Accessible Energy in TogoTogo is a country in western Africa that is bordered by Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso. Togo’s government is currently working on increasing the rate of access to electricity for its citizens. The country has already made significant progress, advancing from 17% in 2000 to 35% in 2016. However, there are large disparities in electricity access between urban and rural areas. Electricity rates are 87% in urban areas and only 7% in rural areas. Currently, one million households in Togo are without power.

Togo’s government has set ambitious goals to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. The country cites three main obstacles to this goal. First, Togo has limited experience with independent power producers. Second, there are technical issues concerning the aging infrastructure. Finally, Togo does not have a plan to integrate on-grid and off-grid connection goals yet.

Initiatives Promoting Rural Accessible Energy in Togo

A large part of Togo’s energy project targets improving access to energy in rural areas. Many rural communities are not reachable by the standard electricity grid. Therefore, the government is looking into various off-grid options to support the three million people who are not reachable by the grid.

In 2017, Togo launched an initiative called “CIZO.” This initiative seeks to increase rural electrification to 40% by the year 2022. In order to do this, the government is working with off-grid companies to offer solar power to rural communities. The goal is to build 300 small solar plants across the country and distribute solar kits to 500,000 households. So far, 35,000 households have received solar kits.

Looking Towards a Renewable Future

In addition to solar energy, Togo is invested in creating other sources of renewable and accessible energy for its communities. The country has a goal of reaching 50% energy from renewable sources.

In July 2020, Togo announced that it will begin the construction of a new biogas reference laboratory at the West African Centre for Scientific Services on Climate Change (WASCAL) at the University of Lomé. As stated by Komi Agboka, director of the WASCAL, “the future laboratory will enable Togo’s enormous biomass potential to be further exploited through the development of research capacity and the demonstration of innovative biogas production technologies.”

The construction of this laboratory is part of the larger Programme for the Development of Renewable Energy in Togo (Pdert) which launched on February 27, 2019. This project will assess Togo’s renewable energy resources, develop the storage and distribution of clean energy, and find economically sustainable models.

Togo’s government emphasis on finding renewable energy sources has garnered international attention. Togo’s Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency recently won third place in the Ashden 2020 Award for its renewable energy development policy. This is an award given by the British organization Ashden and seeks to highlight countries that show “systemic innovation for energy access.”

Accessible energy in Togo will take many significant steps to achieve, but with the persistence and commitment of both private energy providers and academic institutions, this goal is realistic. Togo’s renewable energy initiatives show that even without the large budgets of developed countries, it is still possible to make meaningful progress towards sustainable and accessible energy.

– Antoinette Fang
Photo: Flickr

women in AfricaA women rice farmers’ cooperative in Togo has tripled its output and improved the quality of rice produced by using parboiling equipment. They received this equipment from the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP). The corresponding increase in sales of rice has also increased household incomes, lifting women in Africa out of poverty and giving them the chance to send their children to school.

The World Bank reports that 69% of households in rural areas in Togo were living below the poverty line in 2015. Female-headed households are especially vulnerable, with 57.5% living in poverty, because women in Africa lack the same economic opportunities afforded to men. With equipment from the WAAPP, the Femmes Vaillantes cooperative in Anié, Togo, is fighting back.

Success of the Femmes Vaillantes Cooperative

The Femmes Vaillantes women’s cooperative began in 2007 with just 12 farmers. Through WAAPP training, the women farmers in the cooperative began using a rice transplanting technique that increased their output by more than four metric tons per hectare.

Parboiled rice is in high demand in West Africa, and watché, a popular meal whose main ingredient is parboiled rice, drives the market. Because of this demand, the women of the Femmes Vaillantes cooperative in Togo were well accustomed to the process of parboiling. However, they only recently acquired the equipment to maximize efficiency. Their previous method of parboiling was time consuming. According to Ebiro Kadokilah, the head of the cooperative, the old process resulted in the loss of three kilos of rice for every 100 kilos produced.

Now, the cooperative produces 800 kilos every week without any loss, tripling output. Increased profits have provided Kadokalih and the other members of her cooperative with the means to rise from poverty, for themselves in the present and even more so for their children in the future.

