Posts

Diseases in TanzaniaAbout 36% of the 57 million people living in Tanzania fall below the poverty line. It is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Many impoverished countries deal with severely inadequate healthcare. However, Tanzania has recently experienced tremendous advances in healthcare. Overall better accessibility to healthcare improved death rates and diseases in Tanzania and even prompted innovative disease prevention. Here are six facts about healthcare in Tanzania.

6 Facts About Diseases in Tanzania

  1. Health access and quality have increased. Healthcare access and quality are essential for a prosperous community. When disease and illness go untreated, entire populations of people can be affected. Tanzania received a Healthcare Access and Quality Index rating of 33.9 in 2016 compared to 21.9 in 1990. Some of the factors contributing to this increase include a flourishing economy, increased education and foreign aid.
  2. Malnutrition has decreased by almost 10%. Although malnutrition is still one of the leading causes of death and disability in Tanzania, it has been declining since 2007. Malnutrition causes many diseases, especially in children. Malnutrition is detrimental to children’s cognitive growth and overall health. UNICEF is an organization working with the government and other local partners in Tanzania to improve child nutrition by implementing a food and nutrition policy.
  3. HIV/AIDS death rates have decreased drastically. As one of the top 10 causes of death in Tanzania, the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS has prompted many years of advocacy and support from organizations and governments all around the world. As a result of these efforts, HIV/AIDS death rates have decreased tremendously in Tanzania. In 2007, HIV/AIDS was the number one leading cause of death in Tanzania, and by 2017, the death rate had declined by 75%.
  4. Only 15% of people in rural areas have improved sanitation facilities. Poor sanitation is one of the leading causes of the spread of disease. Many impoverished communities struggle with combating diseases that spread through poor sanitation facilities. In rural Tanzania, about 85% of the population struggles with poor sanitation equipment, including toilets, showers and water sources for drinking. UNICEF implemented the Behaviour Change Communication approach which sets an example on effectively educating communities on embarrassing topics, such as personal hygiene. The work of UNICEF and local communities has helped prevent the rapid spread of disease through poor sanitation in the impoverished areas of Tanzania.
  5. Tuberculosis has a 90% treatment success rate. Even though tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death in Tanzania, it has a high treatment success rate. One of the contributing factors to tuberculosis treatment success is the increase in accessible quality healthcare. Considering that the tuberculosis mortality rate is less than half of a 10th percent, treatment options for tuberculosis have successfully prevented many deaths related to this disease in Tanzania.
  6. Around 78% of households have an insecticide mosquito protective net. Transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria is one of the leading causes of death in Tanzania. Preventative measures have been taken to decrease contact with mosquitoes, including the installation of the insecticide-treated mosquito net (ITN) in homes. These nets are safely treated with insecticide to block mosquitoes from entering. A more durable version of the ITN called a long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN), has been produced. Both of these nets are recommended by WHO for malaria prevention.

Despite being one of the most impoverished countries in the world, Tanzania has made great advancements in its healthcare. Combating many of the issues that come with poverty, Tanzania has found innovative ways to combat disease. With the efforts of UNICEF and local community groups, Tanzania has decreased diseases that are caused by poor healthcare and malnutrition.

– Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

facts about child marriage in Africa
Child marriages have been occurring for thousands of years. While child marriage is more commonly seen between female children and much older men, child marriage is defined as marriages where either one or both partners are younger than the age of 18. According to UNICEF, Africa has the highest rate of child marriages in the world. Specifically, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates where every 4 in 10 girls are married before the age of 18. Within this region, the country of Niger has the highest child marriage rates, with 77% of girls married before the age of 18. Here are seven facts about child marriage in Africa.

7 Facts About Child Marriage in Africa

  1. Children marry as young as seven and eight years old. The U.N. estimates that every day around 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married. Of the girls forced into marriage, one in three girls experience child marriage before the age of 18 and one in nine experience it before the age of 15. UNICEF estimates that if no change occurs, the rate of child marriages in Africa alone may double by 2050.
  2. Girls often experience suppressed education. Most girls who are in a child marriage do not get an education higher than the mandated primary education of grades one through nine. This is due to social stereotypes that categorize girls as domestic wives who stay in the home to cook, clean and bear children. Another reason is that most child marriages take place in poverty-stricken areas and they cannot afford to pay for an education or do not have access to education near them.
  3. Children involved in child marriages are at greater risk of domestic violence. A high percentage of girls in a child marriage experience domestic and sometimes sexual violence. According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), girls who marry before the age of 18 are twice as likely to experience domestic violence when compared to girls who marry after the age of 18. Many girls cannot escape this violence because of poverty and the lack of education.
  4. Having a daughter is seen as a burden in Africa. Most child marriages take place in poverty-stricken areas where families consider daughters to be economic and financial burdens. Many families, wanting to make up for the money they put into raising a daughter, require a dowry for their daughter’s marriage. The high cost of a dowry means that most men will work for years to save up for a wife. As a result, most child marriages are between a young girl and a much older man.
  5. Child brides have a greater risk of contracting HIV and other STDs. Since men are typically much older when they marry a child bride, they tend to have had multiple partners before they are married. As a result, girls involved in child marriages are more susceptible to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, research found that many young people lack the proper knowledge of HIV and other STDs and safe sexual education. Sex education is a mandatory curriculum in Africa, but religious and cultural taboos prevent schools from properly teaching this curriculum. In 2015, the Department of Basic Education began developing lesson plans for grades seven through nine that properly educate children about safe sex and STDs.
  6. Many child brides face high-risk pregnancies. Since girls marry at such young ages, many girls have high-risk pregnancies due to their underdeveloped bodies. As a result, they often have a difficult childbirth. Additionally, pregnancy lessens the body’s immune system, leaving young girls easily susceptible to illnesses such as malaria. Malaria is harder to treat when one is HIV positive and can lead to death in young pregnant girls.
  7. Ultimately, child marriage violates human rights. Child marriages involving boys is significantly more rare than those involving girls. The primary difference in a marriage involving young boys is they do not pose the same health risks as girls. However, child marriages between both sexes take away a child’s basic human rights. In 1948, in an attempt to discourage child marriages, the U.N. declared child marriage an act against human rights, as stated in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

These seven facts about child marriage in Africa explain the difficulties young girls face every day. While child marriages around the world have been in a steady decline, Africa has been the slowest progressing area. According to the U.N., child marriages in Africa could actually continue to grow rather than decline. A continued growing awareness around the world helps to end child marriages. A group of girls in Africa started a petition to change the laws and raise the age of consent. So far, the petition has received over 245,000 signatures. Efforts like these continue to help bring an end to child marriages in Africa.

– Chelsea Wolfe 
Photo: Flickr

7 Facts About Sanitation in Syria
In Syria, unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities kill more than 85,000 children each year. In contrast, the war kills approximately 30,000 annually. Without clean water, young children, specifically 5-year-olds and younger, are left vulnerable to malnutrition and preventable diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and polio. Syrian families forced to flee due to the war are at a greater risk of contracting deadly illnesses. Here are 7 facts about sanitation in Syria.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Syria

  1. Damaged Infrastructure: The devastating use of explosives during the war in Syria has left basic infrastructure damaged beyond repair. In 2018, 50% were non-operational and more than 35,000 buildings were turned to rubble. As a result, the lack of access to clean water has become a growing problem.
  2. Water Mismanagement: Water researcher, Francesca de Châtel, believes Syria has mismanaged its water supply for 50 years. De Châtel says Syria has focused too much on large scale agriculture projects that have dried up rivers and wells. A lack of sufficient water has caused farmers to abandon their land and look for work elsewhere. This mismanagement also has nationwide impacts due to the amount of water waste.
  3. Risky Childbirth: Pregnant women are among one in every three families that are displaced from Syria. Often, they have little to no medical care because nearly 46% of health facilities are no longer functional and 167 are totally demolished. This has forced many pregnant women to give birth outside, under trees. They do not have a safe or sanitary place to deliver, which heightens the risk of delivering a unhealthy baby.
  4. Risk of Violence for Girls: While it may seem like an unusual correlation, lack of access to water in the home can put young girls and women at risk of violence. Since most households do not have clean sanitation facilities, girls and women venture out and travel miles to gather water. During their travels, they are vulnerable to violence, both physical or sexual. In fact, during the summer of 2015, the Syrian city of Aleppo faced a major water crisis and three children were killed while trying to collect water for their families.
  5. Contamination: Damaged infrastructure and the flooding of wastewater have contaminated water sources. In the northwest part of the nation, there is a high number of camps where displaced citizens have gathered. Here, these communities share latrines that do not meet the minimum humanitarian standards and are not segregated by gender, which can aggravate contamination. Paul Alcalde, who oversees water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming believes, “Lack of sanitation and lack of means for basic hygiene practices is not only about meeting immediate needs and basic rights, but it matters for dignity.”
  6. Cost: Prices and exchange rates have made water too expensive and out of reach for the poorest families. Some families spend up to 25% of their annual income alone on access to clean water derived from water tanks.
  7. Overcrowding: Many shelters throughout Syria and the surrounding countries, which hold the two million citizens that have become displaced, are not meeting the water or hygienic needs of the refugees. These living conditions are unsanitary due to a small number of showers and toilets as well as a lack of products like soap. Water is also rationed, and people are often allowed less than 10 quarts a day. Some shelters have been accommodated to hold around 25,000 refugees but will overcrowd and house twice the amount.

