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Facts About Sanitation in Croatia
The Republic of Croatia is a country in Southeast Europe. After declaring independence from Yugoslavia, Croatia went through a period of bitter conflict. Under U.N. supervision, Croatia entered NATO in April 2009 and the E.U. in July 2013. Situated next to the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Croatia has abundant but unevenly distributed sources of water. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Croatia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Croatia

  1. Currently, 99.6 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved drinking water. The majority of the Croatians have access to public water infrastructure. The Croatian Ministry of Health monitors the country’s water infrastructure.
  2. Some Croatian islands can procure their own water supply. Croatia has over 1,000 islands as part of its territory. Croatian islanders sometimes procure their own water by building private wells, harvesting rainwater and water slimming. Some islands also have their own water infrastructure such as desalination plants or water pumping stations near a water source.
  3. The World Bank aided in improving sanitation in Croatia. In 2018, the World Bank stated that the six-year-long project, which the World Bank funded, improved sanitation in Croatia. After the conclusion of its $87.5 million project, the World Bank stated that the country eradicated the practice of discharging untreated sewage into the ocean.
  4. Coastal water contamination is an issue that needs attention. People know Croatia for its beautiful beaches. This contributes to Croatia’s booming tourism industry, which constituted about 20 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016. This makes it especially important for Croatia to maintain the swimming water quality of its coasts. Recognizing this importance the Croatian government requested project support from the World Bank. The project, which lasted from 2009 to 2015, strengthened water supply and sanitation services across 23 municipalities. The World Bank reports that this project benefited over 230,000 people.
  5. The European Union’s Cohesion Fund is further supporting the modernization of sanitation in Croatia. On March 1, 2020, the E.U. approved the investment of more than 128 million Euros (143,143,808 USD) from the Cohesion Fund to improve sanitation in Croatia. The supported project aims to give access to high-quality drinking water and wastewater treatment to more than 29,000 people.
  6. There are concerns over possible pharmaceutical pollution in the Sava River. Located 15 kilometers upstream from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, there are concerns over possible contamination of the city’s water source. Nikolina Udikovic Kolic, a microbiologist who raised this concern, reported that bacteria in the Sava River are possibly developing antimicrobial resistance. This is problematic since this means that there is a chance that a superbug could develop from this river which can resist anti-bacterial chemicals. Kolic suggested that a factory that Pliva owns, which is Croatia’s biggest drugmaker, might be responsible for polluting the waterways.
  7. Around 97 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved sanitation facilities. The percentage of people without basic sanitary facilities decreased since 2012. Compared to 2012, when 1.9 percent of the population lacked access to basic sanitary facilities, the conditions improved to only 1.1 percent of the population in 2018.
  8. While access to flush toilets in rural areas is nearly universal, people have limited access to sewerage services. A 2018 study found that 94 percent of rural areas had access to flush toilets. Nearly 93 percent of flush toilet users had on-site fecal sludge containment facilities. However, among the interviewed households, only 12 percent of them had access to sewerage services.
  9. People in the poorest wealth quintile are the ones who lack access to piped water access and flush toilets. The same 2018 study stated that 25 percent of the rural Croatian population relies on self-supplied water and sanitation facilities. The main reason these houses were not connected to the public system was that these houses’ were physically not able to connect to the network.
  10. Climate change poses multiple threats to sanitation in Croatia. A 2012 study that the E.U. and other organizations conducted studied the impact that climate change could bring to Croatia. Experts suggest that the potential decrease in precipitation can diminish groundwater levels, which will affect the supply of drinking water in Croatia.

These facts about sanitation in Croatia show that it maintains adequate service quality and access to service. The wide availability of sanitation facilities and water facilities is making life better for many Croatians. However, for the residents of rural communities in Croatia, the need for improvement is apparent. The Croatian government and many other international organizations are addressing this need. Organizations such as the World Bank are working with the Croatian government to improve sanitation in Croatia. With all the dangers that climate change poses, the need for sustainable development is also paramount. With all this assistance, better sanitary conditions are coming for the people of Croatia.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Higher Education in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a presidential republic in Western Africa. After the country’s independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso went through a period of political turmoil between 1970 and 2015. Between 2016 and 2018, Burkina Faso also suffered three terrorist attacks in its capital. The growing insecurity, due to more terrorist threats in the country’s northern and eastern regions, resulted in multiple tragedies. In 2019, more than 1,800 people died, nearly 500,000 people experienced displacement and more than 2,000 schools closed. This article will examine the state of higher education in Burkina Faso.

The Importance of Higher Education

This displacement of school closures resulted in a low literacy rate in Burkina Faso, where only 41.2 percent of the population above the age of 15 is literate. However, these conditions have improved in recent years. While the participation rate in education from pre-primary to higher education is still low compared to most of the world, recent UNESCO statistics show an upward trend in people’s participation in education.

