Multiple Middle Eastern countries and the Mediterranean Sea surround the State of Israel. The nation declared its independence in 1948 after the British cabinet ended its rule of Palestine and the United Nations failed to partition the area into Arab and Jewish States due to dissent from Arab groups. The day after the establishment of the State, this disagreement escalated into a civil war known as the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Since Israel’s inception, conflict and bloodshed have plagued its history, including the Six-Day War in 1967 and Operation Badr in 1973. Yet today, Israel is the only democracy and technologically advanced economy in the Middle East. Reports show that Israel ranks high in various health indicators, especially life expectancy, yet there are still concerns for the nation’s well being. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Israel will provide insight into the country’s current state.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Israel

  1. Israel ranks 13th in worldwide life expectancy and research projects it to be seventh by 2040. The life expectancy at birth for Israeli citizens is 82.3 years, which is higher than the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and other highly developed nations. Many expect the lifespan of Israelis to increase as the country tackles issues such as air pollution.
  2. Israel’s infant mortality rate is lower than the average in the developed world. Up to one year after birth, Israel sees 3.4 deaths per 1,000 births and five maternal deaths per 100,000 births. These low rates can be attributed to Israeli’s highly regarded doctors, most of which train in the U.S. and then return.
  3. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Since World War II, the United States has provided Israel $142.3 billion in foreign assistance, most of which is military assistance. In 2016, the two countries agreed on a 10-year plan that provides Israel $38 billion in military aid. This includes $500 million in missile defense, including $70 million for the Iron Dome, which directly helps protect Israeli citizens from regional threats that endanger their lives
  4. Israel guarantees health care to all citizens as a fundamental right. A national health insurance law passed in 1995 provided universal coverage. In 2015, benefits such as psychotherapy and medication improved the provision of mental health care. Thus, no citizen suffers from an inability to access health care, which greatly improves life expectancy. For instance, the chance of dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer or diabetes at ages 30-70 is among the lowest in the world.
  5. Israel’s mandatory military service increases male life expectancy. In 2016, a study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel discovered that mandatory military service for men over the age of 18 leads to improved physical fitness and adds more than three years to life expectancy.
  6. Diet contributes to Israel’s long life expectancy. Israelis generally adhere to the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish.
  7. Despite high life expectancy, Israel faces a shortage of doctors and nurses. A report published by Israel’s Ministry of Health found that the nation’s numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds are declining. For every 1,000 people, there are only 3.1 doctors, placing Israel below the average of other OECD countries. As a result, doctors are immigrating from North America to lessen Israel’s shortage
  8. Poverty could also threaten life expectancy. An estimated 22 percent of the Israeli population lives below the poverty line. High housing and commodity prices exacerbate this issue, an increasing concern for many Israeli citizens. Although only .03 percent of the country is homeless, only a small number qualify for social services due to stiff criteria. As a solution, the OECD recommends increasing competition and efficiency in the economy, as well as investing in infrastructure and promoting skills, especially among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Therefore, Israeli leaders are calling for reforms to increase competition in the banking sector and boost the supply of housing.
  9. Gender equality can help reduce Israel’s poverty. One report from the OECD found that more female participation in the workforce can reduce economic inequality. Mark Pearson, the author of the report, said, “More women in work really does seem to have an effect on inequality.”
  10. Terrorism remains a constant, looming threat to Israeli lives. Since 1948, the total reported number of casualties from terrorist attacks include 3,705 killed and 14,736 injured. To help solve this constant threat, the country deployed the Iron Dome, an air defense system, in 2011, and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion began a conscript army, the Israel Defense Forces, in 1948.

These 10 facts shed light on how factors such as Israel’s health care system and lifestyle contribute to its high life expectancy, while also highlighting areas for improvement. The life expectancy of Israel’s neighboring countries provides extra context for these facts, such as Egypt at 70.5 years. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Israel reveal why, despite recent challenges, the nation is an ideal model for other unstable Middle Eastern countries to strive toward and ensure longer, healthier lives for their citizens.

– Adam Bentz
Photo: Pixabay

Reduction in U.S. Aid to the World’s Least Developed Countries
According to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2018 Human Development Report, 33 of the 38 countries considered to have low human development are in located Africa.  Regardless of this fact, the U.S. may still be cutting aid to Africa. However, they are not the only ones. there have recently been significant reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries.

Life Expectancy Rates in the Least Developed Countries

The UNDP determines rankings in its Human Development Index (HDI) by measuring levels of health, education and standard of living. Longevity, expected and mean years of schooling as well as per capita income all figure into the country’s final ranking. Of the world’s 10 least developed countries, the U.S. has reduced its aid to five: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Niger.

Life expectancies in these countries range from 52.2 years in Sierra Leone to 63 years in Liberia. The CIA World Factbook’s latest data cites fewer than one physician per thousand members of the population in all five countries. In part due to poor sanitation, with anywhere from 78 to 89 percent of people in these countries lacking access to improved sanitation facilities, their populations are extremely vulnerable to major infectious diseases.

School life expectancies range from 5.4 years in Niger to 10 years in Liberia. Mean years of schooling among people over twenty-five are however much lower, with Liberia being the highest at 4.7 years. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and CAR, less than half of the population is literate. In Chad and Niger, these figures are reduced to less than a quarter.

People Below the Poverty Line

Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is measured in international dollars, which account for currency exchange rates and use purchasing power to essentially convert foreign currencies into their equivalent in U.S. dollars. In CAR, Niger and Liberia, these figures are below one thousand international dollars per person. In Chad and Sierra Leone, they are below two thousand.

According to the World Factbook, most recent estimates place 70 percent of people in Sierra Leone below the poverty line, and approximately 50 percent of those in Liberia, Chad, and Niger. The World Factbook has no data regarding the poverty line in CAR.

Conflict to Aid Discrepancies

All five of these countries have suffered some extent from turmoil in the late 1900s and early 2000s, including various rebellions, a coup d’état in Liberia, CAR and Niger and a civil war in Sierra Leone, Chad, and Liberia. Chad, Niger, CAR and Sierra Leone have particularly large numbers of internally displaced people. Conflicts in bordering countries have likewise pushed nearly 10,000 refugees into Liberia, and hundreds of thousands into Chad, Niger and CAR, putting additional strain on these countries.

From 2015 to 2017, CAR and Niger have seen the lowest reductions in aid disbursements, at about $4 million for CAR and $14 million for Niger. U.S. aid to Chad and Sierra Leone was reduced by close to $30 million in both countries. Liberia stands out among the five, having received $224 million less in aid disbursements in 2017 than in 2015.

Over this period, all but Liberia have received well below the average in aid to Sub-Saharan countries despite having lower levels of development. This trend has continued into the first quarter of 2018. To the credit of the United States, the reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries have not meant an overall reduction in aid. The average amount of U.S. aid to this region has increased from $179 million in 2015 to $208 million in 2017.

Much of the aid received in Niger and CAR, and nearly all of it in Chad goes toward emergency response. Disparities in aid disbursements could be based on the need for emergency response rather than human development levels, with more money going to countries such as Nigeria, where conflict has killed tens of thousands since 2009.

Long-Term Initiatives Needed for Development

While emergency response takes precedence, initiatives that address such areas as basic health and education are important for fostering long-term progress in development. Niger, CAR, Chad, Liberia and Sierra Leone are among those most in need of these long-term initiatives. This could be difficult considering the reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries.

In comparison to the 2015 Human Rights Report, the 2018 report shows that the least developed countries have made slight progress in their development, even if they have not progressed in terms of rank. Reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries could have a serious effect on the progress in these countries. The fact that progress has been made does not mean that there is not significant progress still to be made that requires U.S. aid.

Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

How the US Benefits From Foreign Aid to Lesotho
Situated wholly within the country of South Africa, the small country of Lesotho is a member of a very rare group of countries which exist completely within the borders of a separate state. Lesotho’s population is roughly 2 million, and its geography is mainly highland. At its $1,160 GDP per capita, it is classified as a lower- and middle-income country by the World Bank. While it may seem as though this African monarchy should not demand the foreign aid of large developed countries, due to its relatively small size (about the size of Maryland) and population, quite the opposite is true. Here is a look into how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Lesotho.


The U.S. is Lesotho’s largest trading partner with Lesotho sending 43.9 percent of its total exports to U.S. shores. Lesotho’s exports are mainly constituted of clothing (40 percent) and diamonds (22 percent).  Provided that these commodities are valued in the U.S., the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Lesotho because it will continue receiving exports at the current rate, which will likely grow given increasing development. Furthermore, Lesotho also gets 93 percent of its imports from South Africa. As Lesotho benefits from foreign aid, the market for South African goods increases. So investing in this small country could potentially benefit a much broader population in South Africa. With the U.S. being South Africa’s third largest import source, this could potentially increase as the prosperity of Lesotho grows.

Regional Security

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has made global political stability a priority in its foreign policy. Like many decolonized nations, Lesotho has had much violence in its short existence. In 1966, Britain released its colonial rule on Lesotho, and the country was founded as a monarchy. However, in 1970, the country’s first Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan suspended the constitution, exiled the king and ushered in a 23-year-period of authoritarian rule, complete with multiple coups and political repression. In the last five years, there have been armed clashes between the police force and the military. Unrest in Lesotho has involved South Africa in the past, and if Lesotho were to receive foreign aid, the benefits in political stability would also permeate South Africa.


In Lesotho, 24.6 percent of the adult population (15-49 years old) is infected with HIV/AIDS, compared to an estimated 18 percent of adults in South Africa. This staggering percentage, nearly a quarter of the population, is the second highest prevalence of the disease in the world. Young people make up a sizeable portion of this population, along with 13 percent of young women and 6 percent of young men in the country being HIV positive.  The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Lesotho by achieving its goals for HIV/AIDS reduction and the improvement of global health. Lesotho is a key benefactor of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is a U.S. governmental global initiative for the reduction of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. PEPFAR would surely benefit by an increase in foreign aid funding.

Despite Lesotho’s small and landlocked status, it represents an area in which U.S. foreign aid can be utilized to help Lesotho’s people and benefit the economic, political and medical goals and interests of the United States.

– William Menchaca
Photo: Flickr

Benefits of Foreign Aid Policy
In less than a decade, Europe suffered severe destruction and was quickly torn apart due to World War II. Soon after that, a huge foreign aid policy package known as the Marshall Plan helped European nations recover, seek a path of democracy and sustained peace.

Today, The U.S. continues to invest in foreign aid to advance its security and global leadership. This has played an indispensable role in strengthening U.S. strategy as well as economic and moral obligations.

Foreign aid policy can strengthen national security by cutting the roots of terrorism. It also helps in stabilizing weaker regimes, promoting regional security and long-term stability. Foreign aid helped nations such as South Korea and Colombia recover from instability.

Nations who receive aid could serve as potential markets and attract investors. Presidents like George W. Bush and Barack Obama emphasized such points. Also, President Reagan was a strong advocate of aid. He also argued strongly against those who claimed that national income was being wasted.

However, the success of the past decades is facing an uncertain, and perhaps unpromising future. The foreign aid budget planned for next year is only $34 billion. This number is expected to decrease further in the coming years.

Furthermore, there have been more conflicts in the twenty-first century that gripped the attention of the U.S. War in Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with a rising global trend of terrorism are some of the factors that challenge foreign aid programs. Hence, there comes a greater target zone for aid programs and more communities to address.

Such challenges make the process of development and the execution of programs a lot harder. Agencies are put under pressure as they have to provide support for a lot of people in short time. Political dilemmas and conflicts complicate the tasks of agencies to access data and effectively manage aid programs.

With all the modern challenges of the twenty-first century, the U.S. aims to make the process of foreign development programs more transparent, accountable and effective.

Over the last decade, the U.S. has succeeded in creating new standards and metrics as part of foreign aid reform. Such transparency and accountability reforms can be expanded into developmental programs such as delivering aid packages and managing educational programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) understands the modern challenges standing in face of foreign aid policy. It aims to address such challenges by aligning resources with goals to achieve transforming development.

USAID also tailors programs according to need and opportunities. The agency has also adopted the policy of increased selectivity in allocating resources. Despite the disappointing voice, aid programs are improving in their capability of dealing with all the modern challenges.

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

This past week, the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has refused to grant a second aid package to the government of Mozambique. These aid packages, also known as compacts, are given in the hope that the funds will allow the countries to build more infrastructure and combat national issues. The first compact of $506.9 million previously given to Mozambique was directed toward water supply, sanitation, road and agricultural improvements; however, many of these projects were delayed.

Because the conditions for a second aid package required that all projects funded by the first compact be completed, Mozambique was not eligible for more aid. The U.S. MCC did, however, contribute more funding to the current projects in Mozambique.

The first compact has supported Mozambique’s Farmer Income Support Project, Land Tenure Services Project, Rehabilitation of Roads Project, and Water and Sanitation project. The Farmer Income Support project aims to remove trees, provide support to increase crop yields and help farmers develop alternative sources of income. The Land Tenure project will address issues with land distribution laws and provide land-related services. The Rehabilitation of Roads project will attempt to improve markets by rehabilitating parts of the National Route 1, and the Water and Sanitation project will improve access to clean water supplies, especially in rural areas.

The government of Mozambique was taken aback by the rejection from the MCC; however, the country is also becoming less dependent upon foreign aid. In the past, foreign aid has been the center of the budget of the nation but in the future, Mozambique expects domestic resources to pay for 66.5 percent of the budget.

This increase in budget will allow an increase in education, health care, agriculture and rural development, the judicial system, security and more. The increase will also create new jobs, which will create a cycle of economic improvement.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: All Africa, All Africa
Photo: The OGM

Ethiopia is a country defined by its environment. The East African nation has been plagued by droughts and famine throughout its history, plunging the people into an abject state of poverty. In the latter half of the 20th century, drought and famine became more prevalent, inciting political turmoil in Ethiopia.

These unfavorable environmental conditions especially devastated the northeastern Wollo and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. One of the most tragic events in the nation’s history was the 1958 famine in Tigray in which around 100,000 people perished.

In 1973, another brutal famine struck Wollo that resulted in the toppling of Ethiopia’s government. The reigning monarch Hailie Selassie’s inability to resolve the food crisis incited revolution. Selassie was removed from power and supplanted by a Communist junta under the infamous Mengistu Haile Mariam.

From 1983-85 Ethiopia suffered the worst famine in its history. Over 400,000 people died over the two year period. A combination of climate conditions and the policies of the incompetent Derg regime caused the famine.

After the fall of the Derg in 1991, Ethiopia stabilized before entering into a war with the neighboring country Eritrea in the late 1990s. Although the war has ended, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest nations in the world and has become a breeding ground for separatist groups like the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Islamist terror group al-Ittihaad al Islami. Both of these groups, although their goals are different, pose a threat to the current government in Ethiopia. Moreover, the existence of radical Islamic terrorist organizations in Ethiopia could eventually harm the United States.

As Ethiopia continues to reel from the damages of famine, perhaps it would be wise for the United States to supply their East African ally with more aid. If Ethiopia is not provided for, the nation will spiral into another devastating cycle of coups. This would threaten the well being of the Ethiopian people, the stability of the region, and the national security of the United States.

– Josh Forgét

Source: BBC,The Borgen Project,Bahru Zewde
Photo: Word Press

The United States Military takes a huge piece of the American Federal Budget, with 23% of spending allocated to defence. The armed forces are carrying a heavy responsibility in a time when national security is at the forefront of most citizens’ minds, with threats and responsibilities so numerous that the country has come to merit possessing the world’s most powerful army.

Taking this into consideration, it seems unlikely – and significant – that General David Petraeus, who had an illustrious career within the army – is outspokenly advocating the continued funding of foreign aid.  Petraeus recently wrote an impressive op-ed in Politico outlining the many potential benefits of continuing development work, as well as the moral and strategic importance of doing so. He offers the gentle reminder that America’s influence does not come solely from its military muscle but also from what he calls its ‘softer’ power, i.e. its generosity and ability to contribute to the betterment of other nations.

A strategist at heart, Petraeus’ argument is more sense than sentiment. Seen from a strategic standpoint, General Petraeus expounds on the benefits of past development work. He provides real life examples of how assistance has led to results in the past, such as the stabilization of the Latin American region, which has blossomed into new markets and is less threatened by instability. He points out the need for continued restructuring programs in the countries that have already seen US intervention, namely Afghanistan, where he emphasizes how the subsequent relief work is as important as the initial military intervention.

The US is one of the world’s largest contributors to foreign aid from a purely quantitative standpoint. Yet, in comparison to its economy, the US is somewhat conservative. Currently, the United States spends less than 0.19% of its GDP on foreign aid, less than some of the major European countries and falling significantly short of the UN’s goal of 0.7% of GDP. As Petraeus points out, “The State Department budget is still less than 5 percent of the military’s — and the number of Foreign Service officers worldwide is less than half the number of soldiers in a single Army division.”

In addition, General Petraeus highlights some of the past successes of investment in foreign aid. Not only that, he pinpoints areas that may need the US’s help in coming years, including Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and transitional governments such as Libya, Yemen and Mali.

Citizens and activists have long recognized the need for foreign aid; it is a heartening sign that figures as influential as Petraeus are adding their voice.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: Politico
Photo: IBT

Changes to the US Food Aid policy may be in the works for this fiscal year’s budget. President Obama recently proposed that the US shift its food aid policy from one of sending US-grown food products abroad to sending cash instead. This would be the largest change in the history of US food aid policy since programs were initiated in 1954.

Food aid groups, international development organizations, and US businesses are at odds over the proposed reform. Anti-hunger groups including Oxfam and Bread for the World, as well as the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, issued a joint statement this week in support of reforming US food aid policy. US farm, shipping, and labor groups, members of Congress’s Agriculture Committee, and the Alliance for Global Food Security are against any proposed reform.

The proposed policy changes have both benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that by sending cash instead of food, the money can be used to purchase food locally. This would save both time and energy, and support local agricultural economies. A 2012 Cornell University study on food aid found that local purchasing “can often afford valuable cost and time savings.”

Opponents of the proposed reform argue that the Obama administration intends to cut funding to programs across the board, which would hurt aid recipients and US food providers alike. Producing, shipping, and transporting US-grown food overseas creates jobs and supports the economy of the United States. Sending food abroad that is marked with the US flag also serves as a low-cost form of national security, by providing physical evidence of US good will and assistance.

Since the inception of programs such as Food for Peace, some international development experts have argued that the programs were more concerned with developing a market for American food products and providing benefits to US farmers and agribusinesses, than with feeding the hungry. The former executive director of the World Food Program, Catherine Bertini, stated in an email, “I am one who welcomes a 21st century proposal that is more responsive to the needs of the hungry and a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

The United States is the largest food aid donor in the world, providing over $2 billion a year in food aid. Conflicts over its role in international aid are nothing new. While the possibility exists for beneficial changes to US food aid policy, any proposed spending cuts to food aid programs should be considered with the 925 million people across the globe who suffer from hunger in mind.

Kat Henrichs

Sources: National Journal, Reuters
Photo: Stephen Raburn