Post 4 : Democracy on the come up

 

In November of 2015, Burkina Faso elected a new President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore’ and a new parliament. This was accomplished in a free and competitive election. This was made possible by cheetah Kabore’ and his ‘and his movement, People’s Movement for Progress. Kabore’ and his movement foiled a coup by ousted President Blaise Compare’ and his Presidential Guard. Kabore’ and his group then began to establish their vision of a new and much better Burkina Faso.

The new government passed many reforms to protect the rights of women. The former President and his Guard were made accountable for murders committed by them during his presidency. The free election of Kabore’ and a new parliament led to the establishment of freedom of all citizens to have full rights to participate in politics. This right was previously held only by elite military, labor unions, and certain educated people.

Kabore’ and the new government also allowed legislative action and policy making, set term limits for politicians and reinstated and amended the constitution. The constitution now guarantees the right to strike and bargain, have unions, and the right to assemble.

Journalists reported freely during the 2015 elections. Kabore’s new government supports freedom of speech. State owned media outlets have greater autonomy and there are now several private television and radio stations and newspapers.

Changes made by the cheetah Kabore’ and his government have made great strides in accountability and transparency in the government of Burkina Faso. The new generation of government in this small African country demonstrates the vision of the new generation of Africans. These young visionaries attack problems of their countries head on, seek to improve their countries and to promote growth, freedom, and human rights.

In chapter 3 of Radelete’s Emerging Africa he speaks out about how the process of democratization is seldom smooth and does not happen all at one time. Nigeria’s previous dictator, Sani Abacha, died in 1998 that led to the election of Ollusegun Obasanjo. No one noticed at the time but the 1989 election in Namibia caused a meaningful message that spread well beyond the range of the borders of the country and steered sub-Saharan Africa to the birth of the new era of democracy. Whether it had been fragile, imperfect, or uncertain it didn’t matter because either way it had been born. Today you must meet the basic Freedom House and Polity IV standards to be considered democracies, which 13 of the 17 emerging countries have accomplished. The Freedom House has a scale 1 to 7, with 1 being the best score. The average Freedom House civil liberties score has greatly improved from a 4.9 to a 2.8 over the past two decades while. There has also been substantial improvement in the average political rights score that has changed from 5.4 to 2.9. Along with those enhancements, it feels great to be able to mention the improvement in the average Polity IV score also. The Polity IV uses a scale that ranges from -10 to 10 with the best score being 10 and the improvement has moved from the -3.9 to 4.6. Democracy is a government  that protects political rights and makes moves towards freedom. Redelet raises the question to whether the shift to democracy has corresponded with improved governance? Such as decrease in conflict, obedience to the rules of law, and less corruption. The answer is yes; overall the emerging countries have been able to show noticeable improvements in governance that has gone hand in hand with the swing towards democracy. Today Burkina Faso is considered a partly free country with a freedom rating of 3.6. They have a political rights rating of 4. The country is a little lower on the ranking of civil liberties with a 3, but that is okay because there is an upward trend for this country things are looking good and getting better.

Children living in the poverty ridden countries of Sub Saharan Africa face an uphill battle to survive, grow and develop. They are susceptible to many illnesses and suffer from failure to thrive due to deprivation of basic nutrients that are naturally occurring in a healthy diet or are added as supplements in common foods in our country.

Worms cause anemia and malnutrition in children in developing countries. The worms compete with the child for nutrients in their body. Proper nutrition in childhood can make a lifetime of difference. An experiment in Kenya gave school children de-worming pills for two years. The result of the de-worming treatments was that the children went to school longer and earned more money as adults. The cost of de-worming is minimal and the results are worth the investment in the future.

It has been determined that just increasing calorie intake alone for people in developing countries is not the answer to increasing their health and quality of life. There must be improvement in the nutrition to make a visible difference in their lives. These improvements do not have to be expensive and will pay off in the long run.

Anemia is a problem in developing countries that results in many problems including the ability of adults to work and provide for their families. Iron is an essential element that is necessary to prevent anemia. In our country iron is an additive to different types of food and is naturally occurring in other foods. Iron can easily be taken as a supplement if needed. When iron supplements were given to working men, it increased their ability to do their daily work and therefore increased their ability to support their families. A study in Indonesia added iron to a common staple in the people’s diet with success. This was accomplished at a very reasonable cost.

Iodine was added as a supplement for a group of pregnant women. The results of this study were incredible. The children born to these mothers attended school longer than their siblings who did not receive iodine supplements in utero. The conclusion was that if every mother received iodine, there could be a significant increase in education in Central and Southern Africa and therefore a lifetime increase in productivity. Iodine is not expensive and could be introduced into the diet with iodized salt or with one very reasonably costing dose of iodine every two years. This would be a small investment, that would certainly be worth the price.

The benefits of proper nutrition are immeasurable for young children and unborn children. The benefits of de-worming children for two years instead of one year leads to a significant increase in lifetime earnings. Small changes made in childhood nutrition make enormous lifetime differences. De-worming costs $1.36 per year. Iodized salt costs $.62 per packet, and in Indonesia the iron supplement in fish sauce cost $7.00 per year. The rewards for investing in the nutrition of pregnant women and young children are huge. It can be accomplished by giving away fortified foods, deworming in schools and providing school children with nutrient rich meals and providing parents with incentives to use nutritional supplements such as iron. Unfortunately, there are many situations where food policy is focused on providing subsidized cheap grain to the poor that does not supply needed nutrients.

In developing countries, nine million children die every year before they reach the age of five years. Many of these children die from diarrhea. There are relatively inexpensive treatments and preventative measures for diarrhea that could save many lives.

Chlorine can be used to purify contaminated water that causes diarrhea. Chlorine is cheap but families don’t purchase and use it. Only ten percent of families use it. One suggested solution to this problem is to offer a free chlorine dispenser next to the village well. This dispenser distributes the correct amount of chlorine into a person’s water with the turn of a knob. This makes chlorination easy, free, and routine. This is a very cheap, easy way to prevent diarrhea.

There is a solution called OHS that is an effective re-hydration treatment for diarrhea. It is made of salt and vinegar. This treatment is cheap and effective but is not often used because the people think that antibiotics in the form of shots are the best treatment for diarrhea or any illness. The challenge here is to convince the population that this is the best treatment.

Immunization against disease is a critical and effective method for improving the quality of life in developing countries. Unfortunately, even when immunizations are provided free of charge, people do not have their children immunized. Immunizations are offered in a series and some parents get one shot in the series for their children and then don’t finish. This leaves the children unprotected from many preventable diseases.

One of the reasons that follow through with immunizations is so poor is that the government health services in these countries are unreliable. Doctors and nurses often simply do not show up for scheduled clinics. Another obstacle of immunization is the belief in the concept itself. Many of the people simply font understand the concept of preventing disease. They want to tread the disease once it occurs. One of the most effective ways found to encourage parents to get children immunized was to offer incentives to bring their children in for immunizations. The incentives were food and plates. These incentives ultimately saved many lives. It has been suggested that mandates and incentives may be necessary to encourage parents to get children immunized. Any effort that increases the immunization of children is worth it to save lives.

There are several health investments that are worth pursuing in developing countries. Improving nutrition does not have to be expensive and has long lasting benefits. Providing inexpensive treatments for chronic ailments in children such as diarrhea and worms can improve school and work performance for a lifetime. Providing immunizations and incentives for immunization can save thousands of lives. The challenge for the future is not just providing these lifesaving treatments but convincing the population to take advantage of them.

Resources:

Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty. New York: PublicAffairs

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/burkina-faso

Radelet, S. (n.d.). Emerging Africa- How 17 Countries are Leading the Way.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s