One cannot underestimate the importance of higher education in a developing country such as Burkina Faso. While it is important to raise the literacy rate, many economic experts suggest that the governments of developing nations should invest in higher education. The World Bank, as early as 2000, recognized this importance. The report suggested that human capital, which is the knowledge, skill and resourcefulness of a country’s people, is increasingly becoming more important for a country’s future economic development. The World Bank’s 2020 education plan further reflects this.

There are three major public universities, three private universities and one technical university in Burkina Faso. The biggest public university, Universite de Ouagadougou (University of Ouagadougou), has 30,000 to 34,999 enrolled students. The University of Ouagadougou provides curriculums in humanities, arts, business and engineering. Meanwhile, the Universite Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso (Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso) focuses its curriculum on science and technology. These universities bear the responsibility of improving and continuing higher education in Burkina Faso.

Challenges of Improving Education for Students

Higher education in Burkina Faso must overcome numerous challenges, but the state of education in the country has steadily improved over the past decade. There has also been a rise in the number of people who are eligible to participate in higher education. The gross enrolment ratio in higher education in the country rose from 3.58 percent in 2010 to 6.5 percent in 2018. However, there are concerns over the lack of infrastructure and teacher staffing levels in the nation’s higher education institutions.

While the Burkina Faso government’s expenditures in education have been steadily increasing since 2010, reports suggest that most of the investment went into building new universities instead of creating new fields of study. Gender disparity is another issue that higher education in Burkina Faso must overcome. According to the World Bank, the gender disparity in Burkina Faso’s education widens with each rung of the education ladder. UNESCO data shows that while female enrollment in tertiary education is steadily increasing, it is still significantly below male participation in higher education.

Improving Higher Education

There are efforts, both domestic and international, to improve higher education in Burkina Faso. The World Bank, for its part, invested in a $70 million project to improve the higher education in Burkina Faso.

In 2020, the Virtual University of Burkina Faso (UV-BF) is one of the projects with the aim of improving higher education in Burkina Faso. Professor Jean Marie Dipama, who set up UV-BF, said in an interview that she hopes that UV-BF will make higher education more available to Burkina Faso’s people. The Burkina Faso government also recently launched its new Education Sector Plan for 2017 through 2030, which aims to improve the quality and access to education across all academic levels

Higher education in Burkina Faso is striving to improve. As the world economy gets more complex, the need for better higher education in the country seems paramount. While the steadily rising literacy and education rate is a good sign, this is giving rise to concerns over Burkina Faso’s ability to provide quality higher education to all who desire it. However, the Burkina Faso government’s continuous effort to improve the country’s overall education aims to also improve the nation’s higher education. With the help of foreign investors and communities, such as the World Bank, many hope that Burkina Faso’s higher education will continue its improvement in the coming years.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

UN Report on Global Unemployment
Global unemployment plays a key role in global poverty. After all, the logic goes that employment leads to prosperity, even if little by little. Development economists proclaim the efficacy of providing jobs, however low paying, as the means to the end of escaping poverty, regardless of location. There is some evidence for this. According to the Brookings Institute, increasing work rates impacted poverty most, with education being second. With that said, a recent U.N. report on global unemployment clouds the future of international job growth since, for the first time in nearly a decade, the global unemployment rate has risen.

Previous Global Unemployment Rise

In 2008 and 2009, the Great Recession hamstrung the United States economy in the worst way since the Great Depression nearly 70 years prior. Unemployment soared, reaching 13.2 percent nationally and 5.6 percent globally. Between 2008 and 2009, the last time the U.N. reported on global unemployment rate increases, it increased by nearly a full percentage point, according to the World Bank. The stock market crash in the United States and Europe clearly caused this, but thankfully the rate recovered and surpassed the 2009 point in 2019, returning to about 4.9 percent.

Reasons for the Present Situation

A U.N. report on global unemployment in January 2020 indicated that this rise in the global unemployment rate was due largely to trade tensions. The United Nations said that these conflicts could seriously inhibit international efforts to address concerns of poverty in developing countries and shift focus away from efforts to decarbonize the global economy. Due to these strains, the report claims that 473 million people lack adequate job opportunities to accommodate their needs. Of those, some 190 million people are out of work, a rise of more than 2.5 million from last year. In addition, approximately 165 million people found employment, but in an insufficient amount of hours to garner wages to support themselves. These numbers pale in comparison to the 5.7 billion working-age people across the world but they concern economists nonetheless.

