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Life Expectancy in Uganda
Life expectancy in Uganda has significantly improved in the past decade. Ugandan men born in 2016 are now projected to live 59.8 years, and women have a life expectancy of 64.8 years. This is a marked increase from 2000 when Uganda’s average life expectancy was only 47 years.

The higher rate of life expectancy correlates to more expected years of schooling (11.6 years) and an improved Human Development Index (HDI) value, a summary measure that assesses the long-term progress of a given nation. In 2017, Uganda’s HDI value was 0.516, a substantial 66 percent jump from 1990.

Raising the Life Expectancy Rate

The Ugandan government is working proactively to raise the life expectancy rate even more in the future. In conjunction with The Family Planning Association of Uganda, its initiatives include lowering the population growth rate from 3 percent to 2.6 percent, improving the current population’s physical and mental health as well as social standards and implementing fertility reduction measures. The government additionally plans to incorporate sex education in schools, maternity and paternity benefits and raising the legal marriage age.

The government’s efforts to limit population growth have proven to be effective. “[B]ecause they have smaller families than in the 1980s that makes them enjoy some kind of mental peace and increase their life expectancy,” said Paul Nyende, the head of The Institute of Community Psychology at Makerere University. He also added, “People had an average of eight children in those years, but the number has now been reduced to four because they are sure of their children’s survival.”

Life expectancy in Uganda is steadily improving, but there is much work to be done. Uganda has not yet met the threshold of a developed country. Even with Uganda’s improved HDI, the East African country still remains low in the development category when compared to the 70 years or more found in developed countries.

Issues That Need to Be Addressed

The country’s health care continues to be among the worst in the world. In fact, according to The World Health Organization, Uganda is ranked 186 out of 191 nations. This has gotten worse in recent years since many of Uganda’s hospitals have closed and a large number of medical personnel have left the country for better opportunities.

“Communicable diseases like HIV, malaria and lower respiratory infections are still taking the lives of far too many Ugandans. Children are at particular risk, and neonatal ailments like sepsis, pre-term birth and encephalopathy have killed thousands of infants. There is still a lot of work to be done…” said Dr. Dan Kajungu, Executive Director of Makerere University Centre for Health and Population Research (MUCHAP).

However, Uganda has already set itself up as a global example in regards to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Uganda continues to successfully combat HIV/AIDS with a comprehensive strategy involving abstinence, partner reduction and barrier protection, all resulting in the reduction of HIV to a manageable level since the early 2000s. This is in contrast to rising HIV rates in many other countries and has played a key part in Uganda’s improvements to life expectancy.

Furthermore, improvements have been made in the health sector in regards to maternal and child mortality rates, which have dropped from 488 to 336 per 1000 for maternal and 54 to43 per 1000 infant. Immunizations are up as well. At least 72 percent of children will receive measles vaccination before their first birthday.

Going forward, in order to continue increasing life expectancy rates in Uganda, the government must entice skilled Ugandans living abroad to return as well as provide opportunities for people currently living in the country, like education and better career options. If the same rapid acknowledgment is given to other areas of concern in national health, life expectancy in Uganda can only rise.

The government is taking steps in the meantime to nurture their health sector despite the imminent challenges. Goals include movement towards universal health coverage, bolstering immunization rates and having prepared responses to disease outbreaks. The future is promising, and Uganda’s ministry of health expects further improvement as other initiatives take deeper root.

– Yumi Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in ChadLocated in Central Africa, Chad is a landlocked country with a population of approximately 12 million people. While the national poverty fell from 54.8% in 2002 to 46.7% in 2011, Chad remains 186th out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. Credit access in Chad stands out as one of the leading impediments to economic growth.

Financial Institutions in Chad

Chad’s financial depth is among the lowest in Africa. According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Development Database (GFDD, 2016), financial system deposits of commercial banks and other financial institutions made up 6.8% of GDP in 2014 in Chad, three times lower than the sub-Saharan African median of 24.6%, and the lowest in the sub-region that year.

Likewise, the ratios of private credit to GDP and deposit money banks’ assets to GDP were less than a half of the median in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, coming at 6.6% and 8.1% respectively.

