Least Developed Countries
The fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) took place in Doha, Qatar from March 5 to March 9, 2023. It was an amalgamation of political leaders, the business sector, civic organizations and youth. The conference’s main aim was to build a framework of support for the current 46 least developed countries in the world through the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA). Between 2022 and 2031, DPoA will aid LDCs in six key areas, driving investment and innovation in these countries and hopefully leading to their graduation from the LDC status.

LDC Classification

LDC or a least developed country is a U.N. classification of an impoverished country bereft of economic and human resources. The Committee for Development Policy meets every three years to review the LDCs and their inclusion and graduation criteria. These criteria are based on a country’s gross national income, human assets and economic and environmental vulnerability.

There are currently 46 countries on the LDC list, most of which are in Africa. Asia also has a significant number of LDCs. The U.N. put the first group of countries (25 nations) in this category in 1971. Today, the number has risen to 46 countries. However, since 1994, six countries have graduated from the LDC list and seven more are on the path to graduation by 2026, with Bhutan next in line.

Challenges LDCs Face

The combined population of all the world’s least developed countries is 1.1 billion. According to the U.N., “more than 75% of those people still live in poverty.” Due to low economic and human resources, LDCs are more vulnerable to deprivation. Many of the current LDCs are indebted. The U.N. states that out of the 46 countries, “four are classified as in debt distress” and “16 LDCs are at high risk of debt distress.”

The U.N. states that in 2019 “almost half of the children out of school worldwide” lived in LDCs. This shows that children in these countries have a higher chance of growing up without proper education, leaving them more vulnerable to economic instability. Poor enrollment and completion rates along with low education budgets in LDCs leave much to be desired. “Clearly, the education systems in the LDCs require significant development to equip their young people with the skills they need for the future,” said Rabab Fatima, secretary-general of the LDC5 at the conference.

LDCs face a multitude of challenges including “limited fiscal space, high external debt, macroeconomic imbalances, widespread poverty and underdeveloped or no social protection systems,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed stated at the LDC5 conference.

LDC5 and DPoA

The LDC5 conference is the U.N.’s effort at uniting people that can make a difference in order to build a strategy for driving positive change in LDCs. This was the fifth such decennial conference, with the first taking place in Paris in 1981. The LDC5 conference hosted 9,000 people, including 46 heads of state and comprised many events and discussions.

The main focus of LDC5, however, was the DPoA. It “manifests a new generation of renewed and strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their development partners, including the private sector, civil society and the governments at all levels,” the U.N. says. The DPoA provides a framework and guiding principles for LDCs to improve their socioeconomic standing and graduate from the category.

There are six key areas of focus in DPoA, including increased investment in human assets, driving technological advancements and increasing trade. In particular, the DPoA promises “an online university, a graduation support package, a food stock holding solution, an investment support center and a crisis mitigation and resilience building mechanism,” the U.N. reports.

Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA)

The U.N. Industrial Development Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA) at LDC5. ASTA aims to revitalize agricultural food production in LDCs by combining investment from the public and private sectors as one of its methods. ASTA had been successfully operating as a pilot scheme in 15 countries since 2018. It predicts more than $300 million in investment from the private sector in the future.

Many countries officially announced support packages at the conference. According to the U.N., Germany pledged €200 million to support LDCs. Qatar pledged $60 million while Canada dedicated $59 million toward ecosystem conservation and delivering vitamin supplements in LDCs.

With a blueprint ready, LDCs have way ahead of making socioeconomic progress and graduating from the category. The LDC5 conference proved that the world is full of people who are committed to improving the situation in these 46 countries and beyond. The U.N. General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said, “Through science, technology and innovation, we have the tools to build sustainable recoveries.”

– Siddhant Bhatnagar
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Suriname
Located on the northeastern coast of South America, Suriname is the least populated country on the continent. The Globalized Crime Index lists Suriname as both a “waypoint and destination market” for human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report gave Suriname a Tier 2 grade for its current standard of trafficking elimination efforts. This means that it does not meet the minimum expectations for the eradication of human trafficking. While many have acknowledges its attempts, further anti-trafficking action is necessary.

4 Facts About Human Trafficking in Suriname

  1. The Victims: Most victims of human trafficking in Suriname are migrants. Traffickers ship them from the Caribbean and transport them across the border from the poor, northern regions of neighboring Brazil or from Venezuela. Venezuela is a hotbed for trafficking due to its poor track record for prosecuting the offense. Once inside Suriname, victims end up in the capital where traffickers sell them to club owners who provide them with food and lodging in return for forced labor and prostitution.
  2. Gold Mining: About 90% of Suriname’s 620,000 population live in the capital, Paramaribo or on its coast. With just more than three people per square kilometer, Suriname is the seventh least densely populated country in the world. Moreover, with the thick cover of its unchartered jungle, Suriname’s rainforests is the optimum habitat for inconspicuous and illegal mining operations. Many victims of human trafficking in Suriname end up working in these mines with little to no pay. Furthermore, these mines have serious environmental consequences. Deforestation to clear land for illegal operations threatens indigenous populations. The use of mercury in gold mining pollutes rivers and contaminates fish which are a vital food source for many impoverished communities.
  3. Women and Girls: Reports show that those at the highest risk of being trafficked are young women and girls for sex work. This includes brothels and massage parlors in Paramaribo, which has an active sex tourism industry. There are also mining camps located deep within the rainforest where the possibility of escape from captors is even more unlikely due to the isolation of these secret locations.
  4. Legality: Prison sentences for traffickers have recently increased. The new laws mean sentences range between 9-12 years depending on the age of the victims. Suriname has also introduced a new fine of 100,000 Surinamese dollars ($5,120). Despite these government efforts to reduce human trafficking in Suriname, reports state that there were no convictions for trafficking in 2021 or 2020, compared with 18 in 2019 and seven in 2018.

The Future of Human Trafficking in Suriname

Ultimately, the issue of human trafficking in Suriname is difficult to precisely quantify, owing to the lack of data and the inherent corruption. There also surrounds the underground world of people trafficking and its clandestine practices. Many migrants do not have any documentation which makes it easier for traffickers to move people around like possessions. However, following Suriname’s uncontested election in 2020, its new president, Chan Santokhi promised to reform the judicial system. The enormity of this task amid such entrenched government corruption is evident.

Yet, Santokhi has pledged to tackle the issue head-on. He aims to strengthen the country’s judiciary by “granting it its own budget, improving prosecution services and appointing special prosecutors to focus on high-level corruption cases,” according to the Organised Crime Index. Within 6 months of taking office, Santokhi appointed 12 High Court judges and 15 prosecutors to the Attorney General’s office. As of November 2022, Santokhi announced his intentions to create an Anti-Corruption Commission with the purpose of monitoring the assets of more than 4,000 of Suriname’s top political officials. These pragmatic efforts demonstrate his genuine desire to make real changes in Suriname and create a brighter future for its inhabitants.

– Max Edmund
Photo: Flickr

Floods in Suriname
Unprecedented levels of flooding struck dozens of villages in the South American country of Suriname, an already impoverished country, in April 2022. As of June 24, the water had yet to recede. The floods affected more than 3,000 households, as well as businesses and schools. Countries such as China and the Netherlands have provided some financial support, but the country still needs more help. The upcoming dry season, when the waters should recede, remains the biggest cause of hope to ease the impacts of the floods in Suriname.

Impacts of the Flooding

Increased rainfall caused the floods in Suriname over the course of 2022, leading to rivers overflowing their banks. This affected 3,000 homes in seven districts, France24 reported. Floods due to rising water levels damaged numerous farms. In a country with 26% of people living on less than $5.50 a day as of 2022, most people who have suffered damage to their homes cannot afford repairs.

Farmers in Suriname have suffered damages as well. Many lost complete fields or yields of crops, leaving them with little to no income for the foreseeable future. This has led such farmers to depend on government aid to financially support themselves. As a result of the increased need for aid from both farmers and non-farmers, the government of Suriname has looked to other countries for additional aid.

Incoming Foreign Aid

Many countries have already answered the call for help, including China, which donated $50,000 to Suriname on June 21. In addition, the Netherlands also pledged €200,000 through UNICEF, France24 reported. Even Suriname’s fellow South American country Venezuela, no stranger to economic problems of their own, provided 40,000 tons of food and medicine in an effort to help. The distribution began in the last week of June. Guyana is another country primed to send aid to Suriname in the form of essential food items.

