Water Access in Tajikistan
Despite having the greatest natural supply of freshwater sources across the region, water access in Tajikistan is an ongoing challenge. Only 55% of the country’s residents have access to this human right that has turned into a luxury. The country already faces several shortcomings and obstacles across the rural areas. Tajikistan has progressed in the past decade in reconfiguring its water laws and existing supply systems. Although it increased access to improved water sources from 75% to more than 84%, the critical issues of water security and continuous supply still remain. The work that has occurred during the past decade has paved a way for further progress. More work is necessary to address the issue of water access at its core.

The Roots of The Issue of Water Access

According to the research that the World Bank conducted, obstructions to water access in Tajikistan are likely due to poor infrastructure. Much of the piping was built throughout the 1970s and 1980s and commissioned by the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, these facilities have seen little to no maintenance. According to research conducted by Marufjon Abdujabborov in 2020, a specialist in analysis in Tajikistan’s internal office, only 68% of water infrastructure in cities was in working order, and across rural areas that figure dropped to 40%.

Aside from the effects of consuming unsanitary water on internal organs, the inadequacies of water access in Tajikistan also have a strong bearing on hygiene facilities, instilling harsh inequalities across the country. For example, only 1.7% of households in rural areas have access to a flush toilet, compared to 60% across urban areas. The World Bank reported that “One in four households in Tajikistan does not have access to sufficient quantities of water when needed. Service is interrupted for long periods because of breakdowns in water supply infrastructure.” Poor access to water systems forces many in the affected areas to gather water from neighboring provinces and villages. Doing so has worsened tensions amongst rural communities and increased border disputes. Furthermore, the responsibility of gathering water typically falls on women and children of the household. This impedes children’s education and causes detrimental effects on their health.

A Project to Solve the Water Crisis

Tajikistan Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project, which was introduced in 2021, outlines strategic initiatives for expanding safe and affordable water supply and sanitation across the country. On July 2022, the International Development Association (IDA) grant of $45 million was approved, thereby securing funding for the project. The proposal focuses on following a series of initiatives targeting strongly affected areas, starting with the region of Khatlon. Projected beneficiaries of this operation amount to 250,000 residents across the region. There are other 24 similar projects that the World Bank has financed across Tajikistan.

Additional investment by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will target vulnerable areas of the Dushanbe region. Reconfiguration of the regional water systems, including sanitation and sewage collection, are the overarching aims of the aforementioned programs. Further development initiatives under the Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project can draw inspiration and models of sustainable operation that are developed by the current investments.

Women-led Solutions Through Associations

In 2012, the Tajik government introduced local “water users associations” in response to the challenges associated with water access in Tajikistan. It commissions private farms to manage the delivery of water across their respective regions and promotes the management of irrigation systems and water supplies. The struggle has seen resourceful individuals rise to the challenges and take action through the water users’ associations. Uguloy Abdullaeva, a local dairy farmer in Dushanbe, was elected as the acting head of her association. Through her fundraising efforts, she received $420,000 from the American embassy to fund the reformation of the project.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offered two years of training in water management to Uguloy. As a result, she gained a comprehensive understanding of water management and effectively invested in a piece of land, an excavator, new pipes and water locks for the region. The knowledge she learned from the training programs has spread to farmers within her association. Since then, farmers have become more responsible with their farms and there are fewer issues with water.

Further funding for development assistance is necessary to extend operations and ensure access to clean water for those that need it. The inspiring work of associations and individuals is effectively handling investments and improving water access across their districts. It has changed the lives of thousands in vulnerable areas. Most importantly, it serves as a strong example for the youth and citizens to build a better Tajikistan.

– Bojan Ivancic
Photo: Flickr

Inflation In Uganda
Uganda is in a state of having to combat inflation and rising prices for its citizens as global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, continue to interrupt normal streams of trade and supply. As a result, Uganda’s government has already begun implementing actions and constructing a broad policy that seeks to help keep the negative effects of inflation from causing more economic instability in the future.

The Current Impact of Inflation

Uganda is a country that is heavily reliant on crude and other imported material in order to make necessities such as cooking oil and soap. The cost of gasoline went up by 32% by February 2022 and soap went up to 57% at the same time.

As a result of this influx of prices, the Ugandan monetary policy committee increased the interest rate benchmark from 6.5% to 7.5%. This is the first time the committee has increased the interest rate benchmark since 2018. This has come at a time when Ugandan citizens already face higher prices and taxes which will remain at the same rate.

Uganda’s leaders are taking these steps in hopes of counteracting the risks of further global complications. Whether it be recurring waves of COVID-19, the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine or rising prices, Uganda will continue to look to other methods of revitalizing its economy and keeping up the fight against poverty.

During the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, poverty rates in Uganda went from 27.5% to 32.7%, with the employment rate going down during the second lockdown in 2021. These complications along with the increased oil and consumer prices could result in slow growth, below 6%, through 2023 and 2024 for the Ugandan economy. All of this highlights the need for more structural economic transformation and how inflation in Uganda will be tackled.

