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

Humanitarian Aid to SwazilandSwaziland currently suffers from food insecurity, inaccessibility to hygienic water and from an abundance of orphans. Many organizations are working with the government to bring the success of humanitarian aid to Swaziland.


There is a high dependence on agricultural farming, with 77 percent of Swazis relying on it, to bring food and income to their families. As a response to droughts, among other things, there has been a decline in agricultural performance, leading to a reduction in income and a spike in the price of food. The Annual Vulnerability Analysis Assessment of 2017 recorded around 159,000 Swazis experiencing food insecurity.

The World Food Programme (WFP) responded by initiating the Food by Prescription project, providing 11,000 malnourished people with a monthly balanced diet. The project also includes monthly household rations for families. WFP is also addressing long-term nutrition solutions by working with the Swaziland government to monitor food insecurity, integrate nutrition awareness and include underrepresented minorities into the analysis.

Since 2013, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement also contributes to the success of humanitarian aid to Swaziland. The movement implements a number of programs like the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition which aims to improve nutrition on a national level.

The Government of Swaziland has taken the issue into their own hands by creating the Swaziland National Nutrition Council (SNNC) and teaming up with the Food Security and Nutrition Forum, Child Health and Nutrition Forum, Micronutrient Alliance and the Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Forum.


While drought hinders agriculture, it also limits the availability of clean drinking water. UNICEF aided with Swaziland’s implementation of the WASH in Schools (WinS) program, which is a piece of the Child Friendly School framework that aims to achieve quality education throughout Swaziland.

Through hygiene training and through the improvement of hygienic resources, 95 percent of the 757 targeted schools gained access to sanitation facilities by 2010. Although there is more room for improvement, 64 percent of these schools progressed in the overall access to quality water.


Swaziland has a significant number of orphans, due to a high rate of parental deaths and other families’ inability to take in more mouths to feed. A 2010 study recorded around 10-15 percent of Swazi head of households being children, rather than parents. Swaziland has created social service centers called Kagogo centers to aid children in need, in response to the limited number of orphanages.

WFP stepped in, providing 52,000 orphans with monthly meals through other daycare type centers within neighborhoods. The project also implements access to basic education, psychosocial support and health services. Additionally, Swaziland made all primary schools free for students in 2011, which led to orphans gaining access to education, school meals and quality water and sanitation.

Through WASH and nutritional means, one can witness the success of humanitarian aid to Swaziland.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

HIV in SwazilandSub-Saharan Africa has become notorious for its high numbers of HIV-positive individuals. However, some countries may finally see the end to these epidemics.

Data from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief show that the HIV epidemic is coming under control across all age groups in Swaziland, the country with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. The latest Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey has found that new HIV infections have nearly halved among adults.

The prevalence of HIV in Swaziland has had a significant impact on the country. 2015 estimates show that life expectancy in the country is 57 years for men and 61 years for women. Despite the longer lifespan, women are disproportionately affected by HIV, with most women contracting the virus between the ages of 15 and 24. This sharp increase has been attributed to the high level of intergenerational sex that occurs between older men and young, sexually inexperienced women.

Heterosexual sex is the main form of transmission of HIV in Swaziland, accounting for 94 percent of new infections. Low and inconsistent condom use, intergenerational sex, transactional sex, gender inequalities, gender-based violence, multiple and concurrent sexual relationships and a low uptake of male circumcision are all key drivers of Swaziland’s HIV epidemic.

HIV has played a major role in limiting Swaziland’s ability to support its dwindling economy. The epidemic consistently draws resources from other priority areas, placing the health system under considerable stress, and directly affecting capital accumulation and productivity. The impact of HIV has led to the disruption and destabilization of families and communal support systems. Destabilized families result in a dramatic increase in the number of vulnerable children and child-headed households that must use any limited assets to cover medical and burial costs.

With many world organizations working together to stop and reduce the spread of Swaziland’s HIV epidemic, more preventative options are available. Collaboration with the Swazi National Reference Laboratory and the Center for Disease Control resulted in drastically reduced turnaround time for key HIV diagnostics. Care and treatment for HIV has expanded nationwide to include promoting good hygiene, nutritional practices, safe drinking water, abstinence and partner reduction. Antiretroviral treatment reached over 85 percent of those eligible for treatment, and high-quality HIV testing and counseling services have served record numbers of people, especially the most at-risk populations.

The downturn of Swaziland’s HIV epidemic offers hope to other Sub-Saharan African countries that are fighting similar battles. Collaborating with world leaders and local governments has proven to be very productive in expanding the impact and sustainability of all health investments. From here, Swaziland finally has a true chance at becoming a stronger member of the global community.

Allie Knofczynski

Photo: Flickr

Swaziland Refugees
As attention turns to the world’s refugee population, it becomes evident that this is a problem area that needs help. Africa alone holds more than 15 million refugees and accounts for a fourth of the world’s displaced population. Swaziland is no different, as the country has seen its fair share of refugees over the past decade. Listed below are 10 facts about refugees in Swaziland:

  1. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established itself in Swaziland in 1978 to help with an influx of refugees who were fleeing apartheid in South Africa.
  2. In the 1980s, there were as many as 20,000 refugees in Swaziland. As many as 8,000 of these refugees were Mozambicans fleeing from their civil war.
  3. In 2005, the UNHCR handed over all of their refugee services to the Swaziland government, as the number of refugees had drastically decreased following the abolishment of apartheid. Refugees in Swaziland at the Malindza and Ndzevane refugee camps began to rely on the government for key services.
  4. The number of refugees in Swaziland decreased from 759 refugees in 2011 to 505 in 2012.  This change was perhaps due to a massive drought and food concerns in the region that began at that time.
  5. In 2015, a sample of data was collected by the UNHCR concerning refugees in Swaziland.  The data found that the number of refugees still had not reached pre-drought levels and was currently at 696 refugees.
  6. Refugees in Swaziland today come from surrounding countries which includes Burundi, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Somalia.
  7. New arrivals are held in the Malindza reception center and refugee camp that the UNHCR established. They are supplied with household items and blankets.
  8. Swaziland refugee children are enrolled in schools in order to integrate, and the Swaziland government applies to the UNHCR for funding in order for the children to attend for free.
  9. Malindza has health services for the refugees, including a primary care clinic that services the local community as well. The government understands that refugees come from difficult circumstances, so they also provide counseling services.
  10. In addition to providing household items, the opportunity to have gainful employment and medical assistance, Malindza and the Swaziland government has set up a food assistance program. This program was created to help new arrivals and the vulnerable which includes disabled persons and children. This program allows these people to receive food prepared in the communal kitchen.

Despite numerous hardships of their own, the people who call this small monarchy in Southern Africa home continue to provide their fellow people of Africa a safe place to escape from difficult circumstances. Although they no longer host thousands of refugees, the country still continues to treat those they do house with respect.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Why is Swaziland Poor

Buffeted over the course of the last few years by drought, the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and increasing food insecurity, the Kingdom of Swaziland continues its struggle with poverty. It is a lower-middle-income nation with approximately 63 percent of Swazis living below the poverty line. Why is Swaziland poor?

In understanding why Swaziland is poor, there is a need to explore the unequal distribution of land and wealth within the nation. A small, landlocked country in southern Africa, Swaziland is home to 1.1 million people. The majority live on government-owned Swazi National Lands, often less than one hectare in size. On the other hand, private title deed lands receive significant investment and produce important Swazi exports like sugar and wood.

With a rapidly increasing population size, land availability has decreased, and Swaziland’s poor have been forced to farm on the increasingly over-cultivated land. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the intensification of land use may lead to a further decrease in productivity, poorer living conditions and an increase in a number of people living in poverty.

During the 2015-16 agricultural season, Swaziland, already susceptible to low and unpredictable amounts of rainfall, experienced one of its worst droughts in the last 35 years. The drought caused poor harvests and a decrease in food security, which now affects more than 30 percent of the population. Approximately 6 percent of children under the age of five are underweight, and 3 percent of Swaziland’s annual GDP is lost due to child malnutrition.

The answer to the question of why is Swaziland poor must also consider the presence of diseases like HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. This leaves nearly 45 percent of children orphaned and vulnerable. HIV affects 26 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 49, greatly diminishing the country’s workforce and life expectancy, which is approximately 49 years.

Swaziland also has one of the highest incidence rates of tuberculosis, and 80 percent of tuberculosis patients are also affected by HIV. In its effort to provide care and treatment to HIV and tuberculosis patients, the CDC has provided thousands in Swaziland with antiretroviral treatment, HIV testing and counseling services since 2012. These services attempt to both help those needing treatments and ease the strain put on the economy by these diseases.

According to Geremia Palomba, in charge of conducting the International Monetary Fund 2017 visit to Swaziland, the main challenges currently facing the country are the significant fiscal readjustments and reforms needed to ensure future economic stability.

“Policies need to be carefully designed to address the main sources of recent fiscal deterioration and include both expenditure and revenue measures that can support long-term growth,” Palomba stated in an end-of-mission press release. “Structural reforms to address the lack of skilled workers, better align wage and productivity dynamics, simplify business regulations and strengthen the institutional environment have the potential to significantly boost investment and employment.”

By focusing reform efforts on these particular issues, Palomba believes that Swaziland may be able to achieve sustainable economic growth that is both strong and inclusive and will contribute greatly to the lasting stability of the country.

