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With a population of just over 1.27 billion, India is the world’s largest democracy and the seventh largest country in the world. It’s geography includes the Himalayan Mountain range and deserts in the north, great alluvial plains (through which run three rivers including the Ganges), highlands (some of which are also at risk of earthquakes) and coastal plains.

In the past decade, the country has witnessed accelerated economic growth and emerged as a global player with the world’s fourth largest economy in purchasing power terms. This growth came after a long period during which business investment was hampered by earlier government policy. While the reforms have resulted in growing wealth, there has been a collapse of the rural economy due to declining investment in the sector, an oversupply of labor and primitive methods of agriculture.

Widely recognised as a country suffering very poor living conditions for millions of its people, poverty levels have decreased in India from around 50% (of the population) in the late seventies to 27% in 2005.  Forty-two per cent of people in rural areas lived below the poverty line in 2004-05. Poverty is compounded by other factors such as corruption, illiteracy, the caste system and complex laws of inheritance which may disadvantage certain groups in society, women in particular.

While relatively small in proportion to the overall population, particular health concerns pose life-threatening problems for large numbers of the population:

  • HIV/AIDS affects an estimated 2.4 million people each year
  • Around 1.7 million are diagnosed with the airborne infection tuberculosis (TB) annually, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths. This makes it the leading cause of fatalities in the 15 to 45 year age group. 

A number of our projects relate to the treatment of TB and HIV/AIDS and supporting patients and their families in nutrition programs, as well as clean water supply, education and agricultural garden development to build sustainable food supplies and family incomes.

Source: World Bank, US AID

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