“I am a widow,” Kadokalih said, “and I am finally able to provide for my family. Most important, I manage to pay the education expenses of all my children.”

With the profits from added sales, the Femmes Vaillantes bought two hectares of land in Sevia, a nearby village, in the hopes of further increasing productivity. Kadokalih is even looking to build a parboiling center, which would create jobs in the area and provide greater income benefits to women in Africa and those in the cooperative.

Rice produced with the parboiling equipment is also more nutritious than what the women previously produced, providing surrounding communities that buy the rice with added health benefits.

The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program

The WAAPP was created in 2008 with the mission of increasing food security in West Africa through gains in food productivity and availability. In 2019 alone, the WAAPP increased rice, fruit and tuber production by 150%, helping make smallholder farms profitable. The WAAPP initiative has impacted more than 227,000 Togolese women as of January 2020 through its cooperative involvements.

The agricultural sector represents about 35% of West African nations’ combined GDP and employs 60% of the active labor force. Despite its integral role in the region, the agricultural sector in West Africa struggles with some of the lowest crop yields in the world. Lagging agricultural productivity stems from low-quality seeds and fertilizer, as well as a general lack of information about and access to agricultural technologies and best practices. The market itself suffers from underdeveloped farmer-market linkages and globally high transportation costs.

Overall, Africa is ripe with untapped natural resources. The continent uses only about 10 million of some 130 million hectares suitable for rice production. The WAAPP aims to change that, and women in Africa are helping further that cause.

Reaching Out Beyond Togo

Togo is one of four countries where the WAAPP, assisted by World Bank funding, has given farmers parboiling technologies and training, increasing both labor productivity and rice quality. The other countries involved in the program are Benin, Guinea and Niger. The World Bank describes rice parboiling as a growth industry, meaning that it shows promise for future poverty alleviation and economic development efforts in West Africa. Like Togo, Benin has recently felt the effects of this promise.

After receiving training, rice parboiling and other business-related equipment from the WAAPP, cooperatives in Benin have seen similarly positive trends in productivity, with rice processing capacity up 400% in two years.

“In the past, we had to get at least four women to manually sort a 100-kilogram bag, which took all day,” Bertin Adéossi, coordinator of the Framework Program to Support Agricultural Diversification in Benin, told the World Bank. “By comparison, the sorting machine we have installed produces 1.4 metric tons per hour.”

Between 2017 and 2018, sales revenues in this cooperative rose from CFAF 33 million (about $60,000) to almost CFAF 80 million (almost $145,000). The significance of that change shows in the lives of these women in Africa, who have gained from the parboiling industry and the work the WAAPP has done.

Togo and Benin are just two examples of how these improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality in the rice parboiling industry are invaluable to long-term economic growth in West Africa. As this sector grows, so do the communities that support it. And, as the WAAPP’s project spreads, women in Africa gain more opportunities to work their way out of poverty, lifting whole nations with them in their pursuit of a better life.

– Olivia du Bois
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poverty in TogoPoverty in Togo is a widespread issue. The nation is one of the world’s top five producers of phosphates, which are widely used in making fertilizers. However, Togo remains poor. Although Togo’s overall economy and GDP have improved in recent years, many worry that the rate of poverty in Togo is not declining fast enough. The disparity is especially notable in Togo’s agricultural sector, in which the majority of Togo’s population are employed. These issues leave many wondering, “What can be done to aid the people of Togo?”

Poverty in Rural Areas

Togo is a presidential republic in West Africa. Formerly known as French Togoland, Togo achieved its independence from France in 1960. A few years later, in 1967 General Gnassingbe Eyadema installed a military rule. After President Gnassingbe’s nearly four-decade-long rule, the military placed Faure Gnassignbe, the son of the former president, into office. Since then, Togo has been moving toward gradual reform to its democratic system. However, the Togolese’s frustration with the slow pace of this reform sometimes results in violent outbursts of political demonstrations.

According to the CIA World Facebook, 55.1% of Togo’s population lived below the poverty line in 2015. Rural poverty is especially concerning as more than half of Togo’s population resides in rural areas. In the World Bank’s estimation, the 2015 rate of poverty was worse for Togo’s rural areas, where 69% of the households lived below the poverty line.

