Homelessness in Liechtenstein
Homelessness is a global issue and perhaps surprisingly to some, it even occurs in developed countries. For instance, an estimated 500,000 people go homeless on any given night in the U.S. Homelessness is a difficult problem to tackle because it can arise as a result of many different and complex factors. These variables include housing affordability, drug use, racial or gender discrimination, domestic abuse, loss of jobs and more. With such a plethora of causes, it can seem daunting, if not impossible to handle.

However, some countries in the developed world (as well as undeveloped nations) have done a good job of reducing homelessness. Homelessness in Liechtenstein is virtually nonexistent. Liechtenstein is a small country in the mountains between Switzerland and Austria, spanning 25 kilometers and boasting a population of just less than 40,000. While there are hardly enough homeless shelters in the U.S., Liechtenstein had to shut one down due to its lack of use. Liechtenstein has taken several policy initiatives that help it achieve this level of success in eradicating homelessness.

Addressing Homelessness in Liechtenstein

To prevent homelessness in Liechtenstein, the government provides housing subsidies to its citizens. The lack of affordable housing is perhaps the single greatest cause of homelessness, worldwide. With more and more people looking for housing, the value of land increases substantially. In this same vein, even the cost of renting a home has increased. This, in turn, creates a housing crisis for those with lower incomes. When these vulnerable populations are unable to afford a place to live, many consequently turn to the streets for shelter.

Notably, Liechtenstein mitigates this problem using several measures to ensure that everyone has access to housing. There are subsidies for the purchase of private homes and the construction and renovation of houses are also promoted by the government of Liechtenstein. For families whose income falls below a certain line, the government will provide financial alleviation in the form of rental subsidies.

Fighting Unemployment

Unemployment is another common cause of homelessness. Moreover, Liechtenstein has done a good job retaining high employment rates. Liechtenstein is a very small country; so small that the amount of jobs in the country is greater than its total population. Due to this, unemployment levels are perpetually low. The majority of jobs in Liechtenstein are in the financial and manufacturing sectors. This, in turn, makes the country an attractive place to work. Furthermore, Liechtenstein is one of the most industrialized countries in the world.

Homelessness in Liechtenstein does not exist for two main reasons: (1) low unemployment and (2) its government policies that make housing affordable for everyone. It is encouraging to see that there are places in the world today where homelessness does not exist and people are enabled to thrive. While each country has its unique issues to resolve and challenges to overcome, they will all strive to fight against poverty and eliminate homelessness within their borders. In that regard, the world can look toward Liechtenstein’s policies and practices as an example.

Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Healthcare in AustriaAustria is known for having one of the most generous and greatest healthcare systems across the world. Healthcare needs are readily accessible to Austrian citizens at little to no cost. The vast majority of the Austrian population has access to healthcare, as long as an individual is not willingly choosing to be unemployed.

Healthcare in Austria

  1. Two-tiered system: In the first tier of Austria’s two-tiered healthcare system, healthcare covers 99% of the population, of which 75% is typically funded through public taxes. However, citizens can also pay to have supplementary healthcare, which allows individuals to see private practitioners. As of 2010, it is estimated that 130,000 individuals chose to pay for private healthcare.
  2. Life-long private providers: For those who choose to pay for private or supplementary healthcare, insurance companies are not allowed to have restrictions within contracts, nor are they allowed to terminate an individual’s healthcare without permission. The private healthcare services can only be terminated by the individual, allowing the user to have access to life-long healthcare services.
  3. High accessibility to hospitals and pharmaceuticals: Despite the decline in hospital bed availability around the world, Austria has 271 hospitals containing more than 64, 000 beds and around 45,000 doctors, classing the country as having one of the highest bed/patient ratios in Europe. Along with the availability of hospitals and other health centers, the cost of pharmaceutical drugs in Austria is low. In 2012, Austria’s pharmaceutical costs were an estimated 18.6% lower than the rest of Europe.
  4. Public healthcare covers four areas: Within the Austrian healthcare system, there are four specific areas in which those who choose to have public healthcare, rather than private healthcare, can be covered: illness, maternity, precautionary and therapeutic aid. Each of these categories requires certain criteria for the individual to be categorized into one of the four areas.
  5. Tourists have access to healthcare: For those visiting Austria with a European Health Insurance Card, access to public healthcare is enabled. While this does not cover any private healthcare, it does cover basic doctor’s visits, dental services and even emergency hospital visits. This allows tourists or students who may need emergency medical assistance to access healthcare at a reduced fee.