To compound the issue, the International Labor Organization said that vulnerable employment is on the rise as well, as people that do have jobs may find themselves out of one in the near future. A 2018 report estimated that nearly 1.4 billion workers lived in the world in 2017, and expected that 35 million more would join them by 2019.

The Implications

A rise in global unemployment, like that which the U.N. report on global unemployment forecasts, assuredly has an impact on global poverty. More people out of work necessarily means more people struggling to make ends meet. The World Economic and Social Outlook places this trend in a bigger context. Labor underutilization, meaning people working fewer hours than they would like or finding it difficult to access paid work, combined with deficits in work and persisting inequalities in labor markets means an overall stagnating global economy, according to the report.

Hope for the Future

First of all, stagnation is not a decline, and a trend of one year to the next does not necessarily indicate a predestined change for the years ahead. In fact, the World Bank points toward statistics that it issued at the end of the year to support the claim that every year, poverty reduces. In 2019, nearly 800 million people overcame extreme poverty from a sample of only 15 countries: Tanzania, Tajikistan, Chad, Republic of Congo, Kyrgyz Republic, China, India, Moldova, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Namibia. Over a 15-year period, roughly from 2000 to 2015, these 15 countries showed the greatest improvements in global poverty, contributing greatly to the reduction of the global rate of people living on $1.90 a day or less to below 10 percent. Additionally, efforts by organizations such as the International Development Association have funded the needs of the 76 poorest countries to the tune of $82 billion, promoting continued economic growth and assisting in making them more resilient to climate shocks and natural disasters.

While the U.N. report on global unemployment forecasts a hindrance to these improvements, hope is far from lost. The fight against global poverty continues with plenty of evidence of success and optimism for the future.

– Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Mali
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and has a per capita income of $300. Estimates determine that the overall poverty rate is 64 percent. Many factors contribute to the country’s poverty level. Mali suffers from low and erratic rainfall, poor soil and low agricultural production output. The country also suffers from poor infrastructure, especially in the areas of transportation and communications, as well as underdeveloped human capital. This is devastating because almost 80 percent of the country’s population depends upon agriculture in Mali for their livelihood.

Four Pillars for Mali’s Rural Development

The International Monetary Fund of the African Department published a poverty reduction strategy paper in 2002. The paper proposed policy priority action programs for Mali’s rural development. The paper presented four pillars:

  • Create a macroeconomic environment for accelerated and redistributive growth within the context of macroeconomic stability and openness, that the private sector drives.
  • Promote institutional development, governance and participation.
  • Develop human resources and access to quality basic services.
  • Build basic infrastructure and develop productive economic solutions.

The Project Appraisal Document entitled, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Credit in the amount of SDR 30.7 Million to the Republic of Male for an Agricultural Competitiveness and Diversification Project, emerged in 2005. It said that Mali’s poverty problem is a rural issue and that fighting it requires improving the life and income of Mali’s rural population. The Product Appraisal Document stated, “The project aims at fostering improvements in the performances of supply chains for a range of agricultural, livestock, fishery and gathering products, for which, Mali has a strong competitive advantage.” Thus, after the publishing of the poverty reduction strategy paper, Mali instituted the Program for Competitiveness and Agricultural Diversification (PCDA).

Program for Competitiveness and Diversification of Agriculture

The goal of the PCDA was to increase the competitiveness of Mali’s traditional produce of cotton, rice and less traditional crops, such as fruit, horticulture products, oilseeds, Arabic gum and cashews. The PCDA has a strong private sector focus. The project’s goal was to pump more money into marketing and communication.

The World Bank has been supportive of the implementation of Mali’s governmental strategy to reduce the issues leading to Mali’s poverty. The agriculture project, with the World Bank’s backing, has granted financial and technical support for 125 of Mali’s agricultural business investors.

Socodevi

Socodevi carried out the work of the Program for Competitiveness and Diversification of Agriculture. Socodevi is a mutual and cooperatives network that shares its knowledge and expertise with developing countries. Its work focused on techniques and technology to improve the competitiveness and production of agriculture in Mali. The regions of focus for the project were Bamoko-Koulikor, Mopti, Segou and Skasso.

The result of this project has been beneficial for more than 8,000 individuals. The 1,482.6 acres developed have yielded a 30 percent increase due to the improved irrigation methods. The PCDA project created 2,280 jobs with 1,175 being permanent.

Who This Project Has Helped

The project helped people such as Madame Coulibaly, an agricultural engineer, who turned her small store into a booming green business through government permits and bank loans. Coulibaly says she now has eight women employees that do the washing, whereas she only had two before. She also has a guard and three publicists, amounting to a total of 14 employees, including Coulibaly. She says that increases in her sales have led to increases in her staff.

