The Borgen Project http://borgenproject.org Downsize Poverty Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:22:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 The Dangers of Growing Urban Povertyhttp://borgenproject.org/dangers-growing-urban-poverty/ http://borgenproject.org/dangers-growing-urban-poverty/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:21:02 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=92195 A milestone was reached in 2007 – for the first year ever, more people were living in cities than in the country. Forbes magazine estimated that by 2030, around 5 billion of the world’s 8.1 billion people would live in cities. Of those 5 billion, an estimated 2 billion will live in slums in Africa […]

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slum_africa_boy
A milestone was reached in 2007 – for the first year ever, more people were living in cities than in the country. Forbes magazine estimated that by 2030, around 5 billion of the world’s 8.1 billion people would live in cities. Of those 5 billion, an estimated 2 billion will live in slums in Africa and Asia.

The UN reports that slum children in Sub-Saharan Africa are more likely to suffer from respiratory and water-born illnesses than their rural peers. Additionally, women living in slums are more likely to contract HIV than women in more rural areas. Most lack at least one of the following five basic needs, with some households lacking three or more: durable walls, a secure lease or title, adequate living space, clean water, and working toilets.

Many of the people living in slums are squatters – those lacking legal title to their land and without legal and political rights. Without such rights, there is little incentive for people to invest in their homes or communities. One way to grapple with urban poverty is to promote policies that help squatters attain rights, but in order to do so, the government under which the slum exists must function well enough to enforce such policies.

The infrastructure of these ever-growing cities – roads, public transport, water systems, sanitation, and electricity – cannot keep up with the growing population. Similarly, natural or man-made disasters cannot be managed well because of a lack of emergency resources for all inhabitants.

The education of children is also a problem, as children living in slums are less likely to be enrolled in school than their rural peers. With little economic opportunity and educational opportunity, slums like these are ripe for developing criminal organizations and even militant movements.

Organizations like UN Habitat are working to combat the dangers of growing urban poverty.

City planning, infrastructure development, and participatory slum upgrading are top priority while also focusing on urban legislation, risk management, gender, and youth. Also important is building capacity for organizations and governments that are trying to make a difference.

If unaddressed, there is a danger that our world could soon be dealing with “failed cities” in the same way that it deals with failed states. Mega cities, those with more than 10 million inhabitants, are on the rise across the developing world, and will likely reach 20 million by 2020. Challenges continue to increase and, if left unaddressed, could be detrimental to the global community as a whole.

- Madisson Barnett

Sources: Forbes, UN Habitat
Photo: Wikipedia

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Ghana’s Oil4Food Campaignhttp://borgenproject.org/ghanas-oil4food-campaign/ http://borgenproject.org/ghanas-oil4food-campaign/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:20:10 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91415 The Oil4Food Campaign is a collaborative and innovative mission to mobilize support and make small-scale agriculture one of Ghana’s top priorities for the investment of oil and gas revenues. It all began in 2013, when Oxfam began working with local Ghanaian organizations to mobilize communities and lobby the government to invest in small-scale agriculture. Ghana is […]

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oil_4_food
The Oil4Food Campaign is a collaborative and innovative mission to mobilize support and make small-scale agriculture one of Ghana’s top priorities for the investment of oil and gas revenues.

It all began in 2013, when Oxfam began working with local Ghanaian organizations to mobilize communities and lobby the government to invest in small-scale agriculture.

Ghana is a nation of small-scale farmers, who represent 60 percent of the country’s economically active population. Many of these farmers are impoverished and many are women, who labor on very small plots of land with little to no say in agricultural policy and decision-making. Small-scale farmers thus do not have access to improved fertilizers and seeds, processing and storage facilities, and proper irrigation.

This lack of investment in small-scale agriculture is a very real problem.

Oxfam noted this, as well as the fact that Ghana’s oil exports are expected to generate an average of $1 billion per year over the next twenty years. Why not channel this revenue into something poverty-reducing and sustainable?

Thus came the Oil4Food Campaign, which called upon the Ghanaian government to increase agricultural spending from 8.5 percent to 14.1 percent of the total GDP, as well as focus this spending on impoverished small-scale farmers.

Word of the Oil4Food Campaign spread rapidly and gained a huge level of public support among villages across the country. A mobile phone petition proved highly successful, and was promoted in newspapers, TV, radio and public events. Urban youth in Ghana became an active constituency on the issue, spreading the message through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Oxfam also engaged the public by visiting over 200 rural communities, explaining the campaign and urging farmers to speak up. Paper ‘thumbprint’ petitions were even available to be signed by those not able to read or write.

Using these traditional and media platforms, the petition ended up collecting more than 20,000 signatures. One hundred farmers marched to Parliament to present it to the government.