Through this dynamic healthcare plan, Austria is able to provide healthcare and benefits for its citizens. Whether it be a simple checkup or something more extensive, Austria’s public healthcare system alleviates healthcare burdens for its people. Even for those who pay for a private healthcare plan, the cost of medical expenses is far less than many places around the world, as it is estimated to only cost $243 a month. Whether it be private or public healthcare, Austria’s two-tiered system has found itself among the highest-ranking healthcare systems in the world.

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

6 Facts about Hunger in Austria
Austria is a European nation inhabiting roughly 8.7 million people. It is famous for being one of the most prosperous economies of the nations in the EU. The nation is highly developed with important industries being food and luxury commodities, mechanical engineering and vehicle manufacturing. The capital of Austria, Vienna, is the country’s most famous city and the most popular tourist attraction. Vienna ranked as one of the top cities in the world for global quality of living. Austria has successfully combatted hunger and continues to do so. Here are six interesting facts about hunger in Austria that explains its success.

6 Facts about Hunger in Austria

  1. About 12% of Austrian nationals are at risk of poverty while 33% of non-nationals face the same risk. In other words, Austrian natives are much less likely to struggle with poverty and hunger than those who have migrated there. This could be attributed to a number of things such as assimilation to a new culture and their food prices.
  2. Austria has been a member of the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization since 1947. The goal of this organization is to help eradicate global hunger. Austria’s contribution makes up just under 1% of the FAO’s budget, which may not sound significant but is equivalent to about $2.6 million.
  3. Austria, although industrialized, has a large agricultural population. In recent years, there has  been an increasing trend in organic farming. This trend of organic farming has contributed to the reasonable prices of agricultural products. The nation is the 14th most food-secure ranked country. Food security is a measure of available food resources in comparison to those who need it which can help explain the low percentage of hunger in Austria.
  4. Environmental protection is an extremely important item on the nation’s political agenda. This includes prioritizing the availability of clean drinking water throughout the country. As a result of implanting the EU Water Framework Directive, the water quality in Austria’s lakes raises to “excellent levels.” In addition, the EU Water Framework Directive assesses the ecological state of bodies of water for best drinking practices.
  5. Austria has low undernourishment rates compared to other nations. This means that Austrians are less hungry and the food they are eating has solid nutritional value. Specifically, about 3% of the population in Austria is going hungry while the world average of hunger is slightly over 10%.
  6. In Austria, the total of “in-work at-risk of poverty” rate is about 7.7% compares to the European average of about 9.4%. While Austria’s working-poor average is low, this population still exists and is in need of help. Additionally, this working poor population can be due to the fact that Austria did not have a mandatory minimum wage. However, the Austrian government established a mandatory monthly gross wage of $1,000 in 2008.

It is evident that Austria has done a relatively good job of keeping its citizens fed while trying to help other nations reduce their rates of hunger as well. Austria is a great example of a country that is working to keep its citizens fed and healthy.

Danielle Wallman
Photo: Flickr

Hunger and Nutrition in Austria
After decades of making strides in the fight against hunger and food insecurity, hunger is on the rise. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that the number of undernourished people has risen. Around 821 million people were undernourished around the world in 2017, up from 804 million in 2016.

This article will address the top 10 most interesting facts about hunger and nutrition in Austria. Austria, like many other European nations, is lucky to have the socioeconomic ability to provide basic needs to most of their citizens, but Austria is not without flaws. These flaws will be addressed, as well as the progress Austria has made in its fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger and Nutrition in Austria

  1. Agricultural Land
    Austria has a very low amount of agricultural land. This land, defined by the OECD as “land area that is either arable, under permanent crops, or under permanent pastures” is necessary for a country to grow its own food. Because Austria does not have a large amount of agricultural land, the nation relies on imports. Best Food Importers names Austria as one of the most important food importers, with a constant need for imports of fruits and vegetables.
  2. Buying Local Food
    Not only does Austria have a comparably small amount of agricultural land, but it also faces more problems in the fight for food security for its local populations. Due to land-grabbing, local populations find it more difficult to buy locally, hence Austria’s aforementioned need to import food. However, Austria’s government is taking steps to fix parts of the problem. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has shown support for sustainable and fair land-use policies by supporting land rights for local populations and inclusion of disadvantaged populations in decision-making.
  3. Dietary Choices
    Austrians consume more saturated fatty acids and salt than the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends. Austrians consumed 12.7 percent of their total calorie intake from saturated fatty acids; the FAO recommends 10 percent. The FAO recommends 5 grams of salt intake a day. Austrian men, by average, consumed 9 grams of salt a day, and Austrian women consumed 8 grams per day.
  4. Obesity Rates
    In 2008 estimates, approximately 60 percent of Austrian men were found to be overweight, compared to the 48.5 percent of Austrian women being overweight. However, in terms of obesity, men and women seem to be nearly equal with 21 percent of Austrian men being considered obese, and 20.9 percent of Austrian women being obese. By 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that obesity numbers should rise to 25% for both men and women, and is predicted to steadily rise after that as well. This is a very important nutritional fact that needs to be corrected by the Austrian government.
  5. Stacking Up Against Other Nations
    Even though those numbers seem exceptionally high, when comparing these numbers to other Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED) member countries, Austria ranks very well. Austria self-reported that in 2014, 46.7 percent of its population over 16 years of age were overweight or obese. How does this compare to the other OECD countries? The United Kingdom’s overweight and obese population stands at 61.4 percent of its population over the age of 16, while the U.S. self-reported numbers of 65.1 percent of its 16+ population as obese or overweight, but it’s been measured to actually be 70 percent. Italy and Norway were the only European countries that measured better than Austria.
  6. Good Nourishment Rates
    Austria’s undernourishment percentages are low compared to the world average. In both 2000 and 2016, Austria’s prevalence of undernourishment was measured at 3 percent of its population. Currently, 10.6 percent of the world’s population is undernourished. This is once again, a place where nutritionally speaking, Austria is doing very well compared to other nations, but progress can continue to be made.
  7. 7. Food Security
    According to the Global Food Security Index, Austria ranks 14th in the index of the most food-secure countries in the world. Though in 2014 it was ranked as second, 14th still shows that Austria is still very food secure in comparison to most of the world. Affordability of food is Austria’s highest score, ranking 8th in affordability.
  8. Food Quality
    According to Oxfam, Austria ranks 4th overall on their list of 125 countries and their performance in the realm of supplying enough well quality food for its people. Austria was only ranked lower than France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Providing enough to eat, as well as providing high-quality food boosted Austria into the 4th place ranking.
  9. Water Quality
    Water in Austria is perfect. Austria provides 100 percent safe drinking water to 100 percent of its people. The water quality in Austria is superb as Austria has very strict environmental protection laws. Clean water is necessary for a healthy diet for many reasons, one of them being that the quality of food that can be provided to a population is dependent on the quality of water that went into the process of growing that food.
  10. ADA Efforts
    The ADA is doing its part in aiding countries that struggle with doing the same for their own populations. The ADA aids in water sanitation projects in countries such as Albania and Uganda. Not only are Austrian’s governmental agencies aiding in the fight for universal clean water, but NGOs such as CAREAustria are aiding in the fight as well. For example, CAREAustria has helped bring sanitation technology to parts of Ethiopia that have been damaged by violence and turmoil.

Hunger and Nutrition in Conclusion

As represented by the facts above, Austria does have some flaws within its fight against poor nutrition and hunger. High import rates and less sustainability is a problem, as is consuming too many unhealthy nutrients. All of these problems can be fixed by including both rural and urban populations in decision-making processes, as well as educating the populations on what a healthy diet looks like. And with the progress Austria has already made in providing high-quality food and water, as well as very affordable food prices, there does not seem to be a reason the progress Austria has made in the fight against hunger and poor nutrition won’t continue.

Kurt Thiele
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Austria

Water quality is important to any community, as it prevents illness, promotes the economy and ensures that citizens are healthy. Austria is considered one of Europe’s most water-wealthy countries, and the water quality in Austria is excellent. Austria witnesses on average 1,100 mm of precipitation each year. 50 percent of the drinking water in Austria comes from groundwater and the other 50 percent comes from springs.

Austria is ranked number one in the Environmental Performance Index (tied with 21 other countries) for water and sanitation. 100 percent of people in Austria have access to drinking water and sanitation. Drinking water sources are improved, meaning they are protected from outside contamination, in 100 percent of both urban and rural areas.

Despite already having high rankings for water and sanitation, Austria has also implemented efforts to improve its environment and water quality. One of these is The Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 2005, which assesses the effects that planned projects will have on the environment and its inhabitants, both humans and animals. The program has resulted in the water quality of Austrian lakes to rise to commendable levels.

Austria also implemented the EU Water Framework Directive, amending the preexisting Austrian Water Act. Meant to ensure quality water for EU citizens, the directive is meant to set specific environmental goals regarding groundwater and and surface waters, analyze the characteristics of river basins and the effect that human activity has on them and prevent further deterioration of aquatic ecosystems. The goal of these actions is to make access to quality water secure and sustainable, maintain and restore the near-natural state of bodies of water and to prevent contamination of water.

Along with stellar water and sanitation levels, Austrians also enjoy a ranking of eight out of 178 countries for overall Environmental Performance Index with a score of 78.32 out of 100. With its already good conditions and continued commitments to improve them, Austria is a model to the world of how to provide clean water to a country’s citizens.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Austria
While holding a position as a peaceful and democratic society, Austria‘s human rights record still leaves something to be desired. On the one hand, Austria chooses its leaders in free and fair multiparty elections, and freedom of the press is alive and well; however, there are still many complex institutional problems with human rights in Austria.

In 2008, there were several reports of excessive force by police, societal discrimination against Muslims, Jews and members of unrecognized religious groups, violence against women and children and human trafficking. In addition, several isolated incidents were reported of neo-Nazi and xenophobic extremism towards members of minority groups.

Complaints of police ill-treatment towards minorities are still often met with insufficient investigation and action both by the police and the judicial system. In a study done by the Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency, over 50 percent of immigrants and minorities believe that Austria has a widespread problem of discrimination.

Going hand in hand with this sentiment, racial profiling is also a major threat to human rights in Austria. For example, in 2009, the Viennese police based a large-scale operation almost entirely on racial profiling; after a string of burglaries, the police carried out searches of all houses known to be owned by people of Georgian or Moldovan origin, all without any grounds of suspicion.

This comes along with several other incidents of police discrimination around the same time, including the killings of a Chechen asylum seeker and a Sikh religious leader, both of which were under-investigated. It was later revealed that in both cases the Austrian police had ignored warnings or requests for personal protection.

This police mistreatment can even go so far as torture, as in the case of Bakary J., a Gambian citizen who was tortured by three Viennese police officers in 2006 when it became apparent that he was residing in the country illegally.

While authorities were at fault for failing to implement safeguards against torture and have not revised any official protocol, the Disciplinary Appeal Commission decided to fire two of the three officers involved and cut off the pension of the third.

Since these incidents, human rights in Austria have come to the forefront of the country’s consciousness. In 2011, Austria was officially elected as a member of the Human Rights Council by the U.N. General Assembly. With this new membership, Austria pledged to combat threats to women’s rights, failure of law enforcement and human trafficking. Also, there is a priority for protection of freedom of religion and the protection of religious minorities.

These are important first steps but, like many countries, Austria still struggles with racism and the role of police. Through these conflicts, the country will work to improve human rights for all its citizens.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in AustriaCompared to some other countries, Austria is fairly lucky with its resources and success. With a lot of access to potable water and a GDP of $386.4, Austria appears to be doing well. However, like the rest of the world, the people of Austria also suffer from medical conditions.

Due to the fact that clean water is widely available in the nation, Austrians are not very prone to waterborne illnesses, such as cholera and dysentery. Austrians tend to suffer more from diseases that are affected by genetics and lifestyles.

The top five common diseases in Austria that cause the most deaths are Alzheimer’s, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, COPD and cerebrovascular disease — all of which are noncommunicable.

Statistics prove that Austrians drink a substantial amount more than their European peers. According to research, they are the second largest alcohol consumers in the OECD. In a study, only 10 percent of Austrians stated that they didn’t consume any alcohol in the prior year. In addition to their high alcohol intake, Austrians also have high tobacco consumption rates — more than half of Austrian men ages 18 to 28 smoke.

Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco excessively leads to health problems. The top common diseases in Austria listed above consider either smoking or drinking as risk factors.

While one cannot really control their genes, they can control their lifestyle. Austria is making an effort to reduce the amount of tobacco consumption, so that they can eventually reduce the number of cases for the noncommunicable diseases that strike the nation. In 2009, the country banned smoking in public places, excluding restaurants and cafes. By 2018, Austria plans to ban smoking in restaurants and cafes, as well.

Although the country still has room to improve, it has still made a lot of progress. By taking measures such as banning smoking in public places, Austria is making it harder for its people to continue their unhealthy habits. Implementing policies to reduce risk factors, such as drinking and smoking, puts Austria on the right path toward healthier lifestyles and less noncommunicable diseases.

Raven Rentas

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Austria
Austria is a large European country with a population of more than 8.5 million people. The water quality in Austria is quite good compared to other places around Europe. It is a developed country with infrastructure that allows the nation access to clean drinking water.

