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Poverty in GuyanaWith a population of less than 1 million, Guyana is a country located in the northern region of South America. Guyana’s richness in natural resources including gold, timber and sugar, render its economy highly dependent on its exports, a sector that accounts for more than 60% of its GDP. Guyana’s last official poverty measurement was done in 2006. According to the results, 36.1% of the population in the country were living in poverty, including 18.6% that were living in extreme poverty. According to the Guyana Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2011 to 2016, the country has made some progress in poverty levels since 1992. Despite progress, Guyana is one of the poorest countries in South America, which indicates that the country continues to struggle with poverty.

Five Facts about Poverty in Guyana

  1. The poverty rate is high. According to the Inter-Development Bank (IDB), the poverty rate in Guyana. measured as the percentage of people living on less than $5.50, reached 41.2% in 2017. The IDB has
    also shown that poverty disproportionately affects the country’s rural non-coastal areas where it amounts to more than 50%. The latter statistic denotes significant disparities in poverty concentration along ethnic lines since approximately two-thirds of the Guyanese population living in the rural interior communities are indigenous.
  2. Children and young adults are greatly affected. In terms of age group, Guyanese children are the poorest. Children aged 16 or younger in Guyana are faced with a high poverty rate of 47.5%, while for young adults between the ages of 16 and 25, that figure exceeds 33%. This data is potentially indicative of the country’s troubled economic standing.
  3. The emigration of trained or skilled people is problematic. The brain-drain of skilled workers in Guyana hinders necessary contributions to developments in various economic sectors such as healthcare. Guyana’s unemployment rate stands at 12%, while the percentage of unemployed youth exceeds 20%, according to a 2017 study. This factor makes it difficult to keep trained professionals in the country.
  4. Environmental instability affects economic growth. An additional challenge against economic growth in Guyana is related to fluctuations in climate and weather conditions. In addition to gold, sugar and timber, the export of bauxite, shrimp and rice is also a major source of income to this Latin-American nation. Natural disasters such as floods, to which it is highly susceptible, have been responsible for nearly 94% of the negative impact on Guyana’s economy, according to a 2016 UNICEF study.
  5. Malnutrition seriously affects the indigenous population. Statistics indicate that 25% of indigenous children are stunted, a figure much higher than the national average. It is also estimated that 16% of newborn indigenous children in Guyana are underweight (below 2500g at birth).

Although data shows that the moderate poverty rate (people living on $2 per day) had slightly declined, poverty in Guyana continues to cripple the country in vital areas, leaving much to be done to improve the situation. In spite of the country’s natural resources, Guyana does not meet its economic potential. To alleviate the long-term implications of poverty, it is imperative that poverty in Guyana continues to be a focal point of international aid and developmental endeavours.

Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuyanaGuyana is a country located on the northeast corner of South America. Due to economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, hunger in Guyana has dropped by almost 50%. Though food availability is not a problem, making food accessible to the rural and remote populations remains a challenge. Here are five facts about hunger in Guyana.

5 Facts About Hunger in Guyana

  1. Between 50,000 and 60,000 Guyanese suffer from undernourishment. Though about 21% of the Guyanese population suffered from malnourishment in previous decades, that number was reduced to less than 10% in 2015. The Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that by 2050 Guyana’s agricultural sector would need to produce 50% more food than in 2012 to counter this. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to increase investments to help improve Guyana’s agricultural capacity.
  2. Guyana met an internationally established target in the fight against hunger. Guyana halved the number of malnourished people between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, being one of 38 countries to do so. In 2008, around 6% of children under the age of 5 suffered from mild to moderate malnutrition. This was down from 11.8% in 1997. In June 2013, Guyana was honored at an award ceremony in Rome held by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for reducing the number of people facing hunger in the country.
  3. Raising agricultural productivity helps counter hunger. Over 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This means that if agricultural productivity increases, access to food may improve. Campaigns such as the Grow More Food Campaign, the Basic Nutrition Programme and the National School Feeding Programme assist in increasing access to food in Guyana.
  4. Climate change exacerbates hunger in Guyana. Higher temperatures cause a decline in crop yields, which threatens food security and contributes to malnutrition. Since much of Guyana’s population depends on increased agricultural productivity, this is a serious risk for the Guyanese. Guyana’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2002 projected an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. They are projected to double between 2020 and 2040 and triple between 2080 and 2100. Temperature is also projected to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1995 levels during the first half of the 21st century.
  5. The U.N. is attempting to counter the harm posed to hunger due to changing weather patterns. The FAO has assisted the Guyanese government in developing a plan for risk management in the agricultural sector. Similarly, the Guyanese government plans to create opportunities for carbon mitigation through carbon sequestration and biofuel production. This will aim to lessen the effects of climate change and expand agricultural production.