These rural residents, the majority of whom are farmers, make up 65% of the Togolese workforce. Recognizing the vital role that the agricultural sector plays in Togo’s economy, many organizations and experts are focusing on revitalizing Togo’s agricultural sector. According to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multi-donor trust fund provides food security in the world’s poorest countries, Togo’s food yields from agriculture have been consistently low.

The Link Between Rural Poverty and Agriculture

The yields of Togo’s major export crops, such as cotton, coffee and cocoa, have been declining for some time. In order to make up for the food deficit, Togo still relies on foreign imports for some basic food items. Upon closer inspection, industry experts stated that some of the barriers to agriculture improvement in rural Togo include:

  • A lack of effective policies that assure provisions of inputs (seeds and fertilizers)
  • Underdeveloped markets for agricultural goods
  • The absence of farming and transportation infrastructure

To address Togo’s rural poverty, GAFSA and the World Bank implemented the Togo Agriculture Sector Support Project (PASA) in 2017. PASA, a $19 million project, aimed to improve Togo’s agricultural output and foster an institutional environment that can encourage agricultural investment. According to GAFSA’s report, PASA brought numerous changes to Togo’s agricultural sector. Under PASA, Togo’s rice yields increased by 30%, farm employment opportunities in rural areas for the youth rose and numerous coffee farms and cocoa farms were rehabilitated. PASA rehabilitated 17,174 hectares of coffee farms and 11,578 hectares of cocoa plantations by implementing improved planting materials and improving coffee and cocoa value chains. PASA is reported to have helped 877,191 Togolese citizens.

Poverty in Togo has a close relationship with the performance of Togo’s agricultural sector. As the greatest source of employment for Togolese workers, the improvement of Togo’s agricultural sector is paramount to ensure a more stable economic future for Togo. While Togo’s economic potential is becoming a reality through steady improvement, there is still a long road ahead for Togo. The Togolese government and many other international experts recognize the importance of bolstering the country’s economy through the improvement of the agricultural sector. Organizations such as the World Bank and GAFSA are already implementing measures to alleviate poverty in Togo.

 

Although there are still many improvements to be made from agriculture to political stability, Togo has the ability to lift itself from poverty in the near future.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

  Togo is a country in West Africa that borders Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin. The nation gained independence from France in 1960, and has a population of 7.89 million people. Despite the country’s success in phosphate production, more than 50% of the Togolese population lives below the poverty line. Togo is considered a “Least Developed Country” by the United Nations.

The extreme poverty that exists in Togo disproportionately affects women, as they are not granted equal opportunities for work and education. Togo ranks 115th of the world’s 129 countries on the Sustainable Development Goals’ gender index, which measures each country’s gender equality in terms of the sustainable development goals. These goals include access to education and health, among others, as well as addressing the prevalence of gender-based violence. Despite the many difficulties that still exist in almost every sector of daily life, there have been significant improvements for women in Togo over the past few decades.

