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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

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique
Mozambique is a Sub-Saharan African country located on the Southeast coast of Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. The country has a population of nearly 28 million people and is both culturally and biologically diverse. Global statistics classify Mozambique as one of the world’s poorest countries with a national poverty average between 41-46%. Slow economic growth and informal government control have led to unhealthy and unstable living conditions. Issues regarding sanitation and water services are prevalent in the country. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique

  1. According to WaterAid, 14.8 million people in Mozambique do not have access to clean water, which is over half of its population. High levels of poverty make building and maintaining services difficult, or even unattainable. The government of Mozambique needs funding to make commitments to its citizens, but in 2016 following a drop in commodity prices, donors like World Bank halted all aid—furthering the economic crisis.
  2. Water is an essential daily resource for all people including those in Mozambique. People in Mozambique use it for direct consumption, cooking, irrigating fields and sanitation. Rural communities often have to obtain their water from natural sources like rivers, hand-dug wells or ponds.
  3. UNICEF identified that in rural areas, one in five people use surface water as their primary drinking water source. Water from rivers, lakes, ponds and streams can contain bacteria, parasites, viruses and possibly other contaminants. To make surface water fit to drink, treatment is necessary. In fact, UNICEF has taken efforts to improve water services in the form of implementing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Mozambique.
  4. The World Bank allocated a $75 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to Mozambique in June 2019 to help with water services and institutional support projects. The grant will fund water production, expansion and refurbishment on wellfields, water treatment facilities and intake to improve all water services, as well as building the country’s resilience to droughts.
  5. WaterAid stated that three in four people in Mozambique do not have a decent toilet, amounting to 21.4 million people. Access to proper sanitation leads to the ability to have good hygiene that affects livelihood and sustainability. Citizens have to travel even a few days to find a decent toilet or care for older relatives, so they are unable to work or attend school. Women and girls often suffer the most due to this as it can impact their ability to garner an education, as well as their health and personal safety.
  6. Mozambique has one of the highest open defecation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa at 36%. Nine million Mozambicans use unsanitary or shared latrines and have no latrine at all, defecating in the open. The poorest quintile is four times more likely to practice open defecation than the richest.
  7. As many as 76% of the population do not have or use improved sanitation facilities, with the rate being 88% in rural areas compared to 53% in urban and peri-urban areas. Citizens need access to improved water supply or better sanitation but often cannot obtain the necessities if they live in low-income, informal or illegal settlements or on the outskirts of cities.
  8. Poor sanitation costs Mozambique $124 million (US), yet eliminating the practice would require that the country build two million latrines. Mozambique loses $22 million per year due to open defecation. People that practice open defecation spend 2.5 days out of a year on average looking for a private location, which often leads to economic losses. The country also experiences a $22 million loss due to health care costs relating to open defecation illnesses. Additionally, the country spends $79 million due to premature death costs.
  9. WaterAid identified that over 2,500 children under 5-years-old die every year from diarrhea due to dirty water and poor toilets. Fragresse Finiassa, a mother of six, obtained training from UNICEF’s WASH Program. Finiassa stated that “We used to suffer a lot from diarrhea. When we had severe diarrhea, we would have to walk five hours to the health center for treatment.” The lack of a toilet meant that “At night, our shoes would often get dirty, because we couldn’t see where we were treading, and my children would also get scared to go out in the bush (to defecate) in the dark.” However, that all changed in 2016 when her community learned the dangers of open defecation and received training for toilet construction. Men in the community learned how to build latrines and covered them with concrete slabs for proper defecation and contribute to improved health.
  10. According to UNICEF, 246 of every 1,000 children born in Mozambique die within their first five years, with 13% of deaths directly due to a lack of access to proper sanitation and clean water, and poor hygiene practices. Cholera infection is the most common waterborne illness that citizens face due to stagnant water sources. Reports determined that there was a cumulative total of 6,382 cases and eight deaths as of April 2019.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique have shown that it may be able to eradicate poverty through improved sanitation and management of water resources, as these could foster economic growth.  Access to proper sanitation could greatly improve Mozambique’s economy and start to lift the country out of poverty.

