12 percent of South Sudan’s instructors are female, and the data of female education rates across generations show less improvement over time.
  7. The average household in Sudan contains 5.7 people; contrastingly, an United States household holds an average of 2.58 people. The cost of education in Sudan is not direct tuition, but rather similar to western universities and religious schools charge aside from tuition: textbooks, uniforms, exam fees, and even teacher salaries. This is very costly for many families, especially as poverty is extremely high in Sudan — 44.8  percent of the population live below the poverty line, and there is a 17 percent unemployment rate.
  8. The large number of families who struggle with such costs generally have two options: (1) do not send their children to school (which is a partial explanation for why the educational enrollment rate in Sudan is very low) or (2) choose their favorite children to attend school. For the latter option, these favorites are almost unanimously boys which hurts girls educational opportunities.
  9. Given the fact that normal schooling in Sudan is explicitly anti-women, it’s very hard for girls in Sudan to receive an education, and the shortage of out-of-school alternatives really leaves Sudan’s girls in a difficult place.
  10. Fortunately, Sudan is not alone. The Global Partnership for Education Fund heavily funds the Sudanese government so as “to improve the learning environment in targeted areas; to increase the availability of textbooks; and to strengthen education planning and management mechanisms in the Sudan.” In fact, $76 million has gone into a project known as the Basic Education Recovery Project which significantly helps girls education in Sudan.

Steps to Empowerment

These facts about girls’ education in Sudan leave the international community with a daunting task — making change a reality in Sudan. Thankfully, such outcomes are occurring, but help is always needed and desired. Donating to organizations such as The Borgen Project that work to provide international aid is one of the best ways to help make change a reality.

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in SomaliaLocated in one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the world, Somalia is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty in Somalia has been an enormous issue for more than a century but has recently been slightly alleviated due to increased foreign aid and government stability. Here are ten key facts about poverty in Somalia.

10 Facts About Poverty in Somalia

  1. Severe droughts and extreme weather make life for people living in poverty in Somalia even more difficult. Historically, food security in the country has been an issue due to limited rainfall and extreme drought. In 2017, nearly six million people in the country were considered acutely food insecure. Around a quarter of a million people have been displaced due to the most recent drought.
  2. Somalia is one of the least developed countries in Africa. Somalia lags behind the rest of Africa when it comes to the availability of basic infrastructure. Only around half of the country’s population has access to fresh drinking water and this number is significantly lower in rural areas.
  3. Poor people who live in rural areas of the country are relatively left behind when it comes to education compared to urban areas. The literacy rate in rural areas drops around 10 percent compared to urban areas. Less access to education in rural areas means a more challenging path out of poverty for poor people.
  4. Four out of five children in Somalia are lacking at least one basic necessity. Around 85 percent of youth in Somalia do not have access to at least one dimension. The more common of which is lack of access to clean drinking water. Another dimension that a substantial amount of children lack is access to information.
  5. Children in Somalia are likely not attending school. Experts believe education is fundamental in giving children a path to escaping poverty. Without education, it is near impossible for children to improve their future. Currently, only half of the country’s youth are receiving and education. This number increases dramatically in rural areas.
  6. The country’s per capita income is around $400. This number is one of the lowest in the region and is a huge reason for poverty in Somalia. Lacking infrastructure in the country affects the number of good jobs and means that most people work on agricultural land.
  7. Somalia’s parliament recently adopted the National Development Plan. The NDP aims to build up the county’s infrastructure and begin to reduce the amount of poverty in Somalia. It also aims to make the country more secure and oust remaining terrorist cells.
  8. Donor grants doubled in 2017 compared to 2016. In 2016, the country received nearly $55.3 million in grants while in 2017 that number grew to over $103.6 million.
  9. About 73 percent of the country lives on less than $2 a day. The percentage of people living on less than $1 a day is around 24 percent, but this number increases to 53 percent in rural areas.
  10. Somalia is one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. Not only does the country have a terribly high child mortality rate, Somalian women also have limited access to maternal health resources and education.

Although Somalia is still one of the poorest countries in the world, progress is being made to help change the status quo. Increased government stability is leading to improved infrastructure and security. The government is already pushing initiatives that will help mitigate some of these facts about poverty in Somalia. This coupled with an increase in foreign aid dollars flowing into Somalia should bring a brighter future for the struggling country.

– Thomas Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

Facts About girls' education in SomaliaThe East African country of Somalia has been ravaged by famine and war, leaving a large majority of the population in poverty. In addition, education opportunities for many Somali children are somewhat limited, especially for girls. Education and equal opportunities are important for improving the quality of life. Below are 10 highly important facts about girls’ education in Somalia.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Somalia

  1. Over 70 percent of Somalia’s population is under the age of 30, with slightly more males than females. Somalia’s large percentage of youth indicates a need for economic growth in a country with an unemployment rate of 67 percent. In order to ensure a higher living standard and an improved economy as Somali youth mature, education is a key factor for Somalia.
  2. Although education problems exist in both rural and urban areas of Somalia, access to education in rural regions is even more limited. Nomadic pastoralists account for about 65 percent of the Somali population, and only 22 percent of pastoralist children receive a formal education. Of the 22 percent that receive a formal education, fewer than half are girls.
  3. Low enrollment rates in schools are apparent throughout the country, and girls’ enrollment rates are significantly lower, indicating why these facts about girls’ education in Somalia are so important. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest enrollment rates for primary schools. Only 30 percent of children in Somalia are in school and only 40 percent of those children are girls.
  4. One of the biggest reasons for a disparity in girls’ education is due to the act of female genital mutilation, or FGM. According to UNICEF, about 98 percent of Somali girls have undergone a form of FGM. These acts are often performed in unhygienic conditions by surgeons who have no training. After a girl undergoes FGM, the aftereffects of debilitating scarring and infections–along with the possibility of marriage–results in the withdrawal of thousands of girls from school.
  5. Girls in Somalia are often wed at young ages, ending their education enrollment. According to UNICEF, 45 percent of girls were already married by age 18 in 2017. Through education initiatives, however, more daughters are able to stay in school.
  6. Somali girls are also subject to gender expectations that keep them from receiving an education. Girls often stay home and complete domestic housework or help raise younger children.
  7. The majority of female jobs, particularly in the rural south of Somalia, are jobs that do not require an education. These jobs–which include tending to livestock, milking animals, home care and farming–discourage parents from allowing their children to receive a formal education. Somalia’s high poverty rates and economic challenges could be aided with formal education for girls and boys and could shift the rate of unskilled labor in the country. Receiving an education would be essential and beneficial for these children.
  8. Literacy rates in Somalia are unevenly distributed between boys and girls. The total literacy rate is 37.8 percent in the African nation. Men have a literacy rate of 49.7 percent, while only 25.8 percent of females are literate, highlighting the true educational gender inequality in Somalia.
  9. Girls’ education in Somalia has been the subject of organizations like UNICEF, which strives to improve access to and the quality of girls’ education in the country. Due to political instability, however, UNICEF Somalia has only operated in the autonomous region of Puntland and the de facto independent Somaliland. In Puntland, UNICEF has established four girls’ leadership committees in schools and plans are underway to train 40 female teachers through Garowe Teachers’ College. In addition, 12 trained female teachers were recruited to be part of the Somaliland Ministry of Education teaching force.
  10. The Galkacyo Education Center for Peace and Development was established in 1999 as a response to gender inequality in the Somali education system and operates in Somalia proper and Puntland to increase educational access for girls. Since its foundation, the organization has provided primary schooling to 800 girls–over half of which completed grade eight–and informal education to 1,600 adolescent women.

The inequality between boys’ and girls’ education is apparent with these 10 facts about girls’ education in Somalia. Economic issues, political instability, in addition to traditions like FGM and required housework, have restricted girls’ access to a formal education. Despite these problems, there are organizations and centers that aim to educate more girls in the country and the work must continue to grow. In order for the young Somali population to have better opportunities in the future, equal gender opportunities to education in the country are vital.

– Matthew Cline­
Photo: Flickr