West African countries are experiencing change at many levels—climatic, agricultural, demographic, political and socioeconomic. As a result, a growing number of major challenges threaten the region including high climatic variability; rapidly growing populations and climate-driven land use; and human and land cover changes that result in considerable pressure on the fragile resource base.
There is a growing concern in the international community about the need to preserve West Africa’s ecosystems. The Upper Guinean Forest has an estimated 9,000 species of plants. Of these, 2,250 (25 percent) are believed to be endemic. However, this forest is highly degraded, having experienced dramatic encroachment by expanding human activities and fragmentation that has reduced the forest to approximately 15 percent of its original coverage. Only an estimated 20,000 km2 of the land is protected under national parks and reserves.
Some of the lowest rates of improved sanitation in the world are in Benin (13 percent), Côte d’Ivoire (14 percent), and Ghana (28 percent). There are minimal services for safe disposal and treatment of human waste. Densely populated areas, such as slum communities, do not have enough space to construct household toilets. Land disputes and a lack of urban planning complicate this problem. Most urban families desire a toilet, particularly to protect the privacy of the women and children in the household, but there are few affordable sanitation options that suit their needs. Disconnected supply chains make products expensive and difficult to acquire, and service providers often fail to provide quality materials.
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in adolescence is a major public health issue in Afghanistan, where the prevalence of anemia is among the highest in the world.
USAID has been helping the Afghan government to increase children’s access to basic education since 2002. One of the ways in which USAID is helping bring education to children in remote areas is through community-based education activities implemented in partnership with UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Education. Community-Based Education is a proven means to reach children who are unable to access formal schools due to insecurity, distance or geographical constraints.
Sierra Leone discharges final Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patient; no new EVD cases reported in the country for the second consecutive week. Overall weekly EVD case incidence across EVD-affected West African countries has remained at three confirmed cases for four consecutive weeks. All EVD contacts in Liberia complete 21-day monitoring period; countrywide surveillance efforts continue.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Low Emissions Asian Development program works with regional governments, businesses and institutions toward sustainable, low-carbon economic development, or “green growth,” across all economic sectors. The five-year program promotes regional cooperation to develop and implement low emission development strategies, improve greenhouse gas inventories and advance carbon markets in 12 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Development Mission for Asia has worked to stop the illegal trade in wildlife in Asia ever since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) was formed in 2005. The U.S assistance demonstrates strong public commitment for reducing one of the largest threats to biodiversity in Asia. At current rates of illegal wildlife trading, up to 40 percent of Asian wildlife species could be lost in this century.
Afghanistan has some of the highest levels of malnutrition among children and women in the world. More than 40 percent of Afghan children less than five years old have stunted growth, a symptom of chronic malnutrition.
Innovative design coupled with sustainable trade practices can be used as a source of competitive advantage for artisans from developing nations. This is particularly true in the current climate of globalization and the declining value of traditional artisanal products.
Last updated: February 12, 2016