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Renewable energy in KenyaWithin the continent of Africa, Kenya has become one of the fastest-growing nations. Between 2010 and 2018, the country saw annual growth of 5.9% and a GDP of $95 billion. Due to COVID-19, there have been challenges toward the attempts to continue growth. However, there is one area that continues to grow and is apparently the key to ensuring this growth prevails. This new safety net is a renewed use of renewable energy in Kenya.

Over the past decade, Kenya shifted to clean and natural energy. This change received support from the African Development Bank, the Kenyan government and European investment partners. The result has been a rise of new resources for renewable energy in Kenya and their implementation in new areas. With around 16% of the country’s population having access to electricity, the use of renewable energy has given Kenya the ability to supply it to more homes. The results have led the nation’s electrification to rise from 28% in 2013 to over 60% in 2017. Even if the issues from COVID-19 have impeded the current growth, the government still prioritizes this shift of resources. However, one of the most interesting developments is Kenya’s focus on multiple types of energy that can consistently provide electricity.

Wind

The usage of wind power had previously been prominent in Kenya and has provided a considerable amount through wind farm projects. Using wind turbines to generate electricity, this type of power has become one of the more widespread methods of obtaining renewable energy throughout the world. In Kenya, one of the most notable projects has been the Lake Turkana Wind Farm. The area of Lake Turkana was prime for this type of installation as it has consistently high wind speeds. Having 365 turbines, the farm has a power output of around 300 megawatts. The goal of the farm is to increase the electrical supply of the country by 13%. The project took 15 years to build and is the largest of its kind in Africa.

Another successful farm is the Ngong site that the company KenGen operates. Located near the city of Nairobi, the station’s output provides 5,100 kilowatts of power. Ngong was also the largest wind farm until Lake Turkana underwent construction. These projects both ensure the decreased use of fossil fuels and the growth of jobs to help maintain the farms. The Lake Turkana project alone employed over 2,500 people for its construction.

Also, the government support for these projects shows the country’s desire to have its own independent sources of power. The ability for Kenya to tap into grids and resources within its own borders provides benefits and allows for less of a need to rely on other nations for energy. While costs could be an issue, as most areas suitable for wind generation sites are far from the main grids, the benefits are tangible and the support from the government and other organizations could alleviate any financial problems concerning renewable energy in Kenya.

Hydroelectricity

Another of the most prominent types of renewable energy in Kenya is hydropower. This type of energy uses the natural flow of water to generate electricity. The amount of energy from the hydropower installations has resulted in a capacity of 743 megawatts. Due to Kenya being part of the African Great Lakes region, its potential for hydropower could reach 3,500 megawatts. The use of this energy also has a long history as small systems were present since the 1920s. The company Andritz Hydro first commissioned modern stations in 1968 with the Kindaruma Power Station. Since then, hydropower has remained a constant source of energy within Kenya.

Rural communities have consistently used hydropower. One individual who has taken advantage of this opportunity is Kenyan native John Magiro. His family raised him in a rural farming community with no electricity. As an adult, he dedicated his life to ensuring that communities like his would receive electricity and other modern advantages. This has culminated in the construction of a micro-hydropower plant along the Gondo river around 2015. The creation of plants like this, alongside support from organizations like the Kenya Environmental Trust Fund (NETFUND), shows that there is a desire in the country to easily give rural communities the benefits that renewable energy can provide.

However, as of late, there has been a consistent issue with the reliability of hydropower in Kenya. Over the past few years, there have been consistent droughts and a lack of rain. This has reduced the water going through dams and less overall production from plants. Between December 2016 and January 2017, production of energy declined from 299 million kilowatts per hour to 252 kilowatts per hour. While this does not spell doom for the future of this energy since weather is unpredictable and rain patterns could go back to their prior state, events like this show the necessity of investing in multiple types of energy. If one energy declines, another that supplies at a more consistent rate will be available. In particular, there has been one source of energy that has grown in importance in the wake of declining water in Kenya.

