Located in West Africa, the Republic of Guinea is home to around 12 million people. Despite an abundance of natural resources including iron ore, bauxite, diamonds and gold, Guinea faces major socio-economic and political challenges. Poverty and malnutrition rates are alarming, especially in rural areas. In 2013, Guinea was ranked 178th out of 187 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index.
Although constitutional order was restored in 2010 with the election of a president in the first democratic polls since independence, the former French colony has struggled to form a national parliament. After several delays, on 28 September 2013, the first parliamentary elections were held. The Supreme Court ratified the final results on 15 November 2013, the first session of the National Parliament was conducted on 13 January 2014 and the new cabinet was announced. This marks a new beginning for Guinea, political stability; peace and security have gradually been improving over the past few months. Donor confidence is improving and it is hoped that foreign investment will start returning to Guinea.
Guinea has often been affected by the socio-political instability in neighboring countries. During the 1990s, the Forest Guinea Region hosted around 700,000 refugees and returning Guinean migrants, who were driven from their homes by the conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. The arrival of so many people has depleted natural resources, fueled tensions between ethnic and social groups and driven up poverty rates. Most refugees have now returned to their homes and the Forest Region hosts some 5,700 Ivorian refugees. There are plans to repatriate these refugees over coming months/years.
Guinea is also affected by recurring natural disasters and shocks. During the rainy season, flooding is common in Upper Guinea where it causes significant damage every year. Between 50,000 - 69,000 people are affected each year. The country is also vulnerable to interethnic violence. More than 200 people were killed, 450 were injured and 30,000 were displaced during clashes between ethnic groups in Nzérékoré in July 2013.
Guinea is a young nation; more than two-fifths of the population is under the age of 15. Life expectancy is one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, at 39 years for men and 42 for women. On average, 55 percent of the Guinean population lives below the poverty line and unemployment rates amongst youth (and women) are particularly high in the Forest Region. The poorest areas include Nzérékoré, Labé, Farannah, Kindia and Boké. The national gross primary school enrolment rate increased from 28 to 80 percent between 1989 and 2007. However, only 28.3 percent of adults are literate.
A Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA), conducted by WFP and the Government’s National Agency of Agriculture and Food Security Statistics (ANASA) in 2012, indicated that 27.2 percent of households are food insecure, with 3.3 percent severely food insecure. According to another 2012 survey, the nationwide chronic malnutrition rate among children is 34.5 percent, well above the global emergency level of 15 percent. It reaches over 40% in Labe, Boké and Nzérékoré. The global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate is 10 percent.
Most Guineans rely on subsistence agriculture and are not covered by any national safety net programme. WFP Guinea uses its well-established relationship with communities, the Government, NGOs and other development partners to implement integrated safety net programmes that address food and nutrition insecurity.