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lowest life expectancy in the world
Out of the established 224 countries on the earth, these are the bottom five with the lowest life expectancy in the world. The countries listed below range from an average lifespan of 52.1 years to 50.6 years old.

Five Countries with the Lowest Life Expectancy in the World

  1. Swaziland
    Swaziland has the fifth-lowest life expectancy in the world at an average of 52.1 years. Swaziland is the only country on this list with men living, on average, longer than women. As of 2016, the top two reasons for deaths were HIV/AIDS and lower respiratory infections.However, Swaziland is one of the countries receiving help from USAID. One of the top priorities of USAID is fighting against HIV/AIDS by preventing sexual transmission, increasing the prevalence of male circumcision, improving institutions and training, lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS and decentralizing care and treatment. With USAID’s continued assistance and its partnerships within the African nation, there is a chance that the average lifespan in Swaziland can increase above 52.1 years.
  1. Gabon
    With an average lifespan of 52.1 years, Gabon is ranked number four for the lowest life expectancy in the world. Despite being rated so low, Gabon has a robust oil-dependent economy, making it a middle-income country.Due to this income status, it is ineligible for relief programs such as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. This ineligibility may be why HIV/AIDS and heart disease are the top two reasons for death in the country, contributing to the low life expectancy.
  1. Afghanistan
    The only country not in Africa, Afghanistan is ranked at number three with an average lifespan of 51.7 years. This ranking may increase over time through help from USAID.In Afghanistan, USAID is working to promote health and education, both critical factors in raising life expectancies. USAID and its partners are making substantial strides to improve the healthcare for Afghans. For example, in 2016, the organization began a project to help reduce malnutrition and increase access to safe water and sanitation.USAID is also working toward making essential health services available and improving the quality and quantity of medicines. These resources, once available to Afghans, grant the nation a high potential to no longer be one of the countries with the lowest life expectancy in the world.
  1. Guinea-Bissau
    The second-to-last country with the lowest life expectancy in the world is Guinea-Bissau, averaging about 51 years of life. Aid for Africa is working in Guinea-Bissau with programs that help improve health and education, create businesses and protect wildlife.Another program through Aid for Africa, called Tostan, works by using local languages and traditions to promote democracy, problem-solving, human rights, hygiene and health. Through this program, successful countries have become more prosperous as well as healthier. With the continued implementation of programs such as these, Guinea-Bissau could improve its quantity of life.
  1. Chad
    Chad has the lowest life expectancy in the world at an average lifespan of 50.6 years. The life expectancy in this nation is so low because it has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality and high infant mortality as well.USAID has several programs to help those living in Chad. USAID and the U.N. World Food Programme are working together to distribute food and make sure access to food is readily available all over the country.Starting in 2018, programs such as In-Kind Food Aid, Local and Regional Food Procurement, Cash Transfers for Food and Food Vouchers all will be funded to help citizens. With these various programs helping improve health and nutrition, sources are working with Chad to increase the average lifespan.

World life expectancy continues to increase on the whole, but these five countries are still lagging behind. In order to increase the longevity and potential of their citizens’ lives, they will require targeted aid and a focus on infrastructure and healthcare.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to AfghanistanThe Global Humanitarian Assistance Report for 2017 stated that Afghanistan has 8.9 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is important because it is a country with multiple crises, including internal and international conflict and violence, refugees who still remain in neighboring countries and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, avalanches and sandstorms.

Afghanistan ranked in the top 10 countries in need of humanitarian aid from 1999 until 2015, when it dropped to 13th. In 2016, there were roughly 1.6 million people displaced within Afghanistan. Crises are prevalent in the country and the effects are apparent among the citizens. Children face some of the toughest obstacles in survival, and the government struggles to provide the basic needs of clean water, electricity, safe roads and education.

With the increased need for humanitarian aid, the U.N. Secretary-General’s report at the World Humanitarian Summit called for an adjustment of financing to the countries most in need. Financing tools are being re-evaluated to fit the crises and breaking away from the old short-term grant-based funding. This change acknowledges that natural disasters require different financing than conflicts, such as climate financing, risk reduction and risk transfer. Conflict financing is still limited, but the World Bank, the U.N. Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are looking to broaden the financing scope to enable better aid to countries in need.

Several foundations are also working to downsize this crisis impact within Afghanistan. Save the Children is an organization giving children access to literacy programs, building strong curriculums and training teachers for both preschool age and secondary school children. Further advances have been made in efforts to employ parents of children to work on projects to better develop the community with local reservoirs, agriculture canals and other drought-related projects.

The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department was founded in 1994 in order to provide aid for the strictly humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality. This aid continues for conflict and disaster-ridden communities, providing emergency medical, food, clean water, shelter, protection, sanitation and hygiene. This organization is providing for the basic needs and working to restore access to education to children in the process.

In 2017, the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department planned to allocate €25.5 million, but because of the growing displacements of citizens, it grew to €30.5 million. A main priority is support for refugees to return from Pakistan and Iran.

The humanitarian aid to Afghanistan continues with the International Rescue Committee, which started in 1988 in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion. This organization continued providing aid throughout the rule of the Taliban and now works with thousands of villages, employing many Afghans in the IRC staff. This organization teaches communities to take action in their own projects for development, provides learning spaces in rural locations, provides tents, water, sanitation and basic needs to those displaced and works to find employment for people. These efforts are crucial to enable progress in Afghanistan.

Much aid is needed within Afghanistan due to crises stemming from multiple sources, but international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is being addressed. Countries, smaller foundations and organizations along with individuals are seeking to make an impact in the nation.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr

5 Active Development Projects in AfghanistanThe World Bank Group is currently providing funding for 49 active development projects in Afghanistan. These projects are working to address the full spectrum of needs of the Afghan people. Here are five development projects in Afghanistan currently underway.

  1. Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project. The Hindukush Mountain range spreads across a vast piece of central Asia, including much of eastern Afghanistan. Travel throughout this region is limited and road conditions are generally poor. This project will provide aid to the Afghan government to rebuild and maintain roads spanning the Hindukush mountain region. Improved transportation infrastructure will bring economic growth as well as increased access to resources for people living in remote areas. The project started in 2015 and will come to a close in 2022 and The World Bank group has pledged a loan of $250 million.
  2. Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program. This project came about when the Afghani government accepted a loan of $482.3 million in a plan to enact seven new development projects to combat the growing poverty crisis. The Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program aims to ensure better access to economic opportunities and rights for women.
  3. Urban Development Support Project. The Urban Development Support Project was implemented to strengthen urban policymaking and development on both the national and provincial level. The project aims to improve city planning capabilities, census and data management and urban institution development and accountability. The project began this year and cost $20 million in funding; completion is projected for 2020.
  4. Herat Electrification Project. A small province in western Afghanistan, people in the Heratprovince have limited access to electricity. This project aims to provide homes and businesses in this region with a sustainable source of power. The World Bank group plans to accomplish this by expanding the electrical grid in the region. In areas which are further removed from electrical grid access, solar panels are being implemented to supply power to those who need it. The project began in 2017 and will hopefully be complete by 2022. The total cost of the project is $60 million, which was loaned to the Afghani government by The World Bank Group.
  5. Afghanistan Strategic Grain Reserve Project. This project was started in 2017 and aims to create a reliable stockpile of grain in hopes that in the event of an emergency there will be a safety net of food security. The project has an estimated total cost of $30 million and is hoped to be completed by 2022.

Development projects in Afghanistan such as these are radically improving the quality of life in Afghanistan, however, they only begin to scratch the surface of the larger web of issues preventing Afghanistan from becoming a fully developed country. Cooperation between the World Bank Group and the Afghan government has set the stage for Afghanistan to move closer and closer to development as time moves on.

– Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

 

Women's empowerment in AfghanistanIn the last 50 years, women were among the most affected by the different conflicts taking place in Afghanistan, especially the oppression of the Islamic Taliban. Indeed, the status of women in Afghanistan changed after having their fundamental rights exploited under Taliban rule.

However, despite the significant barriers still faced by Afghan women, there have been notable improvements in women’s empowerment politically, economically and socially. Empowering women also means eradicating any form of violence, discrimination and harassment against women, which can be done by changing the sexist mindsets prevailing in the region.

In the general sense of women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, some of the achievements include a national constitution guaranteeing women’s equal rights, the adoption of the National Plan of Advancement of Women of Afghanistan 2008-2018 and the development of civil society organizations working to improve women’s rights.

Thirty years of war and limited literacy have produced a lack of political knowledge and experience for Afghan women, but organizations such as the Asia Foundation provided civic and voter education to all those women and encouraged them to participate actively in political life. This approach ended up being highly successful, as 400 women contested the 2010 parliamentary elections, and became for the first time election observers in all 34 provinces in Afghanistan.

As of today, 27.7 percent of seats in Parliament are held by women, which is the largest percentage of women in power in Afghan history. Afghanistan has also become one of the rare South Asian countries to implement a National Action Plan that includes U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, which is a resolution promoting women in leadership and peace-building positions.

In terms of economic women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, there are still some areas to work on, such as better access to jobs around the region, especially in rural areas; a more effective financial sector providing services tailored to all women’s needs and a stronger business climate helping women start their own businesses. Economic empowerment could be significant for those women, as it would enable them to make their own decisions and use the resources given to them to benefit their economic standing.

In terms of labor rights, the labor force has welcomed an increasing percentage of women, reaching 19 percent in 2016. However, instances of discrimination, harassment and violence have been experienced by many women in the workforce. The Elimination of Violence Against Women is a recent law passed by presidential decree in 2009 that provides hope for the improvement of women’s rights and their access to justice in Afghanistan.

The government of Afghanistan, the international scene and local civic organizations have successfully implemented policies and laws improving the lives of Afghan women by representing them on the political field, increasing their economic roles within Afghan society and providing them with better labor rights. However, the efforts need to be multiplied in order to strengthen women’s empowerment in Afghanistan at all levels.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to AfghanistanAfghanistan has been plagued by war since the Soviet Military Intervention of the 1970s during the Cold War era. The 16-year civil war has impacted the foreign policies of many countries over the years. The fight between the Taliban insurgency and international collation forces has resulted in mass displacement, poverty, discrimination, human rights violations and destitution.

Despite the precarious stalemate reached, there were still an aggregate 3,500 civilian casualties last year, with insuperable pressure on humanitarian agencies and aid workers. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 296,000 individuals have been internally displaced since January 2017.

Foreign aid encompasses emergency assistance, food aid, military assistance and humanitarian and development aid. Consequently, foreign aid continues to be a vital question in solving the “Afghanistan Problem”, as it has been called. Even though foreign aid to Afghanistan has been quite successful over the years, with over 2.2 million individuals reached in the last quarter of 2017 alone, it is becoming a concern for stakeholder groups, organizations and countries involved. Phantom aid is an especially significant issue in Afghanistan, as it never reaches the correct source and fails to address poverty and other associated problems.

Even though Afghanistan’s GDP has been averaging around 3.6 percent annually since 2002 and the economy is showing progress, terrorism still remains one of the most pressing issues in the country. There are many splintered terrorist groups still existing in the country. For instance, the Haqqani Terrorist Network remains one the most hostile wings of the Taliban. Terrorist groups are blocking lines of communication in Afghanistan and further destabilizing the country. Army camps and soldier are imperiled by the threat of terrorism in the country. Owing to the recent surge in violence, the Red Cross is temporarily suspending its aid operations to protect aid workers and civilians.