The role credit has in the growth of developing countries’ economies cannot be overstated. Increased credit access in Chad is essential for allowing farmers, businesses, and consumers across Chad to utilize investment capital and thus help expand economic activity.

Credit Access in Chad

There has been a marked decline in financial and credit access in Chad between 2011 and 2014, according to Global Findex Data. During that period, the proportion of adults with an account at a bank declined from 9% to 7.7%. In comparison, the average proportion of adults with an account at a financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 23.9% to 28.9%.

Borrowings and savings in Chad experienced a similar trend. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of adults who borrowed money from a bank declined from 6.2% to 2.4%, while the proportion of those who saved declined from 6.8% to 4.6%.

In order for people living in Chad to grow businesses, buy homes or purchase goods, the imperative is that they have access to financial institutions so that they can borrow and save money from those institutions. Credit is essential for building capital and achieving economic growth.

Progress is Being Made

While these statistics might suggest a rather grim financial situation, there is some progress that indicates an improvement of credit access in Chad for its citizens. IMF Financial Access Survey Data report from 2015 notes an increase in ATMs from 30 in 2011 to 64 in 2014. Borrowers at commercial banks have increased from 2.8 to 8.8 per 1000 adults. While these gains are modest and fall short of the sub-Saharan Africa average, they present a glimpse of hope for a country plagued by inaccessible credit and financial institutions.

As mobile banking proliferates throughout Chad’s financial sector, it offers increased access to credit. A Luxembourg based telecommunication firm, Tigo, and Airtel Money, an Indian telecommunications firm have helped facilitate the transition to mobile banking in Chad. They offer services that allow users to pay bills, conduct money transfers, and make everyday purchases. As of 2013, there are 50,000 Tigo Cash users and 53,000 Airtel Money users in Chad.

In addition, a recent U.N. initiative, the Chad Local Development and Inclusive Finance Program, works to promote access to financial institutions and foster sustainable development. The program aims to create 20 multifunctional centers for financial services and 20,000 micro-enterprises. These enterprises will help create jobs for at least 500,000 households.

While Chad’s financial woes are far from over, the proliferation of mobile banking and microfinance across the country have allowed more people to gain access to credit.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

AngolaA nation that has been in political turmoil since its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola has had major concerns formulating a stable, unified country free of conflict. Despite it being Africa’s second largest oil exporter and producer behind Nigeria, poverty has plagued the nation that has suffered internally due to political corruption, instability and other factors. So, why is Angola poor?

According to CountryWatch, income inequality remains high and poverty has been declining only slowly. Angola has attempted to mitigate poverty by placing strenuous efforts in the oil reserve industry in order to boost economic growth. Unfortunately, the income inequality gap is still wide, and infrastructure is in a volatile state due to the country’s insufficient skills that are needed to improve human development. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that provides support for both developing and developed countries during periods of financial crisis, has warned Angola that they are vulnerable to stay trapped in such a cycle unless they allocate their resources appropriately.

According to a report by AllAfrica, Angola has successfully managed to reduce, by over half, the number of people underfed, thus achieving the first target of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. Although it missed the original target by about two years, the current situation in the country is “satisfactory,” according to an official who was speaking on World Food Day, on October 16th, 2017.

An annual report, the Global Hunger Index, could encourage a more optimistic outlook on the country’s future, and could help citizens in answering questions like, “why is Angola Poor?” In the report, it states that hunger has fallen significantly in countries where civil wars have ended in the 1990s and 2000s, such as in Angola in 2002. Additionally, global hunger itself has fallen by 27 percent since 2000.

One of the more obvious explanations that could aim to clarify the poverty rate in Angola may be the lack of education that Angolans receive. According to the C.I.A. World Factbook, over 40 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line, with only 70 percent of them being literate.

People in Need (PiN), a Czech nonprofit focused on development projects, has stepped up in the campaign toward alleviating poverty by improving education for half a million children. With school expectancy hovering at around 10 years of age, and only 60 percent of females who are literate, such initiatives represent hope and prosperity for a country that ranks 146th on the Human Development Index.

PiN has contributed by building schools, engaging in specialized training for teachers and providing necessary teaching materials for students to receive a quality education while reducing illiteracy among adults. Its work has seen tremendous results, with over 450,000 Angolan children and 1,200 adults learning to read, write and do simple math.

Nevertheless, the advancements in the oil production sector should receive some credit, as it has drastically stimulated Angola’s economic growth and improved the standard of living for many. However, other social issues continue to persist in a country that only nine years ago held its first parliamentary election.

Accountability, transparency, focusing on human rights and deterring domestic violence are all setbacks which present a peril to a nation striving to become a developed country. To answer the question, “why is Angola poor,” Angola must first make the necessary changes through strong governance programs in order to see positive results. Improved education can lead to reduced income inequality, but without stringent measures to allow for human capital to prosper efficiently, the people will continue to suffer from this vicious poverty cycle.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in IndiaKnown for its magnificent temples, colorful cities, crowded streets and more, the country of India attracts tourist all times of the year. Located on the Asian continent, India occupies the second largest position worldwide regarding its population. As of 2012, up to 1.3 billion citizens lived in the country.

Such density of population creates an enormous quantity of citizens who live without the basic necessities to meet their needs. Thus, poverty in India is a major concern around the globe. Along with it, a main problem in the Asian country is how women are viewed in comparison to men.

As India and its population grow, its social, political and economic rights continue to be fair toward men, but not women. Women’s empowerment in India is put aside while the country’s society focuses on the empowerment of men. Approximately 43.4 percent of women suffer from crimes committed by their husbands or family members. As of 2015, the government’s lack of action has positioned India as 125th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Report’s Gender Inequality Index.

Legal action toward rape, sexual abuse and discrimination against women are falling within the Asian country. According to UNICEF’s Global Report Card on Adolescents in 2012, 57 percent of Indian teenage boys believe that a husband beating his wife is always justified, and 53 percent of teen girls believe the same.

Being a woman in India seems to be a toll on not only the women themselves, but the parents of women as well. During the past thirty years, between four million and 12 million female babies have been aborted, and the numbers only seem to be going up.

India’s ways, customs and traditions regarding gender have not evolved as the same pace as they have in other countries. However, some are willing to fight for women’s empowerment in India. Such a fight has been started by women’s rights organizations like Sayfty and Women on Wings. By creating awareness, providing more job opportunities for women, offering self defense classes and more, women are learning how to stand up for their own rights.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Sao Tome and PrincipeThe most recent survey on the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation off the western coast of Africa, dates back to 1995. It showed that over 40 percent of the population was living below the poverty line, and 33 percent were living in extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, there is little household information about Sao Tome and Principe, but a decline in the nation’s per capita income through 1997 and difficult social conditions led to the increase in poverty since then. Specifically, fluctuations in the world’s cocoa prices triggered such conditions and have caused an influx of migration to urban areas.

Despite this, its rank of 142 out of 188 in the United Nations’ Development Programme Human Development Index is relatively good compared to other Western African countries. This mostly stems from foreign investment in health and education between 1975 and 1985, but this aid slowed with economic instability in the 1990s.

This country struggles to develop largely due to its low income, which stems from a lack of assets and means of production. Without the ability to export, Sao Tome and Principe struggles to resolve its economic instability. Without tools or proper infrastructure, agriculture as an industry is unable to generate income.

Despite this, since 1990, Sao Tome and Principe’s Human Development Index rating has gone up from .454 to .574, which is an increase of about 26.4 percent. Progress in different areas has been seen, as the life expectancy has gone up by 4.8 years, as well as mean years of schooling increased by 2.4 years and expected years of schooling increased by 3.8 years. Sao Tome and Principe’s GNI per capita also increased by 55.6 percent since 1990.

Sao Tome and Principe is still below the average level of HDI rating of .631, but above the average of .523 of sub-Saharan African countries. One area it must work on is its gender inequality rating, as only 30.8 percent of adult women have received a secondary level of education. Further improvement in some of these areas will help limit some of the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr

Help People in The GambiaAt the westernmost tip of Africa exists one of the smallest and poorest countries on the entire continent. The Gambia is a nation of just over two million people and roughly 75 percent of the population live in poverty. The 2011 U.N. Human Development Index (HDI) assessed The Gambia as ranking 168th out of 187 countries. The HDI ranks countries based on their level of human development as a society, averaging things like life expectancy, per capita income and birth rate to make projections.

The Gambia scored so poorly on the HDI for a variety of reasons, but one predominant contributor is poor conditions leading to lack of food and agriculture production. About 60 percent of The Gambia’s population depends on some sort of farming for survival. Despite the fact that The Gambia River runs clear across the middle of the country, only 16.7 percent of the country’s available land is arable. This, in conjunction with frequent and erratic rainfall make the life of a Gambian subsistence farmer an especially tough one. The peak rainy season runs through the duration of the summer, hence food production during this time is negligible. Families who depend on subsistence farming – that is, growing enough food to feed themselves – attempt desperately every year to stock their food supplies in anticipation of the rainy season.

The harsh reality of the situation is that the circumstances are not getting any better, weather patterns become more unpredictable by the year and the price of food in the Gambian economy continues to rise steadily. The combination of all of these factors has led to the emergence of a global need to help people in The Gambia. One particular charity organization, which makes strides to improve life for those in The Gambia, is Aid for Africa. Since its inception in 2004, Aid for Africa has worked to combine the efforts of nonprofit organizations working in Sub-Saharan Africa to help those in need. They have made an impact on the lives of impoverished Gambians by establishing “community based self-help programs,” which aim to provide people with the skills and resources they need to escape the cycle of poverty.

The quickest and most effective way to help people in The Gambia is to donate to a charity such as Aid for Africa or even other similar charities. As members of the international community, we have an obligation to help those in need, and now, more than ever, the people of The Gambia need our help to escape poverty.

Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

The Hidden Face of Poverty in BruneiBrunei Darussalam, the Abode of Peace, is a small Southeast Asian country with a population of approximately 350,000 people. Data on poverty in Brunei is scarce, but it shows that roughly five percent of the country’s population lives in poverty. Nevertheless, there is another face of poverty in the small nation: the poverty of freedom and opportunity.

Brunei is an Islamic Sultanate Kingdom ruled by a monarch in whom rests the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the State. The reigning monarch, Hassanal Bolkiah, is the 29th ruler in an unbroken line of succession for the past six centuries. The country’s citizenry has allowed the monarchical rule to survive for this long because of two reasons: welfare benefits and the respect for social and political order enforced by the state.

Economic poverty in Brunei is not a big problem because it is a rich nation and the third largest exporter of oil and gas, which allows the subjects of the King to enjoy a high per capita income of nearly $24,000 annually. The human development index (HDI) ranks it 30, which falls in a very high human development category, over countries such as Malta, Qatar and Cyprus, which rank 33. Brunei also ranks well in the gender development index (GDI). According to the 2015 HDI report, the female HDI value for Brunei is 0.854 which is a GDI value of 0.986, placing it into Group 1 with countries such as Norway, Australia and Singapore.

However, poverty in Brunei exists in the sense that there are reported problems of smaller economic inequalities and the lack of freedom and opportunity. Development across some areas is uneven and opportunities for younger generations to participate actively in the State affairs through education, employment and promotions on merit are less than encouraging. Brunei has no representative institutions due to the total control of the King’s authoritarian regime. Analysts believe that the State has been able to maintain harmony due to the vast wealth at its disposal for welfare activities.

The less diversified nature of economy, dependency on the oil and gas industry and the spread of ideas due to the rise of Internet and globalization among the younger generation do seem to pose a challenge for the current socioeconomic and political model. Economic and political measures in Brunei must be taken to address the emergent issue of poverty of opportunity and freedom and, simultaneously, sustain growth and prosperity.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in NorwayNorway is among the richest countries in the world; in fact, the Human Development Index ranks it first globally. However, by the country’s own standards of development, there are still segments of society which are considered below the line of poverty. Reports on child poverty in Norway reveal some troubling facts about the country’s economically successful image. Here are six important facts about child poverty in Norway.