Geothermal

Accompanying the slight decline of hydropower has been the advancement of geothermal energy. This energy relies on the natural steam from rifts within the earth and, unlike other resources, outside influences such as weather or other natural occurrences, do not affect it. In 2017, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics found that at least 274 million kilowatts per hour come from thermal sources monthly. Through its application, geothermal energy has managed to create 32% of the overall electricity that people consumed in Kenya.

The construction of new plants has shown abundant results and higher energy outputs. In 2015, two new plants in Kenya’s rift valley, Olkaria, helped the national energy increase by 51%. The World Bank Group has backed Kenya in financing the use of this energy through its Internal Development Association (IDA). This has resulted in the region of Olkaria turning into one of the largest sources of geothermal energy in the world and one of the most prominent energy suppliers in the country. These efforts have helped geothermal energy rise up as one of the most prominent types of renewable energy in Kenya. At the moment, geothermal energy looks to be the most important source to the current efforts of change within Kenya due to the advantages it offers in output and availability.

Why This Matters

The rise of renewable energy in Kenya is important as it represents a lot for the country. The creation of new advancements represents a drive to modernize and connect Kenya to a larger global scene. Many people dedicate their lives to ensuring that those living in rural areas have opportunities that are common in other countries. In general, this is what renewable energy represents for Kenya. Not only does it supply a lot for the nation, but it also brings new innovations. They can connect electricity to places that have never had it before and all could reap the benefits of a revitalized Kenya. It may take some time, but a better future is on the horizon not just for Kenya, but also for all countries focusing on new ways to improve themselves.

– John Dunkerley
Photo: Flickr

The Great Green Wall
A healthy planet helps maintain healthy people. Therefore, stemming deforestation and alleviating poverty are vital steps to improving global health. Understanding how health, poverty and deforestation relate is complex and alleviating the effects of poverty and deforestation is all the more so. Still, initiatives like the Great Green Wall give hope to global health experts.

How Poverty, Health and Deforestation Interact

It is valuable to understand how health, poverty and deforestation interact with one another:

Poverty and Health: Poverty and health have a complex albeit well-known relationship. Living in poverty means important health determinants—such as access to healthcare, nutritious food, clean water and safe shelter—are compromised. The relationship between poverty and health is a bidirectional one. As a result, living in poor health can also prevent one from making a living wage to care for oneself and one’s family. These issues, therefore, feed on one another.

Poverty and Deforestation: Of those living in poverty worldwide, 85% are in rural areas. Agriculture serves as their primary occupation and is vital to survival. Not only does deforestation spawn poverty, but poverty exacerbates deforestation. Farmers must clear trees for immediate profit, despite knowing the importance of keeping forests lush long-term. Planting trees where forests have undergone clearing, however, can hold topsoil in place and water can better absorb into the ground. This stymies erosion and replenishes groundwater. Even more straightforward are the building materials for shelter, food and shade that these new trees can one day provide.

Health and Deforestation: The compromised access to food and water to which deforestation leads are obvious factors negatively affecting health. There are also more complex interactions between deforestation and health, such as an increased prevalence of infectious diseases. Research has shown that as trees are cleared and spaces are urbanized, populations of disease-transmitting species like bats and rodents grow. This results in more outbreaks, and even instances of human disease formerly only found in animals. However, by providing short-term assistance and adding trees back to the landscape for long-term improvement, these effects can disappear.

The Great Green Wall

For a demonstration of not only how health, poverty and deforestation relate, but the positive efforts happening to influence their interaction, one can turn to the Great Green Wall. Initiated by 11 African nations in 2007, with another nine joining by 2019, the overall goal of the Great Green Wall is to plant roughly 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) of trees across the continent of Africa, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Though primarily a country-led effort, partners in this work include the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, the Government of France, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

To the benefit of the people of Africa and beyond, this effort will undo some of the harm that deforestation practices have done and restore the myriad of benefits to having a natural barrier along the Sahara Desert. As previously mentioned, the destruction of forests compromises food security and access to water. This, in turn, leads to conflict and waves of emigration to neighboring nations. The creation of this barrier has the added benefit of creating a need for landscaping maintenance and therefore jobs in nearby communities.