The Good News

Although Syrians, displaced or not, are still facing a sanitation and hygiene crisis, many organizations around the world have been doing their part to help.

UNICEF, the leader of the Water and Sanitation sector, has provided some relief to the people of Syria. Since 2011, UNICEF has provided 22,000 people with drinking and domestic water, 225,000 people have received soap and other hygiene products and 17,000 people have gained access to toilets and sanitation facilities. Nine years later, UNICEF concluded its first phase of WASH by completely restoring major water and sewage pipelines. In turn, 700,000 people have more and cleaner water instead of contaminated sources. 

Another organization that has provided major support is World Vision. Its efforts have included installing 10 water tanks in a refugee camp in Azraq, 5,200 WASH structures above and below ground such as toilets and sewage pits and constructing 35 tap stands that are connected to water tanks underground.

While Syria continues to grapple with war and violence, it must not forget to also address sanitation. With continued help from organizations like UNICEF and World Vision, hopefully sanitation in Syria will improve.

– Stacey Krzych
Photo: Flickr

Cholera Outbreaks in AfricaDue to the use and ingestion of contaminated water, cholera has become one of the most common waterborne diseases in the world. Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes such symptoms as diarrhea, dehydration, and, if not treated quickly, even death. Lack of availability to drinking water and sanitation facilities in Africa allows cholera to spread easily and quickly. However, many organizations have come up with different ways over time to help reduce the spread of cholera. Here are five things being done to prevent cholera outbreaks in Africa.

5 Things Being Done to Prevent Cholera Outbreaks in Africa

  1. Access to Clean Water: Being a waterborne disease, cholera can be prevented most effectively with access to clean drinking water. CDC has created a program called The Safe Water System Project, which brings usable water to areas with contaminated water. The Project also treats water with a diluted chlorine solution, making it safe to drink. CDC was able to use this program to bring safe water to more than 40 schools in Kenya, providing clean water to the students, staff and their families.
  2. Oral Vaccination: The FDA approved an oral cholera vaccine called Vaxchora. Due to the spread of cholera cases in Africa, in 2017 and 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) distributed Vaxchora to five different countries in Africa to prevent further cholera outbreaks. By distributing this vaccine, WHO is giving relief and medical treatment to millions of individuals who previously may not have had access to any medical care.
  3. Proper Sanitation Facilities: Cholera can spread very easily if proper sewage and sanitation facilities are not in place or contain defecation. An organization called Amref Health Africa has made it their goal to supply communities in Ethiopia with clean toilets, sinks and other sanitation facilities. Amref Health Africa also sends teams to help train the community on how to maintain the facilities and educate them on other hygiene practices.
  4. Establishing Treatment Centers: According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 11 treatment centers have been established in Africa with the specific purpose to prevent cholera outbreaks. In addition, an organization called Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has created mobile clinics to meet the needs of those in more rural areas who may have contracted cholera. MSF has also established the Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC), which is a facility where individuals can visit and be treated for cholera.
  5. Hygiene Practices: UNICEF has launched a campaign to help spread hygiene awareness. The campaign is called My School Without cholera and is brought to more than 3,000 schools in Cameroon. Along with this campaign, UNICEF is urging Cameroon’s government to act and address the impact cholera has had on its community.

 

While as of 2018, cholera hotspots around the world have seen a decline of 60% since 2013, thousands of individuals are still susceptible to cholera in Africa. The WHO has estimated that Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had more thna 45,000 confirmed cases and close to 700 deaths just in the time span of 2017 to 2020. The call to educate others on and how to prevent cholera outbreaks is imperative to the health of those who face cholera as an everyday battle.