On May 25, 2022, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) agreed to provide access to health care in some regions affected by floods in Suriname. This access to health care will be essential in the recovery process, as many people in Suriname cannot currently afford any kind of medical attention.

Looking Ahead

As Suriname awaits more aid from additional countries and international organizations, a large source of optimism is the upcoming dry season. The country hopes it could lead to the end of the large amounts of rainfall, causing the rivers to return to normal levels.

There is not much one can do to stop the flooding. However, there are many ways to help the people affected. The countries that have pledged aid are a great start and more countries look ready to do the same. Overall, it seems that the people of Suriname may soon see an end to this tragedy.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Pixabay

Suriname is Changing
Suriname is among the many countries that COVID-19 has affected, specifically in its health care and political systems. The pandemic revealed the underbelly of Suriname’s existing health system. The country has since been guiding officials toward a more adequate system and the political climate in Suriname is changing. The election on May 25, 2020, brought in Chan Santokhi as the new president succeeding the decade-long leader, Desi Bouterse.

Former President Desi Bouterse

Desi Bouterse tightly held the reins in Suriname for years as an influential political force. Bouterse was a prominent figure in overthrowing the first leader of Suriname, Henck Arron, after the country’s independence. He was chairman of the National Military Council for a majority of the 80s and became president in 2010.

Bouterse has a significant history of controversial actions. In November 2019, Surinamese judges decided that Bouterse was guilty of murder and found him responsible for the death of 15 of his opponents in December 1982 because he commanded his soldiers to kill them. This long-standing trial started in 2007 when he stated that he had “political responsibility” but took no personal responsibility for what had happened. Although he received a 20-year sentence, the police did not issue any arrest warrants for Bouterse. He also denied allegations of smuggling more cocaine into the Netherlands, which the Dutch court convicted him of doing in 1999.

President Chan Santokhi

In 2020, Desi Bouterse saw the end of his long career. Chan Santokhi was victorious over Bouterse in the elections in May 2020. Mr. Santokhi was a former police chief who investigated the past president for his alleged murders in 1982. Although he has won the seat as leader, there are still many obstacles he must overcome after inheriting Bouterse’s Suriname. Suriname is battling a horrible financial crisis, political corruption and the coronavirus.

The new president has much to accomplish, but there may be hope for Suriname. Chan Santokhi may be able to overturn the economic crisis in Suriname by utilizing its newly found offshore oil by 2026.

Health Care Deficiencies

COVID-19 is touching the lives of those in Suriname, and the virus is quickly exposing the deficiencies in its health care system. First, tropical rainforest covers most of the land and houses many Indigenous and marginalized populations. Those who live in these deeply remote areas are unable to receive essential health care.

Second, Suriname has an insufficient workforce in the health care sector at about eight physicians and 23 nurses per 10,000 people. It is also suffering from a lack of specialists who can work in ICUs.

Third, Suriname does not have a structured effective response plan in case of emergencies as the country is not susceptible to natural disasters except for the occasional flooding. With resources going toward COVID-19 treatment, Suriname is recognizing its lack of resources to provide other health services not pertaining to the virus.

Actions to Fight Against COVID-19

At the beginning of 2020, the country’s ministry of health took immediate action and gathered a public health response team to combat the virus. This team worked with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization (WHO) and Universal Health Coverage Partnership to bolster the health care system and provide effective plans for current and future disease outbreaks.

The organizations are also working to implement universal health coverage in Suriname. With the help of these organizations and international funding, Suriname is working to effectively save lives through a better health care system, a protected workforce, containment of COVID-19 and preparation for future epidemics. Suriname is changing and improving its current public health system for the present as well as the future.

Regardless of the brutalities many face due to COVID-19, it has also brought positive changes to the people of Suriname. The country was able to take down a controversial leader and new plans to improve its emergency response and public health system are in progress. Hopefully, with the turn of a new post-COVID-19 era, Suriname is changing for the better.

San Sung Kim
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in SurinameSuriname is a small country located in northern South America, bearing an abundance of natural resources and a range of cultures. Like many others, this nation stems from a history of colonialism. Therefore, many of its Indigenous populations experienced displacement in favor of immigrants since the 16th century. However, homelessness in Suriname remains a problem, as the country struggles with poverty and economic development.