Other examples of people who have benefited from government aid are Mamadou Diallo, who grows fruit on his own plot of land. Diallo said he would work in agriculture without government help, but would not be producing as much. Mamadou received seedlings for a new type of papaya that comes from Burkina Faso. This type of papaya produces more fruit in less time.

Along with seedling and financial aid, people such as Mamadou and Coulibaly also receive technical advice on irrigation and how to care for their crops for improved productivity. They may also receive advice on other crops they can grow.

Agriculture in Mali is likely to increase with the continued support of the World Bank. It could, perhaps, also benefit from private investors from the United States who may benefit from Mali’s agricultural produce. Financial support from the United States toward the reduction of poverty and promotion of industry may also foster the growth of an important friendship which may be beneficial in an unstable part of the globe.

Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Girls’ Education in YemenYemen is currently undergoing one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. In recent years, the nation’s warring conflicts have badly affected girls’ education. The year 2020, however, is looking more optimistic for the nation’s future. Change is on the horizon with peace talks in session and a vote passing in congress to end military involvement in the war. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Yemen.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Yemen

  1. Girls’ education in Yemen is in dire need of support. Seventy-six percent of internally displaced persons in Yemen are women and children, many of whom lack basic medical care, economic opportunity and access to education. Yemen’s ongoing civil war has worsened pre-existing living conditions for girls and women in the country. Educational opportunities for girls are also at risk of disappearing from the continued conflict in the region.
  2. Conditional cash transfer programs have enabled poorer families to send their daughters to school. From 2004 to 2012, the Yemeni government collaborated with other organizations to give stipends to girl students in grades four to nine, under the conditions that they maintain a school attendance of 80 percent and receive passing grades. The result of the monetary aid showed a shift in the cultural norms of the recipient communities. Adults began to change their perspectives on girls’ education and allowed more girls and women to attend school. The program has helped enroll over 39,000 girl students into primary education.
  3. In 2007, The World Bank organization implemented a rural female teacher contracting program effectively training 550 new teachers, with 525 going on to receive certification. Providing girls with access to trained female teachers greatly increases the chances of classroom retention and enrollment in the rural regions of the state, according to World Bank education specialist Tomoni Miyajima.
  4. More than two-thirds of girls marry before they turn 18. Families cope with economic hardships by selling their daughters into marriage. Early marriage has crippled girls’ education in Yemen. Instead of pursuing studies, girls take on household roles and often become victims of abuse by their husbands.
  5. In 2018, a Yemeni teacher opened his private home to over 700 students as a primary school. In the war-torn city of Taiz, both boys and girls can attend classes that Adel al-Shorbagy teaches free of charge. Most schools in the city are private and cost up to 100,000 Yemeni riyals a year to attend.
  6. Many private elementary and secondary schools teach the Chinese language to Yemeni girl students. Private school teachers believe Chinese is the language of the future, with increasing technological, scientific and industrial development taking place in China. Yemeni teachers and students aspire to become part of China’s growing economy.
  7. In 2019, UNICEF started to pay more than 136,000 teachers who had not received salaries in over two years. The program offered the equivalent payment of $50 a month to school teachers and staff to help address the low attendance rates of students in the country.
  8. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has set target goals to improve conditions for girls’ education in Yemen in 2020. UNICEF plans to provide individual learning materials to one million children, create education access to 820,000 students and ensure 134,000 teachers receive incentives to continue to teach.
  9. Yemeni authorities are taking action to ensure that children have safe access to education by agreeing to the Safe Schools Declaration. The declaration is an international commitment that 84 countries adopted to protect students, teachers and universities from armed conflicts. Yemen’s endorsement of the declaration’s guidelines commits to a future where “every boy and girl has the right to an education without fear of violence or attack.”
  10. The Too Young To Wed organization helps to provide daily breakfasts to 525 girl students to keep them enrolled in school in Sana’a, Yemen. The meals help students remain in classrooms and avoid early child marriages. Providing nutrition to students keeps them from falling further into poverty, and prevents them from becoming at risk of their families selling them into marriage. The price of one breakfast per student is $0.48.

Yemeni girls have many obstacles to attaining quality education. However, the ending of a drawn-out war and continued aid and support from organizations across the world is bettering the situation. These are small and steady steps, helping to ensure that the nation’s girls will lead lives full of learning and progression. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Yemen shed light on the issue of Yemen’s education system.

Henry Schrandt
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction Strategy of Tanzania
Recently, the World Bank released its list of nations that most successfully reduced domestic poverty from 2000-2015. The top five countries reduced poverty between 3.2 percent and 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2015, with Tanzania reducing the highest percentage. The top fifteen countries lifted 802.1 million individuals out of poverty. This article outlines the successful poverty reduction strategy of Tanzania and international support that caused the most drastic reductions in poverty around the world.