Ongoing Strategies

Though there are many obstacles to the ongoing development of Uganda, there is a myriad of programs, partners and policies that are also working towards a brighter future. According to the World Bank, the primary financial investment that is going into fighting poverty and inflation in Uganda is the International Development Association. It is offering a low service rate of 0.75% on disbursed credit with loan repayments stretched over 38 years. Major projects funded by the IDA in Uganda include The Electric Access Scale-Up Project ($568 million) which improves energy accessibility, Investment for Industrial Transformation and Employment ($200 million) and Additional Financing to Uganda COVID-19 Response and Emergency Preparedness Project ($164.3 million).

The aforementioned projects will seek to improve economic recovery for Uganda amid the COVID-19 pandemic by fortifying its public health and response institutions.

With funding continuing throughout the rest of the fiscal year 2022 through the IDA and government awareness of the issues at hand, there is hope that inflation in Uganda can subside eventually and allow citizens to enjoy the growth of the Ugandan economy. Despite complications due to global conflicts of war, supply interruptions, the COVID-19 pandemic and future uncertainty, there is hope for Uganda to become a prosperous economy by 2040, according to the World Bank.

– Albert Vargas
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in Liberia
Faced with two civil wars, Liberia has experienced years of poverty. With more than 80% of Liberians living in poverty, the country has been trying to revitalize its economy. Child poverty in Liberia is significant as well. Moreover, the mortality rate for children is high. In addition to this, Liberia ranks in the bottom 10 countries on the Human Development Index. The Human Development Index considers life expectancy, education and income.

Child Poverty in Liberia

According to Action Against Hunger, a stable environment for those living in Liberia has yet to emerge. Funding for healthcare facilities has significantly decreased. Liberian children often do not have proper access to education and healthcare and frequently face abuse or trafficking. As a result of this, many children live on the streets. Furthermore, 40% of children suffer from malnutrition and one in five do not receive proper nourishment. Meanwhile, about 84% of Liberians live below the international poverty line and make around $1.25 a day.

Uncertain Employment Positions

The Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) collected the following data. The overall information reveals that over 50% live in extreme poverty. In addition to this, 51.2% of families experience food shortages. This survey also shows that unemployment stands at 3.9%, meaning that Liberia has a low unemployment rate. However, the survey characterized around 79.5% of people as having uncertain employment positions whereas 79.9% of people had an informal form of employment.

While Liberia may have a low unemployment rate, many Liberians find it difficult to provide a stable life for their children and family as women average around 5.2 children. Due to small daily wages, women cannot meet children’s financial needs, reiterating the high mortality rate and low life expectancy that Liberian children experience. Due to a parent’s inability to care for a large family, children end up working at young ages.

Organizations Helping Liberian Children

For the past two decades, Save the Children has been addressing Liberian children that the civil war affected. This organization provides aid in areas such as healthcare and protection. It also assists children by providing them tools such as education and spearheading advocacy for child rights. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of many donors that helps Save the Children.

Action Aid is another organization that is assisting impoverished children in Liberia. Action Aid strives to attain social justice and equality and mitigate poverty. This group focuses on women and the younger generations to improve the quality of healthcare, education and children’s rights.

Many efforts have emerged to address the conditions in Liberia, including child poverty. The World Bank has provided $54 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve Liberia’s health services for women and children. The IFISH (Institutional Foundations to Improve Services for Health) project has spearheaded the expansion and operations of hospitals. An example is the Redemption Hospital located in Montserrado County. The multiple projects and initiatives should hopefully aid in the elimination of child poverty in Liberia.

– Nicole Sung
Photo: Flickr

Quality in Madagascar
Many who hear the word ‘Madagascar‘, think of the family-friendly animated movie with dancing lions, lemurs, and other wild animals. This association overlooks the 22.9 million people who lack access to safe water in the country ranked fourth-worst in water quality in Africa.

Water is a basic necessity for survival, and 88 percent of people in Madagascar do not have access to improved sanitation. Over 2,100 children a year die from diarrhea because of unsafe and poor water quality in Madagascar.

Child mortality rates are 10 times higher in Madagascar than in the U.K. Sixty-six percent of people who live in urban areas have access to safe drinking water, but less than 15 percent of people in the rural area have access to such a luxury, only intensifying poverty in Madagascar.

Families who live in isolated villages do not have access to clean drinking water. Wells are contaminated with bacteria and viruses, and those who drink that water are exposing themselves to diseases. Most have no alternative to drinking the contaminated water.

Malalatiana Rasoanisina, a young Madagascar resident, explains that, “Twice a day I have to [collect water], it gave me a stomach ache as that water was yellow. I couldn’t go to school and had to go to the doctor.”

Organizations Working to Improve Water Quality

Madagascar receives about 449 billion m3 of water per year. So why is the water quality in Madagascar so unsanitary?

Madagascar’s government was not formally set up until a few years ago, which means that the nation was lacking the political or economic basis to provide solutions to the water problems. The nation has been relying on help from international organizations such as the International Development Association (IDA) and the Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP).