The Wall was 15% complete by 2019. President Emmanuel Macron of France pledged to contribute $14 billion over the next 10 years, 30% of the necessary total. With this funding, the wall is on track for completion by 2030. But, importantly, the Great Green Wall will not stand alone. Work is happening across the globe that will help slow and occasionally reverse the effects of environmental degradation.

Organizations Fighting Environmental Degradation

Plant With Purpose works in Thailand, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Mount Kilimanjaro area in Tanzania. They not only plant trees, but educate people on sustainable farming. The Amazon Conservation Association has been partnering with locals for 20 years to conserve the Amazon Rainforest in a scientifically informed and sustainable way. Following the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon, the Brazilian government noted a 70% decline in deforestation in 2014. Supporting these groups and policies means promoting the health and wellbeing of people across the globe.

Amy Perkins
Photo: Flickr

Youngest CountryWith its formal recognition as a country in 2011, South Sudan stands as the youngest country on Earth. With a population of more than 10 million people, all eyes are focused on how the country will develop. Born out of civil war and gruesome conflict, the first nine years of South Sudan’s existence have presented numerous humanitarian issues. Widespread hunger, unsanitized water, crumbling infrastructure and underfunded education plague the youngest country in the world. If the new nation wants to grow into a fruitful nation, it must address the widespread poverty and the issues that come along with it.

History of South Sudan

South Sudan is the world’s newest country. Neighboring Sudan had previously controlled the land and lives of those dwelling there but a public referendum ended that reign in 2011. Quickly, South Sudan looked to become legitimate and joined both the United Nations and the African Union within days. Violence from militia-led uprisings broke out all across the region as many saw the emergence of a new nation as an opportunity to gain power. Additionally, South Sudan harbors much of Sudan’s oil rigs, thus controlling a majority of the economic opportunities in the area.

With few resources present, controlling the oil fields presented a strategic advantage. In 2013, tensions boiled over into a full civil war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Sudanese and internally displaced 4 million people. The violence related to this issue did not end until 2018, more than five years after the conflict broke out.

The Situation in South Sudan

The South Sudan civil war damaged an already weakened system and has created one of the worst poverty situations. Currently, 82% of those residing in the youngest country in the world live under the poverty line. Due to recent poor harvests, Oxfam estimates that more than 7 million South Sudanese people are in danger of starvation. With an economy almost entirely dependent on crude oil exports, financial stability is nonexistent. The World Bank reports that while South Sudan experienced a GDP growth of 3.2% in 2019, due to the global pandemic, its GDP will shrink 4.3% after 2020, losing more than gained in the previous year. With one-third of the nation displaced due to the civil war, more than half of the country struggling to eat and a nationally shrinking economy, South Sudan is in danger of becoming a region defined by immense poverty.

Aid to South Sudan

With how dire the situation is in South Sudan, leading humanitarian relief agencies have made the youngest country in the world their top priority. Action Against Hunger helped feed over 500,000 South Sudanese in 2019 alone. With more than 300 team members present in the country, Action Against Hunger is extending its reach every year until the Sudanese can once again retain sustainable harvests.

To help keep the children of South Sudan in school, USAID has created special funding just for education. Since the civil war broke out, USAID has actively helped more than half a million students receive schooling desperately needed to break the poverty cycle. To help bring power and electricity to South Sudan, the African Development Bank stepped up to make it happen. Nearly 99% of people in South Sudan live without electricity. The African Development Bank’s power grid project recently received a $14.6 million loan to help get it started.

The Road Ahead for South Sudan

As the new country of South Sudan looks to gain international recognition and support, it must first prioritize the dire humanitarian crises at home. With the work of Action Against Hunger, USAID and the African Development Bank, hope is on the horizon for the youngest country in the world.

– Zachary Hardenstine
Photo: Flickr

SDG 1 in the United Republic of TanzaniaAs of July 1, 2020, the World Bank reclassified the United Republic of Tanzania from a “low-income” nation to a “lower-middle-income” nation. This new status results from a variety of indicators that inform the nation’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, such as economic growth, exchange rates and more. While GNI per capita is not a direct measurement of poverty reduction, it does indicate that Tanzania’s economy is progressing in the right direction to meet the U.N.’s first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to eradicate poverty globally by 2030. Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania make it clear that while the country has not met the goal yet, it has overseen a significant reduction in extreme poverty in the last few decades. Here are some updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania.

Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania

The World Bank’s 2019 Mainland Poverty Assessment found that extreme poverty in the United Republic of Tanzania fell from 11.7% in 2007 to 8.0% in 2018. This significant improvement comes with the finding that the severity of poverty has also declined during this period, meaning that Tanzanians living under the poverty line have become less poor on average.

However, while a smaller proportion of the Tanzanian population lives in extreme poverty today, many remain vulnerable. For every four people who can move out of poverty in Tanzania, three individuals fall into poverty. This demonstrates the constant financial instability that many non-poor Tanzanians face. It also illustrates the importance of effective social welfare programs in reducing vulnerability.

The Importance of Investing in the Rural Economy

One of the initiatives that has contributed to these updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania is a project funded by the African Development Bank. The program, which rolled out in stages between 2012 and 2017, developed market infrastructure and improved the financial security of rural Tanzanians. Its $56.8 million budget allowed it to reach 6.1 million Tanzanians spanning 32 districts. The multifaceted program had a significant impact on the livelihoods of its recipients. Approximately 78% reported an increase in their income after participating in the program. Indeed, the program raised beneficiaries’ average income from $41 in 2012 to $133 in 2017.

In the last few decades, most poverty reduction in Tanzania occurred in rural areas. This is significant because of the persistent disparity in living standards and wealth between rural and urban areas. Although rural households still lag behind urban ones on most indicators of wealth, poverty reduction programs in rural Tanzania helped to narrow this gap. The African Development Bank’s program, for example, refurbished roads and created warehouses in rural areas. This reduced transportation costs for Tanzanian farmers and led to a drop in “post-harvest losses.”

Reforming the Private Sector for Poverty Reduction

The majority of Tanzanians work in the informal sector. Unfortunately, this lack of access to formal finance limits small business owners’ ability rise out of poverty. In order to continue making progress on eliminating extreme poverty in Tanzania, the government and external actors must remain focused on this issue.

Recently, the African Development Bank announced that it will focus its efforts on economic growth in Tanzania’s private sector. In December 2019, the Bank approved a $55 million facility support to the government in implementing regulatory reforms in the private sector. The Bank believes this is a necessary step toward creating an inclusive business landscape in the nation. Additionally, this effort should help Tanzania progress toward SDG Goal 1 by creating more equal and plentiful employment opportunities for Tanzanians.

COVID-19 and Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the United Republic of Tanzania

Due to its focus on economic growth, the Tanzanian government has enacted a relatively lax response to COVID-19 compared to neighboring countries. However, tourism made up 11.7% of Tanzania’s GDP in 2019. Because the pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard, Tanzania’s economy has suffered. In addition, a reduction in agricultural exports has greatly affected the Tanzanian economy. The combination of these factors will inevitably impact the nation’s poor. A study by the International Growth Centre shows that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent social distancing and lockdown measures have put approximately 9.1% of sub-Saharan Africa back into extreme poverty. As such, the pandemic has certainly hindered Tanzania’s progress on SDG Goal 1.

Looking forward, Tanzania will need a collaborative effort to lift Tanzanians out of extreme poverty once the pandemic is over. The Tanzanian government as well as international actors must work together to recoup Tanzania’s progress toward achieving SDG Goal 1. Though the pandemic has caused some setbacks, Tanzania must continue to focus on poverty eradication in order to meet this goal.

Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr

sanitation in algeriaAlgeria is a former French colony in North Africa. Libya, Tunisia Niger are on its western borders. Morocco, Marius and Mali are on its eastern borders. About half of the population lives in urban areas concentrated near the Mediterranean sea. Algeria is a member of OPEC and the Arab Maghreb Union, a regional organization. During the 1990s, the country experienced a civil war between Islamist terrorist groups and the Algerian army. While the army’s victory ensured greater stability, Algeria continues to face challenges such as sanitation. Here are ten facts about sanitation in Algeria.

10 Facts about Sanitation in Algeria

  1. Diseases: Poor sanitary conditions place Algerians at-risk for diseases. In 2018, Algeria experienced a cholera outbreak with 217 cases. The cases were concentrated in Algiers, the capital. Government responses included testing the water supply daily for pathogens and requesting 5,000 diagnostic tests from the WHO. By way of comparison, cholera has been virtually eradicated in the United States with most cases in the U.S. originating from international travel.
  2. Rural-Urban Divide: Urban Algerians are more likely to have greater access to sanitation than rural Algerians. Three percent more rural Algerians do not have access to basic sanitation (i.e sewers, latrines and septic tanks) than urban Algerians. This rural-urban divide continues when comparing lower classes. Algeria’s urban poor experience 10% more sanitation coverage than their rural counterparts. To help address the challenges associated with rural sanitation, the African Development Bank established the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative in 2003.

  3. Hand Washing: While the majority of Algerians are able to practice proper hygiene by washing their hands, disparities exist among rural and urban communities. Currently, 83% of Algerians are able to wash their hands. This is slightly higher than what is typical in the region. However, there is a 14% gap between rural and urban Algerians; only 73% of rural Algerians are able to do so.

  4. Recent Improvements: Over the last decade, rural Algerians have gained greater basic sanitation. From 2000 to 2017, basic sanitation coverage increased by approximately 10%.  Today about 70% of Algerians have access to basic sanitation.  This is relatively high for the region as an average of only 50.2% of individuals have this service region-wide.

  5. Access to Toilets: Similarly, the number of rural Algerians openly defecating has substantially decreased.  From 2000 to 2017, this percentage decreased by 12.5%. Today only about 3% of Algerians experience this level of deprivation. This is substantially lower than the regional percentage of 10% of rural individuals.

  6. Rural Sewers: Disadvantaged Algerians have increased access to better sanitary facilities. Since 2000, approximately 14% more poor Algerians gained access to sewers. Notably, this positive trend is true of rural Algerians. Since 2000, 17% more rural Algerians gained access to sewers. Today about 60% of this demographic has sewers.

  7. Regional Access to Sanitation: As a whole, more Algerians have better sanitation facilities. In the last decade, sewer availability has increased by about 14%. Today, about 83% of all Algerians use sewers. This percentage is higher than the regional percent of 58%.

  8. Drinking Water: In 2000, few Algerians had access to quality drinking water facilities. The majority of Algerians gain drinking water from pipe-improved water. Notably, this is true for both rural and urban Algerians. To address this issue, the Algerian government established L’Algérienne Des Eaux (ADE), a public company, in 2001. To further remedy this problem, the Algerian government established a program to create more extensive water pipelines to Médéa, a city in Northern Algeria.

  9. Students: Most Algerian students have access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water. Currently, 98% of Algeria’s primary students have basic sanitation; 87% have safe drinking water. This is a remarkable achievement as regionally only about 8o% of all students have basic sanitation and 74% have safe drinking water.

  10. Drinking Water Improvements: Most Algerians have access to safe drinking water. 93% of Algerians have basic access to drinking water. This is true of both urban and rural areas with only a 7% gap between the two categories.

These ten facts about sanitation in Algeria reveal that Algeria has overcome substantial challenges.  While most Algerians have access to some level of sanitation, drinking water and hygiene, there remains a higher risk for waste-related illnesses such as cholera. Furthermore, while there remains a persistent gap between its rural and urban citizens, the country’s overall coverage and sanitary facilities have improved since 2000. With sustained effort by the Algerian government and the African Development Bank, Algeria can overcome the remaining obstacles to better public health.

– Kaihua Tymon Zhou
Photo: Wikimedia

African Union PassportEconomic development does not occur in isolation, and neither does the end of extreme poverty. Instead of working individually, African nations are uniting to find ways to improve Africa’s economy and lower poverty rates. Their latest attempt involves the deployment of the African Union Passport, which allows African citizens to travel freely throughout the continent.

