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Spain’s Foreign Aid
Spain is a great example of a country with a diverse and organized foreign aid plan. The European nation provides aid in many different sectors to a diverse set of recipients and its population places a high value on international support. Spain’s foreign aid expenditure was a total of $2.9 billion USD in 2019, making it the 13th-largest provider of foreign aid in the world. While Spain’s foreign aid allocations fluctuate due to economic trends and fortune, the nation displays a strong commitment to development across the world. 

Spain’s Aid Strategy

Spain’s foreign aid primarily goes towards Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America as a whole, but there are some exceptions. Some of the main countries Spain gives aid to have a long history or a strong relationship with the country. The top 10 nations that receive aid from Spain are:

  • Venezuela
  • Colombia
  • Turkey
  • El Salvador
  • Syria
  • Morocco
  • Guatemala
  • The West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • Bolivia
  • Ukraine
Of these nations, some were former colonies of Spain whereas some are very close to Spain. For example, Morocco is a mere 8 miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. This could be a primary reason why these nations are among the top receivers of Spanish foreign aid. Still, aid to these top 10 recipients only accounts for a quarter of Spanish foreign aid, showing how balanced and wide-reaching the nation’s aid planning is.

Spain’s foreign aid is diverse and targets many different sectors for development. The primary sector Spain invests in is governance and security, followed by education, industry and trade, humanitarian aid and health care. This makes up about half of the aid that Spain sends out, with the rest unspecified or in smaller sums going to sectors like water and sanitation, infrastructure and debt relief. Spain has recently made crucial contributions in these sectors to donor countries. For example, Spain sent €2 million in aid to Venezuela during its economic crisis, which Spain’s foreign aid agencies spent getting food and medical supplies to the most impoverished.

Aid in the Past Decade

Unfortunately, Spain’s commitments to foreign aid have dropped in recent years, mainly due to economic considerations. The economic crisis of 2008 hit Spain hard, and the country’s foreign aid budget mirrors its economic troubles. Spain currently contributes 0.21% of its GNI (Gross National Income) to foreign aid. This is down from a high of nearly 0.5% in 2009 when the effects of the crisis first hit. While foreign aid commitments suffered in the past decade, Spain has a strong plan to revamp its foreign aid budget in the coming years.

Still, in recent years, Spain has put its foreign aid to good use. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation’s Humanitarian Action Office identified five current crisis areas that Spain’s current foreign policy plan for 2018 to 2021 emphasized. These are the Syrian regional crisis, the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Palestinian Territories, the Sahrawi Refugee Camps and Latin America and the Caribbean. Spain also participated in various emergency responses to natural disastersThese include the 2018 earthquakes in Indonesia, the 2018 Fuego volcano eruption in India and Cyclone Idai in Mozambique in 2019. The aid Spain provided included on-the-ground disaster response support and the deployment of a team of medical professionals from its health care system in response to the cyclone.

Public opinion towards foreign aid in Spain remains remarkably strong despite the recent downturn in the foreign aid budget. According to a 2018 Eurobarometer survey, Spaniards attached the greatest importance to international aid of any European nationality. It also ranked highest in Europe regarding citizens’ belief that their government should give more emphasis to international aid

Looking to the Future

The future of Spain’s foreign aid is bright and signifies a return to the country’s previous strong commitments to foreign aid. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez supports a target of 0.5% GNI contribution to foreign aid and included it as a part of his governing coalition’s agreement.

Spain has been displaying a commitment to a new future of foreign aid recently, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The country’s foreign development agencies released the Spanish Cooperation Joint Strategy to fight COVID-19, which included an extra $2 billion budget for foreign aid in 2020 and 2021. It also announced that it will prioritize global health and epidemic prevention in its development cooperation policy.

Since 2020, Spain has pledged to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to multilateral institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Green Climate Fund, the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals Fund and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. These contributions, its balanced aid policies and the populace’s enthusiasm for foreign aid indicate that Spain will continue to be a global leader in thiarea. 

– Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Micronesia
Poverty in The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a complex issue that requires dynamic solutions. The lack of jobs, vocational training, education, agricultural land and an aging population are all contributing factors to the high poverty rate on the island chain. The median household income of the nations’ 112,000 people was roughly $7,336 as of 2019, primarily earned in the agriculture, fishing and tourism industries. Poverty figures can vary wildly in rural islands and atolls. Luckily, there are several innovations working toward eradicating poverty in Micronesia.

