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Life Expectancy in Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country situated in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa and bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is currently listed at number 185 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), which coincides with its status as one of the poorest countries in the world. HDI is determined by a variety of factors, including the average lifespan of a country’s inhabitants. Life expectancy can be a telling indicator of the social, economic and institutional challenges a country might be facing.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Burundi

  1. It’s relatively low—The CIA estimates the overall life expectancy in Burundi at about 61.4 years of age, while the U.N. Development Programme’s estimate is slightly lower at 57.6 years. Either way, the average life expectancy in Burundi is younger than the average age of retirement in the United States.
  2. Food insecurity is an issue—Between July and September 2018, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) determined that at least 1.4 million Burundians were living in the Crisis and Emergency phases of food insecurity. For many, these classifications translate into a lack of proper nutrition that can seriously impact health. Some measures are being taken to address this issue—for example, last year USAID’s Food for Peace initiative contributed $30 million in food resources to Burundians and Congolese refugees—but putting a greater emphasis on the introduction of innovative irrigation practices could have a more lasting impact.
  3. Childhood malnutrition has long-term effects—Perhaps the most visible effect of food insecurity in Burundi is malnutrition among young children. According to USAID, 56 percent of Burundian children under 5 experience stunted development and 29 percent are underweight. Underdevelopment from malnutrition can have lasting effects on both overall health and longevity, potentially resulting in shorter life expectancy.
  4. The population is outgrowing its resources—About 20 percent of Burundi’s population of 11 million people consists of children below the age of 5. This indicates a massive dependent population and a high potential for growth—in fact, the population is expected to double by 2050. In a country already struggling to support its inhabitants, rapid growth will mean spreading its resources even thinner and exacerbating issues like food insecurity. This trend, therefore, can indirectly impact life expectancy in Burundi on a variety of levels.
  5. There is a lack of reproductive health services—As evidenced by the above point, Burundi has one of the highest birth rates in the world at an average of 5.93 children per woman. According to the U.N.’s Human Development Report, 30 percent of Burundian women had an unmet need for family planning, and the prevalence of contraceptives (any method) among women of reproductive age was only 28.5 percent. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is taking some action to address the lack of reproductive health services. In 2018, UNFPA supported the development of 10 new health facilities providing emergency obstetric care. However, Burundi still lacks a comprehensive family planning program.
  6. Most of the population lives in poverty—With a GNI per capita of $702 per year, the majority of Burundi’s population lives in some degree of poverty. 90 percent of the employed population lives on less than $3.10/day, making it extremely difficult for working men and women to support their families and meet all of their needs. While the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been instrumental in implementing poverty reduction strategies in rural areas, much of the population continues to suffer from poverty on some level.
  7. HIV/AIDS reduction is still in progress—In 2016, there were 2,200 new HIV infections in Burundi, making the total number of citizens living with the disease about 84,000. The most high-risk groups continue to be sex workers and men who have sex with other men, with an HIV prevalence of 21.3 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. Between 2008 and 2011, the World Bank implemented the Second Multisectoral HIV/AIDS Project to capitalize on previous HIV reduction efforts; the project resulted in increased condom use and more readily available antiretroviral therapy. Because of such initiatives, HIV infections have decreased by 54 percent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 49 percent since 2010.
  8. Other major infectious diseases exist—Due to a tropical climate and a lack of immunizations, illnesses like malaria, typhoid fever, measles and hepatitis A continue to pose a problem for Burundians. These conditions, coupled with a physician density of only 0.05 physicians/1000 people, put the population at risk for premature death and can seriously impact life expectancy in Burundi.
  9. Environmental hazards hinder development—Burundi’s extreme climate puts it at risk for natural disasters like floods, droughts and landslides. Such hazards damage infrastructure, displace people from their homes and contribute to the issues of food insecurity and water scarcity during certain months of the year.
  10. It’s ultimately increasing—As a result of some of the initiatives discussed above, life expectancy in Burundi has increased from 48.1 years in 1990 to about 58 years in 2017. While this number is still significantly lower than that of countries like the United States, there has been a definite upward trend.