Amanda Quinn

Photo: Flickr

Swaziland is a small landlocked country in southern Africa that borders South Africa and Mozambique. The country is known for having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. Most of the country’s 1.3 million inhabitants live in poverty, with 69 percent of people being below the poverty line. The water quality in Swaziland remains unsafe for a large part of the population.

Three hundred and thirty thousand Swazis lack access to safe water, while 500,000 people do not have adequate sanitation. This is especially concerning for a country with so many HIV/AIDS patients that have weakened immune systems and therefore are more susceptible to waterborne diseases. The lack of safe water quality in Swaziland also causes the death of 200 children per year.

The Swazi government tried to offer assistance by drilling boreholes throughout the country, leaving the future management of the boreholes to its users. However, since locals could not afford to pay for the boreholes’ maintenance, the wells became dilapidated.

USAID and nonprofits such as WaterAid have taken measures in order to improve the water quality in Swaziland.

WaterAid lobbies the Swazi government to ensure that there is funding for water services to poor citizens. It also educates communities about simple and efficient ways to maintain safe water sources and toilets. In 2016, WaterAid provided 1,000 people with safe water and 1,000 people with better sanitation.

USAID has specifically focused on schools and the methods in which they obtain and use their water. They have set up programs that teach schools how to establish and maintain adequate sanitation systems. They have also provided schools access to clean drinking water. Additionally, with the introduction of new and effective methods for having safe water and good sanitation,

USAID was able to help schools create their own vegetable gardens to improve student nutrition. These programs have been set up in 57 schools and have improved the lives of around 9,000 students.

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr

Southern Africa is currently undergoing a severe drought, induced by a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean commonly referred to as El Nino. In addition to Southern Africa, several other countries in the region are also experiencing increased food insecurity. In mid-2016, the World Food Programme (WFP) categorized the Southern Africa region as a Level Three Corporate Response – the highest level of emergency. Currently, about 16 million people in the region need emergency humanitarian assistance. Swaziland is one of the countries of concern in the region, especially since it already faces numerous challenges, including poverty, chronic food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and an erratic climate.

Poverty and Hunger in Swaziland

Swaziland is a small landlocked nation, bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, and has a population of 1.2 million. It is a predominantly rural society, with most of the population dependent on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Maize is the main crop, grown by over 80 percent of farming households.

Poverty is prevalent in Swaziland, with 42 percent of the population living below the income poverty line of $1.90 a day. This is an especially troubling figure in times of food shortages because the poor cannot afford to buy food. Swaziland is a net importer of food and is vulnerable to food price increases in the rest of the region.

As a result, the poor have had to adopt coping strategies like limiting portions, reducing meals, borrowing food and limiting the types of food they eat. Chronic malnutrition is one of the greatest nutritional concerns and presents a major developmental challenge in Swaziland. One in every four children in Swaziland suffers from stunted growth as a result of malnutrition.


Swaziland has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with 26 percent of adults infected. The health of people living with HIV is particularly concerning. The disease disproportionately affects main income earners and caregivers. These households are more vulnerable to drops in food production or rising food prices because their income and productivity levels are already lower due to HIV.

Erratic Climate

Swaziland regularly experiences erratic rainfall, recurrent droughts and soil degradation, all of which adversely impact food security. Since 2014, the cropping seasons in Swaziland have been characterized by prolonged dry spells which result in widespread crop losses and reduced yields. The last few years have seen some of the worst maize production on record. The WFP estimates that nearly half the population will face some food insecurity in 2017, while 350,000 people will need urgent food assistance.

These interrelated challenges all contribute to high levels of hunger in Swaziland.

Helena Kamper

Photo: Flickr

The Young Heroes Foundation, founded in 2006, aims to provide financial support for the provision of basic necessities for orphans in Swaziland in addition to providing HIV testing and care programs. The nation is home to the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS globally, illustrated by a staggering number of 70,000 orphans and 15,000 households led by children as reported by Aid for Africa.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), rates of HIV among pregnant woman have reached 39.2 percent and approximately 17,000 children contract the disease every year. It is also reported that more than 120,000 Swazi children who are under 18 have lost at least one parent to AIDS, while more than 60,000 have experienced the loss of both parents to the disease.

Young Heroes has now reached more than 1,000 children in Swaziland by stabilizing households of orphans and vulnerable children, consequently improving the rates of school attendance among those receiving aid. Events such as the Swazi Cycle also help to raise monetary support for Swazi orphans by supporting the Young Heroes Foundation, where American cyclists embark on bike routes from border-to-border across the nation. In 2010 the cycling journey raised more than $100,000 for children in dire need of support in Swaziland.

In addition, citizens of Swaziland are affected by high rates of malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty and extremely unpredictable weather patterns, as cited by the World Food Programme.