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Space Force Budget
The U.S. Space Force (USSF) emerged as the newest branch of the Armed Forces in December 2019. It lies within the Department of the Air Force, which means the Secretary of the Air Force is responsible for its overall operations. While the USSF is a pioneering endeavor meant to expand U.S. capabilities to protect Americans, the $15.4 billion proposed U.S. Space Force budget for the fiscal year 2021 is a sum that would prove transformative in fighting global poverty. The following are examples of what $15.4 billion could do in this fight, as well as a comparison to U.S. funding allocated to foreign aid in general.

The US Space Force Budget and Foreign Aid

  1. Starvation in Africa: According to Save the Children, a box of nutritious peanut paste, which could treat one child with severe acute malnutrition in Africa for 10 weeks, costs $40. Meanwhile, $100 could cover medication, transportation and all other costs that one associates with treating a single child with severe acute malnutrition. In addition, $210 could pay for a household to feed and protect livestock, ensuring stable food supply and potential income for that family. With the $15.4 billion that makes up the U.S. Space Force budget, the U.S. or world community could provide 385 million children 10 weeks worth of peanut paste. In fact, $15.4 billion is sufficient funding to help 154 million children with severe acute malnutrition or enable over 73 million households in Africa to have livestock. These are only a few examples of aid that organizations provide to a continent suffering from intense poverty, but they clearly illustrate the fact that these policies are feasible with more funding.
  2. Syrian Refugees: UNICEF requested $864.1 million and $852.5 million for the 2020 and 2021 portions, respectively, of its Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2020-2021. This funding would go toward humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children in the region, including education access for refugees in Turkey, clean water supply for refugees in Lebanon and mental health support for refugees in Egypt. To complement the funding for Syrian refugees outside Syria, UNICEF requested $294.8 million to meet the needs of families and children in Syria in 2020. This intention of this funding was to provide things like vaccinations against polio, education support and improved water supply. The total for the two years of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan and the 2020 support for those inside Syria is just over $2 billion. The U.S. Space Force budget of $15.4 billion would be enough to increase the scale of these operations about sevenfold, illustrating the clear scope of what aid groups could do with that quantity of funding.
  3. Foreign Aid: Many Americans believe that foreign aid takes up as much as 25% of the U.S. federal budget. In fact, the U.S. spent about $39.2 billion in the fiscal year 2019 on foreign aid, making up less than 1% of the federal budget. For the fiscal year 2021, the U.S. is requesting about $29.1 billion for foreign aid. The $15.4 billion for the USSF would be just over half the amount requested for the entirety of U.S. foreign aid funding. The gap between public perception and the reality surrounding foreign aid is startling, which demonstrates why this comparison is especially important.

Contextualizing Funding

While the idea is not necessarily that spending on poverty eradication should come at the expense of the U.S. Space Force Budget, these examples simply show what this level of funding could do if the U.S. or global community directed a similar amount elsewhere. Military funding is important — the U.S. cannot expect to be a dominant power without it. However, people must see this funding in the context of overall aid to countries that are struggling with humanitarian crises.

Foreign aid not only helps millions of suffering people all over the world but also addresses the root causes of many violent issues. As such, increasing funding for poverty eradication would serve U.S. security well. The U.S. Space Force budget is just one case that shows how effective a larger amount of foreign aid spending could be. In the long term, this would not only increase U.S. security but international security as well, lowering the risk of violent conflict involving the U.S. in the future while alleviating the suffering so many find themselves enduring.

– Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Thailand
With the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a relatively wealthy country. Its vibrant culture, delicious food and beautiful scenery attract millions of visitors a year, greatly contributing to its economy. On top of the tourism industry, Thailand exports many commodities like rice, rubber and coconuts. The country also produces goods like textiles, cement and plastics. Though Thailand’s poverty rate has decreased by 65% since 1988, impoverished living conditions are still a pressing issue in the country. The poverty rate fluctuates and currently, it is on the uprise. Here are five facts about poverty in Thailand.