History of Tanzanian Poverty

Historically, Tanzania has been one of the most impoverished countries in the world. In 2000, 86 percent of Tanzanians were impoverished, but this number dropped to 28 percent in 2018.

Tanzania reduced poverty by 3.2 percent in 11 years, making it the country that reduced poverty the most in the last 15 years. The poverty reduction strategy of Tanzania is due to three elements: reducing income poverty, increasing access to basic necessities and improving government infrastructure.

Economic Growth

The first strategy focuses on sustainable economic growth, which includes decreasing inflation and focusing on growing parts of the economy that have the largest poor population. The employment and empowerment programs utilized in these strategies focus on agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism in addition to macroeconomic growth in exports and imports. Between 2000 and 2015, Tanzania’s export volume grew from 120 to 272, making it the world’s 130th largest exporter. This successfully increased Tanzania’s GDP from $13.3 billion to $47.3 billion.

Tanzania’s unemployment rate dropped from 12.9 percent in 2001 to 10.3 percent in 2014, because of the liquid capital that injected into Tanzania’s economy, a focus on job creation and an industrial transition that opened new jobs. The economic focus of the Tanzanian government lifted thousands of individuals out of poverty and made it the seventh-largest economy in Africa.

The Impoverished Individual

The second strategy focuses on the personal needs of those in poverty. Poverty reduction efforts seek to increase the quality of life and ensure that those in poverty have access to social welfare. Efforts concentrated on education, clean water, sanitation and health services. Because of these efforts, Tanzania increased the number of individuals who had access to clean water by 9 percent between 1990 and 2009. In the same period of time, Tanzania’s health care became more accessible. As a result, child mortality rates dropped from 162 to 108, infant mortality rates dropped from 99 to 68 and the rate of malaria contraction dropped from 40.9 percent to 40.1 percent.

Another poverty reduction strategy focused on education. Tanzania made education more accessible by increasing funding for education, bettering its transportation mechanisms (including roads) and emphasizing vocational education and education for girls. This focus on education increased school enrollment from 68.8 percent in 2000 to 84.6 percent in 2015.

Tanzania’s Commitment to its People

The third strategy is one of the governmental commitments to the impoverished Tanzanian people. This included ensuring the enforcement of the law, the accountability of the government for its people and the prioritizing of stability in order to avoid poverty. The IMF reported that Tanzania has become more accountable to its people, less corrupt and has increased citizen participation in governance, thus ensuring an effective political framework.

International Participation in Tanzania’s Poverty Reduction Strategies

The international community was critical to Tanzania’s successful poverty reduction. The United States, Tanzania’s largest source of aid, began giving Tanzania foreign aid in 2006. In that year, the U.S. gave $151.29 million. This number increased every year, with the U.S. giving Tanzania $633.5 million in aid in 2015. This aid has consistently gone towards the very areas in which Tanzania has seen the most improvement: humanitarian aid, governance, education, economic development and health.

While Tanzania still has a long way to go until it completely eliminates poverty, it has made significant progress since the beginning of the millennium. The poverty reduction strategies of Tanzania, including economic growth, investment in individuals and infrastructure and governance development, have been successful to a great extent. International aid has consistently been a contributing factor to Tanzania’s ability to reduce poverty and has successfully targeted the areas in which Tanzania required the most improvement.

–  Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

Honduras Life Expectancy
Honduras is a Central American country with a population of nearly 10 million people. Though the country has faced extreme poverty and disease, there have been significant signs of improvement in the country’s overall quality of life. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Honduras detail the improvements the country has made throughout its history.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Honduras

  1. Life expectancy is increasing. The life expectancy in Honduras has increased by almost a decade in the past 30 years. According to the 2019 Human Development Report from the United Nations Development Programme, the life expectancy at birth in 1990 was 66.7 years and rose to 75.1 years by 2018.
  2. Some of the top causes of premature death in Honduras are significantly lower than the average global comparison. The rate of deaths due to diarrheal diseases is 584.4 per 100,000, while the global average is more than 1,000. Similarly, the rate of deaths from stroke is less than 1,000 per 100,000, while the average is more than 1,800. Finally, the rate of deaths due to lower respiratory infections is 388.7 per 100,000, while the average is almost 2,000.
  3. The average years of schooling in Honduras has increased by more than three years since 1990. In 1990, the average years of schooling were only three and a half. In 2018, the average was more than six and a half. An increase in education often leads to higher-paying job opportunities, and therefore, access to better health care. Since 1957, the government of Honduras has had free primary school, which has led to a literacy rate of 83 percent.
  4. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Honduras has a low public investment in health per capita. The country currently ranks second in Central America and fourth in Latin America. The Latin American and Caribbean average is about $392 per person, while Honduras lies at about $101 per person.
  5. The mortality rates of both infants and children under 5 have both declined in the last 30 years. In 1990, the mortality rate in children under 5 was 53.4 per 1,000 live births. In 2017, the rate was just 14.6. For children under the age of 1, the mortality rate was 41.3 per 1,000 live births in 1990, which decreased to 11.6 in 2017.
  6. Some of the leading causes of premature death in Honduras include heart disease (41.6 percent), stroke (38.7 percent), violence (15 percent), road injury (16.4 percent), respiratory infections (2.5 percent) and other diseases. However, the World Bank approved the Country Partnership Framework for the country in 2015, which objectives include increasing access to finances, improving farming productivity and improving local governments to prevent violence and crime. The World Bank’s portfolio of the country is $259 million.
  7. The Honduras Social Security Institute (IHSS) has plans to expand its health facilities. The IHSS currently provides the public health system for about 37.1 percent of the working population. The institute currently has two public specialty hospitals and 10 outpatient facilities.
  8. In 2017, the World Bank reported that there were 0.314 physicians per 1,000 people in Honduras. Comparatively, Guatemala reported 0.355 physicians per 1,000 people.
  9. In 2015, the National Congress approved the Framework Law on Social Protection. This is the first time in Honduras that there was ever a law to define the national health care system. The multi-pillar law aims to extend health insurance, unemployment insurance and workmanship compensation to the working population, as well as Hondurans living in poverty.
  10. The Human Development Index (HDI), which measures the quality of life, health and wellbeing in Honduras, has increased from 0.508 to 0.623 from 1990 to 2018. To compare, Guatemala had a rating of 0.651, El Salvador a 0.667 rating and Haiti a 0.503 rating.

Although Honduras still needs to make progress in health care and safe water access, it has made a lot of improvements for its citizens in recent years. Honduras should be able to continue ensuring a long, healthy life for its citizens by continuing its improvements.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

Disaster Risk Insurance and its Benefits
The number of natural catastrophes surpassed the 1,000 mark in 2015 for the first time, according to the United Nations Development Plan (UNDP). The UNDP estimates the total cost from those disasters to be over $90 billion. Only 30 percent of this amount had insurance. Disaster risk insurance benefits places that experience natural disasters because it helps combat them.

Many expect that the frequency of these disasters will grow as populations continue to increase and weather patterns remain unpredictable. Moreover, disaster and development strongly link together which takes away key investment. The poor are more susceptible to disasters due to their inability to uproot their lives and the overcrowded conditions in which they often live.

Between 1991 and 2010, the Overseas Development Institute found that approximately 81 percent of the deaths that disasters caused were people in a lower-middle or low-income status. Ninety-three percent of these deaths came from developing countries.

The Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance (DRFI) Program

Established by the World Bank in 2010, the DRFI program seeks to provide funding and skills to help developing countries establish financial protection strategies. This program seeks to assist national and local governments, as well as businesses, homeowners, agricultural producers and the low-income population altogether. This program implements protection strategies with the goal in mind for the affected country to continue its development strategies while recovering from natural disasters.

How it Works

In 2018, the World Bank issued disaster risk insurance to Mexico, Peru, Columbia and Chile. These four countries are located along the western end of the Pacific Rim, a ring of seismic activity that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. Due to location, these countries are susceptible to damaging earthquakes.

The disaster risk insurance came in the form of a catastrophe bond of $1.36 billion split between the four countries for coverage against earthquakes. The World Bank stepped in to oversee the creation of the bonds and help the countries find investors. Once the World Bank secured investors, many of which were large insurance companies or hedge funds, investors receive a premium for the coverage as payment. Should a big enough earthquake hit one or more of the member countries within the designated time frame of three years, an investor would pay a predetermined portion of the principal of the bond to the affected country.

The African Risk Capacity Insurance Limited

An example of disaster risk insurance outside the operations of the World Bank is the African Risk Capacity. The African Risk Capacity includes countries across Africa and development partners support it. Each member pays into a pool of funding which then goes to countries that do not receive a predetermined quota of rainfall. Within two to four weeks of the rainfall season coming to an end, money goes to the affected countries to help their citizens.

In September 2019, the organization issued a payout of $738,835 to the government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire after it suffered through a severe drought. The drought affected an estimated 400,000, but the payout will reportedly help up to 32,496 individuals across 6,500 households through a cash transfer program. The CEO of African Risk Capacity, Dolika Banda, stated that the payout is to target women and female-headed households directly because of the disproportionate effect disasters have on women.

Since 2014, the African Risk Capacity Agency has received $73 million in premiums for a total coverage of $553 million toward the protection of 55 million people across the member states.

Disaster Risk Insurance Benefits

While not suitable for preventing damage, disaster risk insurance benefits exist. Insurance can provide greater economic stability and help prevent deaths in the aftermath of disasters. In these times, communities often suffer from a resource shortage that easily accessible capital can assist.

Governments have limited debt because the investments their countries use to rebuild comes from the outside. Disaster risk insurance also provides incentives for risk reduction efforts by offering lower premiums.

While these financing efforts are not a catch-all solution to the damaging effects of natural disasters, they can be a critical tool to help prevent developing countries from regressing.

 – Scott Boyce
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Vietnam's Economic Development Costs
Once one of the world’s poorest nations, Vietnam is now gaining global attention for having one of the fastest-growing economies, subsequently lifting millions out of poverty. From a country where most of the people rely solely on rudimentary agricultural production to secure livelihood and use the majority of lands for farming, Vietnam is now undergoing a process of rapid industrialization and urbanization. It is at the crucial stage of transition from poverty to prosperity, allowing many to enjoy higher standards of living than ever before. However, the nation is paying tremendously for Vietnam’s economic development costs from rapid economic growth. The surging energy consumption, pollution from industrialization and urbanization process and the nonrestrictive environmental legislation are taking tolls on the environment and the natural assets of Vietnam.

Energy Consumption

The demand for energy is surging in response to the massive economic growth of Vietnam, impacting Vietnam’s economic development costs. Energy consumption in Vietnam tripled just over the past decade and many anticipate that the demand will increase by 8 percent annually until 2035. To meet the increasing energy demand, Vietnam is relying substantially on coal for energy supply due to its affordability. The coal share of the total energy supply grew from 14 percent to 35 percent in 15 years. Currently, 20 coal-fired plants are in Vietnam and the government plans to increase the number of coal plants to 51 by 2050. Vietnam’s dependence on coal is raising concerns as it is seriously harming the environment and public health. A study revealed that existing coal plants can cause as many as 25,000 premature deaths annually.

Facing a rapid rise in pollution, Vietnam is making great efforts in developing renewable sources of energy such as hydropower, solar and wind energy as alternatives to coal. Vietnam’s energy plans now include a renewable energy development strategy. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has recently offered incentives for renewable energy by paying solar projects between 6.67 and 10.87 cents per kWh.

A report in 2017 suggests that renewable energy could generate 100 percent of Vietnam’s power by 2050. However, in the short-term, it is difficult for other renewable energy to challenge coal as the main supplier of energy. Coal is still the most affordable option available at the moment for Vietnam to meet its surging energy demand.

Water and Air Pollution

The country’s industrial production has grown 15 percent annually in the last decade. However, rapid industrialization is polluting Vietnam’s water sources and air. Only 25 percent of industrial wastewater receives treatment, while the rest, estimated at 240,000 cubic meters of wastewater daily, discharges directly into lakes and rivers without treatment. The quality of air in urban areas is also deteriorating severely in recent years as a result of traffic and industrial activities. A report in 2013 showed that Hanoi’s air pollution received grades from unhealthy to hazardous for more than 265 days of the year. The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration was 1.3 times above the permitted levels in Hanoi, and twice the permitted levels in Ho Chi Minh City. This is detrimental to the public, especially children and the elderly.

The government and communities have started to pay more attention to addressing industrial pollution. Customers and associates are boycotting violating manufactures. Banks are also adjusting policies to avoid those clients on the environment blacklist, making it more difficult for those companies to access funding. The Vietnamese government has drafted a National Action Plan on Air Quality Management for the period of 2020 to 2025, including the plan to reduce 20 percent of NOx, Sox and particulate matter emitted by chemicals, fertilizer and petroleum production facilities. It is also drafting a separate National Technical Regulation on Emissions for the Steel Industry and the Environmental Law that includes air quality management requirements.

Vietnam’s Reforms

Vietnam has been pursuing reforms and investments to promote green growth and sustainable development with the support of the World Bank. Many projects have achieved notable results in promoting this sustainability agenda and mitigating the high environmental cost of Vietnam’s rapid economic growth. The Vietnam Renewable Energy Development Project has successfully expanded the usage of renewable energy, generating nearly 10 percent of Vietnam’s power. The Vietnam Industrial Pollution Management Project has significantly improved compliance with wastewater treatment regulations in four industrial zones in Vietnam. The percentage of industrial zones compliant with wastewater treatment regulations grew from less than 30 percent to 72 percent between 2012 and 2018.

This information about Vietnam’s economic development costs shows that despite many challenges still facing the country, the government is taking great strides to promote sustainable development with attention to ecological conservation. Raising public awareness and support for environmental conservation while strengthening the capacity for environmental development planning through legislation and investment is crucial in this stage of Vietnam’s economic development.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Haiti's Earthquake 10 Years Later
January 12, 2020, marked the 10th anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of the small Caribbean nation of Haiti. People have taken time to remember what happened a decade ago, with one Haitian-American residing in Boston commenting, “I’m in pain. I’m in pain inside of me. Even my bones hurt me because of what’s happening in my country. We are human beings like everybody else, we have to live a life like everybody else.” Haiti has undeniably suffered greatly, but there is hope after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later.

The Devastating Aftermath of the Disaster

The quake also impacted Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic. Two aftershocks followed with a magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5., making it the worst natural disaster the country has seen in modern times. Haiti is located above two of the earth’s tectonic plates, the North American and the Caribbean plates, making it prone to large earthquakes. At the beginning of 2010, many news outlets covered the aftermath of the disaster, leaving much of the world shocked.

Between 220,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives in the 2010 quake, 122 of them American citizens, leaving 300,000 more injured and 1.5 million displaced from their homes. Nearly 4,000 schools suffered damage or complete eradication. This resulted in an estimated $7.8 to $8.5 billion in damage.

The disaster left many people with families living in Haiti anxious, wondering if their loved ones had survived the catastrophe. Others fled the country in search of a better life elsewhere. Jean-Max Bellerive, the Prime Minister of Haiti at the time of the earthquake called it “the worst catastrophe that has occurred in Haiti in two centuries.”

Foreign Aid Comes to the Rescue

In the midst of what seemed like the absence of hope, many Haitians prayed for help. Within a few days, foreign powers from all over the world responded, willing to aid the survivors with their needs. Within a day, President Obama stated that the United States would provide their “unwavering support” for the people of Haiti pledging $100 million in financial support.

Members of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy arrived in the country to assist the survivors of the earthquake with their medical needs. Outside of the United States, the European Commission promised $4.37 million in aid. In Asia, the South Korean and Indian governments provided $1 million in aid, and the Japanese government granted $5 million. Japan also donated a total of $330,000 value in tents and blankets for those without shelter.

Doctors and aircrafts supplied with food and water swarmed in quickly from countries such as Sweden, Brazil, Israel and Venezuela. It seemed as if the entire world had its eyes on Haiti. People all across the globe prayed for the relief Haitians needed to rebuild their lives and recover from such a traumatic event.

Haiti 10 Years Later

Despite the overwhelming efforts from foreign powers across the world in the aftermath of the earthquake, the earthquake has impacted Haiti even 10 years later. While the world has still not forgotten the 2010 earthquake, relief efforts often diminish because there are more recent natural disasters that require attention. When remembering the anniversary of such events, especially ones that occurred in impoverished nations, it is important to remember that relief efforts should not cease once mass media outlets elect to move on to new events.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with about eight out of every 10 citizens living in poverty. Six years after the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew affected Haiti in early October 2016, the most powerful storm to affect the country in decades and resulting in almost $2 billion in damage.

In the 2000s, hurricanes like but not exclusive to Hurricanes Ike and Hanna, also affected Haiti resulting in flooding and hundreds of lives lost. Haiti’s economy is highly susceptible as a result of its location and the possibility of earthquakes and hurricanes. Because each disaster results in such high costs in damage when a majority of its people already live on only $2 a day, this poses a significant problem in providing a long-term solution for Haitians in need.

As of January 2020, many Haitian children face malnutrition due to high levels of food insecurity and infections, resulting in the deaths of infants, ages 2 and under. Many mothers also still face complications in childbirth resulting in death.

Much of these statistics do not appear to be promising on the surface, appearing as it virtually nothing has changed in a decade despite support from foreign powers during the country’s time of need. However, Haitians still refuse to discard their efforts for a better and more prosperous Haiti. In 2019, many Haitians protested the government and President Jovenel Moise. Haitians say that while citizens are “used to political and economic crises,” the cost of necessities such as food, gas and education has gone up significantly. These protests have continued into January 2020.

Reach Our World and the World Bank

Others around the world have also not given up on their efforts to create a stronger Haiti, even after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later. Reach Our World is one of the missionary groups that visited Port Au Prince shortly after the 10th anniversary of the quake from January 17 to 22, 2020. As of January 8, 2020, ongoing contributions from the World Bank, consisting of 20 projects, have grossed $866.46 million.

Therefore, while the mass media outlets do not commonly cover the continuing political and economic tensions existing after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later, many advocacy groups and world powers have not forgotten about the work that the world still needs to accomplish to help further the nation and its people. In order to become more successful in such efforts, it is imperative to be consistent and not wait until another natural disaster strikes to contribute to relief efforts so that the people of Haiti can achieve a stronger and brighter future.

A. O’Shea
Photo: Flickr