Even with the recent establishment of a formal government, people still face poor water quality in Madagascar. The public water and electricity company in the nation, JIRAMA (Jiro Sy Rano Malagasy), only covers a few areas of the nation, and JIRAMA faces an estimated debt of $27 million due to low water tariffs.

All people in Madagascar deserve clean water. Organizations such as the WSUP have been doing great work to help keep supply clean. They’ve helped improve water quality for over 700,000 people, improve sanitation services for over 180,000 people, and helped to improve hygiene practices for over 2.7 million.

Although many productive advancements have occurred in Madagascar, there remains a great deal of work ahead for the nation’s people. Many still need help and support, both inside and outside of the nation. Developed countries with safe, established water sanitation systems need to help Madagascar provide sanitary water to its people.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr

Yemen, a small Middle Eastern nation southwest of Saudi Arabia, has embarked on an ambitious goal in the past decade and a half to drastically reform its education system. As part of the 2000 UN Millennium Development Goal project launched nearly 15 years ago, Yemen set a goal of reaching 100 percent primary school enrollment by 2015.

As 2014 draws to a close, it appears that Yemen will not be meeting its Millennium Development education goal by next year. However, statistics indicate significant progress has been made in recent years, though more attention is needed to bring education in Yemen up to par with other developed nations. According to the World Bank, Yemen’s net primary school enrollment rate stood at 86 percent in 2013, the last year data was made available. These numbers are up from 66 percent in 2001.

Educational improvements may in part be attributed to the implementation of several ambitious educational reform projects. One such project, the Secondary Education Development and Girls Access Project (SEDGAP), was launched in 2007 with the goal of addressing three main areas of the Yemeni education system: “improving equity and reducing gender gaps, enhancing the quality of service delivery, and project management and monitoring.”

To help reduce educational gender gaps, SEDGAP imposed a minimum 15 percent female representation requirement in new teaching posts. As of 2008, only 7.5 percent of secondary school teachers in rural areas were female. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that hiring female teachers attracts greater female enrollment rates. According to the International Development Association (IDA), this may be due in part to the fact that Yemeni parents tend to object to male instructors teaching their daughters, particularly in higher grades.

Other material and social factors such as lack of transportation, poor school facilities and early marriage have also been significant contributors to the educational gender gap. These material factors appear to disproportionately affect girls living in rural areas.

SEDGAP has introduced a variety of other reforms to improve service delivery and monitoring. Some of these reforms include new guidelines aimed to balance out uneven student-teacher ratios across rural and urban schools, more consistent oversight of teacher absenteeism and salaries, textbook revisions for grades 1-12, and new oversight regulations for Yemen’s three public educational ministries.

SEDGAP implementation will be completed in late January 2015. A February 2014 impartial review of the project concluded moderate satisfaction in meeting progress development objectives.

World Bank data indicates gross enrollment rates for basic, secondary and tertiary education have increased overall for Yemeni boys and girls. Nevertheless, more time is needed to meet Millennium Development education goals, particularly for secondary education targets among females. According to the United Nation Development Programme, only 7.6 percent of Yemeni females age 25 and over have at least some secondary education.

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, World Bank 3, World Bank 4, World Bank 5 
Photo: National Yemen

Can We Really Eradicate Poverty?
Despite recent financial crises in wealthy countries, economists everywhere are recognizing the unprecedented economic growth of the developing world. World leaders are coming to regard poor nations as potential trade partners rather than aid recipients. The goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day, is already halfway accomplished.

Progress, however, has been uneven. While much of the world has made great strides against injustice, many areas are still torn by violence and discrimination, even in countries with extraordinary growth and reform. Countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Iraq lag far behind achieving any of the Millennium Development Goals. Conflict, systemic instability, and inequitable opportunity all contribute to this problem.

That’s why the post-2015 approach of institutions like the World Bank is different. The new focus is on fragile populations to ensure that everyone, even the most vulnerable, benefits from economic advances. Toward that end, future MDG funding will concentrate on conflict zones and human rights violations, where obstacles to basic human development inhibit economic growth.

“We recognize that sustained economic growth needs a reduction in inequality,” said a report from the World Bank’s Development Committee. “Investments that create opportunities for all citizens and promote gender equality are an important end in their own right, as well we being integral to creating prosperity.”

Already, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has called for renewed financial support specifically to expand development into fragile situations. In Mali, which underwent a revolution in early 2012, the IDA is meeting with regional leaders and launching projects in previously inaccessible areas. In Burundi, a country bogged down in extreme poverty, the Bank is ramping up private sector development by bringing together multilateral private lending and political risk insurance.

Amid increasing efforts to include fragile situations in the developing world’s galloping growth, the World Bank predicts that, by 2030, only 3% of the world will remain in extreme poverty. The rest will be better off.

“The efforts to end poverty have been really significant,” says Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. “They said poverty would always be with us. Well, maybe not.”

– John Mahon

Source: The Independent, Huffington Post, World Bank, IMF