Guyana is located in the northeastern corner of South America. After gaining independence from the British in 1966, it has struggled economically and politically, but the recent find of over five billion barrels worth of oil should bring in vast amounts of money. These 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana go to show the great potential the country has to improve its population’s quality of life.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Guyana
- Poverty: Unfortunately, Guyana is very poor as over a third of its population lives in poverty. Along with this, Guyana ranks 164 out of 228 nations in human development.
- Political Parties are Ethnically Based: There are multiple ethnic groups in Guyana. Forty percent of Guyana’s population is South Asian and are descendants of those brought over for indentured servitude. Meanwhile, about 30 percent are Afro-Guyanese (Guyanese of African descent) are the descendants of ancestors who went to Guyana to work the plantations. Additionally, 20 percent have mixed heritage and 10 percent are indigenous. These differing ethnicities have led to the formation of a number of political parties. There are three main political parties including the People’s National Congress, the People’s Progressive Party, the Alliance for Change and several smaller political parties. These parties include the different ethnicities present in the country, which has led to issues. Some people feel that President David Granger favors his own ethnicity.
- Political Tensions: An example of Granger favoring his own ethnicity over others is when he cut subsidies for the sugar industry while making no cuts against the government bureaucracy. This is problematic because a majority of the government is Afro-Guyanese, Granger’s ethnicity, whereas most people who work on sugar plantations are Indo-Guyanese. Although there have been some ethnic-related tensions, Granger has made improvements. An effort to lower the rate of AIDs, which has become an issue for all in recent years, shows this. Since 2010, the rate of AIDS and HIV has increased by over 10 percent.
- Emigration: An important point among these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that there is a significant amount of emigration that takes place each year. In 2013, over 7,000 people emigrated. A study also determined that 40 percent of people in Guyana would emigrate if they could. Motivators to leave the country might be a lack of political support and job opportunities. In order to combat this President Granger has raised funds to improve the national public university and increased teachers’ salaries.
- Human Resource Drain: Many people leave Guyana because of a lack of jobs. The current unemployment rate in the world is around 5 percent, whereas, in 2017, Guyana’s unemployment rate was 12 percent. Many young Guyanese people are moving to large cities such as New York to secure work. Even though the jobs they get might be low paying, stressful and below their educational levels, having a job that pays is better than not having employment. People who come to work in big cities often send money back to their families in Guyana. All of this emigration leads to the country having a reduced number of human resources. Many of the people who leave have skills and are professional. In fact, 80 percent of students from the University of Guyana leave the country statistically.
- Improving Education: Many qualified individuals are leaving the country. A focus on improving youth education has occurred to combat the loss of educated people. An example of this is a partnership between the NGO Family Awareness Consciousness & Togetherness with the U.S. Government that aims to support youth education. The NGO has received a grant of $64,800, which will provide after-school activities, lessons and homework based around arts, sports and life skills. This program is for 80 children between the ages of 10 and 18 in the town of Corriverton, Guyana. Eventually, the NGO hopes to spread these after-school activities to the surrounding communities.
- Newfound Money and Potential Issues: The mass amounts of money from oil could present some issues because of the current political tensions. Troy Thomas, the head of global anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, stated that “corruption is rampant.” An example of the corruption that Thomas speaks of was in December 2018 when the governing coalition lost a no-confidence vote, yet disregarded the results. It responded by challenging the vote in courts, which resulted in the occurrence of protests. On September 20, 2019, hundreds of People’s Progressive Party Civic supporters and members protested outside of a hotel where President Garner was to deliver a speech to the business community, who were mainly his ethnicity, Afro-Guyanese. Members and supporters of the People’s Progressive Party Civic feel Granger will use the newfound money from oil to only help the Afro-Guyanese.
- Oil to Help the Economy: Among the 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana is the fact that the country’s newfound oil should greatly improve the economy. Predictions determine that the overall economy should grow by 86 percent by 2020. This is 14 times more than China’s predicted rate. Along with this, according to the International Monetary Fund, the oil revenues should reach $631 million by the year 2024.
- Guyana and Greener Practices: Guyana has made a commitment to the Green State Development Strategy. This is a long-term plan that will use the money from oil to improve the lives of all ethnicities within Guyana. To achieve this goal, Guyana hopes to create quality education, social protection and low carbon development that is resilient. These things will lead to new economic possibilities. This strategy calls for using the country’s investments to implement more environmentally friendly practices. Guyana will focus on how this change affects agriculture, forestry, energy and road transport infrastructure. By 2040, Guyana wants to transition to nearly 100 percent renewable and clean energy sources for generating electricity. Another main aim of this strategy is to provide all people with necessities, including safe and affordable housing, water, sanitation facilities and electricity.
- The Green State Development Strategy to Create Jobs Through Tourism: A focus of the Green State Development Strategy is to lessen poverty through things such as creating more jobs. A way that this strategy hopes to create jobs is through tourism. In 2018 alone, tourism led to the creation of 22,000 jobs. The Guyana Tourism Authority stated that tourism is the country’s second-largest export sector, bringing in nearly $30 million to the economy in 2018. The Ministry of Business in Guyana predicts that tourism and travel will make up nearly 8 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019.
When it comes to these 10 facts about living conditions in Guyana, the country has faced political and economic issues, but this has the potential to change soon. After finding over five billion barrels worth of oil off the coast, Guyana’s potential for economic growth skyrocketed. Predications state that Guyana’s GDP should triple within the next five years.
This new influx of money will allow Guyana to improve the lives of all ethnicities within the country. Guyana should be able to achieve this by investing money into education, job creation, natural resources and tourism while using greener practices.
– James Turner