5 Improvements for Women in Togo

  1. The maternal mortality rate decreased. The rate declined from 489 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 396 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. Togo’s decline in its maternal mortality rate is largely due to the efforts of nonprofits working to improve access to and the quality of healthcare. In a partnership with World Centric, the nonprofit Integrate Health provides training and education to nurses and midwives and employs Community Health Workers to provide health services on the front lines in Togo. The organization also improves the management and infrastructure of existing clinics and removes user fees that prevent many Togolese people from seeking healthcare. Across 13 clinics, Integrate Health intends to “perform 20,497 pre- and post-natal consultations and 2,862 facility-based deliveries.” Additionally, since Community Health Workers are predominantly women, Integrate Heath also provides economic opportunity and medical training for Togolese women.
  2. The adolescent fertility rate declined. The rate decreased from 130.17 births per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 19 in 1985 to 88.69 births per 1000 in 2018. Togo is making significant strides in educating its youth about contraceptives, as 410,000 young people now participate in a sex education program. These are significant improvements for women in Togo. The Association Togolaise Pour Le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) is a nonprofit organization that has been working in Togo since 1975 in the sexual and reproductive health sector. ATBEF aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality by organizing mobile health clinics and going door-to-door to discuss the benefits of contraceptive use. Additionally, ATBEF reached more than 870 villages in Togo that chose to sign onto protection charters that safeguard girls from gender-based violence, encourage them to finish school and teach village chiefs about the importance of educating young people about contraception. Since ATBEF began working in the Haho health district in 2011, the use of contraceptives doubled.
  3. Education for women increased while the overall fertility rate decreased. The steady decline of women’s fertility from 7.21 births per woman in 1980 to 4.32 births per woman in 2018 could be a result of increased education efforts. As women become more educated and countries become more developed, fertility rates decline. Although there is still a disparity between male and female literacy rates, female literacy rates increased from 38.5% of literate women over the age of 15 in 2000 to 51.24% in 2015. Additionally, youth literacy rates for females increased from 63.5% to 78.37% in 2018, indicating that younger women are receiving more education and may be less likely to have many children or to become pregnant as teenagers.
  4. Employment opportunities increased. In 2019, 88.79% of Togolese women were reported as self-employed. Additionally, Togo’s Labour law, passed in 2006, prohibits workplace discrimination based on gender and allows for up to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave with job security. However, husbands can still limit women’s choices to work and have control over their finances according to customary law. Nonprofit organizations such as CARE are working in Togo, and across West Africa, to empower women as participants in the economy. CARE’s Women on the Move program encourages women to join savings groups, in which women pool their savings and loan each other money to start businesses or to pay for healthcare and education. Women on the Move empowers women by educating them about their economic rights and mobilizes women across West Africa with a goal of improving their socio-economic status. The program aims to reach 8 million girls in West Africa by the end of 2020. As a result of influence from Women on the Move, the Togolese government planned to include savings groups in the national financial inclusion strategy.
  5. Child marriage decreased. Togo is one of the many countries in West and Central Africa to experience a decline in child marriage, with a 2% average annual reduction rate. Additionally, Togo has the third-lowest number of girls married between the ages of 15 and 18 in West and Central Africa. Although the government has committed to ending child marriage by 2030, 600,000 Togolese girls today are still married in childhood. To eliminate child marriage, the government will need to work to ensure that girls stay in school and are educated about their rights, as many girls are still taught that violence against them by their husbands is justified. Girls Not Brides, a global partnership with the mission of eradicating child marriage, works in Togo to develop country-specific strategies that encourage governments and communities to take action.

 

These five improvements for women in Togo depict the country’s steady progression toward gender equality. Togo’s improvements in healthcare, education and economic opportunities for women contributed to a higher female life expectancy, which rose from 54.29 in 2000 to 61.61 in 2018. However, Togo must continue to address the problem of child marriage, as it is still legal for families to marry off their daughters to receive a dowry.  Although the legal age for marriage is 18 in Togo, marriages can be arranged before the age of 18 with parental consent. There is still work to be done in Togo, to reform laws in order to give women more power over their marital choices and educate parents about the harm child marriage can have on young girls and their futures.

– Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in TogoChild marriage is a very prevalent problem in Togo, a country in West Africa. In Togo, approximately 22% of girls under the age of 18 are married. Despite a large number of child marriages, there are many social and political aspects of Togolese society that propel child marriage in Togo. Here are five reasons child marriage continues in Togo.

