the Economy of the Republic of BuryatiaIn the Far East of the Russian Federation lies a vast region characterized by a diversity of topographical features and a rich ancient history. The remote Republic of Buryatia increasingly serves as a regional economic powerhouse, rich in natural resources and human capital. Below are 10 facts about the economy of the Republic of Buryatia.

10 Facts About the Economy of the Republic of Buryatia

  1. The Republic of Buryatia is seeing a gradual decline in absolute population numbers. A 2016 census recorded 983,209 people in the republic in 2017. This is down from a total population of 1.02 million in 1997. A shrinking population may lead to adverse consequences for the economy of the Republic of Buryatia.
  2. Both industrial and agrarian means of production are well represented in the economy of the Republic of Buryatia. Forestry, food production, fuel and power, construction, the paper industry and the processing of both metal and wood account for the vast majority of industrial production. Mining operations explore, develop and extract coal, gold and non-magnetic metals. Agricultural operations feed much of the Russian Far East by producing dairy, meat, flour, cereals and animal feed.
  3. The cumulative value of exports from the Republic of Buryatia for the second quarter of 2017 measured approximately $374 million. A persistent decline in revenues from total exports began in 2012 though it has been subject to significant oscillations. In contrast, the republic imports $28 million worth of goods. The value of imports year to year exhibits some instability but still indicates a general decline over five successive years.
  4. The energy sector of the Republic of Buryatia relies greatly upon the region’s abundant coal reserves. Balance reserves totaling approximately 2.6 billion tons alongside deposit reserves of more than 1.1 billion tons may adequately supply the regional economy for another half-century. The government’s asset records attest to 13 brown and hard coal deposits subject to processing with another six undergoing development. 
  5. Despite the vitality of the coal sector, a decline in the demand for electricity may hinder the economy of the Republic of Buryatia. Power plants satisfy local requirements so much so that the republic exports electricity to neighboring regions like Mongolia. However, electricity consumption by the republic’s forestry and agricultural sectors remains low compared to the transport, communications and power plant sectors. Electricity use in 2017 was substantially lower than in the 1990s.
  6. In 2017, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent of the population in Russia. That same year, unemployment in the Republic of Buryatia affected 9.6 percent of the region’s population. But this most recent statistic is part of a systematic downward trend in the region’s unemployment rate. From a high of 17.8 percent unemployment in 2003, the decline to a 9.6 percent employment rate in 2017 attests to a steady improvement in this sphere of the economy of the Republic of Buryatia.
  7. The poverty rate in the Republic of Buryatia significantly oscillates year to year, yet data indicates a general decline in poverty. In 2015, 17.9 percent of the republic’s population lived beneath the poverty line. According to data collected in 2014, the average impoverished person in the Republic of Buryatia requires an income increase of 1.9 percent to meet minimum subsistence levels. 
  8. The freshwater reservoir Lake Baikal plays an essential role in the economy of the Republic of Buryatia. Measuring 636 kilometers across and 80 kilometers wide, Lake Baikal hosts an estimated 250 unique animal species out of an approximate total of 2,500 local species. Besides the diverse biome, rich mineral deposits abound. Half a century of development in the Lake Baikal region yielded more than 700 mineral reserves. 
  9. Individually-owned farms comprise 83 percent of the Republic of Buryatia’s total crop production. By contrast, only 57 percent of the total crop production of the Russian Federation emerges from farm households. However, only 11 percent of the total land of the republic belongs to individually-owned agricultural operations.
  10. In 2015, the rural demographic of the Republic of Buryatia numbered 402,520 people. The following year, the rural demographic rose 0.29 percent to 403,698 people. The urban demographic consisted of 579,511 people in 2016, a 0.28 percent increase from the previous year. Though comprising 58.9 percent of the republic’s population, data indicates a steady decline in the urban population from 1997 onward.