The FSM has been gathering data and implementing programs to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the early results of which reports determined in 2011: “… the FSM is on track to achieving MDGs for universal primary education, ensuring environmental sustainability and strengthened global partnership for development by 2015. While progress is expected on gender equality and empowerment of women, child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, the FSM is unlikely to eradicate poverty and improve maternal health.”

The following list of partnerships are working with the citizens and local governments to make eradicating poverty in Micronesia a reality.

Yap Renewable Energy Development Project

The Yap Renewable Energy Development Project (YREDP) is a program in FSM with the aim of building and maintaining renewable energy sources. Solar and wind power projects will provide jobs and training to local workers, reducing several factors indicative of poverty. The YREDP continually emphasizes the employment and training of local unskilled or under-employed workers, providing long term job opportunities further improving the local economy. Stable incomes and increased cash flow to workers’ families provides the economic foundation for future infrastructure that will utilize the renewable energy the YREDP aims to provide.

A stable supply of renewable energy allows people to accurately budget for utilities, limiting interruptions to food storage, education and healthcare. The environmental impact of renewable energy is also a factor in eradicating poverty in Micronesia. Environmental challenges are particularly challenging for Micronesia with 3,798 miles of coastline vulnerable to rising sea-levels.

The Establishment Agreement

The Establishment Agreement is a plan to increase the partnership between FSM and The World Bank, with the aim of helping the country meet its development goals in finances, energy, education and healthcare through technology and financial cooperation.

Proposed technological infrastructure improvements such as The Digital States of Micronesia will increase access to the internet. This will increase economic opportunities by decreasing the effects of geological isolation of FSM. The plan proposes methods to increase access to the internet by laying down terrestrial fiber infrastructure throughout FSM, enabling the efficient operation to both private and public sectors.

The increasing financial involvement of The World Bank outlined in The Establishment Agreement will help government offices by incorporating logistical solutions into previously slow processes like the granting of licenses and access to vital records. As the country invests in its infrastructure, connectivity improvements will provide the technological backing necessary to modernize education, vocational training and small businesses.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Country Program

The Green Climate Fund Country Program focuses on sponsoring and planning environmentally-friendly infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The GCF Country Program covers 13 projects and programs amounting to $1.4 billion in resources. This money goes towards aiding environmental conservation, public transportation infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, health, education and water supply management.

FSM faces environmental risks such as variable climate shifts from drought to extreme rainfall (El Nino and La Nina, respectively). The country is also geographically vulnerable to high swells, storm surges and typhoons. The impacts of environmental challenges in FSM are far-reaching, necessitating investments into innovative solutions as the country develops.

The Micronesian Conservation Trust is one program that works with the GCF to create and manage climate adaptation measures and resource management. Its work provides long term outcomes that preserve the environment while fostering sustainability. The focus on this type of infrastructure development aids in decreasing factors that contribute to poverty in Micronesia such as natural disasters, resource depletion and interruption of government resources by supporting measures that create jobs, provide clean water and outline plans for sustainable agriculture.

Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Freshwater and Sanitation in Bahrain
Bahrain’s name comes from the Arabic al-bahrayn, which means two seas. Two kinds of water surround the country, sweet water and salty water. Meanwhile, Bahrain is located in the Arabian Gulf – one of the largest oil-producing regions of the world.

Despite the surrounding countries’ high oil supply levels, Bahrain has small stores of oil. Instead of oil drilling, the country imports crude oil from its surrounding countries. The country processes crude oil and exports the refined product.

Bahrain has gained increasing wealth from its refined oil exports. This wealth attracts migrants to come and settle in Bahrain as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. The level of migration resulted in a 48 percent migrant population and the growing population is increasing strains on the country’s freshwater and other sanitation resources.

Despite the struggle to keep pace with migration, Bahrain’s government says it is making strides toward improving, upgrading and expanding sanitation facilities for its growing population. Below are 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation in Bahrain.

10 Facts About Freshwater and Sanitation in Bahrain

  1. Improving Sanitation: Ninety-five percent of Bahrain’s populace connects to a central sewage network. This is because the country adopted sanitation facilities before many of the other countries in the region. Bahrain’s sewage system structure is old with sanitation facilities dating to the 1970s and making the facilities for wastewater treatment inadequate. To combat this inadequacy, Bahrain added new treatment plants and expanded existing ones. Bahrain plans to construct a deep gravity sewer project to cover large areas of the country. Gulf Construction online stated that the country is making progress with its sewage treatment plant in Muharraq and that it was in the commissioning phase as of 2014.
  2. Oil Pollution: Bahrain developed its oil industry without concern for its fertile land. This lack of concern resulted in the oil pollution of natural groundwater reservoirs. Pollution from this oil development increased during the Persian Gulf War, which resulted in damage to oil facilities in the Gulf Region.
  3. Freshwater: Bahrain contains the lowest endowments of freshwater resources in the world, which affects its freshwater availability. Bahrain’s average annual rainfall hovers around 80 mm and its evapotranspiration hovers around 1850 mm. There are no rivers, continuously flowing streams or lakes. The country obtains groundwater from the lateral underflow of the Dammam aquifer. Freshwater share among Bahrain’s populace is in decline. The share went from 525 m3 per year in 1970 to 100 m3 per year in 2001, placing the country’s freshwater share less than the 500 m3 per year capita water poverty line. These levels are likely to further decline and even halve due to the country’s continual population increase.
  4. Water Salination: Bahrain’s groundwater suffers from degradation in quantity and quality from over-extraction, seawater invasion, oil spills and other industrial discharges. The over-utilization of the Dammam aquifer by Bahrain’s agricultural and domestic sectors causes water salination. As a result, desalination provides at least 60 percent of Bahrain’s freshwater.
  5. Desalination: Desalination plants pose a threat to the environment. The seawater used contains high quantities of boron and bromide. The process used to desalinate removes calcium and other essential minerals. The salt leftover from desalination goes into the ocean increasing the salinity of the water. The increased salinity causes harm to the environment and is among the costliest ways to produce water because of the high amount of energy required. Therefore, higher water and energy costs can also pose a challenge to the people who need it.
  6. Basic and Improved Sanitation Availability: Ninety-nine percent of Bahrain’s population uses basic sanitation resources. Bahrain’s government claims 100 percent of its population is using improved and safe drinking water sources, 100 percent of the population benefit from improved sanitation services and 100 percent of the wastewater receives safe treatment. The CIA said Bahrain improved sanitation access for 99 percent of its population. Index Mundi claimed that the country’s freshwater access improved from 94 percent of the country having access in 1990 to 100 percent having access in 2015.
  7. Unequal Freshwater Access: The Bahraini people’s access to freshwater is unequal. The cleanliness of the water is dependent upon how close or far away the water sources are from the Alkalifa family, the ruling family of Bahrain. East Riffe, the location of the Alkalifa family palace, contains cleaner water than Sitra, Ma’ameer, Duraz and Bani Jamra. These are areas where the Baharna community, a community that has faced a long history of discrimination in the region, live. When the people of these areas drink the water there is a high chance of contracting long-term diseases and other health-related problems.
  8. Water Scarcity and The Green Climate Fund: Since Bahrain is located in an arid environment, estimates determine that water scarcity will increase as the temperature of the planet increases due to sea-level rise. Sea-level rise causes surrounding seawater to intermix with the ground freshwater, which decreases freshwater availability. Bahrain applied to the Green Climate Fund – a fund within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to assist developing countries to take steps to prevent climate change – to address the problems that climate change poses.
  9. Rising Population: Bahrain contains one of the highest population densities in the world and its population is increasing. Eighty-nine percent of Bahrain’s population lives in urban areas. The population level and the continual population increase created a demand for freshwater that exceeds the country’s natural resources.
  10. Waste Generation and Government Initiatives: Bahrain generates above 1.2 million tons of solid waste per year making the country one of the world’s leading per capita solid waste generators. Estimates determine that daily garbage production exceeds 4,500 tons. Waste accumulation increases at a rapid pace. The waste is likely to affect the quality of air, soil and groundwater in Bahrain. Bahrain’s government launched recycling initiatives, a waste-to-energy project and a public awareness campaign in response to combat waste accumulation.

While the rising population and aging sewage system strain the availability of resources, Bahrain’s government is making efforts to address a number of the 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation in Bahrain. Bahrain’s works ministry invited companies to bid for a contract to build new sewage treatment plants in the country in 2014. U.S. companies could also help build effective waste management facilities by bringing ideas on how to improve each of the 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation of Bahrain.

– Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

top ten facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan
The top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan reflect the many changes that the nation has endured since gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. An evolving healthcare system, which now technically includes primary care for all, still struggles to meet the needs of the country’s poorest inhabitants.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Uzbekistan

  1. The average Uzbek person has a life expectancy of approximately 66 to 72 years. However, the last 9 of those years are typically not spent in good health. When one accounts for the years lived in failing health, it changes the picture considerably.  It is an unfortunate fact that for too many Uzbek people, their final years are characterized by pain and sickness, most often due to heart disease and respiratory infections.
  2. Uzbek women, on average, live about 5 years longer than their male counterparts. Maternal mortality is at a 20 year low, down from 380 deaths for every 697,000 births in 1990, to 240 deaths for every 667,000 births in 2015. Prenatal care is also on the rise in Uzbekistan, up from just less than 95 percent in 1996 to more than 99 percent in 2015.
  3. The top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan cannot exclude the leading cause of death, which is cardiovascular disease.  In Uzbekistan, where many traditional dishes are laden with bread and meat, the dietary risk is the number one cause of heart disease. Stress is another mitigating factor, unsurprising because in Uzbekistan the norm is to work 6 days a week.
  4. The Uzbek people are suffering from the adverse effects of polluted water. It is due to the prevalence of water-borne diseases and an overall scarcity of drinkable water. More than 30 percent of households lack drinkable water, thanks to an infrastructure that cannot properly purify drinking water or treat sewage.
  5. The good news is that Uzbekistan is now one of the 7 countries participating in a pilot program with the UNDP, called “Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health in Uzbekistan.” The mission of this project is to provide medical personnel and the greater population with the information and tools to reduce the negative impact of climate factors on the health of the Uzbek population. The success of this project will be tracked by the decline of intestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses connected to climate.
  6. Another one of the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan is that many people in the country do not earn enough to access healthcare and fitness centers which would keep them healthy. Having financial resources makes it possible to buy healthy foods, pay for medical services and engage in activities that are optimal for a long and healthy life. A monthly gym membership in Uzbekistan is the equivalent of 20 American dollars, a considerable sum when the average Uzbek citizen earns only about $124 a month.
  7. The World Health Organization estimates that a typical 20-minute medical visit cost about 8 American dollars in 2005. While all citizens ostensibly have access to primary and emergency healthcare regardless of their ability to pay, the resources of the public sector are severely limited and medical personnel often prioritize patients who can pay for private care, often informally with cash or a bartering of services.
  8. Uzbekistan became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991, relinquishing a great deal of financial assistance. This has resulted in hospitals having fewer beds to spare and a decline in the number of doctors per population. The decline has been from nearly 350 physicians for every 100,000 population in 1990 to fewer than 250 in 2012.
  9. Out of a population of approximately 32 million, an estimated 52,000 people in Uzbekistan are living with HIV. The number has increased sharply in the last 30 years, which is attributed to the new mandatory reporting system and increased drug use. There are state-funded facilities dedicated to servicing HIV/AIDS patients in Uzbekistan, and outpatient pharmaceuticals are covered by the state, but there is still a tremendous stigma attached to an HIV diagnosis, which hampers treatment.
  10. Climate change has already impacted life expectancy in Uzbekistan.  An increase in dust storms has caused serious health issues for people exposed to an excess of dust particles, especially in the region of Karakalpakstan, which has an approximate population of 1.8 million.

The Uzbekistan government is working toward reinforcing the country’s preparedness for climate issues. It is doing this with the support of The Green Climate Fund (GCF). GCF, which is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, is focused on accessing funds for climate financing and increasing private engagement. These recent strides demonstrate that Uzbekistan is well on its way to improving the stations of its individual citizens and the health of the nation as a whole.

– Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr