Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located off the eastern coast of Africa, north of Madagascar. It has the highest GDP per capita in Africa at $15,476 in 2015. Its extreme poverty rate is low (1.1 percent in 2013) as its moderate poverty rate (2.5 percent in 2013).
Despite the low poverty rates, inequality is an issue in Seychelles. The poorest 20 percent of the population only holds 3.7 percent of the country’s wealth. The disparities between urban and rural areas are also substantial. The poverty rate in rural areas (as a percentage of the rural population) is 37.2 percent.
The economy of Seychelles depends on fishing (particularly tuna fishing) and tourism, both of which are impacted by the environment. Climate change disproportionately affects people in Seychelles. They also lack access to natural freshwater resources and face water pollution due to poor sewage management and industrial runoff. Natural and manmade disasters such as landslides, fires and oil spills affect the environment and hamper tourism.
The issues of piracy that have plagued the coast of Somalia also affect Seychelles. Due to the spread out nature of the islands, it is difficult to guarantee the security of all people. The threat of pirates affects tourism, yachting and fishing, damaging the economy.
Previously, NATO ran a counter-piracy operation called Operation Ocean Shield that was designed to protect people from pirates on the eastern coast of Africa. However, this program ended in 2016, once again leaving the people of Seychelles vulnerable.
With an understanding of the issues that Seychelles faces, the question now is how to help people in Seychelles. There are several steps you can take:
- Urge your representatives to support American and/or NATO anti-piracy measures.
- Support climate change policies and solutions–those who contribute the least to climate change are those who are affected the most.
- Consider donating to one of the following organizations who address some of the above concerns in Seychelles:
- Global Vision International
- Nature Seychelles
- Island Conservation Society
- Seychelles Farmers Association
- Centre for Rights and Development
– Olivia Bradley