  1. More than 90,000 children come from families that are defined as poor. According to UNICEF Norway, this number has doubled since 2000. It is feared that this number will continue to rise if adequate measures are not taken to address the issue.
  2. According to a report by Norway Today, every fifth child, or about 18, 500 of the country’s total number of poor children, lives in Oslo. Child poverty in Norway is relatively high in metropolitan areas such as Oslo.
  3. According to the Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne, more than half of poor children come from families with immigrant backgrounds. However, Kari Elisabeth Kaski, the first candidate in Oslo and party secretary of the Socialist Party, says that child poverty is an important issue regardless of immigration status. Kaski also says that child poverty should become a priority issue in the upcoming election in Norway.
  4. One report shows that though child poverty in Norway is particularly high among certain immigrant groups, approximately half of the children in low-income families are of Norwegian ethnic backgrounds.
  5. In some low-income neighborhoods, such Nedre Toyen in Oslo, two out of three children are poor compared to one in five in the Kampen area, which is several steps away. Differences in child poverty – depending on the area in Oslo – are substantial.
  6. The effects of living in poor neighborhoods on childrens’ future opportunities are alarming. A poor neighborhood, where most or all families are poor, does not provide a good network or “social and cultural capital” that can be mutually beneficial to members of the community in getting a job, better education or any other assistance.

Despite these troubling facts, the good news is that as the world’s most developed country, child poverty in Norway is defined differently in relation to the poverty of children globally. It mostly means for children to have little to no resources to participate in life experiences such as birthday parties, a school trip and other experiences that are socially and culturally enriching. Norway is also a welfare state. Generally, there is little difference between children from rich and poor backgrounds in the sense that they get equal education and healthcare among other social services. Further, the number of children who die has decreased by 50 percent in the last 20 years.

Clearly, poor children in Norway still have the resources to give them the best chance of growing up to be healthy, educated and successful adults; however, there need to be government efforts aimed at the underlying causes in order to prevent child poverty in the first place. Only then will these children have access to necessary socially and culturally uplifting experiences.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Malawi's Poverty Rate
Malawi’s poverty rate has been a critical dilemma, especially in its rural areas. Although the following issues below contribute to Malawi’s poverty rate, a great focus remains on promoting growth and improving Malawians’ standard of living.

7 Facts about Malawi’s Poverty Rate

  1. Malawi’s poverty rate has remained stubbornly high. More than half of the country’s population, about 52 percent, live on less than $0.32 per day.
  2. Malawi has a population of 6.8 million children, which is about 51 percent of the total population. Around 4 million of those children are among the poor, and poverty hits them the hardest. Intense poverty threatens their health, education and safety.
  3. The average life expectancy for Malawian’s has improved in recent years. Life expectancy for women increased from 49 years in 2005 to 63 years as of 2016. For men, life expectancy has increased from 47 years to now 58 years.
  4. As of 2013, Malawi, also known as the Republic of Malawi, is the 18th least developed country in the world. Despite this status, Malawi has improved its rural poverty rate from 44 percent in 2011 to 40.9 percent in 2013– an especially admirable feat considering the presence of conflicts that undermine years of progress.
  5. Malawi’s poverty rate in urban areas is 20 percent. However, the country ranked 170 out of 188 countries on the 2016 Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program.
  6. Malawi’s people living in rural areas make up 85 percent of its population, making its economy largely based on agriculture. A decline in agriculture production due to droughts caused Malawi’s gross domestic product growth to slow from 5.7 percent growth to 2.5 percent in 2016. An estimate of 6.5 million people will require food assistance due to recent droughts.
  7. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, has dedicated more than $160 million to 11 programs in Malawi to promote agricultural growth in an effort to reduce poverty.

Malawi is slowly developing despite its many conflicts. Malawi’s poverty rate is decreasing and progress is being made towards improving agriculture more and more every day. With these developments, Malawians have the potential to achieve economic independence.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr