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Political crisis only sharpens daily hardship

Woman and her child at a food distribution in Labe, Guinea. The local NGO, AGBEF, distributing WFP food. October 2007.
(Nancy Palus/IRIN)

Even when Guinea is not facing political crisis and reeling from a massacre, daily life is gruelling for many and instability is never far away.



In this country that holds 30 percent of the world’s reserves of bauxite, the primary ore in aluminium, most people live hand-to-mouth; only about 19 percent of the population have access to proper sanitation facilities; malnutrition is widespread.



The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a September 2009 report says Guinea is “volatile” due to a combination of sharp economic decline; widespread and chronic poverty; limited access to basic services like health, water and sanitation; and persistent political instability.



Some facts about Guinea:



• At the peak of regional conflicts in the 1990s Guinea housed some 800,000 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia; today some 25,000 refugees remain in Guinea, including from Côte d’Ivoire



• Guinea has borders with Côte d’Ivoire (instability and political impasse since a 2002 rebellion), Guinea-Bissau (narcotics-trafficking hub struggling to emerge from a history of coups, counter-coups, civil war and political assassinations), Liberia (civil war 1989-2003), Mali, Senegal (attacks by armed groups on civilians and sporadic fighting in southern Casamance region) and Sierra Leone (civil war 1991-2002)



Since independence in 1958 Guinea has not had a peaceful transition of power



• Population: 9.8 million; average population growth rate 2.6 percent from 1990 to 2007



• 70 percent of population living under the poverty threshold of US$1.25 per day, as of 2005



• Chronic malnutrition has increased by 50 percent in the past five years



• Some 6.4 percent of the capital Conakry’s estimated 1.6 million people lack access to adequate food to meet their daily needs



• Polio-free from 2004 to 2008, Guinea recorded at least 16 cases of polio in 2009












Residents of the Guinean capital, Conakry, say since around July/August 2007 running water has been available more regularly than in the past. (October 2007)

Nancy Palus/IRIN
Residents of the Guinean capital, Conakry, say since around July/August 2007 running water has been available more regularly than in the past. (October 2007)
http://www.irinnews.org/photo
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Political crisis only sharpens daily hardship
Residents of the Guinean capital, Conakry, say since around July/August 2007 running water has been available more regularly than in the past. (October 2007)


Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN
Many Guineans lack access to safe drinking water (file photo)

• Known as “the water tower of West Africa”, Guinea is the source of the 4,180-kilometre Niger River and a number of other major rivers



• Nearly half the population has no access to safe drinking water



• Cholera, yellow fever and seasonal flooding regularly spark humanitarian emergencies, straining already limited national capacity to cope



• In the UN Human Development Index Guinea ranks 170 of 182 countries



• 150 in 1,000 children are likely to die before fifth birthday



• 93 in 1,000 infants are likely to die before age one



• 980 women die annually from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 births



• An estimated 1.6 percent of the population infected with HIV



• 0.1 physicians per 1,000 people as of 2004



• Illiteracy rate (age 15 and above) 70.5 percent



• Life expectancy 55 years



Sources: UN Children’s Fund, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Bank, UN Human Development Index 2009 report



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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