In conclusion, there are a variety of factors that contribute to a relatively low life expectancy in Burundi. By continuing to provide assistance to relief programs, it is likely that the average life expectancy will continue to rise.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

Helping street childrenToday, there are an estimated 100 million homeless children in the world. Many more children, due to family instability, poverty or abuse, spend the majority of their days on the street either working or begging. The U.N. defines a “street child” as any child for whom the street has become his/her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood and who is not sufficiently supervised or protected by adults.

Street children are at high risk of verbal, physical and sexual abuse; girls are highly vulnerable to sexual assault, sex trafficking and may resort to commercial sex work. Street life poses other risks such as hunger, drug abuse, violence, disease, labor exploitation and police brutality. Worse yet, many street children are viewed with contempt by the public; they are seen as dirty, criminal, and are subject to discrimination.

Street children are in desperate need of guidance and support. Fortunately, there are many nonprofit agencies and organizations around the world helping street children through advocacy and outreach. Here are five organizations fighting for justice and rehabilitation for street children:

I Care in South Africa

I Care is a small nonprofit organization based in Durban, South Africa that provides support, rehabilitation and education for street children. The main goals at I Care are to help children learn crucial life skills like honesty, good work ethic and a collaborative attitude. These skills will help them get off the streets and live successful lives. The organization has been helping street children since 2002, directing donations to rehabilitation and skills programs. Rather than giving directly to children, I Care urged the public to direct funds to its programs, which include safe-houses, free meals and skills training for kids living on the streets.

The Africa Educational Trust

The Africa Educational Trust (AET) recognizes the severe problem that homeless and street children pose in Africa. Street children are at high risk for disease, drugs, exploitation, physical and sexual abuse. The AET believes that education is key in improving the lives of street children. The organization works with schools to help them understand the unique needs of street children, who have trouble successfully integrating into classroom settings. By partnering with local organizations, the AET provides psychological and academic support to children beginning or re-entering school. “School starter kits,” which include uniforms, textbooks, and other materials are prepared and distributed to children in need.

Railway Children

This U.K. based organization works to find children in abusive, neglectful, and/or impoverished conditions in order to prevent them from running away and living on the streets. Railway Children works in India and East Africa, where millions of orphans and runaways fill the streets. They also work in the U.K., where hundreds of children run away from home each year to escape violence and neglect. Railway Children makes a point to partner with local authorities and civil society because “[local partners] know the area, children, and local culture best.” Outreach workers reach out and gain the trust of street children, return them home when possible, and tailor to the needs of each unique case. The organization also works with policymakers, advocating for children on the street and making sure they are prioritized in the creation of legislation.

The Consortium for Street Children

This NGO unites member organizations around the world to fight for homeless children through international advocacy, legal services, outreach, research, grassroots casework and policy analysis. The global network consists of more than 100 NGOs, lawyers, researchers and individuals helping street children in 135 countries. The organization facilitates cooperation between members and adopted a five-year plan in 2019 to mobilize global action for street children’s rights by pressuring U.N. member states to amend policies and protect children. In 2018, the Consortium for Street Children hosted an international conference focused on equality and inclusion. The organization asserts that every single person on this planet matters and that street children should be afforded the same rights and opportunities as their peers.

Street Child

Founded in the U.K. in 2008, Street Child has helped over 200,000 street-associated children and families by providing educational opportunities and poverty relief. The organization believes that universal basic education is crucial in the elimination of global poverty and recognizes the many obstacles to education facing street children. Street Child creates low-cost, sustainable solutions informed by research in 1o countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Millions of children around the globe have to live and work on the street to survive. This dangerous environment makes them vulnerable to violence, exploitation, hunger and disease. Helping street children should be a global priority. Luckily, organizations providing outreach, advocacy, education and protection for street children have made great strides in the global fight against poverty.

– Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

Solar Technologies in AfricaGlobal hunger has risen in each of the last three years. In 2018, the UN determined that the undernourished population had increased to nearly 821 million in 2017. Africa has the largest number, almost 21 percent of the population (more than 256 million people). The UN points to climate variability making agriculture more vulnerable as the main culprit. In countries like Malawi, where 80 percent of labor is agricultural, the entire country suffers from the advent of a flood or drought. Solar technologies in Africa could stabilize agricultural production.