However, many countries are coming forward to provide foreign aid to Afghanistan. China is coming close to matching the U.S. budget of foreign aid to Afghanistan and is one of the leading donors to the country. It is working with the World Food Programme to provide emergency food aid.

India is also a vital provider of sustainable foreign aid to Afghanistan. Since 2002, India has contributed a massive $2 billion in foreign aid to the country, both in civil and military assistance. India is also very involved in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam has been an especially crucial development. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aiming to cement stronger ties with India. The two countries will collaborate on solving key issues like terrorism, and working towards political and economic strategies.

Furthermore, over 116 community projects will be developed in 31 major provinces in the realms of education, healthcare, flood control, renewable energy, agriculture and sanitation. India is also providing aid to fund 300 small development projects and working to bolster its military aid to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

However, according to findings by Aiddata, aid efforts remain poor due to the lack of transparency and corruption in the provision of aid to the country and the motives of stakeholder groups involved. Existing immobilities in infrastructure and other aspects are debilitating the progress of foreign aid to Afghanistan. Improving two-way communication in communities in Afghanistan will greatly improve the provision of aid. Foreign aid to Afghanistan must be sustainable for the long-term recovery of the people and the economy, and building the resilience and capacity of governments and businesses.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Child Marriages in AfghanistanAfghanistan is often ranked as the world’s most dangerous country for women. Young girls are so often robbed of their childhoods by means of widespread violations of their human rights. Poverty, limited access to education and healthcare, little if any support for victims of domestic violence, high birth rates and draconian traditions regarding the role of women leave girls highly vulnerable to abuse.

Though the legal age of marriage is 16 years for women and 18 years for men, as outlined by the Afghan Civil Code, 33 percent of girls are married by the age of 18, the internationally recommended standard legal age for marriage. These marriages essentially treat girls as property in order to strengthen ties between rival families and tribes or to settle debts and disputes. Poor families often sell their daughters for large sums of money to wealthy families and much older men.

Girls who marry in childhood have little power in their household, a greater likelihood of dropping out of school and being illiterate, lower labor force participation and earnings and less control over household assets. Thus, girls’ potential for societal contribution in Afghanistan is immediately stunted by being forced into child marriage.

Child brides, as well as their children, will likely experience a lower standard of health. Adolescent mothers also have a significantly higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity than women just a few years older than them. These deficits, which affect not only the individuals involved in child marriages in Afghanistan but also the entire country, have not gone unnoticed.

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership committed to helping girls fulfill their potentials by putting an end to child marriage. By emphasizing accountability on behalf of governments and other participants to uphold, respect and protect the rights of girls, the organization pressures countries like Afghanistan to address the issue of child marriage.

In April 2017, the Afghan government showed its support for ending child marriage in Afghanistan by launching a National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Culture, with support from UNFPA Afghanistan, the Canadian government and a range of other activists, worked together to develop the declaration. This plan highlights two techniques: initiatives designed to prevent early and childhood marriages and improving laws and services in support of people at risk of early and child marriage.

However, orchestrating a National Action Plan is just the beginning; the plan must be implemented in order to make a difference. Organizations such as Girls Not Brides pledge to ensure that governments take action to protect their girls from underage and unlawful marriage. Initiatives with the goal of putting an end to child marriage in Afghanistan will only succeed with the support of such associations.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

Afghanistan has been in the midst of a war for several decades. While the conditions of war have the ability to stunt progress, the Afghans are unwilling to let their education system crumble. Whether it be national initiatives or programs developed by smaller organizations, education in Afghanistan continues to make progress.

In recent years, Afghanistan has made drastic progress in its education system. In 2002, about 900,000 boys attended school; girls, on the other hand, were not given the same opportunities. Most girls were educated at home to read and write but not much more. With the help of private donors, these numbers have begun to drastically change, and the Ministry of Education has since been able to build 16,000 schools across the country.

Now, there are over nine million students in Afghanistan, 40 percent of which are girls, a stark contrast to the state of education 15 years ago.