  1. Poverty is one of the leading causes of child marriage in Togo. As one of the world’s poorest countries, more than 30% of the Togolese population faces extreme poverty. Many impoverished families arrange marriages for their daughters to help the family’s financial situation. Poverty also influences other problems that drive child marriages in Togo such as access to education and health.
  2. Health Issues: Many children in poverty predominantly suffer from health issues. Togo has a 50% life expectancy rate for children under 5. The death of a child for a family in poverty can create financial strain primarily when families rely on children to do housework or farming. The financial stress often pushes parents to marry their daughters as soon as possible to ease the financial strain. This forces many young girls into arranged marriages with strangers.
  3. Lack of Education: Education also plays a crucial role in driving child marriage. Young girls in Togo are married off if they do not reach a certain level of education. This especially impacts young girls in poverty who cannot go to school because they are helping their parents raise their siblings, do housework or farm. Almost half of the illiterate Togolese women in their early 20’s were married before the age of 18.
  4. Financial Dependency: Establishing financial independence for young women is essential for ending child marriages in Togo. Although many families marry their young children as a means to escape poverty, child marriage is counterproductive to ending the cycle of poverty for young girls in Togo. A girls’ rights advocate from Togo for PLAN International, Yolande, explains that marriage, especially at a young age, keeps girls from being financially independent. She states that “Most of the married girls in Togo come from poor families. Marriage keeps girls in poverty and prevents them from becoming financially empowered and flourishing as individuals.”
  5. No Political Support: Even though poverty often leads to child marriage in Togo, the lack of policies prohibiting child marriage allows child marriage to continue. It is illegal in Togo for girls to marry under the age of 18. However, girls can marry before the age of 18 with parental consent. Without the proper legislation for the prohibition of child marriage in Togo, child marriage will continue.

Working Toward a Solution

Many organizations are working to end child marriage in Togo. Women’s WorldWide Web (W4) is an online crowdfunding platform working specifically in Togo. They promote education and the empowerment of women. Their programs aim to provide income-generation for women who have been affected by young marriage. This helps women gain financial independence and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.

Togo’s child marriage prevalence is mainly due to poverty itself, the rippling effects and the lack of government support for child marriage prohibition legislation. However, there are many organizations like W4.org fighting for these young women and their rights. With their efforts and the push for proper legislative policies, young Togolese girls may one-day gain financial and personal independence.

– Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo
Although global aid has decreased, Togo has managed to increase its health expenditure as a share of GDP to 6.6 percent in 2016, a jump of about 8 percent from the previous year where this amount was actually negative. Due to the scarcity of hospitals and health centers, Togo’s 2018 population of approximately 8.2 million faces numerous obstacles from birth onwards in the battle to survive. Of every 1,000 Togolese infants, 49 will die before they are 1 year old and approximately 69.8 before they reach the age of 5. In addition to infant deaths, the maternal mortality ratio is 396 per 100,000 live births as of 2017. Overall life expectancy in Togo is 69 for females and 63 for males, the 178th worst globally. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo demonstrate the changes over time. 

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo

  1. Crime: In Togo, the homicide rate was nine cases per 100,000 people in 2015. Compared to the United States, it has 4.1 more cases per 100,000 people. Violent crimes, theft and pick-pocketing are common in marketplaces or along the beach of Lome. There is an abundance of scam artists that fake online friendships to steal or stage accidents to jack cars and there has even been a threat of kidnapping recently. The ECOWAS Regional Action Plan renewed for 2016-2020 to address crime and drug trafficking in West Africa.

  2. Sanitation: Most drinking water sources in the urban parts of Togo have improved with only 8.6 percent of urban populations not having access to reliably safe drinking water. In rural areas, however, 55.8 percent of the water sources have remained unimproved. Sanitation facility access has not improved much, either, with 75.3 percent of urban Togo and 97.1 percent of rural Togo having unimproved sanitation facilities. Public toilets are often unavailable as well, and when they are available, they generally range from sit-down and squat toilets to holes in the ground.

  3. Disease: As of 2017, Togo’s most prevalent diseases are malaria, neonatal disorders, HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infection, ischemic heart disease, diarrheal diseases and tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS afflicted approximately 110,000 Togolese or 2.3 percent as of 2017, ranking the country 22nd worst globally. An estimated 4,700 deaths were from HIV/AIDS in 2017, the 43rd worst ranking in the world. It is also common for infants to suffer from diarrhea, one of the main contributors to the infant mortality rate in Togo.

  4. Malnutrition: Malnutrition rates exceed 10 percent in three out of five regions in Togo, with 16 percent of children under 5 underweight. Many parents have been relying on feeding their children a simple paste that is filled with vitamins and minerals, called Plumpy’Nut, and has improved the situation of many Togolese children. An agricultural improvement is the development of a drought-resistant, high-yield rice, Nerica, specifically for Africa. For Western Africa, rice is a staple, but to meet nutritional demand, the region needs to import 3.5 million tons of rice per year, which costs nearly $1 billion.