Though Guyana is not devoid of malnutrition, hunger has been and can be reduced. Ensuring that the Guyanese population has ample access to food, as well as increasing agricultural productivity, can help lessen the number of people who suffer from malnutrition. The U.N. is working to assist Guyana and their support can be a good first step to help lessen hunger in Guyana.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in GuyanaThe catalyst for improvement of Guyana’s healthcare system was the HIV/AIDs crisis, which was difficult to manage as a result of the country’s insufficient healthcare system. Since then, however, healthcare in Guyana has improved substantially. Some of the most notable improvements to Guyana’s healthcare system include an increase in life expectancy, increased immunization coverage, increased education and awareness surrounding health issues and decreased infant mortality rates.

“Health Vision 2020”

Healthcare in Guyana is comprised of both a public and a private sector. The Ministry of Public Health leads the public healthcare sector, which functions as a universal healthcare system for all citizens and residents of Guyana. In 2013, the World Health Organization, in combination with Guyanese government agencies and other key stakeholders, created “Health Vision 2020,” a national health strategy enacted to improve the standard of living in Guyana.

Since the strategy’s enactment in 2013, Guyana has seen an impressive decline in the number of reported malaria cases, which once presented an overwhelming threat to the wellbeing of the population. In 2013, there were 31,479 reported cases of malaria. Just two years later in 2015, Guyana minimized the threat of malaria, reporting only 9,984 cases.

Over a slightly longer period of time, Guyana also saw an increase in life expectancy, progressing from 59 years for males in 1992 to 63 years in 2011. In 1992, females were expected to live for 66 years, while in 2011 female life expectancy reached 69 years. Also notable is the improvement made in the number of children receiving an immunization to measles. The percentage of children who received the measles vaccine amounted to 99% in 2012, up from 73% in 1992.

Although the improvements made to Guyana’s healthcare system are commendable, particularly under “Health Vision 2020,” there are still many issues that Guyana’s healthcare system overlooks.

Equitable Healthcare for Hinterland Communities

Though universal healthcare does exist in Guyana, free healthcare facilities and resources are generally catered to reach the majority of the population. Almost 90% of Guyana’s population lives in coastal areas, whereas only about 10% of the population lives in the rural hinterlands. As a result, there is a far greater concentration of healthcare facilities and resources in the coastal areas. Access to healthcare for those living in the hinterlands of Guyana is limited, given that there are few healthcare clinics located outside of coastal areas. Healthcare clinics located in remote areas offer services inferior in quality.

Non-Communicable Diseases

Guyana’s healthcare system has also been unable to curb the effects of non-communicable diseases. In 2012, non-communicable diseases made up the top five leading causes of death in Guyana. Still today, some of the leading causes of deaths in Guyana include ischaemic heart disease and diabetes. In 2015 alone, diabetes was responsible for 9% of the total deaths in Guyana.

Although non-communicable diseases are non-transmissible, it is possible to reduce the number of those with these diseases, particularly through education and awareness. Many non-communicable diseases are caused by high intake levels of alcohol, tobacco, salt, sugar and a lack of physical inactivity. Heightened public awareness of the causes of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in Guyana would likely reduce the number of those infected.

Healthcare Workforce

While Guyana has managed to recruit more than 500 trained doctors and physicians over the last five years, shortages in the workforce “exist in areas such as registered nurses and nurse midwives, radiographers, medical technologists and social workers.” Part of the problem stems from a lack of incentives for healthcare workers to stay in the public sector and as practitioners in the country. There is also a lack of foreign expertise in the Guyanese healthcare system. Foreign doctors often offer valuable knowledge, especially when dealing with diseases and viruses that might be less common in Guyana.

What Is Being Done?