Solar Power and Agriculture

However, solar technologies often require electricity, and in many countries, electricity is still a luxury. A World Bank report released in 2018 said that even by 2040, there could still be half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa without power. Further, in many locations, the power grid is unreliable. Tanzania, for instance, has so many power outages in 2013 that the World Bank calculated it cost businesses 15 percent of annual sales. But if electricity could extend its reach to more people at a lower rate, irrigation systems, refrigerated storage and remote sensors that can help with storage and water-management could become possible.

Improved Efficiency

The development of solar panels has offered hope, but the first wave of solar installations in the 1990s was fraught. Units were expensive, broke easily and were hard to fix. But over the last four decades, solar panels have improved. Increased cell efficiency has resulted in a 99 percent reduction in module costs since 1980. The cost of solar power has fallen from .35 USD per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2009 to less than 10 cents per kWh in 2016. In 2009, a single, fluorescent bulb and a lead-acid battery cost 40 dollars. Since 2017, using L.E.D. bulbs and lithium-ion batteries, light capacity is four times as strong. Add to that the World Bank stepped in with Lighting Global, an agency that tests and certifies panels, bulbs, and appliances to make sure that they work as promised. With the reduction in the cost of solar panels, there is renewed interest in the potential of solar technology in remote areas of Africa.

Employing Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s microcredit model, African solar companies like Off-Grid and Black Star are working to deliver solar panels and electrical service to remote areas of Africa through “distributed solar” plans. Using phones for payment, service networks, microloans and less costly solar units, these companies are entirely sidestepping an electrical grid.

Solar Investments

Aid from USAID joined with investments from Silicon Valley and European companies are flooding Africa in what the New Yorker deemed, “The Race to Solar Power Africa.” In 2016, the Guardian estimated investment had grown from 19 million in 2013 to two-hundred million in 2016. Nicole Poindexter, the founder and C.E.O. of Black Star, told the Guardian that with her model, one million dollars in venture capital delivers power to seven thousand people, and she expects it to be profitable by 2020. The International Energy Agency released figures showing that last year, half a million solar panels were installed around the world each day. Better technology is making investment possible.

Increased access to solar technologies in Africa presents a massive opportunity for countries with chronic food insecurity. Though by far the greatest number of solar panels being installed in Africa provide enough electricity for basic light, cell phone charging and television, some efforts are experimenting with agricultural interventions. Off-Grid held a contest for most efficient refrigeration units. A few countries have already undertaken experiments to see if cheaper solar power may improve agricultural stability in Africa.

Success in Malawi

Malawi is one of the poorest countries, with a per capita income of US$ 290, less than a dollar a day. Only 12 percent of Malawi’s 18 million people are connected to the main electricity grid—and only 2 percent in rural areas. Agricultural insecurity is great. A flood or drought can set regions of the country into famine as there is little safety-net. While there currently are few viable proposals for how electricity can mitigate floods, many have looked to irrigation for watering crops—something that requires significant electricity. For instance, Community Energy has installed units in rural communities in 2018.

Irrigation projects are on the rise in Malawi—many powered by solar energy. In Mwambo and Ngwerelo, and at villages in the Ntcheu district, solar panels are being used to pump groundwater from borehole wells into reservoir tanks capable of storing at least 10,000 liters. These pumps provide water for household use as well as irrigation. In 2018, Sharp Electronics donated a solar pump on the Shire River for irrigation that can serve 600 farmers.

Solar technologies in Africa are recent and still being rolled out, so results are unclear, but the potential is great. Along with explorations of solar irrigation and refrigeration, there is also a need to keep resource-use balanced between short and long-term goals, agricultural and household uses for water.

– Heather Hughes
Photo: PxHere

Advance Consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa

As a way to build a more “digitally exclusive ecosystem,” Visa is partnering with Branch International to advance consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa. So the Branch-Visa partnership offers over 2 million consumers in sub-Saharan Africa virtual, prepaid Visa debit cards. With these virtual Visa accounts, consumers can then create accounts on Branch, the most downloaded finance app in Africa. Now, with access and finance, citizens are even able to invest in technology. As a result, this donation will advance consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa, even enabling consumers to start their own tech companies.

Here’s how and why Sub-Saharan Africa needs this.

Sub-Saharan Africa Can Participate in Global Consumerism

Giving citizens in sub-Saharan Africa access to online purchasing allows them to contribute to global markets. Many setbacks prevent citizens of impoverished African countries from entering this market. These setbacks include:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Limited stores selling modern, technological products
  • Having only cash to buy products
  • Having low or no credit score

Enabling these citizens to start their own tech companies will advance consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa, as products become accessible and affordable.

Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is Unbanked

According to Business Insider, only about 30 percent of sub-Saharan African adults had a bank account as of 2014. This percentage drops to below seven in Niger, Guinea and the Central African Republic. About 42 percent of citizens in these countries cite lack of money as the reason for not having an account.

But with prepaid debits cards, over 2 million citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa can now access online banking. Additionally, the region is also expanding its internet access, to even the most remote parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Ultimately, these efforts will advance consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa, as online banking becomes accessible to more citizens.

Merchants Can Grow Their Businesses

Currently, most small businesses and startups in sub-Saharan Africa are unable to access quick loans. However, the Visa-Branch partnership also includes preferential small business loans to Visa merchants. So as small businesses and startups grow, citizens will have greater access to tech companies across the region.

Because most sub-Saharan African citizens do not possess bank accounts, they rely on cash and only invest in local businesses. But this partnership with Visa and Branch International allows these citizens to use online banking and expand their reach. In doing so, they not only help grow businesses across the region but advance consumerism in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sara Devoe
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in Africa

Upon learning they are pregnant, most women do not immediately wonder if it’s a fatal diagnosis. However, that is the stark reality for many women in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal mortality in Africa is a pervasive and devastating issue. Far hospitals, scarce doctors and poor healthcare systems all contribute to maternal mortality. Most maternal deaths are preventable and caused by complications treatable in developed nations. It is important to recognize the causes of maternal death and solutions already in place to further reduce maternal mortality in Africa.

Causes of Maternal Mortality

The most common causes of maternal mortality are severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, delivery complications and unsafe abortions. In most cases, these are treatable with access to trained medical staff and proper medication. Access to maternal health care varies around the world. “A 5-year-old girl living in sub-Saharan Africa faces a 1 in 40 risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth during her lifetime. A girl of the same age living in Europe has a lifetime risk of 1 in 3,300,” according to Dr. Greeta Rao Gupta, deputy executive director of UNICEF. Factors such as “poverty, distance, lack of information, inadequate services, [and] cultural practices” prevent women from having access to the proper medical services they need.

Additionally, warfare in developing countries causes the breakdown of healthcare systems. This further prevents women from accessing life-saving medical care. For example, when the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002, it left less than 300 trained doctors and three obstetricians to treat the country’s 6 million people.

Solutions to Reduce Maternal Mortality

Many NGOs work throughout the region to combat maternal mortality in Africa. In fact, the United Nations initiated the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, 2016-2030. Their goal is to “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births” by 2030.

According to a study by the World Health Organization, there needs to be better documentation of maternal mortality in Africa to create more effective policy solutions. Currently, less than 40 percent of countries have a registration system documenting the causes of maternal mortality. Hence, this lack of information makes it difficult for the U.N. and NGOs to create effective solutions.

An unexpected yet effective way maternal mortality in Africa has been combated is through photography. Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent Lynsey Addario took her camera to the region to document maternal mortality. Addario documented the experiences of many women, including 18-year-old Mamma Sessay in Sierra Leone. Sessay traveled for hours by canoe and ambulance while in excruciating labor to reach her nearest hospital. Addario stayed with Sessay for the entire experience, from the birth of her child to her subsequent hemorrhage and death. Addario even traveled with Sessay’s family back to their village to document Sessay’s funeral and her family’s grief.

Ultimately, TIME published Addario’s photographs. And as a result, Merck launched Merck for Mothers, giving $500 million to reduce maternal mortality rates worldwide. Addario stated, “I just couldn’t believe how unnecessary her death seemed, and it inspired me to continue documenting maternal health and death to try to turn these statistics around.”

The Bottom Line

The international community must continue to address maternal mortality, a preventable tragedy. No woman should have to fear for her own life or the life of her unborn child upon discovering she is pregnant. Through documentation, reporting and care, the international community can fight to reduce maternal mortality in Africa.

Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

Better World Books Promotes LiteracyThe ability to read and write is one that is vital to a person’s capacity to function and excel in today’s world. Better World Books, an online new and used book retailer, has set out to provide for this need. Through programs that supply books to those in need and the funding of educational efforts, Better World Books promotes literacy across the globe.

The Mission Of Better World Books

Better World Books was founded in 2002 by three University of Notre Dame students who began selling textbooks online to earn extra cash. However, the business quickly became a social enterprise focused on literacy.

Better World Books does not approach philanthropy like typical companies. A focus on social and environmental good is at the heart of the organization’s business model, not an extra cause tacked on. The company’s mission integrates a focus on literacy and education, so much so that they offer paid time off to employees who are volunteering.

Better World Books collects books from book drives, college campuses and libraries, helping divert used books out of landfills and back into the hands of readers. Additionally, any books not sold are recycled in an attempt to be earth-conscious.

How Better World Books Promotes Literacy

For every book sold, Better World Books promotes literacy by donating a book to those in need. To date, the organization has donated 26,059,744 books to people around the world who do not typically have access to them. The company also gives grants and donations to projects that promote literacy, with a whopping $27,559,358 currently donated.

Better World Books promotes literacy with the help of three main partners: Books for Africa, Room to Read and The National Center for Families Learning. Each of these organizations has unique ways of promoting literacy and education worldwide which they are able to accomplish with the support of Better World Books.

Partnering for Literacy

Books for Africa’s mission is a simple one: bring an end to the “book famine” in Africa. Currently, the organization is the largest transporter of donated books to the African continent having shipped over 41 million books since the company began in 1988. Last year alone $2.5 million was used to send books to students all over Africa. The partnership that Better World Books has established with the organization has been impactful, allowing for more books to be provided to those in need.

Another partner of Better World Books, Room to Read, focuses on providing an education to children everywhere, specifically by increasing literacy and concentrating on gender equality. To date, 10.7 million children have benefitted from Room to Read’s programs, 8,703 teachers and librarians have been trained by the organization and 20.6 million books have been distributed.

Furthermore, Better World Books also partners with The Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, Indiana, The Prison Book Program and Ride for Reading. These smaller, domestic organizations were some of the first to benefit from Better World Books’ partnership and began the company’s interest in literacy.

With 750 million illiterate adults worldwide, the work Better World Books is doing is sorely needed. One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure that all youth and most adults are literate and numerate by 2030. With the help of Better World Books, that goal seems more than attainable.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr

Facts about the Lake Chad Basin Crisis
The Lake Chad Basin crisis is a humanitarian emergency that is among the most severe in the world. This crisis began in 2009 with the violence caused in Nigeria by Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist group that was formed in 2002. Since then, the conflict has also spread to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

This humanitarian disaster has caused hunger, malnutrition and displacement in the region. Additionally, violence continues and Boko Haram even aims to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid. Because the crisis is often overlooked, it is important to address the facts about the Lake Chad Basin crisis.