5 Facts About Poverty in Thailand

  1. Poverty is on the rise in Thailand. In 2015, the poverty rate was just 7.2%. This figure has risen to almost 10%. That amounts to 2 million more people living beneath the poverty line, a substantial increase in only a few years. The rise in poverty does not occur in only a few of the country’s regions. Since 61 out of 77 provinces have seen a rise in poverty, one cannot attribute the current situation regarding poverty in Thailand to one specific community or circumstance. It is a widespread problem with profound implications for the livelihood of all Thai people.
  2. The rise in poverty is mainly due to economic reasons. Honing a 4.1% GDP growth rate in 2018 (one of the lowest in the region), the lack of economic progression in Thailand greatly affects its citizens. Additionally, Thailand has the fourth highest wealth inequality rates in the world at 90.2%, meaning there is a huge disparity between the richest and poorest people in the country. Without economic development and wealth equality, cycles of impoverishment will continue to trap the people of the nation.
  3. Environmental disasters have pushed more Thai people into poverty. Agriculturists (who make up 31.8% of the workforce) are already a poor group in the country, but the recent droughts in the past year have impoverished them even more. This combination of economic and environmental factors pushes farmers into even more poverty. Droughts are not the only natural disaster devastating the country. The floods and tsunamis that hit the country throughout the 2000s perpetuated even more poverty in Thailand. These natural disasters are inevitable, yet the lack of safety nets in the country is damaging the livelihoods of farmers.
  4. One of the demographics that poverty affects the most in Thailand is children. As of 2012, 7% of children weighed in as underweight and 16% experience stunting (impaired physical or psychological development due to a lack of nourishment during adolescence). The severe lack of resources could greatly impair future generations in the country. UNICEF is quite active in Thailand, working to alleviate child mortality and malnourishment. Due to its work, the child mortality rate has decreased four-fold; yet, there is still more the country requires.
  5. A solution to the poverty crisis in the country is an increase in social safety nets. Considering that environmental disasters and economic factors contribute to the rise in poverty, government-sanctioned programs to protect the Thai people are one of the easiest solutions to this problem. If Thailand can pinpoint which demographics are most susceptible to poverty, the government can create specific jobs and policies to protect its most vulnerable people.

Despite these five facts about poverty in Thailand, there are still many success stories for the country in terms of poverty alleviation. According to the Asian Development Bank, nobody in Thailand lives in extreme poverty (under $1.90 a day). Everyone in the country has access to electricity, water sanitation is excellent and education rates are high. However, to ensure every single citizen of Thailand is free from poverty, the government must continue to invest in economic development and produce innovative jobs for vulnerable populations. Only then can all be free from the insufferable conditions that poverty produces.

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in MalawiLocated in Africa’s Southern region, Malawi is a nation-state with a size comparable to that of the state of Pennsylvania and a population estimated to reach a little more than 20 million by July 2020. The country is primarily dependent on the agricultural sector which employs close to 80% of the population and remains predominantly rural. Poverty in Malawi is very high and it manifests itself in various indicators, such as in the economy, education and healthcare, rendering it one of Africa’s poorest nations. Here are six facts about poverty in Malawi.

6 Facts About Poverty in Malawi

  1. Throughout the past few decades, Malawi had made tangible progress in several areas of human development. For instance, primary education completion rates have increased by 17% between 2004 and 2013. Meanwhile, mortality rates for children under 5 decreased by approximately 48% between 2004 and 2015. Similarly, the country’s maternal health has improved as mothers are receiving necessary prenatal and birth care as well as increasingly using contraceptives.
  2. Despite the abovementioned improvements, Malawi continues to have high poverty rates, posing substantial challenges to human development and growth in the African nation’s quality of life. In 2017, its GDP per capita (PPP) amounted to only $1,200, leading it to rank among the poorest countries in the world.
  3. In 2016, Malawi’s poverty rate reached 51.5%. That number remained slightly unchanged at 52% in 2018, according to a 2018 integrated household report, which emerged as a result of a joined effort between the Malawian government and UNICEF. The report also highlights child poverty as a particularly problematic issue as more than two-thirds of children in rural areas in Malawi live in poverty.
  4. Higher poverty rates in a given society tend to go hand in hand with sizable challenges underpinning the state of the economy. Malawi’s dependence on agriculture implies that climate-related problems can be a serious threat to its national economic wellbeing. This was the case during the 2015 and 2016 drought, which negatively impacted the country’s economy. Alinafe Nhlane, a mother and farmer in Muona Village, exemplified another instance of Malawi’s economic volatility when she recounted that she had lost all of her crops as a result of the 2019 Cyclone Idai.
  5. In addition to the fact that an estimated 1 million Malawians are living with HIV/AIDS and that the degree of risk of infection with diseases such hepatitis A, typhoid fever and malaria is very high, the physician/population ratio in the country is quite low at 0.02 in 2016. In light of the recent COVID-19 global developments, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, expressed her fears that the spread of the virus, even if minuscule, could be destructive to the country’s feeble healthcare system.
  6. On the other hand, it is notable that UNICEF along with U.K. Aid have worked to distribute hygiene and sanitation materials throughout Malawian districts to lead the fight against the virus. Ms. Nhlane also benefited from $33 she received from the World Food Program, aid which she will use to feed her family.

Malawi indeed continues to face paramount challenges that threaten the very livelihood and wellbeing of its citizens. Nonetheless, it has improved in many aspects including child health. For progress to spread and increase in scope and magnitude, however, it remains critical for the efforts addressing poverty in Malawi to carry on.

– Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Niger
Niger is the largest country in West Africa. It is officially named the Republic of the Niger after the famous Niger River. While rates like school enrollment, global economic prospects and life expectancy at birth are estimated to increase in the coming years, it still remains one of the most underdeveloped and poorest countries in the world. Access to proper sanitation still remains one of the largest issues affecting the nation. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Niger.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Niger

  1. In 2016, an estimated 70.8% of deaths were caused by a lack of safe drinking water or proper sanitation. Other leading causes of death include influenza and pneumonia accounting for 27,892 deaths, diarrheal diseases accounting for 16,180 deaths and tuberculosis accounting for 3,842 deaths, all in 2017.
  2. Because of Niger’s quickly increasing population, any progress being made in the sanitation infrastructure and development has been slowed down by the number of people being born. In 2000, the population was around 11.4 million. By 2018, the population had grown to 22.5 million. Niger also has the highest birth rate in the world: in 2011, the birth rate was 7.6 births per woman per year .
  3. The droughts that Niger experienced in the past, from 1950 to around 1980, contributed to sanitation access issues and disease. This also led to lower crop yields, resulting in malnutrition.
  4. In Niger, there are 10 million people who cannot reach clean water. This is in part due to the fact that most of the people in Niger live in rural areas, not urbanized ones. In 2014, approximately 8.2 million people lived in the rural areas of the country that lacked proper sanitation infrastructure.
  5. In 2008, only 39% of the people living in rural areas had access to water, while 96% of the population in urban areas did. Also in 2008, only 4% of people living in rural areas had access to sanitation, while 34% had access to sanitation in urban areas.
  6. There are 18 million people without access to a toilet in the country. This issue of sanitation in Niger leads to open defecation, which also poses health issues. In 2017, 68% of people were practicing open defecation in the country.
  7. Lack of clean water results in 9,800 childhood deaths from diarrhea each year. In 2018, there were 83.7 childhood deaths per 1,000 children.
  8. Part of the reason many people lack access to sanitation in Niger is due to the country’s Water Access Sanitation and Hygiene Program (WASH), which needs to be improved. This is in part due to the rapidly growing population. The goals of WASH cannot keep up with the growth. The drastic differences in living conditions between the urban and rural populations also create complications.
  9. Although wells are dug for water, there are problems accessing them and with contamination. Some wells do not have proper liners, and therefore become contaminated and unusable for drinking. In other cases, women and children have to walk hundreds of miles just to access the water wells.
  10. Niger’s people face problems with diseases from water, especially cholera. The conditions of sanitation in Niger result in water contamination, which resulted in a cholera outbreak in the area from the years 1970 to 2006. In 2004, another outbreak led to 2,178 cases of cholera, resulting in 57 deaths. In 2006, Niger had yet another outbreak, leading to 1,121 cases and 79 deaths being reported.

The Good News

UNICEF is one of the main groups helping the government of Niger with the sanitation issues in the country. The group aims to help provide safer drinking water and better access to sanitation. Another group called Water Aid aims to provide clean water to those in need, along with access to toilets and hygiene. The nonprofit Wells Bring Hope focuses on drilling wells in the rural areas of Niger in order to supply clean drinking water. They also are promoting drip-farming in order to help farmers grow their crops.

While Niger is far from reaching its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and sanitation concerns are rampant throughout the country, especially in rural areas, there are groups making strides for the nation’s future. With these continued efforts, hopefully sanitation in Niger will improve.