– Anna Brewer
Photo: Flickr

 

Child Labor in Nigeria
Child labor is one of the most monumental issues in Nigeria, a country with a developing economy, affecting a large portion of the country’s children up to age 17. Forgoing a normal care-free childhood, many children living on the front lines of poverty must maintain a job and sustain a regular income. The unethical use of child labor is an issue that has been prevalent throughout human history impacting health, wellbeing and quality of life. Below are 10 facts about child labor in Nigeria.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Nigeria

  1. Several different industries employ children. The jobs available to children are limited to unskilled and physical, labor-intensive tasks. The most common industries that employ children in Nigeria are cocoa farming, gold mining, sediment sifting, street peddling and domestic servitude.
  2. Conditions are hazardous. Although there are labor laws in place, Nigeria does not actively enforce safety regulations or preventative measures in the workplace. This type of neglect leads to an extremely dangerous environment that often results in bodily harm, severe trauma and even death. Children who work on the streets often make easy targets for violence and kidnapping. If a child suffers harm on the job, help or compensation does not extend to the family, leaving them to face the repercussions alone.
  3. Children often support their families. Much of child labor is a direct result of Nigeria’s extreme poverty, which accounts for around 70% of the nation’s population living below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook. Families struggling to make ends meet often enlist the help of their children to bring in additional income. Without an effective welfare system, many families have no other option for survival. In an even more dire situation, some laborers who are orphans shoulder the entire burden of providing for younger siblings. Recent findings by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development found that about 17.5 million children become orphans or enter similarly vulnerable situations throughout the country.
  4. Child labor is on the rise. Estimates determine that the current number of child workers in Nigeria is 15 million according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). At a staggering 43% of the total population of minors, it is the highest recorded rate of child labor in Western Africa. The poverty rates have risen almost 20% — up from 53% in 2003 — in the span of 7 years, according to the World Bank and CIA World Factbook. This environment of financial strife causes more and more families to expect their children to go out to work and contribute an income.
  5. Children often drop out of school. Due to the rigid demands of a long workday, school often becomes less of a priority. Education is not legally mandatory in Nigeria so there is no required attendance. The lack of a proper education ensures they will remain unskilled laborers into adulthood, making it nearly impossible to escape the cycle of poverty. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs reports only 76% of children in total go to school, and about 27% of child laborers attend school in addition to work. Some reports have stated that certain schools exploit their students and make them work or beg during school hours to earn money for teachers.
  6. Many children experience trafficking. Children who are especially vulnerable, such as orphans, are more at risk for human trafficking and forced labor than adults, with their rate being estimated at 58%. Enticed by fictitious stories of better jobs located in more economically rich areas, they agree to leave their homes in hopes of making money. However, the traffickers never deliver the promise and the victims find themselves in even worse situations and unable to go home. Upon arrival, traffickers often claim that the child has accrued debt from transport. To maintain control and prevent runaways, traffickers use coercion in the form of threats against the child or their families back home to motivate them to pay off their debt. Unfortunately, these children find themselves in a ruse, where ballooned charges that continuously compound prevent them from ever making their final payment.
  7. Slavery is common. Around 30% of child workers do not receive compensation and must work against their will. Child slavery is very common in cases of trafficking or when there is no one to advocate for the child. In trafficking cases, traffickers tell the child that their salaries are going towards paying off their “debt.” In some live-in situations, their room and board charges absorb their pay. Those who do receive actual payment usually only take home pennies on the dollar.
  8. Girls are at higher risk for sexual exploitation, resulting from trafficking within the sex industry. A former government official, Martin Uhomoibhi, revealed to the U.N. that there were 602,000 known victims who made the dangerous journey across the continent in 2016. However, the total number of victims is widely unknown, since traffickers covertly smuggle many of the girls and women smuggled across Nigeria’s border, but experts believe that these numbers are some of the highest in the world. Traffickers often bring girls to brothels and restrain and force them to service clients in deplorable conditions despite any physical health ailments, according to horrifying testimonies that the Human Rights Watch recorded. The outlook for these girls is grim, as many die in captivity or move back to the streets due to critical conditions that render them unable to work, and therefore no longer profitable to their captors.
  9. There are unofficial wartime drafts. Regional conflicts and war cause armies to form as a way of resistance and protection against outside threats. Many know Africa for this sort of violence, with brutal wars routinely escalating. People often pull boys as young as 10 years old from their homes, give them a deadly weapon and order them to kill an unknown enemy. UNICEF estimates that around 3,500 Nigerian child soldiers have enlisted between 2013-2017. Many children die in active combat or from a lack of supplies.
  10. The government response has been underwhelming. New hope for relief on the child labor front occurred when the government signed the Child Rights Act into effect in 2003. Unfortunately, the government has put little effort forth toward ending the practice since its ratification. Many experts believe there will be no true resolution until the government steps in with not only stricter regulations, but absolute enforcement.

Children are society’s most vulnerable people. With no voice to advocate for their rights, they are in a poor position to influence political policy. A child’s place is in school where they can receive a proper education and use it to build a promising future, not just for themselves but for the society in which they live as well. It is the task and moral responsibility of adults and officials in power to prioritize basic human rights over the gilded benefits of cheap labor and end this practice permanently.

– Samantha Decker
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Jamaica
In the tourist’s eye, Jamaica is an enticing island with constant summer sun and alluring beaches. However, behind this guise, Jamaicans face a complicated reality. Healthcare in Jamaica is in desperate need of improvement. There is an increasing obligation to balance public access to health services with the practitioners’ ability to keep up with the enlarged workload.

Health Problems in Jamaica

Jamaica has many health issues that require an effective healthcare system. The top health issues that lead to premature death in Jamaica include stroke, diabetes, neonatal disorders, Ischemic heart disease and HIV/AIDS. Along with these issues, mental illness and STDs disproportionately affect Jamaica’s youth, and these often correlate with social and economic factors. The 2017 Global School Health Survey found that 24.8% of students seriously considered suicide and 18.5% of students attempted suicide over a 12 month period. In terms of STDs, only 31% of Jamaicans over the age of 15 and 51% of Jamaicans under 15 living with HIV were receiving treatment in 2018.

In order to try to make healthcare accessible to all Jamaica introduced free public health services to its citizens in 2008 by removing user fees. On the surface, this appears to be a positive step in removing the economic barrier that prevents the poor from receiving adequate healthcare. However, this has revealed deeper issues for healthcare in Jamaica.

Issues with Free Public Health Services

With the increase in patients, health practitioners have found themselves experiencing overwork and extreme stress. This shift has negatively affected the performance of these practitioners as patient demand has increased, but facilities remain understaffed. In 2016, researchers evaluated how the removal of charges has directly affected the workload. The study found that before the instigation of the free services, 50% of health practitioners had satisfaction with their workload. By 2016, eight years after the introduction of free healthcare, only 14% had satisfaction with their workload.

Some doctors interviewed for the study indicated that both the clinics and hospitals were seeing more patients daily after the elimination of charges. The quality of care worsened as medical professionals did not account for waiting times and availability of resources. The size of health clinics and the number of staff pale in comparison to the number of Jamaicans seeking care.

Along with the insufficient number of health practitioners, Jamaica’s medical infrastructures often do not match the demand of patients. Those in rural areas especially must travel long distances to access health care. The expansion of health facilities is extremely expensive. With Jamaica’s financial debt, this is not a project that it can take on lightly.

Also revealed in this situation is the scarcity of resources available to health clinics. The flood of patients has caused issues such as a delay of bloodwork and a shortage of medication. There have even been situations where patients had to purchase the medical supplies necessary for their surgery, costing an extreme amount that counteracts the efforts of free healthcare.

Upgrading Health Facilities

However, the failings of healthcare in Jamaica does not mean that the country is beyond help. In fact, the Minister of Health and Wellness announced in 2019 that over the next five years, Jamaica will be upgrading public health facilities with the funds of $200 million. The Minister plans to upgrade nine public health centers and six hospitals, one of which is the Cornwall Regional Hospital, which will benefit more than 400,000 residents. The Minister also plans to build a new Western Child and Adolescent Hospital, in addition to developing more sophisticated healthcare technology.

NGOs such as UNICEF are also doing work. The agency has established a Health Promotion program that works to provide quality health services to babies, adolescents and young mothers. The two goals of this program are to enhance institutional capacity to deliver effective health services and to boost the access of adolescents to these health services. By partnering with groups such as the Word Health Organization and Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, UNICEF is carrying out its Baby-Friendly Hospitals Initiative, Adolescent-Friendly Services and Empowerment of Girls and Young Mothers.

Healthcare in Jamaica is lacking in many areas, but the country is doing continuous work to enhance health facilities and services. This progress shows that the country should see improvement in the future.

– Natascha Holenstein
Photo: Pixabay

Sanitation in Venezuela
Venezuela was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with its main exporter being oil. However, the country has suffered a water and sanitation crisis, as only 18% of the population had access to clean drinking water in 2018. Around 30% of the population that has unimproved sanitation live in rural areas, while 2.5% are in urban areas. While climate change has significantly impacted Latin America’s resources, Venezuela’s water/sanitation status has affected the lives of Venezuelan citizens. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Venezuela.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Venezuela

  1. Blackouts and the lack of electricity pose a threat to Venezuela’s access to water. The electricity generates throughout the country’s water plants and sewage pipes. These outdated infrastructures have dealt with terrible maintenance. As a result, when these blackouts happen, the electricity and water from pipes or faucets stop, disrupting the flow of the water. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has promised to put back-up water tanks on rooftops to relieve the problem.
  2. Venezuela’s water supply is sparse throughout the country. Around 80% of the population lives in the northern region of the country; however, not even 10% of water resources are available in that region. The inconsistency of the access to water provides frustration for many citizens, as they have to travel to other areas outside of their homes to find a decent supply of water. Urban areas are near the northern region, while rural areas are near the southern region. In the country’s first-year rehabilitation plan, it stresses that efforts will focus on the northern region, to identify who needs urgent assistance.
  3. UNICEF provided access to drinking water for over 2.8 million people in 2019. The organization has worked on supplying safe drinking water through sources like water trucking and system repairs. Using these methods will be beneficial in fixing the main spots for water distribution like schools and hospitals, and cleaning main water sources to improve safe use. In 2019, UNICEF provided water and hygiene services to at least 18,300 people in the health centers and learning spaces.
  4. Multiple laws are in place for better water access. Laws like the Organic Law on the Environment protect river basins, preserving their natural soils and guarding the availability of water to sustain the water cycle. While these laws establish some framework into the conservation of water and sanitation, they have not been fully effective because they do not address the lack of maintenance in infrastructures that affects the distribution of water.
  5. The Venezuelan government is finding new means to upgrade water treatment facilities. Over the years, Venezuela’s infrastructure to transport and contain water has been aging and lacking any type of improvement. In 2013, the government asked for Electrotécnica SAQUI’s help to rebuild and restructure the water plants, removing harmful material that seeps into the water. Adding fiberglass blades to the water plants to remove large amounts of sludge helps keep the plants cleaner, which improves the water quality.
  6. The Guaire River in Caracas is Venezuela’s biggest water source. Many citizens make long travels to the Guaire River, as it is the main body of water they have access to. However, wastewater has contaminated the river. The Guaire River is near the city of Caracus, which has three water plants: La Mariposa, Caujarito and La Guaira. The plants sanitize the water, removing sludge so that it does not settle in the tanks.
  7. The average cost for a bottle of water matches the country’s minimum wage. In a Caracus supermarket, 5 liters of water is $2. Unfortunately, that makes up almost half of Venezuela’s minimum wage or approximately $6 a month.
  8. The lack of access to water and sanitation has impacted education. Because of the lack of decent water service for drinking and sanitation, multiple educational institutions have had to shut down. Around 28% of students could not attend school because of the shortage of water. Venezuela’s emergency plan’s response in its first 6 months involved an effort to provide clean water and sanitation, especially in schools, to eliminate the rate of diseases like malaria.
  9. The water supply has had a significant impact on food security. Production of Venezuela’s main crops — like rice and coffee — has fallen to 60% within the last 20 years. This dramatic decrease has caused a surge in weight loss and malnourishment for many citizens and children. To better help Venezuela’s agriculture production, USAID is using its funding to provide hot meals to food kitchens and schools and increase access to livestock and tools.
  10. Venezuela needs approximately $400 million to initiate a first-year rehabilitation plan. Damage to the water supply has been detrimental to the point that this amount of funding is necessary for effective rehabilitation and restoration of water and sanitation resources. USAID has provided more than $56 million of humanitarian aid to Venezuela for assistance in sanitation, hygiene, medicine and health care.

Venezuela still has a long way to go in improving its water and sanitation services. Still, looking at these 10 facts about sanitation in Venezuela, the country is steadily working on the necessary progress it needs to increase clean water accessibility. By reevaluating infrastructure and establishing several laws surrounding water and sanitation access, sanitation in Venezuala should continue to improve.

– Loreal Nix
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About The Sanitation In Zambia Zambia is a country with a population of more than 16.5 million. It neighbors Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi in the Southern-Central region of Africa. In 2011, Zambia achieved middle-income country status, reflecting the country’s substantial economic growth of an average of 7.4% per year from 2004-2014. However, as of 2015, more than half of Zambians earn less than the international poverty line and only 26% of the population has access to safely managed sanitation services. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Zambia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Zambia 

  1. According to the World Bank, the Water Sector Performance Improvement Project advanced the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) in the Lusaka, Kafue, Chongwe and Luangwa districts of Zambia. The project reduced interruptions to clean water supplies from 5,000 to 333 from 2007-2013 and increased the water collection ratio from 70% to 90%. The Water Sector Performance Improvement Project was crucial to improving Zambia’s public health resources by developing clean water resources and advancing the area’s sewerage systems.
  2. In 2003, a community-driven water and sanitation project delivered nine boreholes and 40 Ventilated Improved Pit-Latrines (VIPs) to the rural Chibizyi area of Zambia. The Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) aided this and benefited over 4,000 members of the community. Before the project, the people of the Chibizyi region walked vast distances in search of water, usually collecting water from polluted streams.
  3. After receiving better access to clean water, the Chibizyi community of Zambia then formed water, sanitation and health education committees in each village. The committees formed construction sites to build sufficient sanitation facilities to keep the water clean. Additionally, ZAMSIF used the Ventilated Improved Pit-Latrines (VIPs) sites as stations for distributing information on HIV/AIDS and malaria control.
  4. From 2011-2015, the Schools Promoting Learning Advancement through Sanitation & Hygiene (SPLASH) initiative implemented its program in 495 Zambian schools. Before SPLASH, Zambian schools faced limited drinking water and sanitation facilities, causing harsh learning environments for the students. SPLASH installed 662 handwashing facilities and 386 female washrooms in the schools. This allowed 133 schools to achieve a WASH-Friendly status and attract more students.
  5. In 2012, the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing developed national guidelines for Community-Led Total Sanitation in Zambia. These guidelines reached over 2.5 million people across the country by 2015. Officials implemented the guidelines through Zambia’s District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) digital software, which enabled real-time monitoring and feedback via computers. Communities following these guidelines and switching from open defecation to toilet use received verification as Open Defecation Free (ODF).
  6. The Water and Development Alliance (WADA), along with its partners United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Coca-Cola, are working to improve sanitation globally. Since 2005, they have improved avenues in more than 30 countries, giving more than 580,000 people access to clean water. WADA aids Zambia in improving water and sanitation access by implementing latrines and handwashing stations across the country.
  7. The Partnership for Integrated Social Marketing (PRISM), a marketing program for health services and products, instigated a distribution project in 2014. PRISM administered over 13,000,000 bottles of chlorine at Zambian hospitals. Zambians were then able to use the chlorine to disinfect and clean 9.27 billion liters of drinking water in all 10 provinces of Zambia.
  8. Only 18 percent of women in Zambia are able to obtain modern, feminine hygiene products. In response, Maboshe Memoria Centre in Mongu, Zambia, began producing sanitary napkin kits in 2019, modeled after the Days for Girls sanitary kits. The sanitary napkin kits are washable pads that can last up to three years. Previously, many Zambian girls skipped school during their menstrual cycle due to inadequate supplies. These kits enabled them to attend school during their menses and obtain hygienic and long-lasting products.
  9. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has aided in enabling 44% of Zambia’s population to achieve improved sanitation. UNICEF allowed Zambian villages to receive acceptable latrines and in 2015, around 75% of Zambia’s villages became Open Defecation Free (ODF). By 2020, UNICEF expects every Zambian to have an adequate latrine–ones that have handwashing facilities, offer privacy and dispose of matter effectively.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently aiding Zambia by investing in plans that encourage sustainable outlets for safe drinking water. The Global Water Strategy and USAID Agency Specific Plan aim to provide 1.7 million Zambians with sustainable water and sanitation resources by 2020. They plan to invest in significant infrastructure improvements that will strengthen water supply, sanitation and drainage in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.

Zambia has made substantial progress in sanitation since the early 2000s. It has developed plans to decontaminate drinking water and replace poor sanitation facilities. However, as Global Waters has indicated, there is still a considerable need for improved sanitation guidelines across the country to ensure every citizen has access to clean water. These 10 facts about the sanitation in Zambia shed light on these issues.

– Kacie Frederick
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Egypt
Egypt’s rich history and fantastic architecture, such as the Pyramids of Giza and other attractions, often convince travelers across the globe to visit. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused tourism, a beneficial economic endeavor in Egypt, to reduce. Those in government positions are working quickly to try and appease the challenges that COVID-19 has caused in Egypt. Here is some information regarding the economic impact of COVID-19 in Egypt and possible solutions to ease the hardships that the population is facing daily.

Tourism

The Egyptian economy heavily relies on tourists between January and March before the summer. The climate temperatures during those months favor travelers who do not wish to encounter the intense heat while exploring the area. This industry makes up 12% of Egypt’s workforce. COVID-19 in Egypt is complicating revenue that tourism generates for Egypt’s economy because of the travel restrictions it caused. In fact, projections have determined that Egypt’s GDP could reduce between 0.7% and 0.8% due to COVID-19 measures such as travel restrictions. The loss of visiting tourists could make up two-thirds of this GDP reduction.

Children

Egypt lies within the North African region’s borders. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the area contains nearly 25 million children in need, including refugees and internally displaced children. Estimates claim that this area could lose 1.7 million jobs in 2020 because of the virus in the region. Increases in poverty may occur with an additional 8 million, about half being children.

UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa asked governmental and nongovernmental partners for $93 million in support to help children in the region. Additionally, UNICEF has included Egypt on the list of countries with potentially vulnerable populations due to limited access to nutritional food because of COVID-19. UNICEF’s Regional Nutrition Team will send follow up calls to Egypt to aid those with limited access to food.

Confirmed Cases

As of May 21, 2020, the worldwide cases of COVID-19 reached around 5 million. In Egypt, there are 14,229 COVID-19 cases and there have been 680 deaths. The nation implemented several restrictions to help curb the spread of the virus. For example, the Egyptian government has only allowed essential businesses to remain open following strict guidelines.

Curfew

On March 25, 2020, one of the government’s most restrictive orders included implementing a curfew to combat the virus spread. Enforcement of the curfew remains effective from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Shops that the government has allowed to stay open can operate until 5:00 p.m. During these hours, all forms of transportation are not available to provide service. Violators of the order could receive fines or possible imprisonment. Additionally, the Government of Egypt extended the suspension of incoming commercial passenger flights into Egypt for two weeks beyond March 31, 2020.

One Step at a Time

Egypt is continuing to try to flatten the curve of COVID-19 through the implementation of strict guidelines. Moreover, UNICEF is providing aid to Egypt’s vulnerable people. The nation is diligently working to combat the virus with hopes of having people visit again and see what Egypt’s culture has to offer to the world.

– Donovan Baxter
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Romania
Romania, like the rest of the world, is currently dealing with the global outbreak of the virus, COVID-19. The pandemic has affected health services and the economy, disproportionately affecting the poor populations of Romania. In response to the growing pandemic, the government issued ordinances to prevent the spread of the virus. Here are some facts about how Romania is responding to COVID-19.

8 Facts About COVID-19 in Romania

  1. Romania issued strict stay-at-home orders. Romania’s government responded quickly to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Romanian government issued an ordinance on March 22, 2020 that requires people to stay at home. They can, however, leave home for essential goods or health care. The Romanian government also established a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. These ordinances also closed retail stores and prohibited large gatherings. These orders are all part of Romania’s plan to limit person to person contact during the pandemic.
  2. Romania enforced travel restrictions for the elderly. The Romanian government also issued another ordinance on March 29, 2020, specifically allowing for those 65 years and older to leave their homes for medical reasons only. It also placed restrictions on certain times of the day.  The Romanian government recognizes that this elderly age group needs medical care. The elderly are also a vulnerable age group and need to take further precautions when traveling outside their homes.
  3. Romania has provided hotel rooms for health care workers. The Romanian government secured hotel rooms for public health care workers.  Public health care workers have an increased risk of spreading COVID-19 to family members in their home. The hotel rooms will help these health care workers protect their families. Health care workers can use these rooms in between calls and shifts.
  4. Utility bills cannot increase. The Romanian government is also ensuring that citizens’ utility bills do not increase due to economic hardships. Given the stay-at-home orders, utility bills could increase due to the increased use of electricity, heat and gas in their homes. However, the Romanian government is trying to prevent economic hardships by prohibiting the increase of utility bills.
  5. Less than 6% of COVID-19 patients have died. Romania has reported 1,137 deaths out of more than 17,191 COVID-19 cases as of May 19, 2020. Given that some countries have a COVID-19 death rate of 20%, Romania is providing excellent treatment and care for COVID-19 patients.
  6. Romania has plenty of room for new COVID-19 patients. The Romanian health care system has more than enough beds, currently over 29,000 available, for new COVID-19 patients. Having all the necessary resources is critical during a pandemic. These resources are necessary to treat COVID-19 symptoms and keep death rates down. Romanian health care facilities are currently only using about 750 beds. Romania has more than enough space for new COVID-19 patients.
  7. COVID-19 has adversely affected poor Roma families. According to UNICEF, the virus significantly impacts low-income families. This is true, especially for one of Romania’s largest minority groups, the Romas. The effects of the virus have created financial problems for many in the Roma community, who are day laborers. The virus also exacerbates many of the difficulties low-income families face, including health care services, access to education and decreased job opportunities.
  8. Romania established a free health advice hotline. In response to the COVID-19 virus, Romania established a hotline that provides free public health advice. The hotline provides a valid health information source for people who may not have access to the news via the internet or television. Romanians can call the hotline to receive information about COVID-19 tests, mask use and general health information regarding COVID-19.

The Romanian hotline is going to help lower-income communities in Romania, like the Romas. These communities do not have access to medical services or technology, like televisions and computers to receive health care information during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Romanian ordinances, along with the hotline, protect the Romanian people not only from the virus but also the economic issues surrounding a pandemic.

– Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

covid-19 in Algeria
Algeria, a North African country bordering Morocco and Mali, has faced new obstacles from the rapid spread of COVID-19. With one of the highest infected rates in Africa with more than 5,000 cases confirmed, authorities have advised citizens to limit their social interactions. Under these unprecedented times, there are several efforts to combat the spread and promote the well-being of Algeria’s citizens.

The Problem

As stated above, Algeria is facing hardships due to the increased death toll that COVID-19 has left behind. In response, the government has implemented a conditional lockdown where it has modified curfew in order to halt the spread of the virus. However, many have met the increased safety measures with concerns. Because an increasing number of individuals of Arabic descent dominate Algeria, conflicts have arisen in regard to Ramadan, a period of fasting.

One of Algeria’s most prominent politicians, Noureddine Boukrouh, has called for canceling fasting as it “poses a health risk and contributes to the outbreak of COVID-19.” People have met his statements with controversy, yet the country has made no formal precautions.

Algeria is beginning to impose restrictions on sanctuaries as well. For example, authorities have begun closing Mosques, leading followers of Islamic traditions to face difficulty balancing the risk of COVID-19 infections against the weight of religious traditions.

Amidst the controversies, the Algerian government is also having trouble aiding its citizens. With Algeria’s economy being heavily dependent on oil, the sudden price reductions from COVID-19 have hurt the nation. Algeria is now under a reduced budget, meaning that it cannot prioritize its citizens.

As a result, citizens of Algeria have seen food shortages as well as a lack of medical equipment. From Algeria’s budgeting issues, individuals who have the virus are also having trouble in hospitals due to inadequate conditions.

Road to Change

Despite the increased death toll and speculations surrounding the Algerian government, the conditional lockdown has seen positive results. By limiting social interactions, the nation has seen more than 2,000 individuals recovering, leading Algeria’s citizens to become more optimistic about the future.

In addition to the efforts combatting COVID-19, Algeria has received great aid from countries and organizations. Most notably, Chief Mark Lowcock, the U.N. Humanitarian Chief, donated $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.

Another notable contribution was from China; it sent a 13-member Chinese medical team and equipment, worth around $450,000. This team is distributing masks and protective clothing all across Algeria so that citizens could protect themselves better.

Before these contributions, Algeria suffered a shortage of equipment and staffing. Patients in hospitals could not receive treatment effectively and the general public lacked access to goods to protect themselves. Without this aid, Algeria would have seen a dramatic increase in deaths due to its lack of technology and manpower for COVID-19.

To further accelerate this growth, protests by the Hirak that began in late March 2020 are ongoing. The protests have been an attempt to motivate the government to focus on improving conditions. The Hirak is a group of Algerian citizens who have the goal of bringing change to the government’s acts of ignoring the public. Along with the aid from large organizations and countries such as UNICEF and China, the wide distribution of hand sanitization stations and testing kits are continuing.

Volunteer Help

Volunteer doctors have also taken the stage in Algeria. Large teams have established COVID-19 hotlines, and shortly after establishment, they have reached more than 46,000 people. These hotlines provide verbal assistance to patients as well as education to citizens regarding the harsh effects of COVID-19. Algerians battling the virus utilize these hotlines to immediately get aid from doctors.

In addition, volunteers have made strides to assist the majority of the provinces in Algeria; more than 48 have an infectious disease center. Through these newly established centers, volunteers have been able to reach out to thousands of Algerians while pairing patients with doctors.

The Future

Algeria is currently on the road towards improvement. By increasing the number of testing kits, medical equipment and volunteers, the number of recovered patients has grown tremendously.

However, it is evident that Algeria’s government must take the initiative to aid citizens in need. Through fostering the abilities of volunteers and continuing to improve the qualities in hospitals, Algeria has the potential to fully combat COVID-19 while looking out for the well-being of its citizens.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Pixabay