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Suriname Poverty RateThe Suriname poverty rate is 47 percent. It is estimated that more than 6 percent of the population suffers from multidimensional poverty, lacking good health, education and standard of living.

Malnutrition is a rampant problem. Many children are hospitalized for malnutrition and suffer lasting effects that extend into adulthood. In recent years, AIDS has also become one of the primary causes of child mortality.

The education system in Suriname is also wanting. At the same time, as many teachers are poorly trained, many students, mostly boys, leave primary school at an early age. The children that leave school are often forced to work. It is estimated that 8 percent of children between 5 and 14 engage in child labor under difficult working conditions.

As for the girls that are either discouraged from attending school or leave early, many are subjected to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Both inside and outside of prostitution, violent abuse toward children is a rampant problem.

Though the Suriname poverty rate is high, the country’s per capita income is also relatively high, standing at almost $10,000. Inequality between different geographic regions and ethnic groups accounts for the coexistence of the high national income and the high poverty rate.

The Surinamese economy relies on the extraction and exportation of minerals such as alumina, bauxite, gold and oil. While the production of such commodities employs hundreds of thousands of Surinamese and has at times accounted for almost 40 percent of government revenues, the production of these goods is limited to extraction and refinement. As a result, much of the population misses out on economies opportunities.

To lower the Suriname poverty rate, the government should utilize its mineral revenues to subsidize education, health and welfare for the disenfranchised parts of the population. Such measures will serve to increase the value of Suriname’s human capital and work toward diversifying the economy away from commodity exportation.

In addition to actions the Surinamese government can take to reduce poverty in the country, a number of international organizations are already working to improve the Surinamese economy.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), for one, has dedicated millions of dollars in loans and grants under its Low Income Shelter Program (LISP) to provide housing for underprivileged Surinamese. The program has successfully housed more than 3,000 families.

Suriname’s longtime benefactor and ex-colonizer, the Netherlands has also allocated billions of dollars over the past two decades for microcredit lending and infrastructural repair. These efforts have helped facilitate entrepreneurship and stimulate Suriname’s economy from the bottom up.

If these international developmental commitments persist, there may be hope that Suriname can achieve its Multi-Year Development goals, growing small and medium enterprises by 10 percent over the next five years and lifting thousands out of poverty.

Nathaniel Sher

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Suriname

Suriname is a small country on the north coast of South America with a population of nearly 600,000. The country has improved much of its health standards in recent years when it comes to treatable diseases in Suriname.

As the country has grown economically and life expectancy has increased, the threat of diseases such as cardiovascular disease typhoid fever and malaria has been reduced. While the country has made progress, certain diseases in Suriname remain a threat in the form of outbreaks.

Suriname’s most recent disease outbreak was a yellow fever outbreak, the country’s first since 1972. This came as a surprise due to Suriname’s comprehensive vaccination programs, which have required yellow fever vaccines for all children starting at one year old since 2014. In response to the outbreak, the Suriname government enhanced vaccination activity to increase coverage and upgraded entomologic and epidemiologic surveillance by strengthening laboratory capacity.

Vaccination improvements have been one of the main factors reducing the threat of treatable diseases in Suriname in recent years. Today, national immunization coverage up is to 86 percent. Certain high-risk diseases such as Hepatitis B and C have been controlled thanks to the widespread childhood immunization programs.

Suriname also dealt with the outbreak of the Zika virus at the end of 2015, after four initial cases appeared, making them one of the earliest countries hit by the outbreak. Suriname implemented a health emergency risk communication plan to help spread awareness about the disease and contained it successfully. Today, government detection programs and strategies are utilized to reduce the threat of mosquitos, including the widespread use of treated netting.

Malaria treatment is another area which Suriname has seen significant improvement in the last decade. Confirmed malaria cases per 1,000 individuals have decreased drastically since 2005, dropping from 120 cases per 1000 to as few as 20 by 2014. Malaria deaths have also decreased as medical treatment and health infrastructure have improved.