Not only is the government working towards creating a better education system throughout the country, but privately-owned companies are trying to make positive changes as well. Teach for Afghanistan, a sector of Teach for All, has been avidly working toward enrolling more students in school. While numbers of adolescents in school have been on the rise, there are still over three million children unenrolled in school, with two million of those actively working instead.

Additionally, schools still do not have enough teachers, leading the student to teacher ratio to be 111 students to one teacher.

In order to combat this problem, Teach for Afghanistan’s founder, Rahmatullah Arman, has helped obtain more teachers around the country. In the eastern province of Nangarhar, there are 80 graduates from Afghan universities teaching 23,000 students in 21 schools as part of the program.

When selecting fellows to teach for the program, it was important to the program to hire many female teachers to try and change the mindset for female education in Afghanistan. It is common for girls to be pulled from school, but the teachers try to reach out to parents and keep as many girls in school as possible.

Education in Afghanistan isn’t perfect; there are millions of boys and girls who are uneducated and female schooling is still seen as less essential to families throughout the country.

While there are still changes that need to be made, many people, as well as the government, recognize the importance of a strong education in giving their people the best chance in the future.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Afghanistan Is PoorDespite an influx of international aid, 39 percent of Afghans live in poverty, and this number is increasing. A shocking 1.3 million more people are poor in Afghanistan today than in 2012. Why is Afghanistan poor? The country has experienced conflict since the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. Political transitions within the country also cause insecurity. Most households in Afghanistan are not established enough to cope with economic shocks or natural disasters. About 20 percent of Afghans live just above the poverty line and slight economic shocks could drive them into poverty.

One answer to the question ‘why is Afghanistan poor?’ is that the economy is too small for the growing labor force. Many workers are illiterate and looking for low skilled jobs, but there are not enough of these types of jobs. In 2016, Afghanistan’s GDP growth was 1.2 percent. While this was an increase, it is not enough to bring workers out of unemployment. Economists estimate that GDP growth needs to be eight percent to successfully employ the Afghan work force. Unfortunately, continuing conflict and insecurity within the country makes this growth unlikely.

Rural Afghanistan is poor due to its dependence on agriculture and informal labor markets. Low investments and natural disasters have hurt the agriculture market that most Afghans depend on for employment. Natural resources necessary for successful agriculture are lacking in Afghanistan. Compared to its population, there is little farmable land. Precipitation is scarce and there is insufficient irrigation infrastructure. In addition, the country has faced multiple debilitating droughts since 1999.

In rural areas, small-scale farmers and herders, landless people and women who are heads of households bear the largest burden of poverty. Women in Afghanistan face increased inequalities because they have less access to education and health services. A lack of skills or a medical condition can keep women out of the workforce. Widows account for a large population of the poor in Afghanistan. Due to fighting within the country, there may be over one million widows in Afghanistan. Most of these women have children to support. Unfortunately, the patriarchal society excludes them from many social and employment opportunities, so most become beggars.

Many countries and organizations have poured aid into the country. However, it does not seem to be helping. The inequality between the rich and poor in the country is increasing. Much of the aid went to build schools and hospitals, increase public services and repair infrastructure. While these human services are important, the agriculture sector continues to struggle, and rural households don’t have protection from economic shocks. In addition, the government did not always distribute funds fairly throughout the country.

Why is Afghanistan poor? Afghanistan is poor due to continuing shocks to the country, and it is necessary to build programs to insulate households from economic instability.

– Sarah Denning
Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Afghanistan
Afghanistan, or the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. With a total population of 32,527,000, Afghanistan is the 42nd most populous country in the world. Due to constant conflict, disease and other factors, the probability of dying between the ages of 15 and 60 years is 284 for every 1,000 people. Decades of war and neglect from international investors, the already struggling healthcare system has been left in tatters, allowing for the increase of both noncommunicable and communicable diseases in Afghanistan.

Noncommunicable diseases
One of the most common causes of death due to diseases in Afghanistan is noncommunicable diseases. Coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory disease and stroke are some of the most common diseases in the country. Afghanistan is currently ranked at number one in the world for rheumatic heart disease deaths.

Hepatitis A and E
Both hepatitis A and hepatitis E are most commonly spread through food and water contaminated with fecal matter. They are both viral diseases that affect the functioning of the liver. Hepatitis A and E occur in areas with poor sanitation and can cause symptoms of fever, jaundice and diarrhea.

Bacteria and protozoal diarrhea
Bacterial agents such as E. coli, Campylobacter, shigella and salmonella are the most common causes of acute bacterial diarrhea. Amoebiasis infection rate has been estimated at three percent in the Afghan population. Giardiasis was discovered in up to 11 percent of surveyed children.

Cholera
Another major diarrheal disease in Afghanistan is cholera. Cholera is an acute illness that is caused by an infection of the intestine with the bacteria vibrio cholera. The infection is generally mild and without symptoms but can become severe. An estimated 1 in every 10 people infected with cholera will have severe symptoms including watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. The rapid loss of bodily fluids can lead to dehydration and shock, which could prove fatal without treatment.

Influenza and Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection affecting the nose, throat, airways and lungs. Pneumonia has 30 different attributing causes but is generally due to bacteria, mycoplasma, other infectious agents (such as fungi and parasites) and chemicals. A total of 12.81 percent of deaths are caused by influenza and pneumonia combined, making them some of the most deadly diseases in Afghanistan.

Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is a contagious infection that attacks the lungs specifically but can also affect the brain and spine. It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is generally spread through the air, similarly to the common cold. The germs grow slowly, making it contagious but not easy to catch. Deaths caused by tuberculosis is currently ranked at number 17 in the world, making it one of the most dangerous diseases in Afghanistan.

These common diseases in Afghanistan represent a significant risk to the country’s citizens. The Afghan government, along with other organizations such as the World Health Organization, have been working hard to spread awareness and promote positive health in the country. There is still much that has to be done in Afghanistan in order to promote the positive health of its citizens and to limit the impact of these diseases.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

Education in Afghanistan When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, women faced substantial discrimination. Many of their rights were stifled, including their ability to receive an education. The Taliban lost power in 2001, and the Afghan government and USAID have since worked together to reinstate women’s rights. Their primary focus has been improving female education in Afghanistan, as education is a major key to lifting people out of poverty.

In the past 16 years, girls have gone from comprising zero percent of students to almost 40 percent. While these statistics are encouraging, the female gender still faces significant barriers to education in Afghanistan.

Many families still believe that women should not work or go to school because it is improper for their gender. Without their family’s support, it can be nearly impossible to receive an education in Afghanistan. For some girls, schools are so far away from their homes that they have to walk a great distance to get there. According to the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, 90 percent of women throughout Afghanistan have been sexually harassed on the streets. This harassment can create so much fear that they drop out of school to be safe.

Child marriage also poses a significant threat to female education in Afghanistan. Almost one-third of girls are married before they turn 18. Child marriage is an unfortunate result of tradition and a lack of career opportunities for women. Additionally, once a woman gets married, it is incredibly unlikely that her husband will allow her to continue her education.

Afghanistan can be a difficult place for a woman to receive an education due to it being a highly dangerous country for women. Thankfully, the Afghan government, with help from other nations, continues to work to improve conditions for women. The Education Quality Improvement Program, or EQUIP, provides schools with grants to for textbooks, equipment, schoolhouse improvement and increasing the teachers’ education levels. Currently, EQUIP focuses on improving the quality of education in Afghanistan for females, and most of the funding goes to schools that educate women.

Women who receive a proper education are less likely to become child brides and more liable contribute to their communities in a substantial way. Female education is thus essential to ending the cycle of poverty for individuals and communities. In Afghanistan, educational opportunities are increasing, and poverty levels are sure to decrease as more women receive an education.

Julia Mccartney

Photo: Flickr