The Organization for Social and Health Advancement for Guyana and The Caribbean (OSHAG) is a nonprofit organization based in Queens, New York, that demonstrates the possibility for effective solutions to these pressing issues. The organization strives to raise awareness about the need for improved medical services and treatment in Guyana, specifically for cancer patients. OSHAG raises awareness through health education and gatherings of medical professionals with valuable skills to offer to patients in Guyana.

In 2014, OSHAG’s team of medical professionals provided training to nurses within four of the 1o regions that make up Guyana. The team worked to improve the chemotherapy and oncology department at the Guyana Georgetown Public Hospital. Though the organization specifically aims to improve treatment, services and facilities for cancer patients, OSHAG’s impressive leadership and methodology demonstrate what is possible for healthcare in Guyana. With increased awareness, education and foreign interest and investment, healthcare in Guyana can undoubtedly reach new heights.

Though Guyana has made impressive improvements to its healthcare system, there is still room for improvement. Unequal access to healthcare services and facilities, non-communicable diseases and an understaffed healthcare workforce present some of the most pressing problems. However, each of these problems can be addressed through heightened public awareness and education, and increased financial investment and foreign relations.

Stacy Moses
Photo: Flickr

Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project
On April 28, 2017, the World Bank approved a $13.3 million credit toward the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project. The project aims to improve various aspects of school operations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels in Guyana.

While school enrollment is rapidly expanding at all levels, many Guyanese students still fail to meet baseline standards in math or English. In the 1970s, Guyana faced major economic decline and public schools received little funding. Many teachers left the country in order to pursue higher-paying positions, leaving schools with untrained and inexperienced teachers.

The economy began to improve in the 1980s as Guyana diversified its exports. Several education-focused aid programs began implementation. Approved by the World Bank in 1989 and completed three years later, the Primary Education Improvement Program of Guyana aimed to train more teachers and provide better physical facilities at the primary level. From 1987-1992, UNESCO sponsored the Equal Opportunity for Girls in Technical and Vocational Education, which involved the training of teachers and female students in the industrial arts at the secondary level.

These and similar programs that ran at the same time had mixed successes. Girls studying the industrial arts program scored better than their peers on standardized tests, and a significant number went on to take courses in the industrial arts at the Guyana Industrial Training center. However, despite the amount of work that has been done to sufficiently train teachers in different disciplines, the Cyril Potter College of Education, Guyana’s main teacher-training facility, simply cannot meet primary and secondary schools’ demand for teachers.

Taking this into account, the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project will mainly work toward developing new curriculums at the primary and secondary levels and training 6,500 teachers in these curriculums. As a lack of facilities continues to pose a problem, the project will also build a new facility to house the University of Guyana’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank Country Director of the Caribbean, notes that “[q]uality education is one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty.” As Guyana’s GDP has continued to rise dramatically every year since 2005, the Guyana Education Sector Improvement project will hopefully reinforce this economic growth–and vice versa.

Caroline Meyers
Photo: Flickr


Modern media and legislation are flooded with facts about asylum seekers because of refugee crises in the Middle East. The numbers in facts about Guyana refugees, albeit minuscule compared to 24 million Syrians, represents the refugee crisis on a smaller scale.

In 1994, there were 822 asylum applicants out of the South American country of Guyana. This figure drastically dropped over the following seven years, and increased again in 2002, with 847 applications. In the next year, 2003, 729 Guyanese sought asylum to main asylum countries like Canada and France. Additionally, more than 640 of those 729 applicants sought asylum in Canada and 45 applicants sought asylum to France.

The asylum-seeking number plummeted again in 2004, with only 315 total applications. There were even fewer the next year. The total number of asylum applications to main asylum countries in 2005 was just 279.

More recent facts about Guyana refugees show a downward sloping trend. A world database reported the total number of initial and continuing asylum applications of refugees from Guyana in 2015 to be only 122. The database provided a breakdown of which countries received the applications and how many were rejected.

Guyanese asylum seekers filed 46 applications seeking refuge to the United States, 38 to France, 31 to Canada and seven to the United Kingdom. Of those 122 applications, 40 were rejected. The United State rejected five applications, France rejected 19, Canada 10 and six were rejected by the United Kingdom.

According to the Migration Information Source, there were 2.86 million South American immigrants in the United States in the year 2014. Guyana represented 273,000, or 9.6 percent of those South American immigrants. In 2013, five percent of South Americans obtained green cards as refugees or asylees.

In that same year, there were reportedly 700 outgoing refugees from Guyana. More than 180 asylum seekers’ cases were pending at the start of 2014, and 145 asylum seekers’ cases were pending at the end of the year.

In 2014, there were 94 rejections, 27 asylum seekers were recognized and 31 asylum seekers’ applications were marked as closed. In total, 153 decisions were made and during the year and 145 new asylum applications were filed. Of all decisions, 17.6 percent were determined to be recognized refugees, with less than one percent receiving complementary protection status. More than 60 percent were rejected.

Current and ongoing refugee crises in Afghanistan and Syria have flooded the news cycle with facts about asylum seekers. Although small in comparison with three million refugees coming out of Afghanistan, the facts about Guyana refugees represent the crisis on a smaller scale.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Guyana
One of any civilization’s most important resources is its water supply, and in Guyana, the importance of water quality is paramount. Guyana’s top exports and leading industries are agricultural, which requires a massive proportion of the country’s water withdrawals (94.4 percent in 2010). The country’s long-term average annual precipitation is 2.4 meters, and the average actual renewable water resources total around 600,000 gallons a year.

According to U.N. Water, Guyana invested around $36 million into water-related infrastructure and programs from 2003 to 2011, and more than 37 percent of that money, approximately $13 million, was put into the large water supply and sanitation systems. “In 2003, water supply and sanitation – large systems received 7.9 million constant 2010 U.S. dollars, representing the largest amount invested by the government in one water-related category over this period,” the U.N. Water Guyana country brief states.

In that seven-year span, official development assistance totaled more than $84 million, of which nearly 35 percent, or $29 million, went toward large water supply and sanitation systems. The U.N. Water report on Guyana states that water, sanitation and hygiene factors contributed to more than 300 deaths in 2004, which is nearly 3.5 percent of all deaths in the country. Since 1990, the under-five child mortality rate has dropped from a probability of 65 per 1,000 lives births to fewer than 30 per 1,000 live births in 2010. This may be due to the increased number of children with access to improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities.

The U.N. water report also states that 94 percent of the country’s 758,000 people used an improved drinking water source in 2010, compared to 88 percent in 1994. In addition, the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities rose 10 percentages points in those 16 years.

The report notes that little data is available on drinking water quality in Guyana. It clearly states that the country faces water-related challenges, including contamination of potable water supplies, which lead to water-borne diseases such as vector-borne lymphatic filariasis and leptospirosis. It also notes that there is a lack of highly qualified personnel within water sector institutions.

According to the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), these diseases are generally associated with standing water, mosquito-borne lymphatic filariasis and contaminated (water related) leptospirosis.

A July 2014 news release from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) states that water quality in Guyana may soon vastly improve with The Program to Improve Water and Sanitation Infrastructure and Supply.

The IADB loaned Guyana Water Incorporated more than $16 million while the European Union invested more than $14 million, in part to educate residents on proper hygiene practices.

This program could help decrease the prevalence of leptospirosis as it is commonly correlated with coming in contact with waters contaminated by animal waste, according to the CDC.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr


Hunger in Guyana has improved exponentially over the past decade as the number of people who suffer from hunger has been halved.

According to the U.N., Guyana is one of 38 countries that have met internationally established targets in the effort to eliminate hunger.

The country was recognized by the World Food Summit (WFS) for more than halving the absolute number of undernourished people between 1992 and 2012. The number reduced from more than 19 percent to just over five percent in that 20-year time span. The number lowered from 143,000 to 38,000 undernourished people.

Reflected in the WFS report are the implications of poverty, food insecurity and hunger in Guyana. Extreme poverty in Guyana has declined from 28.7 percent in 1993 to 18.6 percent in 2006. In order to reach the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, that rate must have fallen by four percentage points by 2015.

The report raised concern not about the availability of food in the region, but rather the ability to make food widely accessible. Guyana has remote rural regions of underdeveloped communities to which it is difficult to distribute quality, nutritious meals. Raising agricultural productivity is the key in this regard because remote rural areas are largely dependent on their own crops and livestock.

Sixty percent of the country’s gross domestic product is represented by six exports: sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice. Guyana was once a powerful producer of sugar, yet its production sunk to an all-time low in 2014. However, more recent crop production numbers have shown improvement.

To limit malnutrition, assuring the right food choices is important. In 2008, less than one percent of children under five suffered from extreme malnutrition. In addition, less than six percent experienced mild to moderate malnutrition.

The country’s minister of agriculture Leslie Ramsammy produced a food security report in July 2012. The report stated that an increasing population and the adverse of effects of climate change were the drivers of food insecurity. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently established a National Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Plan for the agriculture sector.

Ramsammy noted that a high food import bill and high national debt were the two biggest threats. At that time, debt levels were at more than 45 percent of Guyanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The minister of agriculture concluded that Guyana must reaffirm its commitment to the science of crop management and agriculture practices.

Hunger in Guyana has improved greatly over the past 20 years. The country has resolved to work with international organizations to reach global goals to develop locally groundbreaking agriculture advancements.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Guyana Oil

Exxon Mobile’s recent Guyana oil discovery has given the historically poor nation reason to cheer. With oil the most important commodity in the global market, the South American country expects to make a large profit from the discovery.

Exxon Mobil found the oil on their sprawling 6.6 million acre oilfield off the coast of Stabroek, Guyana.

In the Stabroek block, the company’s Liza-1 well was drilled to more than 17,000 feet. There, the company found more than 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.

The oil company is encouraged by the discovery and plans to determine the potential of the other sites.

With Liza-1 being the company’s first site of many, there is a good chance of further discoveries. Also, the findings from the well will be sent for analysis to determine its full commercial potential.

Even if no further discoveries are made, Guyana’s former Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment believes any discovery of oil will greatly boost the nation’s economy.

With Guyana having the 157th largest economy in the world, the recent discovery of the highly valued commodity promises to have transformational effects on the nation. Large revenues and foreign investments will pour into the country from its oil sales.

To ensure that the money will be used wisely, the President of Guyana, David Granger, promises to create a sovereign wealth fund from the Guyana oil revenue.

A sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is a pool of a nation’s money that is set aside for investments that will benefit the country’s economy and citizens. In this case, the revenue from Guyana oil sales will be put into a fund that will be reinvested in the country.

To assist in the creation of the SWF, Guyana is turning to their neighbor to the north, Canada. Researchers at the University of Calgary are putting together plans for the creation of the SWF.

Speaking on this, Guyana’s Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, said, “So later in the month of November, a team is coming from the University of Calgary with the specific responsibility of putting together the mechanism for what we refer to as the Sovereign Wealth Fund.”

The minister went on to reveal that the SWF will be split into three separate sub-funds.

One will look to secure funds the nation’s wealth for the future generations. The second will be a rainy-day fund for the nation’s budget in fiscally lean years. The third will be for developmental projects or initiatives.

Trotman expanded on this, saying, “So there are three funds that comprise the Sovereign Wealth Fund, but each has a different rate at which it is supplied and different reasons or mechanisms from which it can draw down.”

The three sub-funds ensure that the Guyana oil wealth will be used to benefit the nation as a whole. It includes investments into development and plans to save for the future.

The SWF is such a popular idea among the people that during the previous election both the current President and the opposition party had plans to create one.

Upon inauguration, President Granger promised that any funds from natural resources would benefit the people through an SWF.

He believes an SWF will make sure that “children will not have to live in poverty; that no matter what happens to the resources of the country, there will always be wealth to look after their education.”

The large oil revenues pouring into the SWF ensures that Guyana will have a strong investment in the nation and its citizens.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Guyana Times 1, Guyana Times 2, Investopedia, Quandl
Photo: Guyanese Online

Hydropower in Guyana
Guyana is currently developing a plan to harness Amaila Falls’ potent hydropower, power that is capable of producing electricity (165MW to be exact) for the whole of Guyana, reports The Economist.

The project is set to cost around $840 million and was initially headed by Sithe Global of the global investment and advisory firm, the Blackstone Group. In addition, investments from China Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank were to take part in harnessing the country’s torrents.

However, a lack of unanimous concession by the Guyanese legislative branch has resulted in Sithe Global’s withdrawal from the project. Primary criticisms by legislators were its lack of transparency—particularly the projects expenditures and the engineering plans.

The deals brokering between the Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. and its power players remained cloak and dagger, arousing skepticism from the project’s critics.

Despite the halt in the project, it was predicted to minimally affect the ecological community. Moreover, the site of the project, located at the intersection of the Amaila and Kuribrong Rivers is 30 km from the nearest community, supposedly to avoid disturbing any local villages in the region.

With the promise of hydroelectricity in 2017, Guyana could possibly reduce its reliance on imported oil although the cost of electricity will remain expensive.

Furthermore, with a shift to hydropower, green house gas emissions (GHG) were projected to decrease by 87%.

It’s realization would have cost the federally funded Guyana Power and Light (GPL) company to pay an estimated $100 million a year to the aforementioned investment groups and companies.

Despite the country’s massive potential for hydroelectricity, the project remains at a standstill. The secrecy of the project propelled its main investors, from remaining with the project. Yet, Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar recently stated that Sithe Global is still very much interested in the project, pending Parliament’s unanimous agreement.

Regardless of legislative decision, the go-ahead for the project remains largely with Sithe Global, who possesses the license to Amaila Falls’ development.

– Miles Abadilla

Sources: Amaila Hydropower, The Economist, Fox News, Kaieteur News
Photo: Wondermodo

guyana_children
Poverty in Guyana remains a problem. Guyana is a small country located in Northern South America that borders Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname. Initially a Dutch colony in the 17th century, Guyana came under British control in 1815. The British first used African slave labor to man their sugar plantations, but slavery was finally abolished in 1834. The abolition of slavery in Guyana led former slaveholders to import indentured servants from India, maintaining ethnic and socioeconomic divisions in the colony. Though Guyana achieved independence from the U.K. in 1966, the country is still experiencing the aftereffects of its colonial background.

Societal Divisions in Guyana
Today, approximately three quarters of Guyana’s population descends from slave or indentured servant populations. 43.5% of Guyana’s population is of East Indian descent, and 30.2% is of African descent. These dominant ethnic groups frequently clash, backing ethnically based political parties and voting almost entirely along ethnic lines. Roughly 43% of Guyana’s population lives below the poverty line, with indigenous people comprising the biggest fraction of those affected.

Education and Economy
Though Guyana reports a literacy rate of 91.8%, the poor quality of education and teacher training combined with its suffering infrastructure contribute to a much lower level of functional literacy for most of the population.

Guyana’s emigration rate is also one of the highest in the world, with 55% of its citizens living abroad. The country is one of the largest recipients of remittances relative to GDP out of Latin American and Caribbean countries. 80% of Guyanese citizens with tertiary degrees have left the country, depriving those living in Guyana of invaluable services, including healthcare.

The Guyanese government owned more than 80% of industries until the 1990’s, but mismanagement combined with falling commodity prices and high fuel costs caused the standard of living to fall drastically. The government has since divested itself of many industries, but problems such as deforestation, violent crime and widespread poverty continue to threaten the economy.

Poverty Statistics
Roughly two-thirds of Guyanese citizens living in poverty, or 29% of the population, can be classified as being extremely poor. Most of the poor live in rural areas and work as agricultural laborers. Though Guyana’s farmers have access to adequate land resources, their productivity is extremely low.

Guyana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Latin America, with 280 deaths per 100,000 live births. Its infant mortality rate is the 66th highest in the world, with 34.45 deaths per 1,000 live births. These grave statistics can be attributed in part to the low density of physicians, with just .59 doctors per 1,000 people. 1.2 percent of Guyana’s population is living with HIV/AIDS, a rate higher than that of most other Latin American countries.

Solutions to Poverty in Guyana
The World Bank is currently working in Guyana to refocus public expenditures to improve the infrastructure and the quality of health, education, and water services. Advocating for the privatization of most industries, the World Bank hopes to increase opportunities for investment and conserve government resources.

The United Nations Development Programme is also working to empower vulnerable people in Guyana by improving the economic status of indigenous groups and establishing community livelihood projects that will create jobs.

Though Guyana ranks 117th out of 187 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index, continued aid and humanitarian assistance will ensure that its citizens can overcome past subjugation and establish a strong infrastructure.

– Katie Bandera

Sources: CIA, World Bank, UNDP, BBC
Photo: California Historical Society