10 Facts About the Lake Chad Basin Crisis

  1. Although its mission now is to overthrow the Nigerian government, the Boko Haram group was originally created to resist western education and influence. The group is also against things like voting in elections, an education system without religion and dressing with shirts and pants because this reflects western influence.
  2. As of May 2016, around 20,000 people had been killed by the extremists. Additionally, as a result of the crisis, many children have been separated from their families and are often killed or recruited to join armed groups. Females are also subject to physical abuse, forced labor, rape, forced marriage and sexual assault.
  3. There are more than 17 million people living in the affected areas across the four Lake Chad Basin countries. Many who are living in these affected areas are solely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.
  4. The conflict has resulted in around 2.4 million people being displaced. More than half of those who were displaced were children. Of these children, 50 percent were under the age of five when displaced from their homes.
  5. There is an increased risk of disease in the area since malnutrition rates have reached critical levels. Those who are suffering from the conflict often depend on international aid for medical assistance. This can be extremely problematic due to Boko Haram’s efforts to stop foreign aid from reaching the area.
  6. There are 5.2 million people in need of food assistance as a result of the conflict. Approximately 745,000 suffer from acute malnourishment. Of these people, 490,000 are children.
  7. Currently, around four million people are food insecure in the affected regions. Unfortunately, it is predicted that this will increase to almost five million in the lean season between June and August.
  8. The severity of the conflict and its consequences continues to increase. Civilians are frequently still under attack by the Boko Haram group. The number of internally displaced people continues to substantially rise in the region, even though millions of people have already been displaced.
  9. The U.N. estimates that nearly 11 million people in the region require and depend on humanitarian assistance for survival. Approximately 7.7 million people requiring aid are located in the northeastern region of Nigeria in the three most affected states: Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
  10. Currently, it is estimated that around $1.58 billion will be required in aid to the region for 2018. Unfortunately, only $477 million, or approximately 30 percent of the goal, has been funded. It is important to encourage international assistance for this particular cause in order to ensure the survival of millions.

Many NGOs and foreign governments are working together to improve the living situation of those suffering from the Lake Chad Basin crisis. However, it is still important to urge senators and representatives to pass legislation that can assist in this humanitarian emergency that has left millions in need due to hunger, violence and displacement.

– Luz Solano-Flórez

Photo: Flickr

Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia Increasing Electricity and Decreasing WasteIn Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, a landfill the size of 36 soccer fields is being turned into renewable energy, meeting the needs of 30 percent of the city’s electricity. The landfill, previously the only waste disposal site in Addis Ababa, made the news in 2017 due to an onsite landslide that killed 114 people. The new energy plant, known as Reppie Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia, plans to turn 80 percent of the city’s waste into energy each day.

Waste is turned into energy through incineration, a process already popular in many European countries. About 25 percent of European waste is turned into energy and there are over 100 waste-to-energy plants in both France and Germany. Strict European Union emissions standards ensure that no harmful emissions from the incineration process enter the atmosphere, standards that the Reppie project will be held to as well.

Electricity is produced directly from the burning of waste. As garbage is burned in a combustion chamber, heat is produced. The heat boils water, creating steam, which in turn produces energy in a turbine. The emissions that occur in this process are cleaned before they enter the atmosphere, making this a renewable and sustainable source of clean energy.

The Reppie facility came into development out of a partnership between the government of Ethiopia and several international partners, including Chinese and Danish companies. This partnership came together to tailor the needs of the new energy plant to sub-Saharan Africa, as opposed to the waste-to-energy plants already operating in Europe.

The Ethiopian project further protects the environment and its citizens from harmful toxins that are released into groundwater supplies and the atmosphere at landfill sites. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that adds to the negative effects of climate change and is typically produced at landfill sites; this project will reduce methane emissions, as well as save space and generate electricity.

In addition to providing energy to three million people, the Reppie project plans to make an additional three million bricks from the waste and recover 30 million liters of water from the landfill. These materials will be additionally used to benefit the population of Addis Ababa. Furthermore, the plant will create hundreds of jobs for people who previously relied on scavenging at the waste site, a dangerous occupation.

In Ethiopia, only 27 percent of the population has access to electricity. While that number includes rural areas, in only urban areas such as Addis Ababa, the number rises to almost 92 percent. However, the Reppie plant is connected to the national grid and the introduction of waste-to-energy in Ethiopia will spread from urban areas and be able to serve rural areas as well, increasing access to electricity to all Ethiopians.

The Reppie Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia will aid in reducing poverty conditions through increasing access to electricity, creating jobs and improving the environment to the benefit of human health. The plant will additionally be a model for similar plants across the continent of Africa. Already, seven other plants are being planned. These plants together will leave a lasting positive impact on both the environment and the energy needs of people across the continent.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to GuineaA West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean that has been called potentially one of Africa’s richest, Guinea is a mineral-rich state with a population that is among the poorest in Africa. Humanitarian aid to Guinea is an important step in improving the livelihoods of Guineans.