The annual precipitation in Austria is around 1,100 mm making it one of the most water-wealthy countries in Europe and around the world. About half of the drinking water in Austria comes from groundwater resources while the other half comes from springs. Water consumption amounts to approximately 135 liters a day per person.

Having clean drinking water is the most important thing a country can have, it is essential for citizens living a healthy lifestyle. Using it for purposes such as showering, washing laundry, sanitation and personal hygiene is essential for allowing a household to run smoothly. Austria has no shortage of that availability.

Austria does not just look toward always improving their water situation, they are looking to help out countries that are still developing and don’t have the access to clean water. The Austrian Development Agency has supported developing countries in their efforts in setting up a water supply that is sustainable and is able to produce clean water. Austria is a country that is powerful enough to help the countries around it and prioritizes giving access to clean water and sanitation to people in Albania, Moldova, Mozambique, Palestine and Uganda. Aid of this nature is something that all developed countries with clean water can do to help out the countries where most live in poverty with no access.

The water quality in Austria is one of the best in the world. Not only are they constantly improving their own water systems, but they are also looking to help out other countries.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Austria is a beautiful country nestled in the Alps with a rich cultural and musical history. When floods of immigrants, mostly from Syria, poured over its borders in 2015, Austria became a focal point for global forced displacement. Because of the sheer volume of immigrants passing through, Austrian refugees face difficulties earlier generations did not.

10 Facts About Austrian Refugees

  1. Austria has a long history of embracing refugees. Most of the 200,000 people who fled during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 became refugees in Austria. The Prague Spring in 1968 and the Balkan Wars of 1995 also resulted in thousands of Austrian refugees
  2. Half of Vienna’s current 1.8 million residents are of immigrant origin, including Hungarians, Czechs, Poles, refugees from the Balkan Wars, Afghans and Turks.
  3. In the fall of 2015, 788,000 migrants traveled through Austria, many on their way to Germany and Scandinavia. Most fled from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — 300,000 came through Vienna in a matter of weeks.
  4. Unemployment in Austria during 2016 was 8.3 percent, the highest rate since the ’50s (higher than after the global financial crisis) and impacting competition for jobs for Austrian refugees seeking asylum.
  5. During the first days of the crisis, Vienna set up a Refugee Coordination Centre and erected 65 emergency shelters, which included 10,600 beds. The city’s police and social service groups worked with international nongovernmental organizations to help with immediate needs.
  6. An old army barracks outside Vienna called the Traiskirchen center housed 4,800. Originally set up to sleep 1,000, many refugees were forced to sleep outdoors. Amnesty International called attention to the deplorable living conditions.
  7. More than 90,000 Austrian refugees applied for asylum by the end of 2015. This is twice as many per capita as in Germany.
  8. One of the worst tragedies of the Syrian crisis occurred near the Austrian border in the town of Parndorf. A refrigerated truck carrying 71 refugees was found abandoned. All the occupants were dead.
  9. Austria has an education policy for the children of refugees. Every child is enrolled in a local school within two weeks of their arrival. They are also offered intensive German language classes and classes on life in Austria. Adult education is also offered.
  10. Some 21,600 refugees remain in Vienna, registered for basic welfare support. Half are in the asylum-seeking process.

The challenge ahead for Austrian refugees: assimilating into a new culture, learning a new language and finding suitable employment.

Jene Cates

Photo: Flickr

Education in Austria is well-known for its quality around the world. After educational reforms the 1960s, the university system has changed from one for the elite to one serving the masses. Following the liberalization of educational policy, specifically at higher level institutions, university enrollment has been boosted by domestic and EU students. Culturally rich, the high-income country offers affordable education for all. Since 2001, tuition and fees have been about $400-$800 per term.

A number of the country’s universities are ranked among the best in the world. Austria has 23 public and 13 private universities, institutions which enjoy a high degree of autonomy. According to QS World University Rankings in 2016-17, the University of Vienna placed 155th in the world and number one in Austria. Founded in 1365 by Duke Rudolph, the University of Vienna is the oldest German-speaking university in the world and has roughly 91,000 students enrolled. Today the institution offers 188 courses from African Studies to Zoology.

In the face of the recent refugee crises, 21 Austrian universities, including the University of Vienna, participated in a program of support called MORE, launched by The Austrian University Conference (UNIKO) in September 2015. The organization helps refugees — whose documents are often lost — to enroll to academic courses, provides an exemption from tuition fees, German language and integration courses.

The initiative also includes many other forms of support such as donations, sports courses and medical support. Most of the universities provide between 15 and 100 places for MORE applicants, who now have an opportunity to receive education in Austria.

Yana Emets

Photo: Flickr