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.

Conclusion

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.

Solution

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.

Barriers

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.

Solutions

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

credit access in Suriname
While small, the South American country of Suriname has a booming mining economy. With a recent rise in oil prices, Suriname has worked to overcome a recent dip in economic growth and currency inflation. Credit access in Suriname is also on the rise, and there have been several advancements in credit access and its reporting in recent years.

International Finance Corporation

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) reported that in 2013, Suriname created a new credit reporting system that increased the access businesses have to information about credit processes. This has been built and implemented to help build better business strategies and manage risky lending strategies, measures that then save small businesses from dangerous credit choices.

Systems like these encourage lending growth and healthy business strategy in small countries. Although Suriname has little to no record of credit histories before 2013, the IFC’s new credit reporting system is a step toward healthier credit access in Suriname.

Female Investors and the U.N.

Suriname is in the process of an economic reboot after economic growth statistics dropped from five percent in 2012  to -10.4 percent in 2016. At a 2012 presentation to the U.N., a representative for Suriname spoke on behalf of the female population of Suriname and presented a proposal for a new national gender policy; the plan delineated how the nation would prevent further discrimination of Surinamese women in business practice.

One of the areas in which women have been hurt by discrimination is in the credit access market. By implementing this new policy-based on the Beijing Plan for Action, Suriname hopes to alleviate the added stress of gender discrimination on its credit market.

Growth of Credit Access

Although only two of many new policies offer a solution for credit access growth, Suriname has a strong and constantly increasing economy that helps to grow credit access within its borders.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sustainable Agriculture in SurinameThe sector for sustainable agriculture in Suriname is uniquely poised to take advantage of a highly valuable market, eschewing new and higher value organic crops while intensifying the long-held tradition of rice farming. In 2012, agriculture constituted only 9 percent of Suriname’s GDP, decreasing from 15 percent in the 1990s.

The country’s most important crops, rice and bananas, have become nearly stagnant in terms of yield and are facing major overseas competition, causing high export and transportation costs. Rice, as the essential backbone of sustainable agriculture in Suriname, is a focus of the Anne van Dijk Rice Research Institute (ADRON). In addition to rice production, sustainable agriculture in Suriname can increase its value significantly by developing a framework for organic farms.

Rice Production

Through ADRON, the Ministry of Agriculture developed a system for intensifying rice production, increasing it from 4.1 to 4.7 tons per hectare at one point. However, ADRON’s research on seed breeding and crop productivity only got them so far. Small farmers lack proper education and knowledge of the most effective rice production practices, resulting in only 400 hectares of rice being planted in 2007, as opposed to the expected 1000 hectares.

ADRON has since supported the Seed Growers Association, an extension program for the support of small farmers and providing them with the technology they need to create sustainable agriculture in Suriname. According to the International Institute for Sustainability, world rice production must increase 50 percent by 2025 to accommodate average consumption per capita. Since 2009, rice production has shown an upward trend of above 200,000 tons per year, but ADRON is looking to push it even further with the following programs:

  • Plant breeding program: breeding a seed with higher yields and better quality when cooked that will flower at a specific time after it is planted.
  • Crop management program: researching the potential results of planting rice at higher elevations, as well as soil, weed and pest management.
  • Post-harvest processing program: optimizing waste management and researching the cooking quality of different rice varieties.
  • Technology transfer program: reaching out to farmers and farmer field schools through mass media.
  • Rice seed production program: transferring rice produced in Suriname to a separate agency for continued research.

These five ADRON programs will provide the education and technology necessary for the expansion of rice production, as well as an assurance of rice quality that will survive rising competition in the world market.

Organic Farming

Organic farming has become a worldwide trend and highly dynamic market, particularly in Europe, and Suriname is going along with the trend. The Suriname Business Development Center and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have funded multiple projects for boosting organic farming and sustainable agriculture in Suriname. With funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP created the GEF Small Grants Programme, allowing Suriname to begin instituting projects involving biodiversity, sustainable land management and non-timber forest products.

Institutions like the Centre for Agricultural Research provide a gateway to the national market for organic food, creating initiatives to capture national interest. Safe farming, an environmentally friendly initiative for the small-holder farmers, is one of many that uses fewer chemicals in their crops.

Sustainable agriculture in Suriname has become a nationwide focus, with support from the government, research institutions and local farmers. They have the means to succeed and they are taking advantage of it.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to Suriname
Suriname, officially the Republic of Suriname, is a small country on the northeastern coast of South America. Originally a Dutch colony, Suriname gained independence in 1975. Though Suriname is not a widely prosperous country, its economy has recently endured a variety of difficulties.

 

The Netherlands

In 2016, Suriname’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was more than $3.6 billion, the unemployment rate was slightly less than 10 percent and the poverty rate was 47 percent.

Despite gaining its independence, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was Suriname’s heaviest financial donor, sending years worth of humanitarian aid to Suriname. In 2012, the Netherlands suspended all aid to Suriname — approximately 26 million — two years after the election of President Desi Bouterse.

 

The European Commission

The European Commision has also approved emergency funding for Suriname over the years, especially in the case of natural disasters. Suriname is prone to severe flooding, which can wipe out homes and businesses, and increase unemployment and poverty. Usually, this aid is geared toward the population’s health, hygiene and sanitation, food and water.

 

People’s Republic of China

However, shortly after the Kingdom of the Netherlands completely pulled their funding to Suriname, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) increased its humanitarian aid to the country.

Since the immigration boom to Suriname in the 1990s, China has slowly been giving humanitarian relief to the South American country; in 2011, the Chinese government gifted Suriname with a new Foreign Ministry headquarters.

Also in 2012, China gave Suriname a grant of over 4 million to further the cooperation between both countries; however, it is unclear where this money is going. Since 2009, the Chinese embassy stated that development projects in Surinam — such as help with low-income housing, transportation, seaports and network television — are underway, despite any major initiatives.

 

Investment and Infrastructure

Within the last 10 years, China has set up various companies, businesses, shops, casinos and restaurants throughout Suriname. While this has vastly helped decrease unemployment, the poverty rate is still high, with nearly half the country living below the poverty line. In exchange for the land, China continues to give Suriname grants, buildings and advancements for the military.

 

Health-Related Aid

But not all of China’s aid is geared toward infrastructure and employment. In 2016, China provided Suriname with $1 million in humanitarian aid specifically geared toward Zika-related assistance. This included medical supplies and funding for medication and hospitalization for those affected. Zika virus is an infection most commonly found in Central and South America and can be fatal.

Suriname still has a long way to go before it is a completely stable country. The poverty rate still needs to lower significantly and the GDP must increase to be considered a prosperous economy.

Despite these much needed improvements, Suriname has already started distributing humanitarian aid itself. In September 2017, Suriname sent humanitarian aid to Cuba to help with relief efforts after hurricane Irma.

Though the success of humanitarian aid to Suriname is slow, the funds thus far have laid a solid groundwork. The Surinamese now have the tools they need to become a prosperous and independent country.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr