“It is gratifying and a cause of pride to note that our freedom and independence has been gaining increased momentum from year to year thanks to the enormous price paid by the 90 thousand patriots”, – President Isaias Afwerki
By Ibrahim A. Ibrahim,
The African continent can benefit from all the accomplishments this new country Eritrea has done within its life span of only 21 years.
Eritrea, despite the obstacles faced, with its consistent and undivided attention to achieve what is right for its citizens, it is able to show tangible progress in the sectors of health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and communication.
Based on UNICEF’s report “Eritrea has made significant strides in reducing [of] child mortality….most notably in relation to MDGs 4 and 6 (child health and HIV/AIDS) …. The Government’s strong commitment to unity and resilience has enabled these gains while many of its neighbors are lagging behind.” The same report also acknowledged the challenges Eritrea is facing in particular to the “no peace no war” stalemate with its southern neighbor Ethiopia.
As to the construction of health centers, clinics, hospitals, and referral hospitals, it is beyond the expectation of a nation only 21 years old. The following table from Wikipedia tells how the progress is evolving:
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|Life expectancy||39.1 (1960)||59.5 (2008)||World DataBank|
|Under five mortality rate per 1,000 live births||205 (1975)||58.2 (2008)||World DataBank and MDG Indicators|
|Immunization coverage (measles)||34% (1993)||95% (2008)||MDG Indicators|
|Children underweight||43.7% (1995)||38.4% (2002)||DHS 1995/DHS 2002|
|Maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births||998 (1995)||450 (2005)||WHO 2009|
|Antenatal care coverage||48.9% (1995)||70.3%(2002)||DHS 1995/DHS 2002|
|Births attended by skilled health personnel||20.6% (1995)||28.3% (2002||DHS 1995/DHS 2002|
|Health infrastructure||16 hospitals; 4 health centers; 106 health stations (1991)||25 hospitals; 52 health centers; 180 health stations; 113 clinics (2008)||MoH (2008) and WHO (2009|
|Physicians (per 1,000 people)||0.2 (1993)||0.5 (2004)||World Databank|
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Eritrea has worked on providing equal access to all its citizens within the country. Among Eritrea’s bold move is how it created nomadic schools to accommodate those who move from place to place. The enrolment of students is at its highest level. Eritrea worked so diligently to educate parents and guardians of children that it’s compulsory for all children to attend to school. Building of primary schools is the prime project of the ministry of Education. The adult illiteracy rate that was around 80% at time of independence is now projected to fall below 10% by 2015.
As for growth in number of students, teachers, and schools the following table speaks for itself:
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|GROWTH %||No. OF STUDENTS||No. OF TEACHERS||No. OF SCHOOLS|
|Technical and Professional Schools||1,109%||238%||250%|
The story is the same in higher education. The country has now 8 colleges as opposed to only 1 at time of independence. Starting in 2009 the country is annually graduating about 35 medical doctors.
Eritrea has also been able to connect most of its remote villages through an amazing network all season roads. Some of the terrain where these roads, where impenetrable by any stretch of imagination, but local know how and determination has made it possible and now they are a marvel for tourists. The new road that connects the town of Adi Qeyih with the port city of Massawa is an engineering marvel. The travel distance between the two cities is now 25% of what it was few years ago. Now that most of the villages’ towns and cities are linked, and plenty of new transportation buses have been imported, the agony has been part of the past. Several of these roads are now slated to be paved in the coming few months. Eritrea is also working with its air and sea transportations for the convenience of its citizens with in the country and the Diaspora and visitors.
The following can give a glimpse of the total picture of roads in Eritrea as of 1996. Since then within the last 6 years a lot has changed. Every single day counts when it comes to Eritrean progress.
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|TITLE||START POINT||INTERMIDIATE POINT||END POINT||ROAD TYPE|
|P-4||Asmara||Mendefera||Mereb River (border with Ethiopia)||Asphalt|
|Source of 1996|
Eritrea took the agriculture sector as its own major security issue. With the dedication of its citizen and heavy investment Eritrea is now seeing the bright future that is relying on itself to produce enough food for its citizens and beyond. This should not be looked lightly as the outcome is demonstrated while the whole horn of Africa countries were suffering from drought Eritrea was able to sustain from being part of the burden. According to a study by a Cornell professor only three of the newly built dams and irrigation around them has the possibility to feed over 5 million people in a year. [The writer will provide the data as updated report become handy]
Eritrea in 1991 has only very few land lines that are not reliable at all. Since independence Eritrea was able to identify it is one of the necessities for the country to be able to advance and catch up with the world community that the communication has undeniable role. Now, in Eritrea in most villages, including those remote ones, are wirelessly connect with cell phones, and the internet is available in most high schools. The ministry of education is using solar powered computers where the electrical grid doesn’t reach. Work is on progress to make for an easier and faster access. Acknowledging the roll of internet Eritrea is dedicate to make sure the one who lives in a very remote village must have equal access to the one who goes to school in the capital. [The writer will provide updated data of as it became available]
From the above information it is understandably that Eritrea is progressing on the right truck. This could be a good example if our African continent utilizes the methods Eritrea is following.
Happy Independence Day to All!!
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