by Martha Habermehl and Brian Marjoram
as winners of the 2013 Northumberland
YMCA Peace Medal.
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Remember, UNICEF will increase every $10.00 4 for 1 for a total donation of $40!
In GUINEA …
$40.00 represents 10% of the average ANNUAL income, and up to 25% of a subsistence farmer’s ANNUAL income. 86% of girls will never have the opportunity to learn to read. Education is the path to a better life and lasts a lifetime.
Rural POVERTY in Guinea
Despite its great mineral wealth, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country ranks 178th of 187 countries classified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index in 2011. More than half the population lives below the poverty line, and about 20 per cent live in extreme poverty. Food insecurity and malnutrition among children are widespread. According to a survey carried out by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme in 2008, 40 per cent of Guinean children below five years of age are chronically malnourished.
In the 1990s, the country enjoyed a period of stability and economic growth, driven mainly by mining and agriculture, which led to a marked improvement in poverty levels. Since 2000, however, Guinea has been hit by a series of political, social and governance crises, resulting in a deteriorating socio-economic situation. Incursions, tensions and refugees have spilled over from troubled bordering countries Sierra Leone, Liberia and C�te d’Ivoire. This instability, combined with weak governance, has discouraged investors.
The situation has caused serious consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable Guineans. Rising food insecurity and poverty fuelled social tensions in the country from 2006 to 2008. About 67 per cent of Guineans live in rural areas, and most practice subsistence farming on very small plots. Poverty is especially marked in these areas, where about 63 per cent of people are poor, compared with 30 per cent of the urban population.
Productivity is low because farmers have little access to information, new technologies, basic infrastructure and rural financial services. And there are few opportunities for income generation other than farming. Despite some progress made in improving conditions for the rural population, there is still a huge discrepancy between the availability of basic services � such as health care, education and safe drinking water � in rural as opposed to urban areas. The incidence of rural poverty varies considerably in different places, but Upper Guinea is the poorest and one of the driest regions in the country. Here, the poverty rate reaches more than 67 per cent. Large areas are covered by dry savannah, where livelihoods are particularly precarious and basic services and infrastructure almost non-existent.
Women and young people are among the most vulnerable members of the rural population. Women take on various roles within agriculture, from production and processing to small-scale commerce � increasingly so as men and young people leave in search of work elsewhere. But while they are legally recognized as equal to men, rural women are still disadvantaged in many ways. They continue to be victims of social and cultural discrimination. As a result, they have limited access to agricultural inputs, technical advice, improved technologies, land ownership and decision-making.
Only 14 per cent of adult women are literate, compared with 46 per cent of men. This low level of education among rural women directly affects their ability to access information, agricultural extension services and other production needs. Where ownership or usage of land is concerned, men habitually claim priority and hereditary rights.
Young people make up almost half the population of Guinea, forming a marginalized group that is particularly vulnerable to poverty. They are severely affected by unemployment and underemployment, which push them to leave rural areas and, in some cases, into delinquency. Traditional subsistence farming offers little incentive for rural youth to stay and pursue the same livelihoods as their parents.