Other programs such as the Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (CHAPS) have developed voluntary public health programs such as the Male Circumcision Strategic and Operational Plan for HIV Prevention, projecting to avoid an estimated 31,000 new incidents of HIV by 2028. The initiative utilizes tools of education through mentoring, sports programs and public health outreach administered by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

– Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in SwazilandIn conjunction with its quickly growing population, Swaziland has experienced continuous economic difficulties, especially in its rural areas. Here are nine interesting facts about poverty in Swaziland.

9 Facts About Poverty in Swaziland

  1. Ten percent of the population is responsible for about half of the nation’s consumption, while 84 percent of those living in poverty in Swaziland reside in rural areas. These figures point to a disproportion in the flow of resources between urban and rural areas in Swaziland.
  2. According to the Rural Poverty Portal, roughly 47 percent of the population is less than 15 years old. The unemployment rate of Swaziland is expected to rise unless working opportunities are found for these children.
  3. Life expectancy has actually dropped from a peak of 59 years in 1990 to 49 years in 2014.
  4.  In 2013, Swaziland had the highest rate of HIV in the world, at 27 percent according to AVERT. During 2013, 11,000 people contracted HIV, and 4,500 people died as a result of HIV.
  5. The data shared by AVERT shows that 31 percent of women have HIV as opposed to only 20 percent of men. This difference is likely tied to gender inequality in Swaziland, as women are often not in control of their own reproductive and sexual health.
  6. Nevertheless, Swaziland has seen improvements in its HIV problem during the 2000s through increased rates of antiretroviral treatment and investments in HIV response. AVERT’s statistics demonstrate such improvement. In 2012, only three percent of children born to HIV-positive mothers were HIV positive, as opposed to 12 percent in the prior year.
  7. Drought has been a major factor in restricting growth and contributing to poverty in Swaziland. According to All Africa, a drought last year was partially responsible for a 31 percent decline in maize production in 2015 and left 300,000 people (one-quarter of the population) targeted for aid.
  8. Other impacts of drought are seen in education, where water is needed for plumbing. The lack of water also increases the potential for water contamination, with 197,157 students, teachers, and workers being put at risk of water-borne disease.
  9. Since 2000, the Kingdom of Swaziland has been implementing a plan to reduce poverty. Some goals include providing all rural households with access to water as well as giving women the same rights over their land that men have.

Foreign support in dealing with problems such as HIV and water shortage would certainly help improve the economic disparity found in Swaziland, in conjunction with the nation’s own efforts.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Flickr

The small country of Swaziland might be the first in southern African to eliminate malaria.

According to the National Malaria Control Programme, malaria in Swaziland has declined by 99 percent between 2000 and 2014. With only 603 confirmed cases this year, Swaziland is poised to eliminate the disease by 2016.

The Malaria Elimination Group, an independent international advisory group, convened at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to highlight the country’s achievement.

Over 60 representatives from the Ministries of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and international donors associated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were also present.

Swaziland’s success can be attributed to multiple factors. The Malaria Elimination Group praised the country’s “strong surveillance and response system that has accounted for much of its malaria elimination success.” The group also recognized that strong political support from the country was a contributing factor as well.

The support of a 2008 grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria assisted officials in the fight against malaria in Swaziland. With financial assistance from the fund, the country began an aggressive program to help fight malaria, strengthening case management as well as placing an emphasis on surveillance and response. Malaria_in_Swaziland

In order to ensure continued success, the Malaria Elimination Group says that “cross-border measures need to be strengthened.”

“For many eliminating countries, including Swaziland, close collaboration with neighboring countries is the key to success,” said Sir Richard Feachem, chair of the Malaria Elimination Group and director of the UCSF Global Health Group.

“If malaria knows no borders, then neither should our efforts to eliminate the disease. Swaziland’s surveillance and response [will be] unparalleled in the region; however, persistent imported malaria cases from endemic neighboring countries, particularly southern Mozambique, mean that a regional approach is essential for realizing our goal of a malaria-free southern Africa,” he added.

Swaziland is taking a leadership role in order to help other southern African countries eradicate malaria. Swaziland’s Minister of Health is also the Chair of the Elimination 8 (E8) which is “an eight-country effort that aims to eliminate malaria in four southern African countries by 2020.”

The E8 was recently awarded a $17.8 million grant from the Global Fund to strengthen malaria prevention as well as “improve regional surveillance and diagnostic capabilities.”

The grant underscored the overwhelming importance of totally eliminating the disease.

Said Hon. Minister Ndlela-Simelane, “This grant further strengthens our resolve to eliminate the disease. It will allow us to overcome our cross-border challenges, which we could not address in the scope of our national programs. Now, with this grant, we will have real-time date to address mobile and migrant populations that are highest risk of malaria.”

Alyson Atondo

Sources: Medical Xpress, UCSF, Times Live
Photo: Flickr1, Flickr2