  5. Overcrowding: The best example of Togo’s overcrowding problem is its 12 prisons. Though there is a set capacity for these prisons, they end up holding more than twice their capacity. As a result of these cramped conditions, hygiene, food and medical care are poor, and disease and death run rampant. Prisoners reportedly sleep like “sardines in a tin,” and even sleep in shifts, with some waiting for their turn against a wall.

  6. Immunization: Immunization coverage among Togolese children is severely incomplete. A study found that 36.2 percent of children did not receive all vaccines that the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) recommends. Togo has a multi-year plan (2016-2020), a national system to monitor adverse events following immunization, and a standing technical advisory group on immunization.

  7. Maternal/Neonatal/Child Health: Only 61.4 percent of Togolese births have skilled health personnel in attendance, and as a result, the maternal mortality rate in Togo is 396 deaths/100,000 live births as of 2017. Mothers already have to travel long distances to reach health facilities, and when said places do not have the necessary expertise or medication, they become discouraged from attending any appointments before birth. When these women do not attend regular checkups, health professionals cannot detect problems early on or provide mothers with rudimentary health care.

  8. Health Systems: Togo only has 746 health centers, which is approximately 11 health centers per 100,000 people, and only six regional hospitals, which is 0.09 per 100,000 people. There are only 0.05 physicians per 1,000 people as of 2015. This scarcity of health facilities results in overcrowding of existing ones and it stretches health professionals thin. With so few people operating each facility, Togo cannot meet average health standards and thus cannot help people efficiently. Life expectancy could improve in this respect by creating more health centers.

  9. Substance Abuse: Togo is a transit point of Nigerian heroin and cocaine traffickers. There were 2,000 drug users in 2001 (12 deaths), 3,000 in 2006 (68 deaths) and 3,575 in 2007 (100 deaths). Togolese drug use has only increased over time, stretching to 5.5 percent of students. The students consider drugs to be fortifying and have developed a dependency on drugs just for studying.

  10. Road Safety: People do not stress road safety in Togo. Many Togolese drivers do not obey traffic laws mostly due to traffic signals not functioning properly, and a lack of reinforcement. Sometimes they run red lights and stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets. Not only do these driving standards threaten pedestrians and drivers alike, but they also set the stage for fake accidents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo show that even the smallest of changes could evolve into much more for the Togolese. The ECOWAS is working diligently to improve the lives of those in West Africa by limiting crime and drug trafficking and abuse. Togolese life expectancy has even increased because of other countries’ efforts.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

healthcare systems in Togo

Togo, a country located in West Africa is occupied by eight million people and currently faces a healthcare crisis. Nations across the globe have been successful in transforming inadequate healthcare systems into those that successfully prevent and treat ailments. That said, according to a 2017 story by Development and Cooperation, Togo is often referred to as having the worst health systems in West Africa.

Many factors contribute to the sub-par healthcare systems in Togo, including insufficient staff, outdated medical instruments and practices, and ineffective financial and insurance resources. These components combine to create the current healthcare system in Togo.

Despite this complicated health matrix, efforts have been made by the government in tandem with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reduce the burden of disease and to improve the healthcare systems in Togo.

Diagnosing the Problem

According to a story run by Deutsche Welle (DW), a German international broadcaster, Togo only sports three healthcare workers for every 10 thousand residents, which DW claims is approximately a quarter of the number of healthcare workers per 10 thousand residents for Ghana. Insufficient staff across the nation – not only in the larger centralized hospitals of Togo, contribute to the poor health systems present.

Inadequate staffing at clinics and hospitals alike can escalate quickly. Lack of properly trained and licensed doctors, nurses and medical personnel often leads to overcrowding in emergency and waiting rooms alike, which complicates matters further. Keeping patients awaiting treatment in confined places increases disease transmission between patients, especially those that can be transferred via skin contact and via the air. Furthermore, the same 2017 Development and Cooperation story recounted several instances where patients tragically passed away while awaiting treatment in some of Togo’s largest hospitals.

In addition to overwhelmed and insufficient staffing, the hospitals themselves are not properly stocked with the supplies necessary to diagnose and treat incoming patients. Outdated medical instruments and practices also have the potential to contribute to inadequate healthcare systems in Togo. Equipment may become faulty over time, or the technology used may simply just not be correct.