Situated between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, Guinea is home to about a third of the world’s bauxite reserves which have not been smelted and refined into aluminum largely owing to the political instability in the country. Chronic underdevelopment has also angered many locals who have, in desperation, disrupted operations at the country’s mines to bring attention to their plight.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs, Guinea suffers from “persistent corruption and fiscal management.” However, the country is not only resource-rich but also filled with economic potentials in the energy and the agricultural sector.

With over four billion tons of untapped high-grade iron ore, abundant rainfall, gold and diamond reserves, off-shore oil reserves and indeterminate amounts of uranium, Guinea has many economic drivers. The country’s natural geography also makes it very hospitable to renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric dams and turbines.

In May 2015, the 240 megawatt Kaleta Dam project was built after a $526 million investment by China. Kaleta more than doubled the country’s electricity supply and encouraged the government to seek aid for more energy infrastructure, mainly in the solar and hydroelectric sector.

According to USAID, Guinea suffered heavy losses to its economical revenue and outlook in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Many widespread preventable and treatable diseases, such as malaria, prevail in the country and infant and maternal mortality rates remain very high. Furthermore, the agricultural sector is not able to completely function to provide the much-needed source of income and revenue for the people and the government.

The success of humanitarian aid to Guinea is underlined by USAID’s work in the country. In March 2015, USAID provided more than $7 million through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to improve food security and nutrition as a means to combat poverty and hunger in Guinea.

This culminated in WFP making the largest-ever purchase of locally-produced rice, which supported the local agricultural sector and provided children with meals in hundreds of schools across the country. Furthermore, farmers were educated about the business and contracting process, including working with development partners, and were encouraged to establish relationships with banks to obtain credits and rates they could use to sustain their farms.

It has been said that Guinea’s entire population of 12 million people is at risk of malaria. Malaria control efforts and prevention policies are underway in the country, but the damage is ongoing. According to the Ministry of Health, most of the hospitalizations, consultations and deaths in Guinea are a result of malaria.

Aid organizations such as Plan International have been working for decades to provide humanitarian aid to Guinea. Plan International improves children’s access to health, education and sanitation. This is done by ensuring that sustainable, quality education is provided to all children. Children are afforded access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, a safe environment designed to empower children is nurtured.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Guinea actively helps vulnerable people and migrants to resettle in other countries by advocating on their behalf and lending support at every step of the resettlement process, including performing medical health assessments on behalf of the resettlement countries. Funding for IOM Guinea is mainly provided by the same governments of resettlement countries, and the international community can and should support the efforts of these countries.

With more humanitarian aid to Guinea, this resource-rich country certainly carries the potential to infuse its wealth of resources into the livelihoods of all Guineans.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

African Countries Are Behind in EducationThe U.N. has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for developing countries in order to mobilize efforts to improve the quality of life for people living in poverty. The fourth goal of the SDGs is to have access to quality education. In the SDG 2017 report, research showed that enrollment in primary education is going up, but some countries, such as African countries, are behind in education.

A Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report done by UNESCO found that in sub-Saharan Africa, 41 percent of students in primary education don’t complete basic education. The report also said that 87 percent of students don’t reach the minimum proficiency level in reading. This equates to more than one in four young people in the region that can not read or write proficiently.

There are many factors as to why African countries are behind in education, one of them being poverty. But other factors for this issue have to do with the organization of the education system. The GEM report found that less than half of the developing countries had created standards for primary education. Additionally, education systems did not have the means to monitor how students develop or teachers progress. The lack of organization of an educational system causes classrooms to be overcrowded and poorly resourced with teachers that are not qualified.

There are some programs that are addressing these issues. For example, UNESCO is working to improve the quality of teachers’ abilities and to develop a curriculum to improve the learning experience for students. The program also focuses on teaching students skills that are relevant while also providing gender-inclusive literacy programs.

Another way to improve education in African countries is to invest in technology in schools. Internet access is common for people in developed countries but is not distributed equally around the world. Students that live in African countries could benefit from Internet access because of the access to information and connection to resources.

SDGs are obtainable for all developing countries, including countries in Africa. Further investment in the educational systems, the creation of plans and providing a curriculum that is beneficial for students will help provide children with quality education. Investing in technology will also help students learn and help teachers teach, providing a better future for young people in developing countries.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr