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10 Facts about Corruption in Kenya
Kenya is one of the world’s most corrupted countries. In 2017, Kenya ranked 143 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s (TI) corruption index. High corruption levels permeating every sector of Kenya’s economy and politics is hindering development and endangering democracy. These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide a brief overview of this issue, as well as the anti-graft attempts made by the government and other private organizations.

10 Facts About Corruption in Kenya

  1. Corruption and terrorism: The high level of corruption in Kenya not only undermines counter-terrorism efforts but also provides extremists with funding, access and motivation. Kenya’s security and police force are known to take bribes and collaborate with extremists, allowing easy access for al-Shabaab operatives, which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.
  2. Police: The Kenya Police Service is the most bribery-prone institution in Kenya. Seventy-five percent of Kenyans believe that most or all police officers are corrupt, and one-in-two Kenyans who have interacted with the police report bribing them. The police force frequently engages in corruption crimes such as false imprisonment, fabrication of charges and abuse of human rights to extort bribes, but are rarely arrested or prosecuted.
  3. Perception of government effort: A 2017 survey shows that 67 percent of respondents from Kenya do not think that the government is putting enough effort into fighting corruption. The respondents rated the anti-corruption performance of the president as average, while the judiciary and legislative service were rated as poor.
  4. Reporting corruption: Journalists often face increasing pressure from the government and new laws that limit their capacity to report freely. Many choose to self-censor. Tipping about corruption is a high-risk endeavor, resulting in being fired, harassed or even murdered. One blogger was arrested in Kenya after reporting on corruption, and another was sent into exile in the U.K. after exposing graft and fraud in the Kenyan government. However, the country’s private media outlets still publish a variety of views and critical reporting.
  5. Financial cost: The country’s anti-graft chief estimates that up to a third of Kenya’s state budget, an equivalent of $6 billion, is lost to corruption annually. Kenya has lost approximately $66 billion to corruption since its independence in 1964. The exact scale of corruption, however, is unknown.
  6. President Kenyatta’s war on corruption: In a recent crackdown, 28 Kenyan high-profile officials, including the Kenyan Finance Minister, have been charged with financial crimes. This marks a turning point for Kenya when someone as high-profile as the country’s finance minister is being held to account in court. However, many Kenyans still hold doubts over this recent crackdown as there have not been any convictions for Kenyan public officials previously charged with corruption.
  7. Engaging citizens in the fight against corruption: The TI-Kenya have Integrity Clubs in primary and secondary schools that teach anti-corruption lessons to students, helping them become more active citizens who promote good values. It also organizes mobile anti-corruption legal advice clinics to raise awareness of corruption and their rights in remote rural areas of the country. In just 12 months after the launch of these clinics, TI-Kenya has received almost 4,000 reports from citizens.
  8. Assistance from the U.S.: The Kenyan government signed an agreement with the U.S. to introduce new anti-graft measures during the former U.S. President Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2015. The deal includes increased assistance and advice from the U.S. on relevant legislation, as well as Kenya’s participation in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
  9. Business impairment: Pervasive corruption is one of the biggest obstacles for Kenya’s business sector, scaring away foreign investors. Public-service corruption makes starting a business very costly and complying with administrative requirements extremely time-consuming. One-in-six companies report having to pay bribes to get operating licenses, and one-in-three companies need to bribe to obtain a construction permit.
  10. Support from the U.N.: The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) applauds President Kenyatta’s recent renewed pledge to fight corruption in Kenya and make the issue a focus area in the coming months. The U.N. continues its assistance and support of the anti-corruption efforts through several partnerships with the government and the private sectors, including the Blue Company Initiative Project, the Fast Tracking UN Convention Against Corruption project and the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya. The Kenya School for Government is also working closely with UNODC on an online anti-corruption course for public officials.

These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide an overview of the critical issues threatening the development of the African nation. A long list of corruption scandals have plagued Kenya ever since its independence, leading to billions of dollars being lost. Corruption in Kenya is a serious problem that urgently needs to be addressed and resolved in order for the nation to grow and harness its potential.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

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

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Yemen

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

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

Henry Schrandt
Photo: Flickr

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan 
Due to decades of conflict, environmental disaster and economic instability, Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest nations. One of the largest issues to building national stability for Afghanistan is the remaining issue of food insecurity. Hunger and malnutrition are the biggest risks to health worldwide, according to the United Nations. Hunger prevents people from reaching their full potential by limiting their ability to work and learn. Here are 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan.

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan

  1. By the end of 2019, average wheat and staple food production contributed to stable pricing. Even though food prices have been stabilizing, households are unable to purchase necessary food because there are few opportunities to work. Even when work is available, the pay is not high enough to account for all living costs. People in Afghanistan, on average, spend 60 percent of their income on food.
  2. It is essential to invest in agriculture in Afghanistan, as it is almost 25 percent of the GDP. At least 50 percent of all households attribute at least part of their income to agriculture. The World Bank suggests that the most promising agricultural opportunities will be to invest in growing irrigated wheat and horticulture and to raise livestock. With the combination of investing in the growth of investment in these agricultural products, the World Bank estimates that there is the potential for the growth of 1.3 million jobs over a period of 10 years.
  3. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that approximately 38 percent of rural households face food shortages. It also determines that 21 percent of the rural population lives in extreme poverty due to continuing conflict in the region, drought and floods. In addition to this range of factors, agricultural production has decreased due to insufficient investment in the sector, crop diseases and pests.
  4. The World Bank also reports that over the past decade, hunger in Afghanistan has risen from 28 to 45 percent. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works closely with the Afghan government and development partners to reduce gender disparities and increase the social and economic status of vulnerable and marginalized communities. IFAD does this by increasing access to financial institutions in remote or rural areas, enhancing the skills of rural households and strengthening local infrastructure.
  5. From November 2019 to March 2020, the IPC, a coalition of U.N. agencies working on food insecurity, predicts that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity will rise to 11.3 million. According to the IPC, continued conflict, mass migration back to the region, predictions of rising crop prices in the winter and unemployment are the main contributors to rising hunger in Afghanistan at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
  6. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, predicts that 820,000 people will require food assistance through January 2020 in Afghanistan. It expects this number to rise between these dates because of the returning displaced citizens from Pakistan and Iran. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and local NGOs will provide food assistance.
  7. High rates of malnutrition and lack of the right variety of food for children in Afghanistan have contributed to a variety of health issues. Only 12 percent of children from 6 months to 2 years old receive the correct quantity of food in order to grow, according to UNICEF. This results in problems such as stunting, wasting and anemia. These problems result in ongoing health issues throughout a lifetime.
  8. Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, provides extensive support to farmers in Afghanistan through a U.N. grant. From 2015 to 2019, the $34.6 million grant supported more than 7,380 farmers by training them to plant and produce opium alternative crops including grapes, almonds, pistachios, saffron and vegetables.
  9. One of the largest supporters of ending hunger in Afghanistan is the U.N. World Food Programme. The World Food Programme provides monthly food and cash for a period of six months while vocationally training men and women. In 2018 in Afghanistan, the WFP program had 14,000 women and 3,000 men graduate and learn income-generating skills. Additionally, between January and June 2019, WFP assisted more than 3.2 million people across 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
  10. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a national surveillance system in Afghanistan in 2013. The purpose of it is to guide the government and NGO partners to collect and analyze data in order to quickly address nutritional challenges or emergencies. Since 2013, the WHO has trained 1,500 community health workers to accurately collect nutritional metrics and quarterly report data from 175 sentinel sites around the country.
  11. A paper in partnership with the World Bank in 2018, the Investment Framework for Nutrition in Afghanistan, examined what would be necessary for Afghanistan to improve nutrition. This endeavor also included efforts to reduce stunting and invest more in children’s health for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health’s (MOPH) Basic Package of Health Service implementation for 2018 to 2021. The total estimated public investment necessary would be $44 million a year for five years. This money would prevent 25,000 deaths, 90,000 cases of anemia and 4,000 cases of stunting in children.
  12. Since 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. has worked to improve the production of dairy in collaboration with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. The results of this partnership have been the establishment of five dairy process plants and 64 milk collection centers. From 2005 to 2017, production per cow went from 3.5 to 9.1 liters, resulting in annual household income growing from $371 to $852 through the sale of extra milk.

Although there are many challenges in the region to building local capacity to handle food insecurity, there are many Afghani and global organizations that are continuing to help formulate strategies to bring about change. These 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan shed some light on these issues.

Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Argentina
Sanitation has been an ongoing issue in Argentina. In the last two decades, more citizens have gained access to running water and sewage than ever before. This is partially due to ongoing work by the United Nations, as well as an increase in national infrastructure. This article will provide a list of discussions around sanitation in Argentina, including causes, pollution and how the local governments are creating change.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Argentina

  1. Fracking damages natural water supplies. In September 2019, in Argentina’s Neuquén province, a fire burned for 24 days until professionals were finally able to stop the blaze. It was one of the many accidents that fracking caused in the country. In addition, oil leaking into the local water supply is one of the most common problems with fracking. These issues impact some of the most vulnerable communities, such as low-income areas, families with children, the elderly and disabled and local indigenous people.
  2. Low-income neighborhoods regularly struggle for clean drinking water. In the last three decades, Argentina has made strides to increase the amount of clean drinking water throughout Argentina. However, low-income areas and rural parts of the country remain without properly sanitized water for much of the year. In neighborhoods such as Villa La Cava, just outside of the capital Buenos Aires, it has become common practice for people to create their own makeshift water filters. People have also put small amounts of bleach in containers in an effort to clean their water.
  3. The United Nations has committed itself to sanitation in Argentia. In the summer of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared clean drinking water and sanitation human rights. The U.N. revealed during 2010 that the city of Córdoba was without access to public water distribution networks. A report showed that the city relied on heavily polluted groundwater and wells. At the time, the U.N. required local authorities to provide each household in the city with 200 liters of clean water per day until public water services were fully accessible.
  4. Argentina set a goal to provide sewage to 75 percent of the population. Water professionals and government officials met in 2017 to discuss solutions for better access to sanitation. During the meeting, Argentina announced a new goal of providing sewage access to 75 percent of the population.
  5. About 90 percent of the population currently has access to sewage.  The national government’s 2017 goal has proven to be successful. As of 2020, approximately 90 percent of the population has access to a sewage system. Much of this is due to the recent construction of a sewage pipe, which the Argentinian government has called “the most important one in 70 years.” The pipe cost $1.2 billion to make and runs 40 kilometers underground. These efforts have successfully increased the overall sanitation in Argentina.
  6. Proper sanitation in Argentina requires more infrastructure. Argentina received a loan of $320 million to improve the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires area. The money will go towards making much-needed improvements for sewage filtrations, renovating existing water treatment plants and 130 kilometers of water treatment pipes and expanding already-existing sewers. The loan specifically targets the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires region. While this is the most populated part of Argentina, much of the country still requires significant sanitation infrastructure.
  7. Regulation of public water utilities has grown in the last decade. Due to the involvement of the United Nations and a push from the public, government officials have become more focused on the regulation of public water utilities. Since the increasingly strict regulation of public waterways, the country’s overall sanitation has improved. This has led to a better quality of water not only in households but also in restaurants and schools.
  8. Water consumption in Argentina is among the highest in the world. ResearchGate reports that Argentina’s national water use is approximately 387 liters of water per person per day. This is some of the highest in the world. In Buenos Aires specifically, the water use is higher at 500 liters and people use it for personal use, hygiene, cleaning and drinking. In contrast, the Water Footprint Organization predicts that the average worldwide water consumption is 157 liters per person per day.
  9. The majority of water usage goes towards agriculture. Argentina uses most of its clean water for agriculture and farming. Because the country has such a vast variety of soil and tropics, farmers can grow many different types of crops to export throughout the world. Argentina is the largest international supplier of soybean meal and the third-largest supplier for corn. Pollution can be damaging to millions of these crops if water is not sanitary, resulting in lost time and money.
  10. Drier areas sometimes lack access to safely treated water. Because of Argentina’s varying climates, certain areas across the country are drier. These places are generally more rural and the people are less connected to the main pipes of larger cities. This can be dangerous because inhabitants often depend on rainwater collection for the ability to cook food and shower. When rain is scarce, people have to travel to lakes and rivers for water, making it difficult for Argentines to ensure that their water is safe to drink.

Sanitation in Argentina continues to be an ongoing challenge in rural areas, according to local townspeople. When the United Nations declared drinking water a human right in 2010, the Argentinian government began adding new infrastructure including pipes, sewage systems, water filtration tanks and water purification systems. While current efforts demonstrate that the level of sanitation in Argentina can undergo a major transformation, many areas throughout the country still struggle for clean drinking water each day.

– Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr

 

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

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

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

The Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance (DRFI) Program

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

How it Works

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

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

The African Risk Capacity Insurance Limited

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

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

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

Disaster Risk Insurance Benefits

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

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

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

 – Scott Boyce
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

8 Quotes About How to End HungerMore than 820 million people are suffering from hunger. Further, 2 billion are suffering from malnutrition. However, there is enough food, knowledge and resources to end hunger. First, society must address the root cause to effectively end world hunger. Here are 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger.

8 Quotes About How to End Hunger

  1. “If with so little we have done so much in Brazil, imagine what could have been done on a global scale if the fight against hunger and poverty were a real priority for the international community.” -Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva is a former Brazilian president, with enormous popularity across Brazil. Lula Da Silva made the poor his central focus. He put into place many social welfare programs and was able to bring millions out of poverty.
  2. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” -Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa is widely known for feeding the hungry one person at a time. She also set up programs that assisted in resolving world hunger.
  3. “You cannot tackle hunger, disease and poverty unless you can also provide people with a healthy ecosystem in which their economies can grow.” -Gro Harlem Brundtland. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland was a physician and scientist for the Norwegian public health system and the Prime Minister of Norway. She later became the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Brundtland believes in being the moral voice in improving health and alleviating suffering for people around the world.
  4. “We cannot fight against the poverty and hunger in the world when our stomachs are full of delicious food… the fighters must feel the poverty not imagine it.” -M.F. Moonzajer. This quote comes from M.F. Moonzajer’s latest book titled “Love, Hatred, and Madness.” Moonzajer is a journalist and a former intern for the United Nations Secretariat in Bonn as well as a policymaker for an international NGO in Afghanistan.
  5. “Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty…” -Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro was the former Prime Minister of Cuba. Castro felt strongly about human rights, particularly the right to food accessibility. He accused wealthy nations of tolerating the genocide of starvation. He addressed the United Nations during the organization of a multinational force to aid “1 million Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire where rebel fighting cut off the country’s food supply.”
  6. “When you see in places like Africa and parts of Asia abject poverty, hungry children and malnutrition around you, and you look at yourself as being people who have well being and comforts, I think it takes a very insensitive, tough person not to feel they need to do something.” -Ratan Tata. Ratan Tata is an Indian philanthropist working to improve conditions in India by honing in on the malnutrition of children, fortifying staple foods and aiming to alleviate poverty. The Tata Trusts are providing 60,000 meals a day.
  7. “If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.” – Bono. Bono is a band member of the group U2 and is a leading voice for the world’s poor. His efforts mainly pertain to fighting hunger and poverty, particularly for those in Africa. The musician donates his time to philanthropic causes such as creating charities such as the ONE Campaign and the clothing line EDUN to stimulate trade in poverty-stricken countries.
  8. “If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speak out, then the noise will be deafening.” -Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is an advocate for human rights, particularly the right to food and clean water. Tutu received the Global Champion Against Hunger award from the United Nations World Food Program for his efforts to defend the weak and the hungry.

These 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger show that there are people in the world trying to make a difference. But, as Bono said, everyone has to be involved to truly end world hunger.

Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco
Morocco has made significant progress in sanitation during the past decade. Although there are still many issues, improvements in water sanitation in Morocco are in the near future. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco

  1. H2O Maghreb: USAID and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) implemented an activity called H2O Maghreb in order to help establish advanced and sustainable water management practices in Morocco. H2O Maghreb includes a two-year degree accredited by the government of Morocco. Furthermore, the H20 Maghreb activity provides training and job opportunities in waste management. About 80 percent of the students participating are women.
  2. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant: Morocco plans to build the world’s largest seawater desalination plant in the city of Agadir in 2021. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant will provide drinking water to the people of the Chtouka Ait Baha region in Morocco. Further, the Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant should be able to irrigate 15,000 hectares of land and produce up to 450,000 cubic meters of desalinated water every day.
  3. Dakhla’s Wasterwater Treatment Plant: Morocco is also building a wastewater treatment plant in Dakhla. The plant will help prevent wastewater from polluting groundwater resources. Additionally, the wastewater sludge can also act as a fertilizer.
  4. Improvements to the Wastewater Sector: During the past decade, Morocco has made many improvements in its wastewater sector. Of the 34 million people in Morocco, 25 percent of the people are not connected to the sewer network and 38 percent of the people are not connected to wastewater treatment plants.
  5. Leprosy: Leprosy is on the decline in Morocco. From 2000 to 2012, the number of leprosy cases decreased by 4.68 percent each year. In 2012, Morocco began a program to distribute rifampicin to help prevent the spread of leprosy. From 2012 to 2017, the number of cases of leprosy in Morocco decreased by 16.38 percent each year. The rifampicin program helped prevent leprosy and improved sanitation in Morocco
  6. Trachoma: Morocco eliminated trachoma in 2016. Trachoma is an infectious disease that causes blindness. Morocco implemented the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy in the 1990s. This included surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics to treat trachoma, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements to help prevent the spread of trachoma.
  7. Acid Mine Drainage: Acid mine drainage is an issue in Morocco. When people do not clean mine sites, the acid mine drainage at the mines can contaminate the land and the groundwater.
  8. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WinS): Morocco implemented the program Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools (WinS) in order to provide clean water and improve sanitary facilities in 19 primary schools in the country. Improving sanitary facilities at schools can help prevent water-related diseases and encourage children to stay in school and graduate.
  9. European Space Agency Technology: The University of Kenitra utilizes technology developed by the European Space Agency to clean groundwater so that it is safe for people to drink. The water treatment facility will provide water for 1,200 students.
  10. Safely-Managed Drinking Services: As of 2017, 70.266 percent of the people in Morocco have access to safely-managed drinking water services. This also means that as of 2017, 29.734 percent of the people in Morocco do not have access to safely-managed drinking water services.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco show that the water supply is improving and will continue to improve. As technology and new initiatives increase the water supply, more people will gain access to safe drinking water.

Frank Decapio
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Public Health Crisis in Syria
Syria has been the target of one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching sanctions campaigns worldwide. The U.S., the EU, the U.N., the Arab League, OFAC and several other entities have all applied economic sanctions against the country. The goal is to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his brutal violence against unarmed, civilian anti-government protesters. U.S. sanctions are also in response to the Syrian government’s support for terrorist groups and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Imposing these restrictive measures has been the preferred method of Western powers for decades. However, sanctions have continuously failed to stop Assad from doing business with the U.S. and hurt the Syrian public.

Sanctions’ Impact on Syria’s Economy

Sanctions have caused serious damage to Syria’s economy. These sanctions include oil embargos, restrictions on certain investments, travel bans, freezing the assets of central banks and export restrictions on equipment and technology. The country used to be primarily an exporter, but it now relies on imports, mainly from Lebanon, Iraq and China. Before the EU sanctions, 90 percent of its oil exports went to Germany, Italy and France. Since President Trump recently imposed sanctions on its ally Iran, Syria is suffering even more difficulty obtaining goods. The value of the Syrian currency has plummeted, while prices have sky-rocketed, especially because of restrictions on oil imports.

To continue prioritizing the purchase of guns and bombs from Russia, the Syrian government has simply removed the country’s safety nets. Further, the country has cut back on subsidized fuel, food and health spending. Living was less expensive for Syrians during the peak of the civil war. Technically, legitimate businesses and individuals in Syria should be able to undertake critical transactions. However, foreign suppliers are often unwilling to send anything to Syria. These suppliers do not want to risk triggering unexpected violations of the complex sanction rules.

Sanctions and the Public Health Crisis in Syria

Similarly, there are exemptions for importing pharmaceuticals and food. But in reality, health facilities are feeling the effects of sanctions just as much as the rest of Syria’s private citizens, with life-threatening consequences. The consequences of these sanctions have led to a significant public health crisis in Syria. For example, hospitals cannot import nitrous oxide necessary for anesthetics, due to the fact that others could use it to make bombs. Also, they cannot import helium for cooling MRI scanners for the same reason. The humanitarian exemption for exporting software to Syria for medical equipment requires a complicated application process. Thus, health facilities have little access to foreign life-saving machines, drugs and supplies.

Unable to obtain repairs for European dialysis machines, about 10 percent of people dependent on dialysis have died of kidney failure. Russia, China, Lebanon or Malaysia must now provide medical supplies rather than the EU. This further slows down the process and delays the treatment of those with chronic illnesses. Cancer medication, insulin and anesthetics are among the medications Syria relies on imports for. Now, there are shortages of these medicines, as well as in specific antibiotics, serums, intravenous fluids and some vaccines. This has resulted in delayed treatment for cancer and leukemia patients. The government’s health care budget cuts since the civil war began, combined with the detrimental effects of sanctions, have made most imported medicines unaffordable. Finally, only 44 percent of hospitals are now fully functioning and many of them have closed.

The Real Impact of Sanctions

Meanwhile, President Assad’s policies of violence against his people have not changed. The Syrian government, which still carries out million-dollar deals with the U.S. and other countries that applied sanctions, seems to have found ways to circumvent the sanctions and remain largely unaffected. Assad claims that the sanctions are simply creating more refugees. As the inefficiency of sanctions to reduce human rights violations and their drastic effect on public health becomes increasingly clear, Western powers should rethink their policy of sanctions on Syria.

Sarah Newgarden
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan to Mobilize African Development
According to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa’s population will more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion people to 2.5 billion. Africa already suffers from food, energy and job shortages, and its current population makes up about 17 percent of the world’s population. However, with this current growth, its population would balloon to an estimated 20 percent. As a result, Europe realizes that African development is going to have a large impact on the 21st century and that action is necessary. This action includes the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development.

The Solution

Although Africa struggles with the aforementioned shortages, it withholds 15 percent of global oil reserves. In addition, 40 percent of gold reserves and 80 percent of platinum reserves are located there. The largest expanse of agricultural land in the world is also in Africa. Based on this, Germany is spearheading the Marshall Plan initiative to mobilize African development and promote private investment on the continent. This is part of the G20 (EU in conjunction with 19 other countries). Africa currently relies on donors and other countries for support, but this new initiative will help Africa become more self-sufficient.

With the predicted population explosion, Africa must create more jobs and opportunities. To do so, the G20 needs private investment to make Africa appealing to potential investors. Other changes that will support this initiative include protecting human rights, strengthening the economy and implementing good governance. Through this, the G20 also needs to address and solve problems in Africa. These problematic elements consist of trade, arms sales to crisis areas and illicit financial flows. This will require strong international cooperation and partnerships between developed and developing countries.

The Marshall Plan includes ensuring food and water security, bolstering infrastructure, embracing digitalization, increasing access to energy, health care and education in Africa. To accomplish this, the G20 also plans to give Africa a seat on the U.N. Security Council. This will provide the country with heightened authority in international organizations and negotiations.

G20 Partnership Pillars

Partnership pillars that the Marshall Plan is prioritizing are promoting private investment, developing infrastructure and improving economic growth. Analyzing pre-existing initiatives will promote private investment. Promotion will also include tailoring country-specific measures to improve the framework, involving business and financing. Africa will develop infrastructure by expanding on pre-existing initiatives and sharing any knowledge on infrastructure investment and how to manage it and natural resources. Finally, the creation of an initiative to promote employment via skills development and training (Initiative for Rural Youth Employment) will improve economic growth.

Related Initiatives

Related initiatives include AU’s Agenda 2063, the Addis Tax Initiative, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Sustainability, Security and Stability in Africa Initiative and the EU’s European External Investment Plan (EIP). For the Marshall Plan to succeed, it must fit in with the other initiatives and fill in gaps to promote change in Africa. Supporting organizations of the Marshall Plan include the African Union, the EU and the NEPAD Agency.

The Future

As of 2018, the cabinet has already passed the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development; however, it has not taken any further action yet. Experts worry that the plan could become obsolete if people have unrealistic expectations of what it will cover. A common misconception is that the plan will automatically secure peace and create jobs and growth for Africa. It is working towards that, but there is no guarantee. If action follows soon and private investment grows, Africa will be well on its way to self-sustainability.

– Nyssa Jordan
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Countries Affected by the Measles OutbreakIn 2019, countries around the world faced a significant increase in measles outbreaks. Besides cases in the United States, people in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Brazil, the Philippines and Somalia have suffered from a resurgence of this preventable disease. There are many causes of the global measles outbreak including the mistrust of vaccines, inadequate access to health care and the global childhood immunization gap.

Measles is caused by a virus and spread through respiratory transmission. It is highly contagious but mostly preventable through childhood vaccinations. Mild symptoms of measles include high fever and a rash. More severe effects of the disease include pneumonia, diarrhea and even deafness.

4 Countries Affected by the Measles Outbreak

  1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): In the DRC, measles has killed 5,000 people so far in 2019, which is more than twice as many people as Ebola. More than 90 percent of these deaths are children under the age of 5. Further, the measles outbreak has spread throughout all provinces. Lack of access to health care and a shortage of measles vaccines contribute to these deaths. Additionally, weakened immune systems in malnourished children, deficiencies in vitamin A and diseases such as HIV/AIDS also lead to death. UNICEF and other NGOs have distributed more than 1,300 measles kits containing antibiotics, rehydration salts and other drugs to the most impacted areas. UNICEF has also advocated for a longer-term strategy to address the outbreak.

  2. Brazil: Though Brazil had been deemed free of measles in 2015, as of November 2019 the country has had an estimated 50,000 cases of the disease. The highest concentration of measles cases occurred in Sao Paulo, the state with the highest population. Brazilian officials are concerned that people in an isolated tribe in the Amazon may have contracted the disease. This is of particular concern since these people have a low resistance to measles and other diseases. Health officials in Brazil have implemented a measles vaccination campaign to vaccinate millions of young people between the ages of 20-29 in order to contain the outbreak.

  3. The Philippines: Yet another country that has faced a measles outbreak due to distrust in vaccines is the Philippines. The New York Times reports that measles vaccination rates in the country declined from above 80 percent in 2008 to below 70 percent in 2017. Officials have reported nearly 44,000 measles cases in Manila and the surrounding areas as of November 2019. In response to the measles outbreak, along with outbreaks of polio and dengue, the Philippines Red Cross has sought to expand its efforts. This will require recruiting and training some 2,600 volunteers. In the long-term, the Department of Health aims to increase immunization coverage so that 95 percent of children are vaccinated.

  4. Somalia: According to a November 2019 U.N. article, there have been 3,616 suspected cases of measles in Somalia in 2019. In particular, people in IDP camps (for internally displaced people), areas with high population density and nomadic communities are at greater risk. The illness is particularly deadly for children under 5 in Somalia. Unfortunately, one in seven of these children dies before they turn 5. To combat this outbreak, the Somali government has partnered with UNICEF and the WHO to launch a campaign to vaccinate 1.7 million Somali children.

Several countries have faced measles outbreaks in 2019. Increased immunization coverage during childhood could prevent these outbreaks. As these countries affected by the measles outbreak show, access to vaccines and health care is vitally important. In fact, these ailments are often a matter of life and death. Fortunately, NGOs and governments are working together to prevent future measles outbreaks.

Sarah Frazer
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