While outdated medical technologies are certainly lacking, hospitals also appear to lack basic amenities such as beds. In 2011, Togo only sported seven hospital beds per 10,000 population.

Insufficient staffing and medical supplies seemingly stem from one arena, however: lack of financial resources available. As of 2015, over 55 percent of Togo’s population lived under the global poverty line – approximately four million people. Because of this extreme poverty, patients cannot afford the necessary treatments which leads to a lack of funding for hospitals, resulting in smaller staff and inadequate supplies.

As of right now, healthcare systems in Togo seem to operate on a “pay or die” approach, according to the Development and Cooperation story. Patients and loved ones of those who have fallen ill often have to borrow money in an effort to receive treatment for diseases and ailments. Even then, sometimes it is not enough.

Current Remedies

Global efforts have been to improve the inadequate healthcare systems in Togo. Currently, Togo is in the midst of a five-year project aimed at ending neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This integrated NTD control currently receives funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) among others.

This funding goes directly to combatting and administering diagnoses and treatments for neglected tropical diseases present in Togo. Furthermore, a significant portion of the funds dedicated to reducing the burden of these NTDs in Togo is allocated toward the training of health workers, hopefully providing stability in the healthcare sector for years to come.

Aside from these efforts to combat NTDs, other global institutions have made efforts to improve Togo’s healthcare system in general.

The International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), an institution set on improving healthcare systems and structures using peer-to-peer models, has begun to lay the groundwork for strengthening the healthcare systems in Togo. Much of IANPHI’s work goes toward strengthening disease surveillance, as well as equipping Togo’s Ministry of Health with laboratory and research facilities, hopefully promoting new science and health-related job opportunities.

Moving Forward

The healthcare systems in Togo have a significant and difficult path in front of them. The issues of staffing, supplies and financial insecurities must be addressed in order to increase health promotion and disease prevention in the country. That said, significant progress has been made in laying the groundwork of the future of Togo’s healthcare systems, hopefully paving the way for significant reform and a brighter future.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in Togo
The Togolese Republic (Togo) is a small West African country on the Gulf of New Guinea that borders Ghana and Benin. With a GDP of $4.75 billion and a GNI per capita of $610, Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world. Togo’s education system has faced development setbacks due to various political, monetary and societal reasons yet it remains one of the stronger education systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. These eight facts about education in Togo demonstrate the progress made in certain areas and the need for progress in others.

8 Facts About Education in Togo

  1. Primary Schooling is Compulsory and Free — Due to its history as the French colony of Togoland, education in Togo follows the French model of primary, secondary and higher schooling. Starting at age six, primary education is mandatory for six years. Prior to 2008, public school fees created barriers for impoverished families to send their children to school, but in 2008, UNICEF partnered with Togo’s government to abolish public primary school fees. Togo’s net primary school enrollment was 90 percent in 2017 which is high.
  2. Secondary Education Enrollment Rates are Low — In 2017, only 41 percent of the children eligible enrolled in secondary education. This is an improvement from 2000 when only 23.53 percent of children enrolled in secondary schooling; however, the large enrollment gap between primary and secondary education remains due to costly secondary education fees, poor quality of primary education and the lack of access to schooling in rural areas.
  3. Togo has had Recurring Teacher Strikes — Since 2013, teachers have gone on lengthy strikes numerous times because they were unsatisfied with their working conditions, large class sizes or pay. Teacher salaries in Togo range from $33 to $111 per month while the minimum wage is $64 per month. After months of strikes, the Togo government signed an agreement with trade unions in the spring of 2018, but the future will tell whether this will improve teaching conditions.
  4. Enrollment Rates Do Not Translate into Higher Student Success — Despite having more children enrolled in school, Togo has had increased amounts of students repeating school years and failing to graduate. Several students (37.6 percent) dropped out of primary school in 2012 and 32.42 percent of secondary school students dropped out in 2015.
  5. There is a Gender Disparity in Togo Schooling — In every level of schooling except pre-primary, there are 10 percent fewer girls enrolled than boys. The literacy rate for males in Togo is 77.26 percent and only 51.24 percent for women, which shows a large literacy gap between the sexes. Early or forced marriages force many girls to leave school. International NGO’s such as Girls Not Brides are working in Togo to meet its commitment to end child, early and forced marriages by 2030.
  6. Low Educational Equality for the Rural and Poor — Togo is made up of primarily rural areas and 69 percent of its rural households live under the poverty line as of 2015. Secondary schools tend to be sparse in rural areas with few resources while urban areas tend to have more clusters of secondary schools with more resources. Sixty-eight percent of eligible males and 54 percent of females in urban areas enroll in secondary education while only 45 percent of eligible males and 33 percent of females in rural areas attend secondary school.
  7. The Literacy Rate is Improving Among the Youth of Togo — Adult literacy is around 64 percent while the literacy of those aged 15-25 is 84 percent in Togo. This fact about education in Togo shows progress within creating basic and more widespread educational services such as free primary schooling.
  8. Togo’s Education Strategy for 2014-2025 has Four Important Objectives — The government objectives for improving education include developing quality universal primary education by 2022 and extending pre-primary coverage to rural and poorer areas. In addition, it plans to develop quality secondary, vocational and higher education and decrease the illiteracy rate.

