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PA 10 facts About Life Expectancy in MadagascarMadagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is also one of the poorest countries in the world. A lacking healthcare system, malnutrition and prevalent diseases all lead to one question: how long do people live in Madagascar? Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Madagascar

  1. The latest WHO data reports the life expectancy in Madagascar to be 65.1 years for males and 68.2 for females, making the average life expectancy 66.6 years. Madagascar is currently ranked 175th in life expectancy out of 223 nations measured, according to the CIA.
  2. The life expectancy rate has increased exponentially from 1960 to today. The World Bank reports that in 1960, the average life expectancy was 39.96 years, and by 2016, it had grown to 65.93 years.
  3. According to Health Data, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and stroke are among the top causes of death in the country. The causes have persisted since the conduction of the study in 2007; however, there has been a change in the number of deaths for each cause.
  4. The Healthcare Access and Quality Index measures healthcare access and quality. In 1990, Madagascar received a score of 20.6 on the index, and in 2016, the country received a 29.6. Compared to leading nations like Iceland, with a score of 97.1, Madagascar’s performance on this index demonstrates the room for improvement.
  5. In 2015, a total of $78 per person was spent on health in Madagascar. The breakdown of the expenses is as follows: $5 from prepaid private spending, $17 out-of-pocket spending, $33 government health spending and $22 development assistance for health. The country is expected to increase the per capita amount to $112 by 2040.
  6. Madagascar has introduced a number of initiatives to move towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically, the goal to reduce extreme poverty by half.  However, in 1993, 67.1 percent of the population was living below $1.25 per day, while in 2010, that number increased to 87.67 percent.
  7. One such initiative working to reach the MDGs was approved by the World Bank in June 2017. The new Country Partnership Framework aims to improve governance and strengthen finances, as well as reduce poverty, particularly in rural areas. Living in poverty is linked to a variety of issues, but studies have shown that those living in poverty are more likely to have a lower life expectancy.
  8. Due to the new Country Partnership Framework, improvements in the country can be seen in areas of health, education and private sector development. Preventative treatment for tropical diseases such as bilharzia and intestinal worms has been distributed to 1.8 million school-aged children over the past few years (with Bilharzia receiving 100 percent coverage in the country).
  9. In 2017, 6.85 million people received treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a decrease compared to the 8.73 million people who received treatment in 2016. Madagascar ranks 37th out of the 49 countries when it comes to treatment. There are some diseases that receive 0 percent coverage, such as elephantiasis, while other diseases receive partial coverage, such as intestinal worms.
  10. UNICEF is working to improve healthcare access in Madagascar, and it has been expanding integrated health services with a focus on newborns. Due to their efforts, poliomyelitis was eradicated and 43 percent of the population (which includes 3.5 million children) experienced an improvement in their access to health services.

Madagascar’s lacking healthcare system is being tackled from a variety of angles, as illustrated by these 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar. The country is working to reduce poverty and better the lives of its citizens in every regard; however, there is room for progress.

Simone Edwards

Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in ChadChad has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Out of 15 women in Chad, one will die due to complications while giving birth. This makes a rate of 6.7 percent, which is dangerously high. In 2010, only 23 percent of women had help from someone medically qualified to do so while giving birth. Every couple of minutes, a woman in Chad dies due to birth complications.

Maternal mortality rates, along with child mortality are a good indicator of the status of health care in the country. Higher rates imply the lower quality of and access to health care. Lack of personnel and training prevents women from getting the help they need during childbirth. An increase in health care professionals and proper training will raise the likelihood of saving the lives of the mother and the child.

Chad Mother and Child Health Services Strengthening Project

In 2014, The World Bank approved funding of almost $21 million for the Chad Mother and Child Health Services Strengthening Project. The money comes from the Health Results-Based Financing Fund that is supported by the U.K. and Norway.

The Project targets regions that have particularly high rates of child and maternal mortality in Chad. Increased funding will go to health care services in the areas with low access to resources and higher indicators of maternal mortality. The Project provides care for the woman throughout her pregnancy, helps with deliveries by professionals and even immunizations for the newborn.

The Services Strengthening Project is set to conclude its goals by 2020. The Project is trying to reach 80,000 pregnant women and provide them with antenatal care during a health care visit. This number was exceeded in 2018 since the people of the Project reached 82,117 women by this year. Additionally, they are hoping to achieve 35,000 births with the help of skilled medical professionals by 2020. As of 2018, they are well on their way with 29,500 births. As for its other goals, that include child immunization and health personnel training, the Project is also right on track.

Education of Mothers in Chad

Community awareness is just as important in preventing maternal mortality in Chad as providing access to services. Women have extremely limited opportunities when it comes to education, and four out of five women in Chad between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate. Having limited knowledge of antenatal care, hygiene and disease greatly influence the likelihood that a mother or child will not survive the pregnancy.

Levels of HIV in women also contributes to maternal mortality in Chad. Only 10 percent of women aged 15-24 have a thorough knowledge of HIV prevention. Without education on HIV, women easily contract it and spread it to their children. Training provided by programs like the Chad Mother and Child Project can significantly mitigate this issue simply through education and increase of awareness.

Training for health care professionals and midwives in the region, in addition to education for the mothers, lays the foundation for a long-term solution to maternal mortality in Chad. Lack of proper care for expecting mothers not only leads to deaths, but to abandoned families and children without mothers. This repercussion leads to an even longer lasting impact on communities as a whole.

Chad, in particular, is in desperate need of change and improvement in its health care for mothers. Many developing countries have improved their rates of maternal mortality in recent decades, but Chad’s only increased by 10 percent between 1980 and 2010. One of the Millennium Development Goals was to see a 75 percent decrease in pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths, but Chad has yet to reach this goal.

Trained staff on hand, proper medical tools and educated mothers can make the world of difference in decreasing the deaths of maternal and child mortality in Chad.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Google

Maternal Health in Eritrea
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Five, improving maternal health, has two components: First, reduce maternal mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, and second, achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare by 2015.  Eritrea is one of the few countries in which these goals were fully achieved.

The maternal mortality ratio—which the U.N. defines as “the ratio of the number of maternal deaths to the number of pregnancies,” calling it “an indicator of the risk of dying that a woman faces for each pregnancy she undergoes”— was 1,700 deaths per 100,000 births in Eritrea in 1990. The goal for 2015 was to cut that number to 425 deaths per 100,000 births. In 2013, Eritrea not only met but surpassed this goal, with a maternal mortality rate of just 380 deaths per 100,000 births.

Eritrea saw almost as much success in its efforts to achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare. In 1991, just 19 percent of women had any prenatal care. By 2013, that number had risen to 93 percent, a nearly fivefold increase.

What Has Worked

From 1990 to 2015, maternal mortality declined 45 percent globally and 49 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although this is a marked improvement, it is still considerably less than the MDG goal of a two-thirds decrease. As such, many are wondering what contributed to Eritrea’s huge successes.

Since the establishment of the MDGs, the government of Eritrea has been committed to engaging all people with its new development programs. It strove (and continues to strive) to build a national healthcare system that offers universal coverage that truly does reach everyone, no matter how poor or remote.

Efforts by the government, the U.N. and NGOs working to improve maternal health in Eritrea have reflected this emphasis on the universal and the importance of reaching all Eritrean women. Clinics that are mobile and transitory pop up in a community temporarily, and, after a period of time, move on to the next town. This allows more women to receive healthcare without necessitating more resources or medical personnel.

Empowering Women

Likewise, there has been a strong focus on improving gender equality in Eritrea. The government has outlawed both child marriage and female genital mutilation and is continually working to promote gender equality in education and in the labor force. Today, it is estimated that women in Eritrea make up between 35 and 45 percent of the workforce. This means that women are more visible, more engaged in society politically and socially and better able to advocate for their rights.

Despite Eritrea’s considerable successes, challenges remain for the East African nation. Eritrea has a long history of violence. After 30 years of brutal civil war, it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Conflict with Ethiopia resumed between 1998 and 2000 and, even during times of peace, Eritreans live until a strict authoritarian government. Continued improvements in maternal health in Eritrea will be predicated upon future peace and stability in the region.

The Future of Maternal Health in Eritrea

Access continues to be the main challenge. Women who lack money often struggle to find affordable healthcare. Despite the efforts of mobile health clinics, antiquated infrastructure, old roads and limited public transportation opportunities mean that traveling to a clinic still proves difficult for many women.

Furthermore, although 93 percent of women received at least some prenatal care in 2013, only 55 percent of women had a trained medical professional at their child’s birth. That is a huge improvement from 1991, when only 6 percent of babies were born under the care of a medical professional, but room for improvement remains.

Eritrea’s success in reaching and surpassing MDG Five ought to be applauded. Other countries should follow its example and commit to focusing on universal access to maternal and prenatal care. Despite considerable success regarding lowering the maternal mortality rate and achieving near-universal access to reproductive healthcare, Eritrea should continue to strive to increase the accessibility of healthcare. Eritrea, and the global community supporting women’s health and equity there, can continue to improve the availability of and access to affordable maternal and prenatal healthcare.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Welfare Programs in EthiopiaPolicy in Ethiopia has overwhelmingly been focused on combating and eliminating poverty in recent years. Many programs in Ethiopia have helped to further the country’s station in terms of poverty reduction. Programs such as the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program (SDPRP) and the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) have been implemented recently to help Ethiopia meet its short and long-term goals. These goals, known as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, are to:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Gender equality and women empowerment
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Reduce maternal mortality
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Correspondingly, according to the United Nations, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Ethiopia report, the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme, Ethiopia has worked towards these goals for several years now and is on track to achieve six of the eight goals listed above so far. The goal of reducing child mortality has already been achieved, and progress is being made on many of the others thanks to the work of the welfare programs in Ethiopia.

Goal One: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Ethiopia is on course to reduce extreme poverty in the country by half. The percentage of people living under the poverty line has decreased from 45.5 percent in 1996 to 29.6 percent in 2010. The welfare programs in Ethiopia have contributed to this progress in different ways. The PSNP has helped families avoid food shortages. The SDPRP focuses on increasing water resource utilization to ensure food security. The PASDEP strengthens human resource development, manages risk and creates employment opportunities.

Goal Two: Achieve Universal Primary Education

The net enrollment ratio for education in grades one through eight has increased from 77.5 percent in 2006 to 85.4 percent in 2011. The attendance ratio has also risen from 30.2 percent in 2001 to 64.5 percent in 2010.

Goal Six: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Ethiopia has achieved a greater decrease in disease prevalence than anticipated. In 2010, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was an estimated 1.5 percent, lower than the Millennium Development Goal of 2.5 percent.

Goal Seven: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

With the Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy, Ethiopia has taken necessary steps towards integrating the principles of sustainable agricultural development. The SDPRP has aided the progress of governance and the transformation of society by improving the framework and provisions enabling environmental and private sector growth. It also focuses on agricultural research, water harvesting and small-scale irrigation.

Goals three and five of the Millennium Development Goals lack progress and are struggling to be realized. Entrenched traditional views of women in the nation are among the obstacles that these programs encounter. However, on the whole, the employment of these programs in Ethiopia has decreased the overall issue of poverty and have moved the country forward in terms of development.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Flickr


In the United States, the summer months often mean one thing: mosquito season. With their annoying buzzing and itchy bites, mosquitos are definitely a nuisance, but they are not a life-threatening issue.

Mosquitos and Malaria

For almost half of the world’s population, however, mosquito season means something entirely different: malaria. Malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitos in many parts of the world is a dangerous and often life-threatening problem. Becoming familiar with the top 14 facts about malaria is crucial to the understanding of the disease and its implications.

Although entirely preventable and treatable, malaria is a fear that continues to persist in the 21st Century for billions of people. Often rampant among the poorest countries of the world, here are the top 14 facts about malaria and what is being done to fight the disease.

Top 14 Facts About Malaria

  1. Malaria is caused by five different parasites species and is transmitted through bites from infected mosquitos. One of the types of mosquitos in question is Anopheles, which are mosquitos bred in areas of clean, unpolluted water such as swamps, the edges of rivers or temporary rain puddles.
  2. Children under five and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria. Of the deaths that occur from malaria, 70 percent of them are among children under the age of five. This is because children, in particular, are prone to infection and illness.
  3. Although it was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950s, mosquitos carrying malaria are found on every continent except Antarctica. In places where the disease has been eliminated, re-introduction of the disease is still a possibility.
  4. Malaria mortality rates are falling. Since 2010, global malaria mortality rates have fallen by approximately 29 percent and 35 percent among the age group of children under five.
  5. Insecticide-treated bed nets have been shown to reduce malaria illness. Bed nets are barriers put around people to prevent mosquitos during sleep. Bill Gates is an avid supporter of eliminating malaria and works with his charity to provide netting to countries where the risk of malaria is high.
  6. Two billion people remain at risk of malaria, roughly half of the world’s population.
  7. Sub-Saharan Africa has an extremely high malaria presence. It is estimated that 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in this region.
  8. Cooperation among organizations working to fight malaria has proven to be successful. Addressing malaria is at the forefront of the international community’s thoughts with support from the United Nations, the World Bank, and a variety of other non-governmental organizations. Reducing the world’s burden of malaria was one of the first eight Millennium Development Goals introduced by the United Nations.
  9. Malaria is treatable if caught quickly and appropriately. Early diagnosis of the disease is key to treating it, and catching the disease quickly also helps reduce the transmission of malaria.
  10. Indoor residual spraying is another way countries are fighting malaria. This method works by spraying insecticide indoors and is currently effective for 3 to 6 months.
  11. Malaria impedes economic development in countries where it is extremely prevalent. In some African countries, GDP falls by 1.3 percent per year due to malaria’s economic consequences. Malaria also discourages investment from outside countries and impairs many children’s ability to go to school.
  12. The World Bank is very dedicated to controlling malaria. In previous years, the organization has contributed nearly $1 billion to the cause.
  13. Malaria-related deaths have decreased by 50 percent since the disease’s peak in the early 2000s.
  14. In 2018, the World Health Organization plans to pilot a project of a first-generation malaria vaccine. The project will be targeted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Road to Improvement

The universal elimination of malaria is possible in the 21st Century. The cooperation, funding and persistence to find solutions to the disease exist in ways never before thought possible.

– Sonja Flancher

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

Why Samoa Has PovertyIn comparison to some of its neighbors in the Pacific region, the Samoa is largely successful and has a relatively strong economy. However, that is not to say that poverty does not exist in Samoa. There are a number of reasons why Samoa has poverty.

It is true that Samoa does not have extreme poverty. However, it does have large concentrations of working poor. 20 percent of Samoans live below the poverty line.

One of the biggest reasons as to why Samoa has poverty is its geography. Samoa is a small country with limited resources. Its soil is fertile but vulnerable to erosion. Natural disasters, such as volcanic activity and cyclones, have always been a threat to the nation. Samoa is also particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, including the resulting loss of biodiversity and rising sea levels. The areas most threatened by these phenomena are generally rural and poorer. Furthermore, recovery from cyclones and other disasters can take a long time.

At the same time, fishable marine life is decreasing and the human population is increasing, creating a strain on the economy.

Another explanation for why Samoa has poverty is the high cost of living. Samoan citizens have complained about the fact that one can easily spend $100 in one day for basic necessities, when $100 is often what rural Samoans make in a week. It is not unheard of for Samoans to operate side businesses or do additional work to make ends meet, such as selling coconut oil or selling plates of food.

Despite the apparent inaction of the Samoan government, as well as the multiple possible explanations for why Samoa has poverty, there are some glimmers of hope. Some Samoans have turned to livestock farming, particularly lambs, which until recently was uncommon. Many Samoans turn to their churches not just for spiritual guidance, but for community support.

Additionally, Samoa has made strong progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals set forth by the World Health Organization, having made social progress on a number of fronts and virtually eliminating extreme poverty. Samoa certainly has its ongoing struggles, but if its people and past are any indication, it has the potential to improve.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in BruneiBrunei, a high development country that benefits from a wealth of natural resources, has one of the highest gross domestic products in the world. While there is no reported poverty line, all signs point to a very successful population and a government structure that could act as a model to the world. In other words, poverty in Brunei is not nonexistent, but it is minimized. Unfortunately, even though Brunei is highly developed and their infrastructure is smoothly run and effective, the nation is a special case, and thus their model cannot be applied to the rest of the world that does struggle with high levels of poverty and strife.

The government of Brunei has not only set up an excellent infrastructure, but the population is also highly educated and benefits from not having to pay income taxes or for medical care. Yet, the government can only afford this social system because of the breadth of natural resources they have at their disposal. Brunei refines crude oil, which is then exported to economic powerhouses around the world such as Japan, which is the primary export market. Since the natural resources are so abundant for the time being, Brunei does not have to worry about them running out, leading to a recession or worse.

Yet, despite the strength of industry, the nation does struggle to make modern adjustments, raising the possibility of a future where poverty in Brunei could become an issue. The recent decline in oil prices has made this concern more plausible, and officials have made it a priority to diversify industry and bring in more foreign investment. The wealth of the country allows them to fix problems before they begin, and the threat of a “resource curse” is one such issue.

Another concern lies in the very small level of poverty in Brunei. While the country has no official measurement of a poverty line, the UN Millennium Development Goals report in 2011 indicated that 5.04 percent of the population is impoverished. The government is already taking steps to deal with the issue, creating a Poverty Issue Special Committee and drafting an action plan for eradicating poverty. While this committee has not led to an official poverty line, it does show that the government of Brunei is proactive and willing to fight for their citizens’ interests.

While Brunei does not struggle with a high percentage of poverty, they still remain an example on how to combat poverty through government action. Creating a committee to deal with this issue before it becomes too problematic and planning to diversify industry and modernize makes the government of Brunei an idealistic, forward-thinking country to observe and emulate.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Kazakhstan Poor?Kazakhstan is a Eurasian country, bordering China and Russia, whose size is comparable to that of western Europe. Kazakhstan has a population of 16.4 million. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 2.7 percent of the population in Kazakhstan lives below the poverty line. Kazakhstan has the lowest percentage of people living below the national poverty line in central and west Asia. These statistics suggest that Kazakhstan is not a poor country at all, which raises the question, is Kazakhstan poor?

Historical Context
Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and became an upper-middle-income country in less than two decades. Kazakhstan’s GDP has risen dramatically since the country became independent. In 1990, the year before Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union, the GDP was $27 billion. By 2013, the GDP was $237 billion. In 2016, however, the GDP had decreased to $134 billion. The rapid economic growth can be attributed to large investments in the oil sector.

Economy
Kazakhstan’s economy has declined due to the decrease of global commodity prices and the economic downturn of Russia. Additionally, Kazakhstan’s exports to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries decreased by 23.5 percent in 2016. Imports to Kazakhstan from EAEU countries declined by 13.7 percent.

The majority of Kazakhstan’s economy is based on industry and services. Agriculture in Kazakhstan accounts for less than 5 percent of the country’s GDP. Kazakhstan’s economy, however, is not at all diverse and is largely dependent on oil. This dependency foreshadows an even steeper economic decline, especially considering imminent environmental concerns.

Infrastructure
Kazakhstan also confronts poor transportation infrastructure, especially for a country whose volume of road and railroad shipping is particularly high. Two-thirds of the 23,000 kilometers of highway are in poor condition.
Kazakhstan’s telecommunication infrastructure is also very poor. Though Kazakhstan has the best telephone system in central Asia, it ranks low in terms of world standards. For example, in 2004, the Kazakhstan telephone system provided only 15 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants.

