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uganda_population
Today the nation of Uganda has a population of 27.7 million and this number continues to increase. According to the Population Research Bureau (PRB) the 27.7 million people will reach 130 million by 2050.  Researchers argue that this high rate of growth will surely keep the nation in financial difficulties. Ugandans already have limited resources and with this projected increase, the country will have to find a way to monitor the nation’s population explosion.

The current state of Uganda is largely due to the government’s lack of intervention and unavailable resources for family planning. PRB has stated that merely 20 percent of married women have available contraception. With such a low percentage it is no surprise that the average amount of children per woman is 6.9. This is an alarming amount considering the global average to be 2.7 children per woman. In fact, several have pointed this issue of high birth rates as being encouraged by Ugandan government officials since President Yoweri Museveni has stated that this population explosion is a “great resource” for Uganda.

This increasing population is also attributed to fertility levels which have escalated since 3 decades ago. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been kept at a high in rural areas compared to urbanized areas. Seeing as Uganda’s Population Report 2013 indicates that 88% of Ugandans live in rural areas, the fertility level is basically high for nearly all Ugandans. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, there has been a markedly low infant mortality rate which coupled with the high fertility rate, has led to this extraordinary population growth.

Most Ugandans living in rural areas face extreme poverty, with poor infrastructure, limited supplies, lack of healthcare and famine in specific areas of the region. Several government officials are concerned whether the current demographic will impede economic growth. Some argue that the large population will begin a transformation, given how countries such as China and India have improved their economies after the pressure of rapid growth. The World Bank argued in a recent report that economic growth in Uganda would rise if fertility rates dropped and households learned to save or invest their money. What is certain is that today’s world population of 6.6 billion is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025 and Uganda will soon find itself having one of the highest populations among China and India.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: World Watch, UBOS, Daily Monitor

ugandaschools
One of the nonprofit leaders in global health education, Child Family Health International, announced it will extend its educational programs to Uganda, starting in 2014.

Since 1992, Child Family Health International  has worked at the grassroots level to promote global health by addressing community-specific needs. The program places health profession students along native community physicians in developing countries to better understand the reality of global health.  As of now, Child Family Health International has programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico and South Africa. The organization is known for its approach of developing innovative ways to provide quality healthcare in impoverished, resource-poor communities.

Child Family Health International’s Executive Director, Dr. Jessica Evert, explained the unique nature of the program site in Uganda. “We are partnering with a self-identified ‘activated community’ that is working at the grassroots level to address multifaceted interactions between poverty, ill health, lack of education and the need for empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa.”  These programs in Uganda focus on nutrition, sustainable agriculture and HIV and women’s/children’s health.

A recent study of the organization’s impacts, featured in American Association of Medical College’s Journal of Academic Medicine, shows improvement in understanding of culture, public health, community medicine and the overall struggle in achieving global health. This small, yet unique, program, tackles the issue head on and through the efforts of education, gives aid to communities and people in need.

– Sonia Aviv 
Sources: All AfricaChild Family Health InternationalWorld Health Organization
Photo: Global Highered

uganda_well
Uganda is heavily underfunded where it matters -healthcare. Hospitals are costly and for those who can’t afford it, they are shown the door. Patients are left to search for cheap herbal remedies or wait until their pain subsides, if it even does.

Most of the health issues that arise in Uganda can be linked to the lack of water available for families. Without a proper source of clean water, Ugandans are at risk of contracting various illnesses or parasites that can potentially lead to death. More than 50% of Ugandans have no clean water source, which means they are at a higher risk for waterborne diseases.

Various small health care programs in Uganda have been implemented to help with these issues including, The Water Project, which construct wells in rural villages. Aside from bringing a reliable source of clean water, they give lectures on sanitation. UNICEF Uganda has also implemented a similar program that serves to inform the family of issues from unclean water sources and offer health services for free.

This program called Family Health Days is one of many that are currently being put in effect with the partnership of faith-based organizations. Family Health Days is offered at various places of worship, advertised on the radio and spread through word of mouth. Several families bring in their children to get immunizations or de-worming checks. Mothers are able to get assistance with antenatal care and blood pressure readings. Counseling is also given to foster a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.