Though some data indicates that the economy of the Republic of Buryatia faces considerable obstacles, the general picture of the region is one of economic vitality. As a resource-rich region with a productive population, the future may bode well for this remote corner of the Russian Federation.

Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to GuineaA West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean that has been called potentially one of Africa’s richest, Guinea is a mineral-rich state with a population that is among the poorest in Africa. Humanitarian aid to Guinea is an important step in improving the livelihoods of Guineans.

Situated between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, Guinea is home to about a third of the world’s bauxite reserves which have not been smelted and refined into aluminum largely owing to the political instability in the country. Chronic underdevelopment has also angered many locals who have, in desperation, disrupted operations at the country’s mines to bring attention to their plight.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs, Guinea suffers from “persistent corruption and fiscal management.” However, the country is not only resource-rich but also filled with economic potentials in the energy and the agricultural sector.

With over four billion tons of untapped high-grade iron ore, abundant rainfall, gold and diamond reserves, off-shore oil reserves and indeterminate amounts of uranium, Guinea has many economic drivers. The country’s natural geography also makes it very hospitable to renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric dams and turbines.

In May 2015, the 240 megawatt Kaleta Dam project was built after a $526 million investment by China. Kaleta more than doubled the country’s electricity supply and encouraged the government to seek aid for more energy infrastructure, mainly in the solar and hydroelectric sector.

According to USAID, Guinea suffered heavy losses to its economical revenue and outlook in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Many widespread preventable and treatable diseases, such as malaria, prevail in the country and infant and maternal mortality rates remain very high. Furthermore, the agricultural sector is not able to completely function to provide the much-needed source of income and revenue for the people and the government.

The success of humanitarian aid to Guinea is underlined by USAID’s work in the country. In March 2015, USAID provided more than $7 million through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to improve food security and nutrition as a means to combat poverty and hunger in Guinea.

This culminated in WFP making the largest-ever purchase of locally-produced rice, which supported the local agricultural sector and provided children with meals in hundreds of schools across the country. Furthermore, farmers were educated about the business and contracting process, including working with development partners, and were encouraged to establish relationships with banks to obtain credits and rates they could use to sustain their farms.

It has been said that Guinea’s entire population of 12 million people is at risk of malaria. Malaria control efforts and prevention policies are underway in the country, but the damage is ongoing. According to the Ministry of Health, most of the hospitalizations, consultations and deaths in Guinea are a result of malaria.

Aid organizations such as Plan International have been working for decades to provide humanitarian aid to Guinea. Plan International improves children’s access to health, education and sanitation. This is done by ensuring that sustainable, quality education is provided to all children. Children are afforded access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, a safe environment designed to empower children is nurtured.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Guinea actively helps vulnerable people and migrants to resettle in other countries by advocating on their behalf and lending support at every step of the resettlement process, including performing medical health assessments on behalf of the resettlement countries. Funding for IOM Guinea is mainly provided by the same governments of resettlement countries, and the international community can and should support the efforts of these countries.

With more humanitarian aid to Guinea, this resource-rich country certainly carries the potential to infuse its wealth of resources into the livelihoods of all Guineans.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

In December of 2010, high unemployment, limited economic opportunity, corruption in government offices and escalating food prices, brought about a string of deadly riots across the North African nation of Tunisia. The Tunisian people ousted their President, Ben Ali, in a bloodless coup d’état, and a “national unity government” was installed in his place. This new government-appointed Mocef Marzouki, a well-known Tunisian human rights activist, as interim president. Since 2011, there has been a slew of development initiatives that are being undertaken in Tunisia in an attempt to improve the lives of all citizens. The World Bank Group is currently funding 22 active development projects in Tunisia. Here are five which you should know about.

1. Youth Economic Inclusion Project (2017-2024)

The Youth Economic Inclusion Project is an initiative to increase and improve the economic opportunities presented to young, disadvantaged, Tunisians. This project is connecting young Tunisians with job opportunities, and providing assistance in transitioning from being a student, or unemployed, to the working world. Another component of this project is to make an effort to increase job creation in Tunisia.

2. Road Transport Corridors Project (2015-2020)

This project aims to improve the condition of roads connecting the more developed regions of Tunisia with the lesser developed areas. This project will shorten travel times and substantially improve the safety of road travel across the country. The Road Transport Corridors Project has focused on widening and repaving roads, repairing bridges, and installing more road safety equipment.

3. Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Regions (2017-2024)

The goal of the Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Legions Project is to improve the use of natural resources in the lesser developed northwest and western regions of the country. With a focus on sustainability, this project will improve the efficiency of land and natural resource use, as well as improve existing agricultural practices and infrastructure.

4. Northern Tunis Wastewater Project (2010-2019)

In the northern reaches of the city of Tunis, there is currently a lack of proper wastewater management infrastructure. This project pays special consideration to the environmental impacts of wastewater management and seeks to increase the amount and quality of treated wastewater available for use to farmers in regards to their agricultural activities.

5. The National Network of Social Accountability (2014-2018)

This project aims to bring Tunisia closer to becoming a developed nation through three main objectives. The first is to increase the availability and reliability of public information on government activity and expenditures. Second, there is an initiative to increase competition between businesses to expand the Tunisian economy. The last aspect of this development project in Tunisia is to focus on improving the quality and availability of healthcare for low-income Tunisians.

It is evident that these active development projects in Tunisia are working to ensure the improved livelihoods of citizens in various ways.

 – Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr


Oil in KenyaThe county of Turkana, Kenya, is currently situated over an estimated 750 million barrels of oil. From the outside looking in, the oil is a winning lottery ticket for Turkana, with 90 percent of its 1.3 million people living below the poverty line. Jobs and business opportunities have increased due to the oil wells, and the oil is expected to make billions of dollars annually for Kenya in just a few years, 20 percent of which will go to the Turkana County government.

However, many people in Turkana do not see the oil in Kenya to be a glimmer of hope; rather, they fear that the new wells will contribute to conflicts over scarce pasture and water resources. Turkana is home to millions of pastoral animals that now have no access to pasture due to the oil rig installations, and they must be herded long distances to find drinkable water and a specific type of grass.

The oil in Kenya has also been said to be killing goats in the county and has caused a stench problem throughout some families’ homes, making it hard to live. The Kenyan government must address the consequences of the oil as well as Turkana residents’ feelings toward the oil to avoid intense conflict, violence or even a civil war.

Turkana, as a county, has been struggling with poverty and human development for many years. Turkana County has the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in the country, the lowest rates of education enrollment and the lowest life expectancy in Kenya. Turkana also suffers the worst of all the counties in Kenya from the ongoing drought that has now been recognized as a national disaster.

Furthermore, the United Nations and Kenyan government estimate that 2.7 million people in Kenya as a whole are facing a food shortage. With all of these struggles that both the country and Turkana County have been facing, it is easy to see why many people feel the oil in Kenya is a sign of hope for a better future. With regards to the infamous possibilities that could be Turkana’s future, as well as Kenya’s, it is important for the government to have regard for the animals, farmers and land.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Why is Nauru PoorIn recent years, news about the small island of Nauru pertains to the violation of human rights for asylum seekers. However, what is not being discussed is why these people are seeking asylum in the first place or why Nauru maintains the third highest proportion of refugees per capita in the world. The explanation partially lies on the deterioration of the country’s wealth over the last few decades. So, why is Nauru poor?

In fact, the country was not always poor. In 1980 Nauru became the wealthiest nation globally, per capita. The country’s natural resource endowments were recognized for this feat. Large deposits of phosphate were discovered in the late 19th century across the island, and once Nauru gained independence in 1968, intensive mining boosted the country’s income.

After this, Nauru seemed to experience what is called the “resource curse.” While the country’s specialization in phosphate mining originally provided wealth, Nauru experienced a drastic economic collapse when phosphate ran out in the early 1980s.