An Ongoing Housing Problem

Despite having plenty of economic assets, Suriname has struggled to build a stable economy due to a number of factors. Corruption within the government has tarnished many economic sectors dominated by state-owned firms. Consistent economic depreciation has also made Suriname a less appealing destination for foreign aid and investment. However, the recent discovery of oil fields has ignited some interest in that market.

A failure to manage credit, public debt, tax collection and monetary policy are chief reasons for an increase in inflation. This has further led to the suppression of property rights among citizens. Unfortunately, the government’s repossession of citizens’ property and land has only worsened poverty and homelessness in Suriname. The government owns 98% of the country’s land, which has not benefited working-class citizens. Furthermore, this scarcity of private property has made it increasingly difficult for many workers to acquire their own land and achieve economic stability.

Homelessness in Suriname: The Statistics

Homelessness in Suriname is reportedly low, but the numbers are deceptive. Only homeless people in populous areas count in official statistics, which disregard people outside of these regions. This is because there are few mechanisms in place to matriculate citizens in Suriname. Additionally, only two organizations address homelessness in Suriname. There is also no day-and-night shelter for the homeless to take sanctuary in the capital city of Paramaribo. In recent years, this has left the homeless susceptible to violent attacks without any actionable means for justice or prevention.

In 2019, the government evicted 37 permanent residents from two shelters, which got shut down suddenly without clear reason. Overall, Suriname lacks a reliable infrastructure to address the growing prevalence of informal settlements, housing crises and urban sprawl. This has led non-governmental organizations to stage a plan for restoring land and property rights to destitute populations in Suriname.

The Government and an NGO Compete for a Solution

Suriname instituted a program in 2011 intending to divest land capital from the government back to its citizens. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) financed the program. Specifically, the program gave a one-time subsidy to low-income beneficiaries. Chosen by a sophisticated targeting system that subverted self-reported income statements, these beneficiaries received $3,000. This money improved current housing situations or went toward a down payment for a new home on another property.

However, beneficiaries had to own the land on which to build that house. This is an anomaly for almost any citizen, especially poor citizens. The program’s inherent bias toward those who already owned a home continued to alienate the most vulnerable. It also disregarded the goal to restore land rights to homeless people. Overall, the program exposed how unaffordable and infeasible land ownership is in Suriname. Only 87 new homes came out of this program as of November 2014, leaving homelessness in Suriname unresolved.

An Action Plan for Paramaribo

The IDB itself created an action plan in 2019 to address the alarming rate of housing disenfranchisement in Paramaribo. The plan outlines a comprehensive year-long study to map out the extent of homelessness in Suriname. It also includes strategies to transform informal living situations into habitable shelters. Specifically, one strategy the plan described was the implementation of a housing quality program. This would staff a project team to monitor and collect data from citizens who live in precarious situations.

The staff would also work in conjunction with an unburdening program to help families in financial duress. By locating and obtaining the means to build on new land, the program would help families resolve their housing deprivation.  In total, the IDB’s 264-page action plan reflects a steadfast effort to reduce homelessness in Suriname from an NGO. This is in stark contrast to the country’s government.


There is no one solution to the decaying stability of property rights and housing ownership in Suriname. Working-class citizens and homeless people alike can only hope for other well-funded NGOs like the IDB to intervene in issues neglected by the government. With this sort of dedicated assistance, homelessness in Suriname can decline within the next few years.

– Camden Gilreath
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Suriname
The Republic of Suriname is an upper-middle-income country located on the northeastern coast of South America. Around 90% of the country’s population lives in urban or rural coastal areas. Healthcare in Suriname is accessible for both the public and private sectors. Here are eight facts about healthcare in Suriname.

8 Facts About Healthcare in Suriname

  1. Infant and Maternal Mortality: Suriname’s infant mortality rate in 2013 was around 16 deaths per 1,000 live births. The most prevalent reasons for mortality reported in children under 1 year of age were respiratory problems, fetal growth retardation, congenital diseases, neonatal septicemia and external causes. The maternal death ratio averaged 125 deaths per 100,000 live births from the years 2000 to 2013. For mothers, the most prominent causes included gestational hypertension and hemorrhage. In 2010, prenatal checkup coverage was around 95%, and more than 65% of pregnant women had had four prenatal checkups. In addition, almost 93% of births happened in a health center, and trained health workers carried out around 95% of births.
  2. Life Expectancy: In 2016, the average life expectancy of a male was 69, while the average life expectancy of a female was 75. These estimates are slightly below the average male and female life expectancies in the rest of South America.
  3. Mosquito-borne Illnesses: In late 2015, the preliminary issue of Zika virus was found in Suriname. The disease spread quickly throughout the country’s 10 districts, but there are no current outbreaks. Conversely, Suriname has eradicated malaria from all but one district of Suriname. However, the rate of new imported cases (principally among gold miners from French Guiana) increased by more than 70% in 2015.
  4. HIV and Tuberculosis: By 2014, Suriname’s human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) rate among the 15-49 age group was 0.9%. HIV/AIDS caused 22.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010, decreasing to 16.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013. From 2012 to 2014, the estimated tuberculosis diagnosis rate increased from 58% to 71%. To combat the disease, the country started the direct implementation of observed treatment, resulting in higher treatment success from 61% in 2010 to 75% in 2013.
  5. Government Contribution and Coverage: Suriname experienced vast economic growth from 2010 to 2014. During this period, healthcare in Suriname received increased funding for various services and facilities. It expanded and decentralized private laboratory diagnostic services, private primary care, dental care and paramedic practices. In 2015, vaccination coverage was almost 90% for DPT3 and above 90% for the trivalent vaccine (MMR1). In 2014, the total estimated health expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 6%. For health insurance, employees’  premium rate is 50%, and employers pay the other half. For low- or no-income citizens, the government subsidizes health coverage.
  6. Hospitals: Of Suriname’s five hospitals, two are private and three are public. The Academic Hospital in Paramaribo has recently renovated and expanded its facilities and invested in equipment and staff for specialty care like gastroenterology, oncology, intensive care, renal dialysis and more. In 2013, government and external funds also helped other hospitals invest in new facilities and healthcare worker training programs.
  7. Sanitation: Suriname’s lack of an integrated waste management policy has created illegal dumps and caused refuse to accumulate on roadsides and in open waters. This infrastructure problem results in health risks and environmental hazards. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Suriname does not have facilities for storing or eliminating hazardous waste, nor does it regulate the safe use or storage of pesticides.
  8. Accessibility: In 2014, Suriname passed its national basic health insurance law. It provides access to a basic package of primary, secondary and tertiary care services for all Surinamese citizens. In 2013, all people under the age of 16, as well as people aged 60 and over, had the right to free health care that the government paid for. Universal access to healthcare for pregnant women and newborns remains a challenge for healthcare in Suriname.

Persistent voids in access to healthcare in Suriname are related to drawbacks in funding. The healthcare system has seen an expansion in the past decade, but there are still plenty of health challenges to confront and improve.

Anuja Kumari
Photo: Flickr

Education in Suriname
In the South American nation of Suriname, a crisis is festering in public education. Socio-economic disparities concerning wealth, geography and ethnicity are leaving thousands of Surinamese school children behind. While nine out of 10 Surinamese children begin primary school, less than four out of 1,000 finish upper secondary education in Suriname.

How Wealth Disparity Affects Education

At every educational level in Suriname, wealth plays an outsized role in a student’s success or failure. Roughly 85 percent of students complete the primary education level, which is free and compulsory for children ages 5 to 12.

However, when one breaks the percentages down, the influence of wealth in the Surinamese education system becomes apparent. Ninety-eight percent of the richest students complete primary education compared to only 62 percent of the poorest. At the next education level, lower secondary, the completion disparity grows to 77 percent for the richest and 23 percent for the poorest. Growing even more pronounced, one can see the gap at the upper secondary level in the fact that 52 percent of the richest complete education while only 6 percent of the poorest complete upper secondary education in Suriname.

Geography’s Role in the Completion of School

Completion of education in Suriname’s rural areas is lower than the national average. The Sipaliwini, Coronie and Brokopondo regions lack upper secondary schools altogether, and as a result, lack citizens aged 21-23 that have completed upper-secondary level education. In addition to a lack of schools, Suriname has a persistent lack of qualified teachers in rural areas. Educational issues throughout the rural areas present massive obstacles to the children.

Gender and Ethnicity

Dissimilar to the standard gender assumption throughout the world, males maintain lower completion rates as opposed to female counterparts. Sixty-six percent of boys do not complete primary school; the percentage of incompletion among males remains higher than females throughout every level.