Programs such as Family Health Days and The Water Project truly make a difference in the lives of hundreds in the rural villages of Uganda. They work with the community and bring awareness to health issues of the poor. The Water Project, Family Health Days and numerous small programs offer hope for a country who’s own government has repeatedly been under scrutiny for misusing international relief aid.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: FSD International, UNICEF, The Water Project
Photo: Borgen

clothing_store
Whether they are glossing over fashion magazines, going to the mall, or simply shopping for clothes online, people are always looking the latest trend in the fashion world. This propensity for fashion ends up creating a big waste in the economy.

According to The Magazine of Santa Clarita, every “American throws away 68 pounds of clothes on average per year.” However, Americans are neglecting the bigger issue, global poverty.

Many people see clothing as a way to express themselves, however, in the modern day, fashion trends come and go at an extremely fast pace. Americans spends on average about $82 million on clothes every year, even though these clothes are soon after discarded for “the next best thing.”

Even if clothing items are recyclable, the recycling rate is extremely low, at around 14 percent. In fact, taking discarded and non-recycled clothes into consideration, more than $70 million are wasted every year.

In comparison, the total spending of USAID for health issues in the country of Uganda is $157 million. Although the waste of clothing in the U.S. is half of the USAID’s spending, one might ask oneself, “is it really necessary?” Even though global poverty is a bigger problem and needs to be addressed, people seem to choose to ignore it. On the other hand, U.S. companies such as Tom’s Shoes and Amazon.com have actively focused on global poverty through various supporting programs. It is time U.S. citizens pay attention to the bigger picture rather than just the latest trends in fashion.

– Phong Duc Pham

Sources: The Magazine of Santa Clarita, National Center for Biotechnology Information
Photo: The Paris Apartment

Clean_Water_Uganda_Rotary_Club
Rotary International is one of the world’s largest service organizations. Today, it has become one of the most prominent service organizations with over 30,000 clubs in more than 166 countries. On October 16, 2013, the Tomah Rotary Club hosted the “Turn Wine into Water” international wine tasting fundraiser in order to collect funds for new clean water projects and initiatives in developing nations. The funds collected at this event were given to developing villages in Uganda.

This event alone helped the Rotary Club raise over $32,000 towards the clean water initiative in Uganda. According to reports led by the club, Uganda has little to no running water, or electricity. In addition, access to education is very limited. Jenny Parker, a member of the rotary club has even stated that “the sanitation conditions in Uganda are tragic.” She has also said that children in Uganda “will spend four to six hours a day collecting dirty water over steep terrain.” Because of these harsh living conditions, the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets of children die each day.

According to reports, just one donation can affect as many as 20 children, or one child for 20 years. The club has estimated that $60 alone can save up to three children. The fundraiser held this past week raised around $1,600, which helped give Ugandan children clean water for about a year. Although we cannot save the entire world all at once, it is efforts like these that make the world a better place. According to reports, organizations like these give entire communities access to clean water. Thanks to the rotary club, clean water conditions in remote areas are becoming a thing of the past. As Parker stated, “For many diseases we do not have a cure, for this disease, we do have the cure: clean water.”

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: Lacrosse Tribune, Tomah Rotary
Photo: Twisted Sifter

Uganda High School Contraception Women Reproductive Rights
In an effort to reduce the number of women who die from maternal complications, Uganda’s government is considering a plan to provide contraception to every Ugandan women between the ages of 14 and 18.

In Uganda, an estimated 16 women die every day from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. For every woman who dies, an additional 15 women develop complications, such as fistulas. These statistics make it unlikely that Uganda will achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent by the 2015 deadline.

During a meeting organized by the Ugandan health ministry earlier this month, Sarah Opendi, the state minister for primary health care, said it was “unethical” to allow Uganda’s female citizens to continue to die from easily preventable complications

Among the most fatal of these complications are hemorrhaging, high blood pressure, and contraction of infectious diseases due to weakened immune systems. However, many young women also die from self-induced abortions.

“You don’t know what some of these girls go through,” Opendi said. “When they can’t confide in anyone and are desperate to get the fetus out they will do anything.”

Afraid to confide in their parents and usually impregnated by classmates who are also unable to support a child,  many girls try to terminate their own pregnancies, and often die in the process.

To address this problem, the Ugandan government plans to set up youth centers in schools and hospitals, where young girls can receive proper counseling. The government is likely to also provide condoms and contraceptive pills.

John Cooper, the executive director of Uganda Family Planning Consortium, believes that every woman should have a child by choice, not chance. Currently, of the Ugandan women who get pregnant, half of the pregnancies are unwanted.

“Now, we can’t want to reduce the numbers of women who dies while giving birth and not want to provide women with contraception that can reduce their fertility,” said Cooper.

The Ugandan minister must first convince several critics before the government’s plan to provide contraception to every woman between 14 and 18 is implemented. But this may be the country’s only option. Uganda’s population currently stands at over 34 million, and the country’s fertility rate is 6.7 percent. Moreover, women in rural areas lacking medical resources may produce twice as many children.

If the movement to provide contraception passes, the government must turn to its next issue in the fight to lower maternal mortality and limit population: the need to allocate more funding and resources to Uganda’s impoverished rural regions.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: New Vision, Index Mundi, all Africa
Photo: Books For Africa

poverty hunger
In Uganda, where perceived corruption levels are the worst in East Africa, NGOs are holding ground-level panels comprised of individuals with diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds to address this issue.

The panels, which are also being used in Egypt, Brazil, and India, are instrumental for addressing post-2015 development concerns like corruption.

By allowing marginalized and impoverished people to have a voice on these panels, new insights regarding how development is experienced and what changes must be made are apparent. Governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders often overlook this ground-level knowledge when attempting to solve development problems, but not anymore.

In a recent study by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), ground-level panels came up with seven key areas where change must occur in order to address development goals after the UN’s MDGs expire in 2015.

  1. Empowering governance for all: This notion ensures that all marginalized people have the opportunity to participate in all societal events as citizens with equal rights. When this occurs individual and collective abilities are strengthened which creates a galvanizing force to implement change.
  2. Human rights for all: Governments must recognize social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of all its citizens, including marginalized populations. The recognition of these rights is central to a marginalized person’s dignity and acts as a catalyst for them to want to be engaged in finding solutions to societal problems.
  3. Peace, safety, and security at all levels: Governments must utilize peaceful methods that respect human rights when solving conflicts between or within countries. This is just good governance. Violence breaks down the social fabric of communities creating more issues.
  4. A holistic approach: All areas of development are interconnected. People, the environment, and government institutions all rely on each other to function, so it is vital that a comprehensive approach is used.
  5. Equality and equity in opportunities: All of the ground level panels placed great importance on ensuring that all people have the same chance to succeed in society. Discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, language, age, religion, and region must subside in order for development goals to succeed.
  6. Fair and secure livelihoods: Governments must invest in skills training for their populations so that they have a chance to enter the job market and be competitive. Small business owners need support from governments in order to be able to access markets. A shift in thinking must take place so that marginalized populations trust the economic system that is in place, rather than the skepticism that currently exists.
  7. Self-sufficiency and agency: Being autonomous is incredibly important to the ground level panels. Minimizing dependency from other countries and the private sector is something that is vital in order for self-sufficiency to take place.

Recommendations

  • Local, national, and international institutions must place meaningful participation at their core.
  • Truly inclusive, community led monitoring processes must be established.
  • Acknowledge the underlying discriminatory practices that are in place and work to ensure marginalized people are allowed to be more inclusive.
  • Governments, the private sector, and other institutions must increase transparency and access to information.

Aaron Faust

*This article is part of a seven-piece series detailing post-2015 development goals.

Sources: Institute of Development Studies, Transparency International, Beyond 2015

food security
The UN recently held a conference that brought 800 participants together from around the world to determine the best solution to malnutrition and food insecurity in Africa, a problem that is worsened by climate change and a lack of healthy ecosystems. The congregation agreed that healthy ecosystems are essential for farmers to produce enough food and ensure future food security in Africa.