Extreme Poverty Crisis

Africa is the world’s second-fastest-growing economic region. Economic growth usually leads to higher employment levels and overall standards of living. Despite recent improvements in Africa’s economy, extreme poverty levels have not decreased as expected. Instead, they have continued to rise. With an average poverty rate of 41 percent, sub-Saharan Africa is the region suffering the most from extreme poverty. The World Bank Group concluded that most of the global poor reside in sub-Saharan Africa. This region is made up of almost all the African countries except Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Despite a growing economy, many obstacles stand in the way of reducing poverty in Africa, including conflict and war and weak institutions.

Restricted Mobility

Another problem plaguing the African continent is a lack of regional mobility. African residents face stricter restrictions to travel across the continent compared to their European counterparts. In fact, the free movement of people, as well as goods, throughout the African continent, has been virtually nonexistent. For instance, a Nigerian businessman reported that he had to apply for 38 separate visas to conduct intra-regional business.

Regional mobility is a factor that generally drives economic development. The free movement of goods can boost a country’s GDP while the free movement of people can fill gaps in the labor market. Intra-regional movement accounts for a significant portion of Europe’s economy. Around 70 percent of all trade in Europe is intra-regional. In Africa, intra-regional accounts for less than 15 percent. As a result, Africa is missing various opportunities to boost its economy and reduce extreme poverty.

The Africa Visa Openness Index

In 2016, the African Development Bank had the vision to build a global market in Africa. The group believed regional mobility and intra-regional trade created more attractive markets. As a result, the African Development Bank began to track each African country’s visa entry requirements. The group also measured how freely African citizens were able to move through the continent. The Africa Visa Openness Index reports the group’s findings.

The Index ranks each of the 55 African countries in terms of visa openness. The following factors were used to determine the rankings: visa required (low openness ranking); visa on arrival (medium openness ranking) and no visa required (high openness ranking).

The Africa Visa Openness Index has influenced several African nations to make improvements to their trade and visa policies. For example, two years after ranking 28th on the Index in 2016, Benin’s President Patrice Talon announced that the country will no longer require visas for other Africans.

The launch of the African Passport will be the final stage in facilitating the free movement of people and goods across Africa. Africa’s entire population, approximately 1.2 billion people, will have an African Union Passport. This passport will serve as the key to freely move between African nations.

The idea for the African Union Passport is not new. The concept was proposed and approved by all 55 African nations decades ago. However, the dream of regional mobility became a reality after Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Chadian President Idriss Deby unveiled the prototype of the passport in 2016.

By 2020, all Africans will have an African Union Passport. The goal of the passport is to discourage regional isolation by increasing accessibility to intra-regional travel, tourism and trade. By working as a unit, Africa has the chance to boost economic development and end extreme poverty.

– Paola Nuñez
Photo: Wikimedia

Ghana’s Water Crisis
Much like many other countries in Africa, Ghana‘s water crisis is straining the nation. The local government has taken steps to try and minimize the damage, but a growing population, faulty equipment and rapid urbanization are outpacing most improvements. Here are eight facts about Ghana’s water crisis.

8 Facts About Ghana’s Water Crisis

  1. While some African countries suffer from a lack of water, Ghana suffers from too much polluted water. The problem lies in a lack of functioning water filters. The government plans to replace these defective filters, but the costs can run to an estimated $35 million. Despite this, the government is going ahead with the project with the support of outside companies, such as Native Energy and NGOs.
  2. The rapid urbanization in Ghana causes water pollution. Unsafe housing with poor housing facilities like sinks and toilets pour polluted water into waterways. This causes families to resort to water vendors, which are often not sanitary. This leads to a vicious cycle of water pollution, where more people get sick as a result.
  3. One of the leading diseases affecting the people of Ghana is cholera. It spreads primarily through the use of faulty toilets and plumbing. A flash flood further exacerbated the situation in 2014 when copious amounts of polluted water mixed with water supplies, affecting 30,000 people.
  4. The government has taken steps to improve the state of affairs with the Ghana Clean Water Project. This project seeks to improve the water situation by hiring skilled individuals to administer water quality testing as well as teaching communities how to maintain sanitation practices. The cleanliness is especially important since as mentioned before poor sanitation contributes heavily to Ghana’s water issues.
  5. Dry winter winds, called harmattan, also cause water shortages in Ghana. This leads to water rationing, which of course leads to protests and public discontent. Deforestation and illegal gold mining further exacerbate the problem by further polluting the limited water supply.
  6. Seventy-three percent of the population, or about 23 million people, use water that may not follow sanitary standards. This would mean that only 3.9 million people in Ghana can access water that is safe. Everyone else has to sift through contaminated water.
  7. Population growth, alongside rapid urbanization, also causes water pollution. Between 2016 and 2050, projections estimate that the population of Africa will double. For Ghana, this means that while new economic activities could crop up, the strain on water resources will also increase. Ghana’s situation can only get worse as time goes on if it leaves these issues unchecked.
  8. The African Development Bank calculated that granting universal access to water across Africa would cost $66 billion. This does not even include the $170 billion necessary to create a sustainable infrastructure to keep water supplies high. Officials in the government say that Ghana will need a better allocation of resources to see through possible improvements.