Poverty Disparity
Kazakhstan has made huge strides in reducing poverty. From 2000 to 2006, the poverty rate declined from 34.5 percent to 19 percent. Rural poverty, however, is still high. For example, from 2005 to 2010, poverty in urban areas declined from 13.6 percent to less than 4 percent, while poverty in rural areas declined from 24.4 percent to 10 percent.

Is Kazakhstan Poor?
In truth, Kazakhstan is not a traditionally “poor” country. In 2011, Kazakhstan was ranked as a high human development country in the Human Development Report. Additionally, Kazakhstan has already achieved many of its Millennium Development Goals.

Kazakhstan is, however, an example of a country that quickly lifted itself out of poverty and can quickly fall back into poverty. Kazakhstan is an anomaly among the former Soviet Union countries, as Kazakhstan’s GDP increased and its poverty rate decreased almost immediately after declaring independence. Kazakhstan has relied heavily on oil to improve its economy. Poverty is largely related to employment opportunities, which have been plentiful in the oil business. Considering environmental concerns regarding oil, it would be in Kazakhstan’s best interest to diversify its economy in order to continue improving the quality of life of its citizens.

Christiana Lano
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AmericaThe regions of Central and South America, in addition to the Caribbean Islands, collectively comprise what is currently recognized as Latin America, which is home to a growing population of roughly 637.6 million inhabitants. Of the three, the twelve nations of South America comprise the majority, or about 66 percent of that population. Despite all of these countries having experienced economic turmoil, political instability and social injustices, as a whole, the issue of hunger in South America does appear to be improving.

Since 1991, hunger in South America has seen significant declines. The largest of these has been Bolivia, which had 38 percent of its population without sufficient access to food in 1991. As of 2015, it had managed to reduce this number to 15.9 percent. Other countries have also made significant strides, such as Peru, which reduced its percentage of hunger from 31.6 in 1991 to 7.5 percent in 2015.

The basis for these accomplishments was established after Latin America adopted a U.N. Millennium Development Goal in 2000. The goal was to cut hunger in half in South America and its other regions by 2015, according to a State of Food Insecurity in the World report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The region fortunately accomplished this goal, and while South America still has the largest proportion of undernourished people to its population, it was able to do this at a quicker and more effective rate than Central America or the Caribbean Islands.

One reason it was likely able to do this is that a handful of countries in South America are major agricultural producers and exporters. Brazil, for example, uses 31 percent of its land for crops; the country mainly grows sugarcane, but they also are dominant producers of coffee, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and oranges. Additionally, they rank second behind the U.S. in terms of total beef production. Similarly, Argentina is also a large beef producer, and Ecuador is a dominant producer of bananas.

In fact, due to its current production levels and untapped resources, economists and agricultural experts have speculated that Latin American countries will have a decisive role to play in the coming decades when it comes to global food production, something that could certainly play to their advantage. As of 2015, Latin American food imports accounted for a mere four percent of food imports worldwide. In contrast, their food exports accounted for 16 percent of food exports worldwide.

However, there are still tens of millions of people experiencing hunger in South America today. The existence of such a problem reflects that South America’s issue is not that it lacks sufficient food resources, but that it lacks adequate methods of distributing and allowing access to these resources. This is typically reflective of a larger, systemic problem of inequality. However, if resolved, it could improve the continent’s ability to produce and distribute these resources at a rate that would allow its countries to not only be dominant economic players in the international community, but also to take care of their own citizens simultaneously.

In a world whose population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and whose food demands are expected to be 60 percent higher than they are today, it is critical that Latin America, and more importantly South American governments, establish economic reform that would allow for more equal food distribution. By doing so, they could then benefit from and play a major role in assisting future food shortages across the globe.

– Hunter Mcferrin

Photo: Flickr