Keeping ahead of climate change by increasing the productivity of local ecosystems was decidedly the most cost effective solution for small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, who comprise 60 percent of the entire workforce. Farming practices which keep ecosystems healthy, like agro-forestry and conservation agriculture, have already been proven to benefit farmers in Uganda. These methods improved soil fertility and increased crop yields, and less time and money was required to prime the land before planting. That time and money was then invested in diversifying crops and raising livestock. The result was a reduction in poverty and improved food security for 75,000 Ugandans.

Natural disasters and droughts, which are increasingly more frequent due to climate change, and unsustainable resource depletion and environmental degradation result in frequent food shortages for Africa’s population. If projections for the future are correct, by 2050 the nine billion global citizens will need twice as much food produced globally today to survive. Unless something is done about climate change, and the current rate of ecosystem destruction is reversed, food prices are expected to rise as high as 50 percent. These projections are particularly worrying for Africa, with 239 million malnourished citizens already struggling.

– Jennifer Bills

Sources: UN News, AllAfrica

water_opt-1
Over 783 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Every day, 6,000 people die from complications due to contaminated drinking water. Most of those people are children. But the culprit is not an absence of wells. NGOs have been building wells all over developing rural areas for decades. The real problem is a lack of maintenance.

Kyle Westaway, a board member of The Adventure Project, a non-profit working toward sustainable water solutions in Uganda, asks us to compare a new well to a new car. A new car, he says, is a great gift that connects people, businesses, and communities. But, without the mechanical savvy or money required to change the oil, that car will be junk in less than a year.

In the same way, new wells are wonderful gifts that, without care and maintenance, quickly descend into obsolescence. Governments in developing nations usually don’t have the resources to maintain or restore wells, and it’s easier for NGOs—but more expensive—to just build new ones. In the meantime, people resort to local “scoop holes,” like unfiltered streams or springs.

That’s where Water for People (WFP) comes in. The organization, which has projects on every continent, is working with local governments in western Uganda to institute a “pay-as-you-fetch” program so wells can fund themselves. WFP takes working wells and hands them over to mechanics, who collect a usage fee. The going rate is 100 Ugandan shillings (4 cents) per jerry can of water, which is about 20 liters. Half the money goes into a fund to repair the well, which requires overhaul about once every 10 years.

The program hinges on an inexpensive, low-tech water meter that tracks how many liters are taken out. Putting entrepreneurs in charge of meter-equipped wells is the key to keeping them in use.

Diana Keesiga, who manages the project, believes it has huge potential. “Once I prove this works, I am going to expand this model across Uganda,” she says with confidence. “And then, the continent.”

John Mahon

Sources: Huffington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation

Mosquito_Patch
A new stick-on anti-mosquito patch hides users from mosquito detection for 48 hours. Although such a product has high potential, it must first undergo trials in Ugandav. The Kite Patch (referred to as “Kites”), is a small patch that sticks to clothing and hides wearers from mosquito detection.

It works by neutralizing two key attractants for mosquitoes: exhaled carbon dioxide, and human odor. Mosquitoes are able to detect exhaled carbon dioxide from more than a football field away, while human odor is used for short range detection.

Olfactor Laboratories, an innovative company focused on developing products related to disease prevention, has developed the patch to prevent diseases from being transmitted by mosquitoes. They are currently working to prevent other mosquito-borne illnesses as well, including the West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever, and Yellow Fever.

By shielding humans from mosquito detection, the Kite Patch will protect users from insect-borne infections. This will save lives and bring about a reduction in the incidence of insect-transmitted diseases.

Uganda has been chosen as the testing site for the patches because it is is home to some of the largest percentages of malaria transmittance in the world. This provides a unique opportunity to test the life-saving capabilities of Kites in a real-world environment where anti-mosquito measures are most needed.

Kites also provide an alternative in the Americas and other developed nations, where mosquitoes are often little more than an annoyance, and yet potentially dangerous anti-mosquito sprays are commonly used. They are safer and more effective than these sprays, offering further health and environmental benefits even in areas where the risk of life-threatening disease is much lower.

Although a market price is yet to be determined, project leader Grey Frandsen has announced that the patch is likely to be subsidized to a price lower than repellents and cheap enough for consumers to buy regularly.

– Michael Carney

Sources: SciDev Center for Disease Control
Photo: Dude, I want that