Unless the government receives outside help, however, it may be some time before it acquires any substantial gain in sanitation or water production. This is why these eight facts about Ghana’s water crisis are so important.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

Potential Rise in Poverty Among OPECThe drastic plunge that oil prices have taken from record figures of over $100 a barrel, down to averaging between $40-$45 a barrel, has left the economies of several OPEC countries beleaguered.

A potential rise in poverty among OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is expected as oil is indeed the cornerstone of a majority of their exports and revenue has swung drastically since 2014.

The combined effects of excess supply and competition among markets over the years have impacted OPEC nations like Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Iraq. The economic uncertainty has deterred these large developing economies adversely.

An estimated 250,000 jobs have been lost as a result of the progressive decline in oil prices and many more are threatened owing to the 50 percent drop over the last two years. This crisis will result in a potential rise in poverty among OPEC, with declining national incomes overall.

Moreover, the presence of Boko Haram in Nigeria has also been a factor that is currently impacting its oil exporting capacity. The 50 percent price decline has only fueled this.

To combat a potential rise in poverty and economic instability, the African Development Bank plans to provide loans worth $10 billion by the year 2019 to bolster various sectors, including energy and electricity. Despite Nigeria’s depreciating currency and 70 percent poverty rate, this method can greatly increase investment capacity and attract more investment.

The Abidjan, a bank based in the Ivory Coast, also resolved to provide $1 billion for supporting the Nigerian budget.

A report by Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper has commended its diversification projects as a means to boost economic growth amid uncertainty.

Existing tensions between oil-producing nations have also escalated as a result of the plummet. Many nations argue about freezing and regulating their output. Consequently, mediating between countries is a viable way to ease the pressure. Iraq is currently heading a conciliation with Iran and Saudi Arabia in an attempt for both countries to reach a consensus regarding the crisis.

Ecuador, OPEC’s smallest member, was especially plagued by the plunge in oil prices as the government has to control and curtail public expenditure. The government has looked to OPEC remedy the situation in some way.

President of OPEC and minister of energy and industry in Qatar, Mohammed Saleh Abdulla Al Sada, is also working actively to agree upon a benchmark price and output level for all countries to adhere to. A renewed benchmark output of 32.5 million barrels has recently been discussed. This could alleviate the price volatility and circumvent a potential rise in poverty among OPEC countries.

Similarly, Algeria has also been a strong advocate of cutting production among OPEC nations as a means to raise oil prices again. Algeria is expected to see a 3 percent drop in its GDP this year.

Furthermore, political and economic turmoil in Venezuela, owing to the oil price decline and President Nicolas Maduro’s ration laws has resulted in food shortages and a 700 percent crippling inflation rate. Venezuela already has a concurrent poverty rate of 32.1 percent.

However, many neighboring countries like Chile, Peru, Argentina and Colombia are in the strategic position to aid the people and reach out to Maduro. Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski recently called upon leaders to engage in the situation.

He believes that Peru’s pharmaceutical industry can be effectively used to help the country. Venezuela’s democratic Unity Alliance also echoes this view. Foreign aid is the only sustainable way for Venezuela to find its way through this major economic and financial bulwark.