– Marlee Septak
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, is a nation that occupies the eastern half of the island of Timor in Southeast Asia. With a population of 1.26 million people, Timor-Leste is one of the least populated countries in Asia. The Portuguese originally colonized the country in 1520. After declaring independence in 1975, Indonesia invaded the nation, which occupies the western half of the island. The Indonesian invasion brought violence, famine and disease to Timor-Leste, resulting in a large loss in population. After a majority of the Timorese population voted to become independent in 1999, Indonesia relinquished control and Timor-Leste moved under the supervision of the United Nations. The nation officially became independent in 2002, making it one of the newest nations in the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Timor-Leste outline the rapid improvement the country has made since Indonesian occupation and the issues it still needs to overcome.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Timor-Leste

  1. Life expectancy in Timor-Leste increased from 32.6 years in 1978 to 69.26 years in 2018, matching that of South Asia. The consistent improvement in life expectancy in the past decade is primarily due to the Ministry of Health’s public health interventions. Such interventions include the reconstruction of health facilities, expansion of community-based health programs and an increase in medical graduates in the workforce.
  2. Life expectancy in Timor-Leste increased despite a drop in GDP, which decreased from $6.67 billion in 2012 to $2.6 billion in 2018. However, Timor-Leste’s GDP rose by 2.8% from 2017 to 2018. Continued improvement in GDP and economic progress in the nation will only serve to increase life expectancy by providing more opportunities for employment, education and improved quality of life.
  3. Tuberculosis was the highest cause of death in 2014, causing 14.68% of deaths. In 2014, estimates determined that Timor-Leste had the highest prevalence of tuberculosis in Southeast Asia, and 46% of people with tuberculosis did not receive a diagnosis in 2017. Maluk Timor, an Australian and Timorese nonprofit committed to advancing primary health care, provides a service through which team members visit Timorese households to locate undiagnosed patients and raise awareness about the severity of tuberculosis in the community. The organization collaborates with the National TB Program and aims to eliminate suffering and deaths in Timor-Leste due to diseases that Australia, which is only one hour away, had already eliminated.
  4. Communicable diseases caused 60% of deaths in 2006 but decreased to causing 45.6% of deaths in 2016. While diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue fever remain a public health challenge, the incidence of malaria drastically declined from over 200,000 cases in 2006 to no cases in 2018 due to early diagnoses, quality surveillance, funding from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and support from the World Health Organization.
  5. The adult mortality rate decreased from 672.2 deaths per 1,000 people in 1977 to 168.9 deaths per 1,000 people in 2018. Additionally, the infant mortality rate decreased from 56.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 39.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. While public health interventions and disease prevention contributed to the decrease in the adult mortality rate, Timor-Leste needs to expand access to maternal health services in rural areas to continue to improve the infant mortality rate.
  6. Maternal mortality decreased from 796 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 142 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. The leading cause of the high maternal mortality rate is poor access to reproductive health services, as only 43% of women had access to prenatal care in 2006. While the Ministry of Health continues to expand access to maternal health care through mobile health clinics that reach over 400 rural villages, only 30% of Timorese women gave birth with a health attendant present in 2013. Even as access increases, challenges such as family planning services, immunization, treatment for pneumonia and vitamin A supplementation remain for mothers in rural communities.
  7. The violent crisis for independence in 1999 destroyed more than 80% of health facilities. Despite rehabilitation efforts to rebuild the health system, many facilities at the district level either have limited or no access to water. However, the number of physicians per 1,000 people improved from 0.1 in 2004 to 0.7 in 2017. The capacity of the health care system is also improving, as UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health in providing increased training for health care workers in maternal and newborn issues and in striving to improve evidence-based public health interventions.
  8. Timor-Leste has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. At least 50% of children suffered from malnutrition in 2013. Additionally, in 2018, 27% of the population experienced food deprivation. USAID activated both the Reinforce Basic Health Services Activity and Avansa Agrikultura Project from 2015-2020 to address the capacity of health workers to provide reproductive health care and the productivity of horticulture chains to stimulate economic growth in poor rural areas. Both projects aim to combat malnutrition by addressing prenatal health and encouraging a plant-based lifestyle that fuels the economy.
  9. Motherhood at young ages and education levels are key contributors to malnutrition, as 18% of women began bearing children by the age of 19 in 2017. Teenage girls are far more likely to experience malnourishment than older women in Timor-Leste, contributing to malnutrition in the child and therefore lowering life expectancy for both mother and child. As a result of malnutrition, 58% of children under 5 suffered from stunting in 2018. Additionally, findings determined that stunting levels depended on the wealth and education level of mothers. In fact, 63% of children whose mothers did not receive any formal education experienced stunting, while the number dropped to 53% in children whose mothers received a formal education.
  10. Education enrollment rates are increasing, as the net enrollment rate in secondary education increased from 40.5% in 2010 to 62.7% in 2018. Completion of secondary education links to higher life expectancy, especially in rural areas. Since 2010, Timor-Leste has increased spending on education. Additionally, local nonprofit Ba Futuru is working to train teachers to promote quality learning environments in high-need schools. After Ba Futuru worked with schools for nine months, students reported less physical punishment and an increase in innovative and engaging teaching methods in their classrooms. The organization serves over 10,000 students and provides scholarships for school supplies for hundreds of students. With more programs dedicated to increasing enrollment and the classroom environment, students are more likely to complete secondary education and increase both their quality of life and life expectancy.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Timor-Leste indicate an optimistic trend. Although malnutrition, disease and adequate access to health care remain prevalent issues in Timor-Leste, the nation’s life expectancy has rapidly increased since Indonesian occupation and has steadily improved its education and health care systems since its founding in 2002. To continue to improve life expectancy, Timor-Leste should continue to focus its efforts on improving public health access and community awareness in poor rural areas, and particularly to emphasize maternal health services to reduce both maternal and infant mortality rates. Despite being one of the newest nations in the world, Timor-Leste shows promise and progress.

Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in SomaliaLack of access to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is inextricably linked to extreme poverty around the globe. Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, has long faced issues relating to the provision of adequate sanitation services for its citizens. Though Somalia struggles with WASH, several organizations have vastly improved sanitation in the country, positively impacting education and health. The following are seven facts about sanitation in Somalia.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Somalia

  1. Improved water sources make education accessible. Currently, only 45 percent of Somalia’s population has access to improved water sources. Lack of access to clean water prevents children from attending school because they are forced to spend much of their day collecting water. Mercy-USA is working to tackle this water crisis and give children the chance to have the education they deserve. Since 1997, the organization has dug and repaired about 670 wells, benefiting more than 750,000 people in Somalia.
  2. Waterborne diseases result in numerous deaths per year. Waterborne illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea are the primary cause of 23 percent of deaths in children under 5 and are strongly correlated with child malnutrition. UNICEF is working to improve access to sanitation facilities and provide integrated interventions that reduce incidences of diarrhea.
  3. Improving health through hygiene education. Diseases often spread due to inadequate knowledge surrounding hygienic practices. Action Against Hunger launched a cholera prevention program in Somalia, which provided communities with hygiene education sessions. These sessions helped people understand the importance of handwashing, properly disposing of trash, and how to keep latrines clean.
  4. Drought kills cattle and leads to contaminated water sources, but UNICEF is helping. Recently, Somalia experienced a drought that had extremely adverse effects on much of the population. For many, farming is vital to their existence. The drought forced many farmers to migrate with their animals in search of water, but many animals died in travel. With so many animal carcasses littering Somalia, rainfall posed a threat of contamination to their water sources. In Somaliland and Puntland, UNICEF and WFP responded to the drought to provide food and water vouchers to about 76,000 people, saving those with compromised livelihoods.
  5. Reducing open defecation can improve health. The prevalence of open defecation in rural areas is estimated at 56 percent, leading to a vicious cycle of illness as it pollutes water that people use for cooking, cleaning and drinking. While many parts of Somalia experienced a massive outbreak of cholera after a severe drought (affecting more than 80,000 people), there were no cases in the village of Luqgodey where a UNICEF-supported program put an end to open defecation.
  6. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits are improving women’s health. In Somalia, there continues to be taboo surrounding menstruation. In addition, some women only have access to cloth rags that restrict movement and are unsanitary because they have a limited source of water. The ELRHA sent 2,000 MHM kits to various countries, including Somalia, to help tackle this issue.
  7. Recent periods of drought have displaced over 1 million people. A severe drought in 2017 displaced 1.5 million people in Somalia and almost led to a famine. Thankfully, UNICEF provided safe drinking water to 1.8 million people, along with other critical interventions to meet the basic needs of Somali children and women affected by this drought.

While Somalia is still far from achieving proper sanitation for all who inhabit the country, these seven facts about sanitation in Somalia prove that hope is not lost and that, with help from philanthropic organizations around the world, sanitation can become accessible for all.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr