Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Côte d'Ivoire
The Côte d’Ivoire is just one of those numerous developing countries that, though undoubtedly facing problems, is unfairly regarded by most people. Indeed, peeling back the poverty statistics and tear-jerking photographs, one finds a portrait of a people rich in shared determination towards building a better future. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Côte d’Ivoire and the everyday struggles of the people of the country, are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Côte d’Ivoire

  1. Hunger has become a real problem in Côte d’Ivoire after post-election violence disrupted cyclical planting and regular harvesting times for farmers. With so much of the population suffering from food insecurity, it is just as unsurprising as it is regrettable that the country received a Global Hunger Index Score with the score of just 25.7 out of 100.
  2. In addition to the various initiatives of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, organizations like the World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger have provided food for a combined one million Ivorians. The positive forward momentum is strong but gradual.
  3. Poverty in Côte d’Ivoire has led to the prevalence of substandard housing that further led to an increase in diseases as poorly constructed lodgings have granted malarial mosquitoes and similar infectious-insects easy opportunities to spread illness. Most families live in traditional homes made of mud walls and thatch roofs. However, local Habitat for Humanity office has succeeded in helping to break that deadly cycle. Since setting out on their mission 20 years ago to provide safe and secure homes with decent sanitation to the poor, their team of almost 10,000 volunteers have built or repaired over 6,000 homes, as well as provide around 10,500 local people with additional sanitation.
  4. The education problem in Côte d’Ivoire is reflected by one powerful statistic: in 2007, nearly one in two children did not attend primary school. Public schooling is both painfully underfunded and frustratingly overcrowded, owing to previous civil conflicts that shattered the national economy, and with it, the chance at a solid educational infrastructure.
  5. Through the concerted efforts of the UNICEF and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, over two-thirds of children now attend primary school. Their accomplishments range from improving up to 200 schools with better furniture and more extracurricular activities, to a four-year national development plan to make the push for education a priority.
  6. The Tai Rainforest is one of the last primary rainforest left in West Africa and it is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, including the endangered pygmy hippo, chimpanzee and leopard. But similar to such defining features of Côte d’Ivoire, its teeming, verdurous rainforests have also become one of its most vulnerable, regularly encroached upon and deforested by ambitious cocoa farmers. As country relies primarily on cocoa for its economy and is the world’s largest cocoa exporter, serious concerns surround the remaining, protected 4 percent of the rainforests as illegal farmers continue to make moves.
  7. The government has worked with large chocolate companies to help stop the farming of protected land, but faces economical and ethical dilemmas as 40 percent of cocoa farms are estimated to be on such protected territory, and ending them would land a big punch to the country’s economy. Additionally, most farmers are poor and use the farm to support themselves and their families. One bill proposes legalizing cocoa plantations in reserves, which would create a place where new trees are planted while farmers continue to grow cocoa, dubbed as “protected agroforests” and is hoping to be footed soon.
  8. In 2011, when the Second Ivorian Civil War broke out, forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, battled against supporters of the internationally recognized president-elect, Alassane Ouattara. While Ouattara’s forces were victorious in the end, horrific human rights violations were reported on both sides. As a result, tensions between supporters of the two camps have increased ever since. Going into the new elections in 2020, Ivorians are hoping that the tension doesn’t lead the country into a new crisis. Nevertheless, Ouattara maintains that the 2020 elections will “take place in excellent conditions”.
  9. The standard of Côte d’Ivoire health care and health facilities is poor, especially in areas outside of the major cities and this problem is in no small part exacerbated by the previous abolishment of free public health care by the government in response to the political upheaval. At the start of 2015, Ivorians got their health care back, but endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria still run rampant. As the HIV/AIDS problem is largely attributed to the lack of sexual education, UNICEF stresses the importance of information and awareness related activities when educating youngsters. So far, hundreds of thousands of kids have been educated and sensitized.
  10. One of the Côte d’Ivoire’s most endearing traditions is the Festival of Masks, held each December in the city of Man. In this well-known “fête”, competitions are held between villages to find the best dancer and homages are paid to the forest spirits that are represented on their decorated masks. In a politically divided country, Festival of Masks has helped to unify a people who are occasionally at odds with each other. Indeed, after suffering from two civil wars within the last 20 years, Côte d’Ivoire has been an at-times hotbed of political turmoil.

In conclusion, Côte d’Ivoire has its problems, but just as the country is experiencing them, innovative ways and solutions exist side-by-side. Hunger, poverty, disease, political strife and other discouraging statistics that the Ivorians are facing have not stopped the country’s improvements in many fields and various organizations are there making sure that the grim realities do not stop the citizens from sparking breathtaking change.

– William Cozens
Photo: Flickr