The country was then left with was a series of long-term problems. Today, 50 percent of households in Nauru live on an average of only $9000 a year. As phosphate mining had such a destructive toll on the environment, 80 percent of the island has been labeled wasteland and threatens the remaining resources. Because the phosphate specialization drove away other business previously developed in the country, it now obtains limited revenue, and the unemployment rate in 2011 rested at 23 percent.

To spark growth in Nauru’s economy, the government agreed to open the Australian Regional Processing Center for asylum seekers in 2012. Australia’s offshoring tactics pay Nauru $312 million annually to run detention centers on the island.

While this has improved the incomes of families in Nauru, the country has faced much backlash due to the living conditions of the refugees sent to the country. Consequently, a new deal is being formulated to move these vulnerable groups to other areas including Cambodia and the United States. This will leave Nauru, again, without the revenues necessary to keep its people from poverty.

Reverand James Aingimea, a minister of the Nauru Congregational Church confessed to the New York Times, “I wish we’d never discovered that phosphate…When I was a boy, it was so beautiful… Now I see what has happened here, and I want to cry.” This pain can be felt across the island where the residents bear witness to the question, “why is Nauru poor?” The exploitation of Nauru without environmental protection or diversification in the economy has led the nation to a state of dependency.

Tess Hinteregger

Photo: Google

There is an inextricable link between the commodity dependence of developing countries and their susceptibility to poverty. The tie to poverty in nations that heavily rely on one or two products to boost their export revenue may be closer than current research demonstrates. This phenomenon, which will hereafter be referred to as “one product poverty,” needs additional study.

The extreme reliance on select commodities is especially harmful at the household level. This is in large part due to price volatility. Price volatility refers to fluctuations in worth resulting from unanticipated supply and demand that is reflected in a commodity’s price. In recent years, commodity price volatility has increased as a partial consequence of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Some of the effects of price volatility must be taken as a given. In a free market, supply and demand are the driving mechanisms that affect commodity prices. However, price volatility is especially harmful to one product countries. It creates barriers in economic markets and discourages entrepreneurship by heightening the risk of investment. Commodity dependency and price volatility, then, are a recipe for one product poverty.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s 2014 State of Commodity Dependence report shows that high commodity dependence is concentrated in impoverished regions of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, for instance, have the highest percentage of commodity exports in relation to gross domestic product (GDP). Some of the poorest countries in the world, such as Mozambique, have some of the highest percentages of commodity exports as a percentage of GDP.

The instinctual solution to one product poverty is variance in commodities. In other words, developing countries should strive to increase their revenue-making operations from one commodity to two and then three. These countries should stay away from over-specialization.

By doing so, developing countries can lessen the vulnerability of their commodities to fluctuating markets, which would benefit their economies and encourage individual initiative and entrepreneurship. Households can then take a final step out of poverty as self-sustaining business owners.

The role of developed countries in this equation is to encourage sustainable development. Policies that promote the broader production of commodities, stabilize prices and increase exports must be considered as solutions for one product poverty.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Montenegro
Montenegro is a small mountainous country located in Southeast Europe off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The country has a relatively small and open economy, which is reliant on energy-intensive industries. On average, Montenegro is one of the least efficient consumers of energy and water in the entire European continent.

Further, urban sprawl and deforestation put a strain on the infrastructure and local service provisions within Montenegro. This also increases exposure to environmental hazards and erodes natural resources. Overall, these issues pose a threat as it makes Montenegrins vulnerable to resource depletion.

Poverty in Montenegro averages at around 8.6 percent with 33 percent in economically vulnerable situations. However, those in the northern region average at around 10.3 percent poverty rates. Unemployment rates in the north, are around two times greater than the national average and citizens there have limited access to public services. This reflects an internal problem within the country, namely regional development disparity.

Gender and age discrimination are two additional issues in Montenegrin society. Although the high-education balance between men and women is equal in Montenegro, women in the workforce are prone to huge gaps in income. They also lack proper political and economic representation, making them especially vulnerable to problems such as domestic violence and general impoverishment should they choose to divorce or remain unmarried.