Additionally, the Maroon population also exhibits lower completion rates. Fifty-six percent of the Maroon ethnicity does not complete primary education in Suriname. This value is substantially higher than the runner up in lower completion rates – 14 percent of the Creole population does not complete primary education. Similar to Surinamese men, the Maroon ethnicity has the highest incompletion rate amongst ethnicities at every education level.


In order to improve the Surinamese education system, it will require superior teacher training. This will also allow each student to have a tailored experience with education so they can thrive in the environment. In rural areas, there is often no training for aspiring teachers, leaving these people unprepared for the profession.

The nonprofit VVOB aims to improve the teacher’s ability to instill adequate knowledge in Suriname by working with the Ministry of Education and Community Development (MINOV). The Departments of Inspection and Guidance also work with MINOV to establish training centers, increase professionalism and strengthen the curriculum.

In addition to better training, the Surinamese government should invest in higher wages for teachers. Increased wages will improve educator morale and incentivize young people to pursue careers in education. Additionally, a pre-teaching exam, as well as frequent evaluations, will help ensure teacher quality. These measures will certainly improve education in Suriname.

– Angus Gracey
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Suriname
Suriname, located on the Northern Atlantic coast of South America, originated as a Dutch colony and faced many of the difficulties that other formerly colonized nations face today. Since the introduction of Suriname’s democratic government in the 1990s, the economy, culture and tourism have been thriving. However, despite this economic growth, there is a lack of emphasis on education in Suriname. Surprisingly, most of the adolescents enrolled in school are actually girls. Despite this, girls’ education in Suriname requires improvement.

Improvements to Girls’ Education

Schools in Suriname have been making vast improvements since the 1990s. Following the economic crisis, many schools fell into a state of disrepair and lacked running water, electricity and materials necessary for lessons. This created a sense of apathy and caused school attendance rates among children and teens to plummet. Although the rates of attendance and student retention in secondary school are not currently stellar, they do show signs of improvement. For instance, there were 6,000 adolescents out of school in 2015, half the amount from 2009. This is likely due to the rising GDP and economic status of the country that favors an emphasis on education.


Despite these improvements to girls’ education in Suriname, the changes have not occurred throughout the entire nation. In particular, rural areas have fewer resources for education and more barriers for girls to attain one. One of the main obstacles of academic success that girls face is teenage pregnancy; the adolescent birth rate is 62 in 1,000 for girls in the area. Additionally, one in every 10 girls marries before age 15. Poor sexual health education combined with poverty suggests that girls often abandon education in Suriname out of necessity to find work and raise a family.

One could assume that because of the barriers to education that girls face, far more boys would enroll in secondary school than girls, but the opposite is true. In primary education, the distribution is about even; however, once children reach secondary school, many boys drop out while the girls remain. In 2015, 88 percent of girls enrolled in secondary school while only 67 percent of boys attended. This is in high contrast to other nations that people commonly perceive as “developing” because it is usually the women who do not receive as much education as men, and therefore, people do not advocate on their behalf because they are not attending school.


Despite many women completing their education, the fact remains that more women experience unemployment than men in Suriname. There is only so much an education can do if gender bias and inequality prevents women from earning a living. In 2016, the percentage of unemployed women was at 21 percent, which was twice as high as their male counterparts.

The dichotomy of girls’ education in Suriname indicates that despite the high percentage of girls enrolled in school, the fight for gender equality in the country is not over. Teen pregnancy remains at a high, which disproportionately (and almost only) affects girls. Many groups such as the Love Foundation give teens resources to educate themselves and their peers on sexual health, which could lead to more adolescents of either gender remaining in school. As girls’ education in Suriname advances, the labor industry must follow so women can fully enter the workforce as well.

– Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Suriname
Suriname, a former Dutch colony, is one of the most diverse (ethnically, culturally and linguistically) countries on earth.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Suriname

  1. Suriname ranks 77 of the 100 most corrupt countries in the world. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report issued by the U.S. government in March 2017 stated that corruption at the bureaucratic level was deeply endemic and played a role in the inefficient policy-making environment.
  2. Suriname was ranked 94 out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). In the same year, the World Bank classed Suriname as an upper-middle income country. Since 2005, the HDI has continually increased which explains the increase in GDP.
  3. Officially, Suriname does not have a minimum wage. However, unofficially, this figure is estimated to be SRD 600 per month, the lowest possible wage for civil servants. This amounts to $3,998 per year.
  4. Suriname has a relatively high poverty rate, with 70 percent of its population living beneath the poverty line. Most of its population works in the mining industry which is extremely vulnerable to shocks in the market. The mining industry contributes to 85 percent of exports and 27 percent of government revenues.
  5. Suriname has one of the lowest GDPs in South America. The country’s economy is heavily reliant on trading natural resources which left it particularly vulnerable to low international prices for commodities such as bauxite.
  6. Between the years 2000 and 2015, there have been 57,811 local cases of malaria in Suriname. However, there has been a significant reduction in the rates of malaria between 2006 and 2015. This has been the result of intensive efforts to contain the disease, such as distributing free, long-lasting insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets as well as several policlinics run by the Medical Mission, providing care for the indigenous population.
  7. Suriname’s cost of living is 70 percent cheaper than in the United States. People in Suriname pay 3.3 percent less for groceries, 58.6 percent less for entertainment and sports, and 82.7 percent less for housing. A one-bedroom apartment in a downtown area of the U.S. costs $1075.75 on average, as compared to $162.92 in Suriname.
  8. Suriname also has high inflation rates, with 55.5 percent inflation in 2016 and 22.3 percent in 2017. Given that the average gross salary in Suriname is $28,093, the inflation rates affect the working poor and middle-class people the hardest, as they are unable to afford basic necessities.
  9. Suriname has four hospitals, as well as several district-level hospitals and private clinics. General access to health care in Suriname is fairly high with around 90 percent of locals living within a 5km radius of a hospital.
  10. Suriname has free, compulsory education up until the age of 12. Children who attend public schools are taught completely in Dutch, but there are private or international schools which teach subjects in English. Many students continue their education to the tertiary level in either the Netherlands or the U.S., even though the Anton de Kom University in Paraimbo offers degrees in medicine, law and some sciences.

In conclusion, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Suriname shows that while there is a considerable way to achieving a developed nation status, the relatively good access to education and healthcare will contribute to a burgeoning economy.

– Maneesha Khalae
Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in Suriname
Infrastructure in Suriname is on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to quality, with some facets being up to date and self-sufficient, while others have fallen into serious disrepair due to improper maintenance and oversight. Suriname is sparsely populated in most areas, with most of its people inhabiting the capital, Paramaribo, and the surrounding regions. Most of the country is heavily forested making habitation and transport impossible.

Paramaribo is the country’s main hub with a vast majority of infrastructure in Suriname focused in this one city. Roads, railways, bridges, imports, and exports are all centered in Paramaribo making it the main support for Suriname’s economy. This translated to economic instability with little to no possibility of growth. Unless infrastructure in Suriname is expanded to the outer regions of the country and thence to its neighbors, it will continue to deteriorate and threaten an economic collapse.

Water, railway, and flight are the main modes of travel and transporting goods across the forested areas of Suriname. Unfortunately, many of the roads and airport runways are unpaved, making the operational expenses a fiscal nightmare. According to the 2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, the quality of Suriname’s roads ranks 71st out of 148 countries, while the airports and railroads rank 104th and 108th, respectively.

Infrastructure in Suriname is constrained by several factors:

  • electricity tariffs
  • transportation costs, and
  • monopolization of telecommunications by Telesur, a state-owned company.

Despite this monopolization, however, service and access to telecommunication services are far more advanced than all other aspects of the country’s infrastructure, ranking 7th in the 2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report. These last few years have seen a rise in government plans for developing infrastructure in Suriname, all focused on increasing the country’s status as an economic competitor. Telecommunication networks are being opened to the private sector, allowing for more competitors and lower rates.

The government’s main concern is developing the Paramaribo port (as the country’s largest) to increase its capacity to handle more exports. This port currently handles from five to six hundred vessels. Exports include 40 percent of the country’s oil (taken from the Tambaradjo oil field), gold, bauxite, rice and tropical wood from its forests.

Investment from the public and private sectors have enabled the development of the physical structure of the ports in Suriname, along with modernization of cargo holds and storage. This not only allows for easier transport but ensures greater protection of goods.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr