The Republic of Guinea is a country of 11 million inhabitants, located in West Africa and covers an area of 245,857 km². The country shares 3,300 km of borderland with six countries, some of which are undergoing socio-political turmoil that has resulted in displacement of populations.
In the last decade, the country has experienced socio-economic adversity typified by governance problems, limited economic progress and overall deterioration of the economy. However, the November 2010 elections, the first democratic polls to be held in the country since independence, brought new hopes for economic and social development, based on sound macro-economic management, budgetary and fiscal discipline, and efficient management of public resources.
The country still faces major challenges, including the consolidation of peace and national unity, the effects of social political conflicts in some of the neighbouring countries, and the continuation of the current political transition period, which will officially end when the Government holds legislative elections on 12 May 2013.
Despite the abundance of natural resources, Guinea’s socio-economic indicators point to high prevalence of poverty and malnutrition, especially among the vulnerable rural and urban populations. A recent report on household poverty published in June 2012 indicates that on average 55 percent of the Guinean population lives below the poverty line. Poverty incidence is most prevalent in the administrative regions of Nzérékoré, Labé, Farannah, Kindia and Boké. Another report on nutrition survey published in February 2012 indicates high rates of malnutrition in children under five. According to this report, the national malnutrition rate is at 34% nationally, with the highest incidences reported in Boké north, Labé, Farannah, Nzérékoré, and Kankan.
The food security situation remains a cause for concern. According to the national survey of food insecurity conducted in 2009, 32 percent of rural households are affected by food insecurity, compared to an average of 16 percent in 2005. Severe and moderate food insecurity affects about 2,302,000 people in different regions of the country. The regions hardest hit by poverty and illiteracy remain Upper, Middle Guinea, Forest Guinea and Northern Boke. These regions also suffer from chronic food insecurity. A new food security assessment study was conducted at the end of 2012, report of which will be published in the first quarter of 2013.
Despite steady progress made in recent years by the Guinean educational system, recent trends show a marked stagnation in some core indicators related to the MDG goals such as decreasing gross enrolment rate (GER), low primary school completion, higher repetition, and the severe shortage of textbooks and other scholastic materials and inadequate, inequitable distribution and the low qualification of teaching staff. The level of education is further affected by low investment, increased school fees and the declining quality of education on account of high student / teacher ratio, existence of incomplete school cycles, double shifts and classes without teachers.
Guinea is a neighbour to countries with a history of political instability. In the 90s the country was host to about 700,000 refugees. The social political tensions that occurred in the Côte d’Ivoire (CIV) after the presidential elections of October 2010 led to significant refugee influx into neighbouring countries, including into Guinea. The Forest Region currently hosts Ivoirian refugees, estimated by UNHCR to be around 6,000. The continued presence of refugees has contributed to the widespread decline of this region. Similarly, the Coup d’état and social-political conflict of 2012 in Mali has led to influx of some Malian refugees into Guinea, particularly into the region of Upper Guinea.
The majority of the Guinean population relies on subsistence agriculture without any financial safety net and is especially vulnerable to small-scale natural disasters. WFP is well positioned to support Government of Guinea, not only through delivery of food to vulnerable populations but also through capacity building for development of sustainable hunger solutions and building on government resilience to manage hunger and chronic malnutrition.