These eight facts about education in Togo show that there is still much to improve in terms of greater educational equality, the availability of key educational resources, gender equality and creating a system of quality education levels. Progress, however, is still occurring as school enrollment and literacy rates increase substantially. The combined efforts of the Togo government and outside organizations are helping accomplish Togo’s education goals.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

 

The 3030 ProjectIn 2014, musician Ryan Lewis, a member of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hip-hop duo, became the first to donate to the 30/30 Project, the project that he helped his mother, Julie, kickstart. As a thirty-year survivor of HIV, Julie Lewis designed the project with the goal of building thirty healthcare facilities worldwide. It is virtually impossible for people living in poverty to receive treatments, considering “Just one month’s supply of a typical antiretroviral drug costs more than the annual income of most Malawians.” But, these new facilities will give people access to treatments for life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The Lewis family saw the injustice and pledged to make a positive change. After all, their motto for the project states, “Healthcare is a human right.”

Lewis and his musical partner, Macklemore, started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $100,000. This went towards the first phase of the project, which is building a non-profit health center in Neno District, Malawi. The campaign exceeded its goal, raising over $150,000. So, the excess will be used for the next phase, which is a non-profit clinic in Kangundo, Kenya.

Dambe Health Center

Just like they promised, the 30/30 Project completed construction of the Dambe Health Center in the Neno District of Malawi in August 2015.

Partners in Health opened the clinic in March 2016. “This health center serves a community of 30,000 people…by addressing the need for free, basic primary care and lowering the barrier of access.” Since its launch four-and-a-half years ago, sixteen health care centers have been built. Six are currently under construction and eight are in the fundraising stage.

No Mom Left Behind

In addition to their main goal, the 30/30 Project launched its “No Mom Left Behind” campaign. The funds raised, build and maintain maternity wards in impoverished regions. Since 2017, they were able to build a new maternity ward and renovate a clinic in Togo, West Africa. For the 2019 fundraising year, donations will be used to construct a maternity ward in Kenya. It will offer HIV counseling, testing and medication, immunizations and family planning. The need for these services is high, as one in forty-two women die during childbirth. Sixty percent of women deliver their child at home, far from the helping hands of medical professionals. Construction on a nursing school in Uganda is already underway, with the hopes of training students to properly handle patients and any problems that may arise during childbirth.

As a family who has experienced the heartache associated with a loved one’s positive HIV diagnosis, the Lewises know how important it is to receive proper treatment. This is especially true for expectant mothers, who have a twenty-five percent chance of transmitting the disease to their baby. However, treatments could reduce that likelihood to less than two percent.

Ryan Lewis has made a splash in the music scene. Over the last five years, he has also made major strides in the world of philanthropy. Due to his generosity and perseverance, thousands of people in Africa and India are receiving life-saving treatments that they were previously unable to afford. With continued support, the 30/30 Project will help provide healthcare to many other underserved communities.

– Sareen Mekhitarian
Photo: Flickr