Overall, a potential rise in poverty among OPEC countries may be the outcome of the drastic tumbling oil prices. It is vital that countries comply with OPEC proposals and guidelines to safeguard the interests of the economy and the people.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

African Development Bank Embarks on Youth and Women Support in Sahel
The African Development Bank has been ardent in their commitment to support women’s empowerment and employment opportunities for youth in Sahel. Alberic Kacou, vice president for Corporate Services and Human Resources at the African Development Bank, noted that the prevailing global economic challenges were a harbinger for African countries to diversify their economies and reduce poverty during a recent speech.

Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA)

The African Development Bank launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA). This program will invest $300 million in funded support for women. There is also an additional $3 billion to support African countries with women involved in business. Women will have an opportunity to empower themselves and create an independent path for other young African girls to pursue.

Jobs for Youth in Africa

In collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the African Development Bank launched the Jobs for Youth in Africa program to put an end to youth unemployment by creating 8 million agribusiness jobs within a five-year span.

The program will stimulate the creation of 25 million jobs within the next ten years. A total of $3 billion will be used to fund young entrepreneurs in Africa and facilitate the enhancement of skills to better network youths with industrial development.

Program Offers Youth Training

The training centers and facilities provided by the African Development Bank and the IITA will assist African youths to tackle work in the agricultural sector. The initiative also seeks to encourage unemployed African youths to become involved in agriculture in order to make it a catalyst for development in Africa.

Second Strategy in Effect

Akinwumi Adesina presented five development priorities for the institution in September 2015. The “Feed Africa” initiative is aimed to amplify job creation and make the agriculture sector a lucrative industry. The African Development Bank plans to reduce Africa’s imported food dependency by 2025.

The Benefit of Farmers

Another solution to improve the agricultural sector in Africa is to support local farmers by forming partnerships in the production of goods and reduce the amount of food being imported. This will enable the country to “feed itself” and decrease the high levels of youth unemployment. The removal of regional trade barriers will help to maximize Africa’s agricultural potential in food production.

These dynamic programs created by the African Development Bank will prove influential towards the welfare and positive development of African communities for youth and women.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

African Poverty Facts
Despite various obstacles, the African continent is seeing major progress in poverty-related areas. Africa is more than its struggle with distressing circumstances, and today its global importance is quickly growing. Here are the latest African poverty facts that you should know:

  1. Out of Africa’s 54 countries, 28 are among the poorest on earth, making Africa the poorest continent in the world. However, six of the world’s 10 most rapidly developing markets are also located on the continent.
  2. Roughly 70 percent of Africa’s population lives in rural poverty, but Time Magazine reports that African urbanization has risen to 37 percent with a third of the population considered middle-class by the African Development Bank.
  3. More than 40 percent of African women do not have access to basic education, and upward of 80 percent of African subsistence farmers are female, putting women at a significant disadvantage.
  4.  Africa’s children still suffer considerably. 20 percent live with some type of disability, six million die from malnutrition before age five every year, and 3,000 succumb to malaria every day.
  5. In Sub-Saharan Africa, around 313 million people lack improved water sources and nearly 235 million go without clean sanitation facilities.
  6. Half of Sub-Saharan Africans live on less than $1 per day. Yet, the African Development Bank estimates that by 2060 nearly one billion Africans are expected to enter the middle class.
  7. One in every four people in Sub-Saharan Africa are food-insecure and 23 million African children go to school hungry.
  8. Without government intervention, the U.N. estimates the number of people living in urban slums in Sub-Saharan Africa will double to 400 million by the year 2020.
  9. Poverty rates are higher in countries that are repeatedly exposed to violence. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, major armed conflicts occurred in 18 African countries since 1990. However, this is juxtaposed with the 30+ violent conflicts that took place in the years before and during the Cold War.

These African poverty facts demonstrate the prevalence of both poverty and progress and prove that, although many improvements are still needed,  the future of Africa is not bleak. Africa’s prospects are encouraging and overall, with continued support, success is ultimately attainable.

Kristina Evans

Photo: Prezi