Extended political instability in Guinea-Bissau has led to slow economic development and high rates of poverty. Poverty has increased since 2002; now, one out of every three people in Guinea-Bissau lives in extreme poverty. Maternal and infant mortality is high, access to water and sanitation is limited, and stunting is prevalent. Insufficient infrastructure leads to shortages in food, medical supplies and delivery of social services. The international community was largely absent from Guinea-Bissau until early 2015, when donors pledged investments of $1 billion to support the democratically elected government’s new development plan.
The Government of Guinea-Bissau has taken concrete steps to improve socioeconomic development, including renewing efforts to pay public wages, keep schools open, and improve access to water and electricity services. Guinea-Bissau’s 2015-2020 Strategic and Operational Plan, entitled Terra Ranca, or “Fresh Start,” highlights several priority areas for further government and development partner focus: (1) Strengthening the public sector; (2) Improving provision of basic public services; (3) Supporting the revival of productive sectors, including cashews, rice, fisheries, and extractive industries, with attention to natural resource protection; and (4) Fostering private investment.