Other diseases in Suriname that have been flagged by the government as recent threats are dengue fever and chikungunya fever. Over 2000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in the last 12 years, though none of them have been fatal. Chikungunya fever, another mosquito-borne illness, broke out in Suriname in 2014 with 17 cases, prompting the CDC to launch preventative efforts to raise awareness against the disease.

While several diseases in Suriname such as yellow fever present a threat to the country’s population, improved healthcare and immunization in the last decades have improved life expectancy in the country. Suriname‘s quality vaccination programs have reduced childhood deaths and will help the country when the next outbreak strikes.

Nicholas Dugan

Suriname RefugeesSuriname is small country on the northeast coast of South America. The following 10 facts about Suriname refugees only begin to touch upon the country’s history of refugees who fled the country for reasons of civil war, and of people from other countries who sought asylum in Suriname in recent years. Now, the country is adopting new practices to reach an international level of refugee acceptance and security.

  1. In 1991, 4,300 Surinamese found safety in refugee camps in the neighboring country of French Guiana, amid a raging four-year domestic civil war led by guerrilla commander Ronny Brunswijk.
  2. The French offered the refugees some financial aid, and planned to close the camps, sending those inside back to Suriname.
  3. Between 2007 and 2014, Suriname saw the number of refugees and stateless persons significantly decrease to the lowest the country had since the civil war.
  4. In 2014, there were a reported 17 outgoing refugees and people in refugee-like situations in Suriname. Only two cases of concern were documented as incoming asylum-seekers.
  5. In 2016, Suriname received 40 applications from Cuban refugees seeking security in the country.
  6. In the same year, 13 Surinamese applied for asylum in the Netherlands and Belgium, with the most successful acceptance rate in the Netherlands.
  7. Asylum-seekers and migrants found Suriname an attractive place of refuge because of its better wages in agricultural work, ease of border crossing, a perception of an accepting population and the prospect of a promising life working in Suriname’s gold mining industry.
  8. The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recognized many positive developments in Suriname. In July 2014, the country passed the Draft Law on Nationality and Residency. The new law gives gender equality to both men and women regarding conferring their nationality, and it also protects people by preventing statelessness from loss of nationality.
  9. UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saw active participation from Suriname in 2013 during the Regional Conference on the Protection of Vulnerable Persons in Mixed Migration Flows: Promoting Cooperation and Identification of Good Practices.
  10. In 2014, the government of Suriname participated in the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Consultation on Mixed Migration and the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons.

Suriname has come a long way since the thousands of refugees seeking shelter elsewhere as the civil war continued. These 10 facts about Suriname refugees show that the country has reduced reason to house stateless persons, and that positive developments and achievements in refugee situations has strengthened its people.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in Suriname
Suriname is a small South American nation with a population of around half a million people that has historically been a victim of chronic hunger and poverty. Once a Dutch colony, the nation’s harsh conditions have led to a large historic migration of Surinamese people to Europe. Today, a large community of Surinamese thrives in Europe. Over the past 15 years or so, hunger in Suriname has decreased at a rapid rate. However, the country still suffers from chronic issues of malnutrition and undernourishment.

At the World Food Summit of 1996, the nation’s former president, Jules Albert Wijdenbosch, spoke. He discussed the dire situation the nation was facing. In his speech before the Summit, he cited a 1995 World Bank Report claiming that approximately 47 percent of the nation’s population lived in poverty and lacked sufficient nutrition. He said that “It is […] both tragic and ironic to stand here and inform this meeting that despite Suriname’s wealth of natural resources and a population of less than 500,000, we are faced with the problem of hunger and poverty.”

In the 20 years since, the condition of hunger in Suriname has greatly improved. In 2015, the country received a hunger-reduction award on behalf of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Suriname received recognition for achieving a Millennium Development Goal. They have halved their proportion of hungry people.

Despite this great improvement, hunger in Suriname is still far from total eradication. In 2016, eight percent of the population is still undernourished, and 8.6% of children under the age of five experience stunting due to malnutrition. Due to the tropical climate, the population of Suriname is also vulnerable to highly infectious diseases. Coupled with limited access to clean water and food, waterborne and vector-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and malaria are very common and a major health issue for the Surinamese population. As shown, the nation still has several issues to tackle to take care of its population, especially the most vulnerable.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

Suriname Poverty
Poverty in Suriname affects nearly one out of every two people. The official rate is 47 percent. Some of the issues contributing to Suriname’s poverty are health, education, child labor, sexual exploitation and violence.

The children of Suriname do not have equal access to health care, which results in the neglect of serious illnesses. AIDS is the number one killer of children who are five and older. Any child that is infected by AIDS often has to be hospitalized immediately because there is no chance of taking care of the child at home. Malnutrition further catalyzes the effects of disease and a large amount of children are often hospitalized because of this.

Education in Suriname is also in shambles. The country favors the development of schools in the capital, leading to severe education inequality. Many primary schools that are not in the capital have teachers that are poorly trained, giving little hope for any improvement over time.

The amount of poverty in Suriname has often led to children having to take on jobs. The fixed age at which a child can start working is 14; however, eight percent of children ages five to 14 work, often in the agricultural industry where they are exposed to toxins.

Due to discrimination, there is also a lot of violence among the inhabitants of Suriname. The country is composed of several ethnicities and those belonging to the smallest group of minorities often get slighted when it comes to basic rights. These marginalized groups are often subject to forced labor and sexual exploitation.

There are improvements happening in Suriname though. For one, Suriname’s stance on child labor has improved. In 2013, Suriname made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Recently the age limit for employment increased to 18. Increasing the capacity to enforce all child labor laws is also a goal for Suriname.

Education is also seeing improvements. The Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development, or SLO, has been actively participating in the development of the Surinamese basic education curriculum. Another sector in which we see the poverty in Suriname being addressed is the housing market. The Inter-American Development Bank supported Suriname by providing a single upfront subsidy for the poorest families to build new homes or improve an existing solution.

– Erik Nelson

Sources: Humanium, Inter-American Development Bank, Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development, U.S. Department of Labor

Photo: Flickr

education_in_suriname
Suriname is the smallest independent country on the South American continent, slightly larger than the state of Georgia, and has a relatively small population. Suriname is mostly a tropical rain forest and the majority of the Surinamese population lives along the coast. Recently, UNICEF has made many efforts to reduce inequity in Suriname’s education system.

Although 97 percent of Surinamese children are enrolled in primary education, serious disparities exist between the coastal and rural schools and the interior. Suriname is nationally on track to meet Millennium Development Goal 2, but significant disparities in terms of gender and socio-economic status is significantly lacking progress and falling below the target.

There are various reasons why some children are more successful than others within the education system as well as why the disparities become increasingly evident as the pupil grows and progresses.

According to the United Nations Suriname, the “availability of schooling opportunities, accessibility of schools, quality and appropriateness of the education system affect the learners’ results in the highly varying education context in Suriname. Whereas the national gross primary school enrolment rates are high, enrolment and attendance rates in the interior are generally low in comparison to the national average.  Poor availability and quality of pre-schools and the sudden switch from local languages to Dutch, being the medium of instruction and texts books, could be identified as one of the main hurdles, resulting in high repetition rates in first grade and poor net completion rates in the interior.”

Furthermore, the situation regarding water and sanitation for school youth has posed a major challenge. Only 29.4 percent of schools in the rural coastal areas have piped water and 67.5 percent of the other schools in the rural coastal and rural interior do not have piped water— forcing them to collect rain or river water during school hours.

UNICEF has stepped in to reduce the inequities within the school system of Suriname. The UNADF Action Plan 2012-2016 will continue supporting the Ministry of Education and Community Development strengthening the capacity of kindergarten and primary school teachers in an effort to establish child friendly schools. Thirty percent of the teachers in the interior are not qualified to teach and in public primary schools, five percent have not even completed primary education themselves.

Plans have also been made to assist Suriname with the implementation of technology to provide a better education. UNICEF, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Community Development, has implemented the Computer Aided Learning Project.

Eastin Shipman

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Curacao Chronicle, United Nations Suriname, UNESCO
Photo: UN