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Human Nutrition in the Developing Country of Guyana

By CARMENMCHECO Jan 20, 2012 2494 Words
Topic:       Human Nutrition in the Developing Country of Guyana *
* According to the United Nation and the International Monetary Fund, countries are categorized according to their socio-economic position with respect to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income per capita, life expectancy and the wellbeing of the natives. These factors are compared to all the countries all over the world. Countries with a low level of material wellbeing are considered developing or underdeveloped. According to the Human Developing Index, approximately 85.4% of the world’s population lives in developing countries making this issue of Health and Nutrition in this global community a major and pressing issue. Economically, many of these countries cannot establish stable enough economies due to the history of imperialism and colonization that caused a disruption in the development of these countries. Because of the lack of funds to cultivate the raw materials, these countries cannot establish successful and stable systems to produce food to feed their populations or even hospitals to cure many of the diseases and disorders created as a result of malnutrition. * For this study, focus will be localized to a village that is located in Guyana, South * America. This is the native country of my parents, and I was fortunate to make several visits to this location, the most recent of which was last summer, so I am familiar with the lifestyle practices of the inhabitants not only from a first hand basis, but also from the inherited practices that were passed down to my family through my parents. *

Brief History of Imperialism and Development as a Developing Country

* Guyana is located on the northern tip of the continent of South America, and the location of this case study is also on the northern tip that referred to as the coastal plain. Guyana recieved its name from the Native Indian tribe called the Amerindians, and it means “Land of Many waters” because of the many rivers and streams that are found in the country. The country is also near to the equator, so it has a tropical climate for most of the year, with only tow seasons, the wet season and the dry season. The former season is usually rainy and occurs between October to May and the latter which is usually dry and hot (temperature ranging from the early 80 degrees to 100 on humid days) from June through September. * Guyana is also below sea level, and like many of the other countries in the region was subjected to colonial expansion, so it changed Imperial governments between the British, Dutch and Spanish for a brief period. The Dutch and English had longer influences, with the English finally securing dominance for the last and longest period in the history of the country. So, due to the many rivers and the fact that that the country is susceptible to flooding, when it was occupied by the Dutch large systems of sluices, dams and sea walls were constructed to prevent excessive flooding, but the rich silt deposits from the river made the coastal plain fertile for agricultural initiatives, so the main produce from Guyana have always been sugar from the cane plants and rice. *

* The System of Self Sufficiency in Union Village, Guyana, SA: Introduction * Since Union Village is located on the coastal plain of the Corentyne River, the land is also fertile and it is one of the many farming communities along that plain. Some of the villagers have become wealthy rice farmers as they own large plots of rice lands, but the majority of people are self sufficient by planting kitchen gardens to supplement the staple rice diet with ground provisions, fruits and vegetables. Those villagers also rear livestock of chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats and cows. Some of the rice farmers also rear fish farms. They use the waste from the rice covering/ shell to feed the fish, and their livestock. The milk comes from the cows and goats; eggs come from the chicken and ducks and meat come from all livestock and fish. Since fish is in most abundance and is therefore the cheapest, fish is usually the protein of choice for the diet. * The System of Self Sufficiency in Union Village, Guyana, SA: Environmental Perspective * Environmentally, the living habits of these villagers generate positive carbon footprint because of their waste management and recycling habits, long before the awareness was created at the international level. They were engaged in those activities out of necessity, but it paid off very well for the community and ensured sustainability for them. By planting seasonal crops, they learned to rotate the crops they plant and maintain the fertility of the soil by natural eco-balancing. They also use even the waste produced by the cows, especially as fertilizer, so helped by the rain and sunshine, the land stays lush and green. The dogs eat leftovers from the family meals, so they do not incur additional expenditure of having to buy separate dog food and the livestock eat the waste products of the plants such as the rice and corn. * Because a majority of the food in Guyana is produced locally and sold in large market places their carbon footprint is significantly lower than a majority of other countries that rely on outside imports of food. Limiting the importation of food and exportation of goods decreases carbon emissions in transportation like large jets, freight planes and other large automobiles that emit pollution in the air. However, during the 21st century Guyana has begun to follow the growing trend of increasing its involvement in the global community through the exportation of minerals like Gold and Bauxite. In addition to the few food products that Guyana is historically known for since imperialism: sugar and raw materials. * Because Guyana is increasing its involvement in the global community exports as well as few imports have increased due to sanctions from the International Monetary Fund’s involvement in the project of developing small countries like Guyana industrially and economically. As shown in the graphs below, Guyana’s carbon emissions have increased significantly since the 1950’s especially at the turn of the 21st century when the United Nations introduced their initiatives to better developing countries. *

* Graph 1a. ( *
* Graph 1b. ( *
* The System of Self Sufficiency in Union Village, Guyana, SA: Socio-Economic * As a result, from the socio-economic perspective, based on their life styles, the villagers eating habits may not be sufficient enough to ensure proper nutrition because their foods are not imported they have to rely on the fickle patterns of nature in order to yield a good harvest and raise healthy livestock. Guyana’s weather correlates with their socio-economic standing and the problem of malnutrition. * With many floods, monsoon type weather and the rainforest atmosphere, villagers rely heavily on the weather that develops a particularly unbalanced eating regiment. From a social perspective, meats like chicken, cows and other animals are only cooked on special holidays and large festivals while on a regular basis, rice is the main staple for many impoverished families. From rice and pepper to shine rice (rice and butter), these dishes will not suffice nutritionally. In most cases however, village people consume a lot of fresh fruit on a daily basis from their personal yards. While these foods are healthy, fresh and organic, with no addition of chemicals, artificial fertilizers or pesticides, the foods are eaten leisurely and not measured daily to ensure a balanced and accurate amount of nutrition. With the lack of education on how to properly balance their diets with vegetables, proteins and even fruits, they eat leisurely and do not fairly balance their diets per day. While many industrialized and developed countries hold health classes that teach children from a young age to balance a fruit a day and a proper portion control. In actuality, although the foods in Guyana are fresher, the genetically altered or artificial products that are produced by developed countries guarantee a higher yield of foods to be distributed along with added vitamins and proteins that still ensure a sufficient amount of nutrition. Despite these set backs in education on diets, Guyana still produces a variety of foods that can suffice in feeding the people to ensure healthy nutrition (See Graph 3 Below). *

* Graph 3. ( * Also, owing to the location from the centralized city, they do not have quick access to quality medical facilities as the nearest medical center is approximately 25 miles from the village and the hospital is almost 40 miles away. As a result, they have non-traditional attitudes towards conventional medical practices such as screenings, for example, which are considered as routine and expected from an international stand-point. * In addition, socially, since they are semi-rural, some of them do have access to technology and amenities such as electricity, radios and even a sprinkling of television, but that is not widespread. Therefore, Internet and computer access or in many cases, even access to a telephone is not widespread. This is a blessing in disguise because economically it saves both the people and the government money and most of all saves the environment from utilization of so much electricity. Even for cooking, they use outdoor brick ovens that are fuelled by dry brushes and wood or coal collected from forest fore remnants. * Resulting Issues from the Environmental and Socio-economic Factors * As aforementioned in the introduction of the topic, countries are still categorized according to their socio-economic position with respect to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income per capita, life expectancy and the wellbeing of the natives. These factors are compared to all the countries all over the world. The wealth of countries are categorized according to their abilities to export and their level of industrialization. * According to the Human Developing Index, approximately 85.4% of the world’s population lives in developing countries making this issue of Health and Nutrition in this global community a major and pressing issue. Economically, many of these countries are not capable of establishing stable enough economies due to the history of imperialism and colonization that contributed to their dependency on foreign aid as well as their economic destabilization. Due to the absence of capital to process the raw materials such as bauxite, in the case of Guyana to produce aluminum, dependency is on ALCAN in Canada and Reynolds in the USA to purchase that raw material. The same case is with the excess rice and sugar produced, so the local economic system is incapable of sustaining quality hospitals and health care services that could address disease prevention and cure and even some kinds of malnutrition. * When examined environmentally, in an article in the Health and Wellness Magazine discussing underdeveloped countries, Dr. Majid Ezzati from Harvard School of Public Health points to the lack of clean water and sanitation as the major problem causing the malnutrition. Potable water is a problem in many of the Guyanese communities, as many people still cannot afford indoor plumbing. Furthermore in an article from the Royal Society of Medicine Press on Experimental Biology and Medicine the article deals with the problem of nutrition and infectious disease in these developing countries and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The institute states, “Infectious diseases are the major causes of death and morbidity in underdeveloped countries, particularly in children” which is caused by malnutrition. * One major effect of malnutrition is an increase in child mortality rate. As seen in the graph below * One Step forward in Industrialization, Two Steps back in Sustainability * Because of the new push towards development, many supermarkets and grocery stores are replacing the marketplace and the tiny food shops in Guyana. As shown in the chart below Guyana’s carbon emissions have increased significantly since the 1950’s. This increase is largely due to the development of supermarkets and the importation of processed goods from United States companies that have specific relations with the Guyanese government. In order to ensure that Guyana returns to its more sustainable systems, the country should create better programs to educate its people on eating well balanced meals to avoid malnutrition with respect to the three major forms of malnutrition in Guyana as recorded by the Food and Agriculture Organization are Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), anemia, and overweight/obesity are the most common nutrition-related disorders. As seen in Graph 4, Guyana produces a large amount of varying foods and products that can adequately resolve its problems of malnutrition. YEAR| Carbon emissions| Per capita emissions|

1950| 71| 0.17|
1951| 78| 0.18|
1952| 92| 0.21|
1953| 123| 0.27|
1954| 129| 0.27|
1955| 141| 0.29|
1956| 150| 0.3|
1957| 146| 0.28|
1958| 125| 0.23|
1959| 151| 0.27|
1960| 180| 0.32|
1961| 201| 0.34|
1962| 185| 0.31|
1963| 168| 0.27|
1964| 177| 0.28|
1965| 294| 0.46|
1966| 322| 0.49|
1967| 361| 0.54|
1968| 363| 0.53|
1969| 373| 0.53|
1970| 431| 0.61|
1971| 409| 0.57|
1972| 426| 0.59|
1973| 492| 0.68|
1974| 424| 0.58|
1975| 498| 0.68|
1976| 478| 0.65|
1977| 518| 0.7|
1978| 561| 0.75|
1979| 415| 0.55|
1980| 488| 0.64|
1981| 491| 0.65|
1982| 383| 0.51|
1983| 340| 0.45|
1984| 383| 0.51|
1985| 387| 0.51|
1986| 285| 0.38|
1987| 357| 0.48|
1988| 383| 0.52|
1989| 326| 0.44|
1990| 311| 0.42|
1991| 306| 0.42|
1992| 287| 0.4|
1993| 288| 0.39|
1994| 364| 0.49|
1995| 404| 0.53|
1996| 417| 0.54|
1997| 437| 0.56|
1998| 451| 0.58|
1999| 450| 0.58|
2000| 431| 0.58|
2001| 414| 0.56|
2002| 422| 0.56|
2003| 409| 0.54|
2004| 394| 0.52|
2005| 407| 0.54|
* Table 1. ( *
* Graph 4. ( *
* References: 
* Colchester. Marcus. (1997). Guyana, fragile frontier : loggers, miners and forest peoples. Kingston, [Jamaica] : Ian Randle Publishers ; New York, NY : Distribution in North America by Monthly Review Press * Currie-McGhee. (c2009). Leanne Protecting ecosystems. Ann Arbor : Cherry Lake Pub. * Grant, Nancy S. (2008) The pocket idiot's guide to your carbon footprint. New York, NY : Alpha Books. U.S. G.P.O. (1990-[2002]. Country reports on economic policy and trade practices : report submitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Finance of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives by the Department of State in accordance with section 2202 of the Onmibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. Washington : U.S. G.P.O., Congressional Printing Office

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