Posts

maternal_health_sierra_leone
In Sierra Leone, a new initiative is encouraging local communities to demand a higher level of health care services, in order to reduce the country’s high maternal mortality rates. One in every 21 women in Sierra Leone is at risk of death due to childbirth, and the campaign aims at empowering communities to push healthcare higher on the political agenda, by providing evidence to local authorities that they require higher standards.

The initiative, Evidence for Action (E4A), works in Sierra Leone and five other sub-Saharan countries, and brings together experts from academic institutions, internationally recognized advocacy and accountability coalitions and civil society organizations. E4A acknowledges while progress is possible, reducing infant and maternal mortality requires the effort of everyone involved. The leader of the project, Dr. Mohamed Yilla, said “The issue of babies and maternal health should no longer just be a government issue; it should be of community interest. The community can bring about the sustainable health system and maintain it.”

As part of E4A, the MamaYe! campaign is an program that advocates for safer maternal clinics. The campaign provides information to individuals and communities so that they can make more well-informed decisions about supporting maternal healthcare and encourage government authorities and politicians to improve healthcare services. The project collects data from clinics across the country, and draws attention to those that fall short on utilities such as electricity, running water and blood supply.

Last year, the program distributed 5,000 score cards to communities, rating clinics from all over the country. Yilla notes that thanks to the information, people started to ask questions and demand more from their government. Since the election in November 2012, Sierra Leone’s health spending has increased from 7.5% to 10.5%. Regarding the increase in spending, Yilla said, “Attribution is always difficult, but this advocacy work showed we were way below the budget target and contributed to that increase.”

Looking forward, Sierra Leone has huge prospects, partly due to a thriving mining industry and iron ore production. With an increase in GDP, along with more awareness concerning the condition of maternal healthcare facilities, Yilla is hopeful that investment in health will see major progress over the next two years.

– Chloe Isacke

Sources: The Guardian, Evidence for Action
Photo: New Security Beat

Sierra_Leone_Conflict_diamonds
The Sierra Leone civil war destroyed the national economy, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. The civil war that ravaged the small west African nation from 1991-2002 was the impetus for a huge displacement of people within Sierra Leone, leading to a downturn in the economy that left almost 75% of the population living in extreme poverty.

Sierra Leone’s main export is diamonds. Diamonds have created a significant wealth gap in Sierra Leone that has benefited the rich and paralyzed the poor for decades. The country’s dependence on this single mineral resource impedes economic growth. In order for Sierra Leone to lift itself out of abject poverty, the economy must diversify. Economic diversification is exceptionally difficult, however, with around 50% of the adult working population working in subsistence agriculture. Luckily, the IMF set up a program in 2010 to deliver $45 million to Sierra Leone through 2013.

Over the last few years, Sierra Leone has developed its offshore oil resources as another source of income. This, however, does not negate the enormous need for international aid to power the development process and prevent increased in inequalit in Sierra Leone. In order for the economy to stabilize, foreign aid must be delivered on a consistent basis and domestic peace must be preserved at all costs.

– Josh Forgét
Source: BBC News, Rural Poverty Portal, CIA World Factbook
Photo: Human Trafficking Movie Project

OneWorldOneFuture
Last month, deputy prime minister of Ireland, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, and the Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, launched the new policy One World, One Future: Ireland’s Policy for International Development. Through this new policy, Ireland is emphasizing its commitment to “a vision of a sustainable and just world,” to defeat the ugly reality that some people only realize through a statistic while others experience it firsthand every day: approximately 1 billion starving people. The battle against poverty faces many challenges which include climate change, rising energy and food prices, and the global economic crisis.

Irish Aid established three main goals to try and accommodate the changing conditions: to reduce hunger and improve resilience, to have sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, and finally, to achieve better governance, and human rights and accountability which includes gender equality. When meeting these goals, Irish Aid will continue its progress based on its assessment of previous achievements; Irish Aid helped 46 million more kids go to school in Africa, and decreased poverty for ethnic minorities in Vietnam by 17%.

As Irish Aid recognizes the vulnerability of “fragile states,” it declared Sierra Leone as a new key partner country for hopes of establishing better and stronger relationships with these so-called fragile states. Thus, as these relationships grow and strengthen, better progress can take place towards sustainable development.

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Relief Web
Photo: Google

Ami_Vitale_Guinea_bissau_life_expectancy_photography_international_Affairs_USAID_disease_global_health_opt

In the United States, the average person will live to be 78 years old. In that time, they’ll likely get married, have children of their own, have a long career and then spend roughly 13 years in retirement. For most of us, this seems like the natural progression of life. In many places around the world however, many people won’t live to see the day they become grandparents and the idea of retirement is just a pie in the sky.

What does low life expectancy tell us?

The World Bank defines life expectancy at birth as the number of years a newborn can be expected to live, assuming no change in the living conditions of the country present at birth. When life expectancy in a country is low, it indicates a lack in some of the basic necessities required to live a long, healthy life.

This often includes things such as clean drinking water, nutritious food, hygienic living conditions and adequate health care. But in some cases, it is far more complicated than that. AIDS related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa for example, have been driving down average life expectancy for decades. Conflict, war and genocide also contribute to a shorter average life span.

The following is a list of 10 countries with the lowest life expectancy numbers on the planet, the 10 worst places to be born. For comparison, life expectancy in the United States was 48 in the year 1900.

10. Mozambique

Life expectancy: 50 years

9. Chad

Life expectancy: 50 years

8. Zambia

Life expectancy: 49 years

7. Afghanistan

Life expectancy: 49 years

6. Swaziland

Life expectancy: 49 years

 5. The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Life expectancy: 48 years

 4. Central African Republic

Life expectancy: 48 years

3. Guinea-Bissau

Life expectancy: 48 years

 2. Lesotho

Life expectancy: 48 years

 1. Sierra Leone

Life expectancy: 48 years

These figures express the importance of global health initiatives undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other health actors on the world stage. Many government health ministries and non-governmental health organizations are also stepping up to meet these challenges. These efforts are imperative for global development and their continued persistence can eventually lead to long and healthy lives for people in these countries.

– Erin N. Ponsonby

Sources:World Bank, Washington Post, Berkeley
Photo:Alexia Foundation

Motorbikes Role in Reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals
UNICEF donated 73 motorbikes to nonprofit organizations to help them better and more effectively monitor and implement their water and sanitation projects in Sierra Leone. These projects are to build or revamp wells and sanitation spaces in communities, schools, and health centers.

By giving these nonprofit organizations access to motorbikes, UNICEF is hoping to help reach the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The motorbikes are thought to help by accelerating the efforts being made to improve access to water and, thus, contribute to the push for anti-poverty that the Millennium Development Goals are in place for.

As of now, only 57 percent of people in Sierra Leone have access to clean drinkable water with access to such water in rural areas being much rarer than in more urban areas. Accordingly, only 48 percent of people have access to clean water sources in rural areas, whereas 76 percent of those living in urban households have access. A significant amount of water consumed in rural areas is sourced to surface water, which is vulnerable to a multitude of waterborne diseases. This makes it imperative to improve water conditions and provisions and rural areas. The motorbikes will help make this possible by enabling NGOs to bring life-saving facilities to areas that are very remote and hard to access. They will also cut down on the amount of time necessary to get from local to local, allowing for NGO members to monitor their projects faster and easier.

Earnest Sesay, Director of Family Homes Movement, one of the NGOs that received motorbikes from UNICEF,  said “On behalf of the implementing partners of UNICEF WASH, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for this donation. With these motorbikes, the hurdles of reaching out to remote communities will be a problem of the past.”

– Angela Hooks

Source: AllAfrica