Another demographic that is overwhelmingly at a disadvantage are the roughly 50,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. These people make up roughly seven percent of the Montenegrin population and are among the poorest in Montenegro. Their poverty rate is roughly six times higher than the average national poverty rate.

Thus, combating social discrepancies and poverty in Montenegro is the pinnacle for evening the proverbial fiscal playing field. This will require reformation of health, employment and social services on both the local and global level.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

Mining in Malawi: Understanding the Conflict
The relationship between the mining industry and the country of Malawi is burdened with complexity. Mining in Malawi promises substantial economic growth, yet it simultaneously has the potential to violate human rights and destroy the natural ecosystem.

Malawi profits through the mining industry, as the country is rich in economic deposits of uranium. Both Malawian granite and sandstone host uranium reserves, such as the Karoo sandstone in Karonga, Malawi.

The district of Karonga lies on the northwest side of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is one of the only freshwater lakes on the entire continent of Africa and is a key source of livelihood for over 1.5 million Malawians.

While clearly rich in resources, the country itself is impoverished. Due to this, the government has signed many agreements with extraction companies, hoping to increase exports.

Some national organizations are concerned about the mining industry’s effect on the precious and fragile ecosystem of Lake Malawi, yet the government has prioritized economic interests.

In 2007, a subsidiary of Paladin Energy took interest in Karonga due to a uranium deposit in the district. Due to the immense economic potential of the mine, called Kayelekera, the government agreed to let Paladin extract uranium in 2009. The government was issued 15 percent equity in the subsidiary.

As expected, the mine stimulated a crucial boost to the country’s foreign currency account. Over the following 10 years, the uranium industry overall is expected to raise Malawi’s GDP by 10 percent, account for 30 percent of exports and increase exports by 25 percent.

Due to company promises, many people in Malawi flocked to Karonga, hoping the uranium industry would generate employment, build clinics and increase general infrastructure in the new mining community.

Others, however, were not adequately informed that uranium mining was going to take place around their homes. None were aware that the Kayelekera mine would disrupt their entire way of life.

Reporters from Human Rights Watch conducted research for a year in Karonga, interviewing nearly 80 villagers who had been affected by uranium mining. They found that the general lack of government oversight and corporate responsibility harmed Malawians.

The construction of the Kayelekera mine caused villagers to be evicted from their homes. Many were only notified of the relocation at the last minute. Without any time to find other places to stay, these Malawians found themselves temporarily homeless.

While Paladin did offer compensation for the forced removal, the sum was insufficient to completely cover the cost of buying new land and building a new home. The company offered about MWK 50,000 to each family, which currently equates to about $70.

The uranium mining in Malawi damaged maize crops, dried rice fields and destroyed irrigation channels. As most of the villagers around Karonga live off of subsistence farming, threatened agriculture endangers survival.

Secrecy around the operations of the mine led to Malawian suspicion. When the people in Karonga asked the corporation to test the water for contamination, Paladin claimed to have a monitoring system in place. The company then refused to release any results. This lack of transparency has left many villagers concerned for their health.

As the laws surrounding mining in Malawi have not been updated since the Environmental Management Act of 1996, amendments are well overdue. In order to protect the interests of its citizens, the government of Malawi needs to strengthen regulations over extractive corporations, educate its people about the risks of mining, enforce institutional transparency and take measures to mitigate any damage.

The Kayelekera mine was closed in 2014 for repairs, yet the uranium industry in Malawi is just beginning. Moving forward, the Malawian government needs to enforce corporate responsibility on all companies who wish to extract natural resources from their country.

This conflict over mining in Malawi ignites fundamental questions over the delicate balance between economic development and social responsibility. With a more comprehensive legal framework, the government of Malawi may not have to choose one or the other. After further reform, the government can protect its people while simultaneously fostering social, institutional and economic development.

Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

Tuungane Project
The Greater Mahale Ecosystem in Tanzania is home to rich biodiversity, but an impoverished human population. Pathfinder International, a global nonprofit organization focused on reproductive health, HIV prevention, and maternal health, has launched the Tuungane Project to address reproductive health and natural resource management.

Because Pathfinder sees a direct connection between the health of the environment and the health of the people, they partner with organizations that focus on threats to biodiversity, while they target what they call “improving health of the communities by increasing sustainable livelihoods and increasing access to contraceptives, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, maternal, neonatal, and child health, and primary healthcare services.”

The Tuungane Project’s projects include land and fisheries management, health system strengthening, and reproductive health services. As a result of their efforts, seven new medical personnel have been posted, 66 community health workers have been trained, and 1,106 new latrines have been built by community members. Prior to these improvements, populations of between 3,000 to 5,000 people sometimes had access to only a single health professional.

Key players in sanitation efforts are the beach management units, which have eliminated cases of cholera, a bacterial disease usually spread in water, for the past two years.

The lives and livelihoods of the population depend on the rich natural resources of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy, a charitable environmental organization, partners with Pathfinder to create a healthy future for this area. By teaching best practices regarding how to best extract resources from their environment, the organization helps villages meet community needs and attain food security. One of the Nature Conservancy’s major efforts aims to enhance fisheries management on Lake Tanganyika, which holds 17 percent of the world’s fresh water.

By uniting conservation efforts with community development, local governance is strengthened, family health is possible and the population can achieve a sustainable livelihood.

Emily Ednoff

Sources: Pathfinder International, The Nature Conservancy
Photo: Flickr

Uganda’s most obvious investment appeal is its location – bordered by Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, the United Republic of Tanzania to the south, and the Democratic Public of Congo to the west – that offers the nation a powerful base for central trade partnerships as the country acts as a regional hub for investment.

Uganda is a nation that depends on agriculture for economic stimulation thanks to the country’s favorable climate and fertile soils. Investing in Ugandan farming expansion and sustainability efforts will help support the 80 percent of the population working in agriculture, feed the nation and will support economic growth.

According to the State House of Uganda, the country is among the leading producers of coffee and bananas, with exports of tea, cotton, tobacco, fruit, vegetables, and silk contributing to Uganda’s 2014 record GDP of $26.3 billion.

Agricultural opportunities for investors include commercial farming, value addition, fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing, machinery supply, packing materials, and cold storage facilities.

The Agriit Institute of Uganda, an agricultural development advocacy organization, states that growth in agriculture is up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty within sub-Saharan Africa than development in any other divisions.Investing_in_Uganda

The international Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) finds that agricultural growth can reduce urban poverty levels as food prices go down. These prices are often lowered when crop sustainability measures are taken through investments in developmental farming technologies.

Uganda offers investment prospects due to the growth in natural resource discovery. According to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of Uganda, there have been 21 discoveries of oil and/or gas throughout the nation.

A total of 87 oil wells have been drilled from 21 fields in Uganda. There are currently 3.5 billion barrels of unprocessed oil, with 1.2 billion recoverable barrels in existence. The U.S. Department of State reports that only 40 percent of the oil-rich areas in the region have been explored, which leaves great investment opportunity.

The potential growth and discovery of these natural resources welcome investors into untapped markets licensing for petroleum production, crude oil pipeline construction and maintenance, environmental services, waste disposal and drilling services.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Uganda’s foreign direct investment doubled from 900 million to $1.7 billion from 2011 to 2012 due to investor interest in the oil sector. The Uganda Poverty Status Report of 2014 shows a direct link to these investments and poverty alleviation, stating that the national poverty rate dropped from 24.5 percent in the 2009-2010 fiscal year to 19.7 percent during 2012-2013.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Agritt Institute, International Food Policy Research Institute, The State House of Uganda, Uganda Ministry of Finance, U.S. Department of State
Photo: Google Images, Flickr