The months spent campaigning paid off well for small-scale farmers when the 2014 Budget was presented on November 19, 2013. The following conditions were included:

  • Maintained agriculture as one of the four priority sectors to invest oil revenue in the next 3 years.
  • Allocated 15 percent of government-expected oil revenue in 2014 to agriculture under the Annual Budget Funding Allocation. This in addition to the mainstream budget allocation to the agricultural sector represents a 23 percent increase in agricultural budget allocation from 2013, with the vast majority of this money (94.5 percent) allocated on ‘poverty focused agriculture.’
  • Proposed to scale up the commercial agricultural insurance system established in 2011 on a pilot basis to cover multiple crops, weather and more regions.

The success of the campaign was celebrated across the nation on National Farmers Day in December.

The work of Oxfam and its Ghanaian partners, as well as the work of the Ghanaian people in mobilizing their fellow community members, shows how the collaboration of many in fighting for their rights can be a real cause to celebrate.

– Mollie O’Brien

Sources: OXFAM, OXFAM(2), Joy Online

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Katharine McPhee Fights Malaria with Power of Onehttp://borgenproject.org/katharine-mcphee-fights-malaria-power-one/ http://borgenproject.org/katharine-mcphee-fights-malaria-power-one/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:19:42 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=92216 In the early 50’s, Malaria was eliminated from the United States. The mosquito-borne disease, which can have fatal outcomes, is still a problem in other parts of the world, however. April 25 is World Malaria Day, which highlights the continued need for support for malaria prevention and treatment, and this year Katharine McPhee is stepping […]

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kathrine_mcphee_malaria
In the early 50’s, Malaria was eliminated from the United States. The mosquito-borne disease, which can have fatal outcomes, is still a problem in other parts of the world, however. April 25 is World Malaria Day, which highlights the continued need for support for malaria prevention and treatment, and this year Katharine McPhee is stepping up to help out the cause.

“Every minute, a child dies from malaria. Every minute. That is pretty stunning. If that was happening in the States, there would be action right away. It would be an epidemic,” McPhee said.

Working with Malaria No More’s campaign, Power of One, McPhee is hoping to help prevent the deadly disease in Africa. Malaria No More aims to provide every African family access to the tools needed to prevent and treat malaria in their communities. The organization has provided mosquito nets to 17 African countries, and the Power of One campaign, launched in the fall of 2013, deploys tests and treatments to the area, to reduce deaths of children caused by malaria.

The organization is donation based, and every dollar donated funds a test and treatment for a child with malaria.

“One dollar, one life, it’s so simple,” says the singer-actress. “We’re hoping we can create a malaria-free zone.”

Originally, McPhee learned about the issue of malaria while funding a preschool in Africa. A family friend told her of the need for the school in the Nioko District of Burkina Faso’s capitol, Ouagadougou; through their funding, it was opened in 2009. Through emails with the school’s headmaster she learned of the recurring cases of malaria affecting the staff and students. She decided then to “continue to help” with Malaria No More.

McPhee has travelled to Africa with Malaria No More in 2012, visiting the school she helped build, and distributing mosquito nets to the region.

She also promotes the cause back home, speaking to college students this year about Malaria No More’s cause and how they can help.

“The message is that this is a disease that nobody should be living with, and if they do get infected, it’s curable. They just need the right resources,” McPhee said.

Malaria, when left untreated, is a serious disease that can prove fatal, especially in young children. The World Health Organization estimated that, in 2012, over 200 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide; the cases resulted in 627,000 deaths, almost 90 percent of which occurred in Africa. According to the CDC, however, most malaria deaths can be prevented.

This is why Malaria No More and organizations like it are so important. With World Malaria Day this week, helping to treat the disease and prevent malaria-related deaths is as important as ever, with many opportunities for new donors and volunteers to help out the cause.

To help out, go to www.Po1.org to donate a dollar and fund a test and treatment for a child with malaria.

– Matthew Erickson

Sources: USA Today, Malaria No More, CNN, CDC

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3 Innovative NGOs in Educationhttp://borgenproject.org/3-innovative-ngos-education/ http://borgenproject.org/3-innovative-ngos-education/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91992 Education is one of the key weapons to combatting poverty around the world. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come up with unique programs and solutions to allow greater access to education in developing countries.1. Barefoot College was founded in 1972 in India and works to build skills in rural villages. The founders of Barefoot College wanted to apply traditional knowledge […]

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NGO_Tostan
Education is one of the key weapons to combatting poverty around the 
world. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come up with unique programs and solutions to allow greater access to education in developing countries.

1. Barefoot College was founded in 1972 in India and works to build skills in rural villages. The founders of Barefoot College wanted to apply traditional knowledge to modern day problems by teaching locals specialized skills. They believe that literacy is learned in school, but education is gained from “family, culture, environment and personal experiences, and both are important for individual growth.” Their entire campus is powered by solar energy, teaching the local community about sustainable energy. Barefoot College teaches the local community about modern technologies and women’s empowerment, to help them grow as human beings.

2. Room to Read was founded in 2002 to increase literacy and gender equality in Africa and Asia. This organization aims to improve the habit of reading among elementary school children and increase the number of girls who stay in school beyond elementary school. It has become one of the most well known international education programs, with 50 chapters in 16 countries. The organization relies on a model that creates programs to support girls financially and mentally, building new schools and libraries, and providing books. Since 2002, Room to Read has encouraged around 7.8 million children to read more.

3. Tostan was founded in 1991 and is dedicated to community development education and ending female genital cutting. Located in 8 African countries, this organization combines education and development goals in a “three year nonformal education program.” Instead of conforming to a standardized model of development, local communities can create own programs that suit their own needs. A facilitator is appointed to live and work with each rural community for three years, teaching them human rights concepts, health habits, reading and mathematics, project management and income generation ideas. Out of the democratically elected 17 members Community Management Committee, who carry out development projects, women must hold 9 of the positions. This ensures that the women in their community have their voices and problems heard. Since 1991, over 200,000 individuals have directly participated in Tostan.

- Sarah Yan

Sources: International Relations Online, Tostan
Photo: Tostan

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10 Facts On Child Laborhttp://borgenproject.org/10-facts-child-labor/ http://borgenproject.org/10-facts-child-labor/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:00:46 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91828 Child labor is defined as work that steals a child’s childhood.  Child labor also gets in the way of the child’s education and mental and physical development. In fact, child labor prevents children from attending school to take part in dangerous and strenuous work. In some cases children are enslaved in labor, forcing some to […]

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child-labor
Child labor is defined as work that steals a child’s childhood.  Child labor also gets in the way of the child’s education and mental and physical development. In fact, child labor prevents children from attending school to take part in dangerous and strenuous work. In some cases children are enslaved in labor, forcing some to become homeless and live on the streets. Some children are enslaved in prostitution, or forced into armed combat. All of these acts are forms of forced child labor.

  1. 50 percent of all forced labor victims are under the age of 18.
  2. Around the world one in six children are forced to work.
  3. Currently, the number of slaves around the world is at an all-time high, with over 27 million in forced labor.
  4. Children living in more rural areas can begin working as young as the age of five.
  5. 126 million children in forced labor work in extremely dangerous conditions.
  6. 49 million children are  forced  laborers in Africa.
  7. The majority of child laborers are in Asia, with 122 million children forced into work.
  8. More than half of child labor is related to agricultural work.
  9. There are over 300,000 child soldiers forced into armed combat.
  10. 8.4 million children are forced into armed combat, prostitution, and acts of pornography in order to make a profit.

The worst forms of child labor are thought of as working in hazardous conditions. This work involves the use of dangerous machinery and toxic chemicals, which will endanger the life of the child. As a result of this exploitation, children work extremely long hours for little or no wages. These children have no choice but to give up any type of education.

Why are some children forced into labor? Because most children forced into labor must support their families. These children are pressured to provide food and shelter, as well as pay off debt owed by the parents. Also, some of these children are sold against their will and forced into slavery.

In order for the issue of child labor to be solved, child labor laws must be enforced. Another strategy would be to reduce poverty in these areas to limit the need for children to be forced into these situations. Finally, access to quality education ensures that each child has a chance for a better future.

- Rachel Cannon

Sources: UNICEF, Compassion
Photo: inhabitat

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7 Organizations Supporting Global Educationhttp://borgenproject.org/7-organizations-supporting-global-education/ http://borgenproject.org/7-organizations-supporting-global-education/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91978 Each of the following organizations crosses borders and boundaries to bring quality education to every child. Many of them have lofty goals regarding global education, but many have earned a worldwide reputation for the work they have done to achieve these goals. Association for Childhood Education International The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) is […]

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global-partnership-education
Each of the following organizations crosses borders and boundaries to bring quality education to every child. Many of them have lofty goals regarding global education, but many have earned a worldwide reputation for the work they have done to achieve these goals.

Association for Childhood Education International

The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) is a worldwide community of educators and advocates for education reform. Their mission is “to promote and support in the global community the optimal education, development and well-being of children.” To achieve this, they host the Global Summit on Childhood and the Institute for Global Education Diplomacy. The Summit invites professionals to gather and discuss issues facing children and the state of childhood, from education to health and well-being. Through the Institute, tentatively scheduled for 2015, ACEI brings together diplomats and professionals in education to find solutions to the problems preventing children from receiving a suitable education.

Education International

A coalition of 30 million professionals in education representing 400 organizations in 170 countries and territories comprises Education International. Their goal is to promote quality education, equity in society and the interests of other education employees. As part of their campaign, they combat racism and xenophobia that prevents children from receiving a quality education. They challenge various kinds of discrimination, including exclusion on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race and ethnic origin. They also reach out to other unions and global federations whose interests include furthering global education.

The Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) works in nearly 60 developing countries via a multilateral partnership that includes donor governments, international organizations and teachers. They hope to “galvanize and coordinate a global effort to deliver a good, quality education to all girls and boys, prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable.” Along with their partners, they develop education strategies, promote collaboration in education, share solutions to challenges facing educators, finance the implementation of programs and monitor results and data to assess progress. Since its creation in 2002, the GPE states that they have aided in putting 22 million more children in school, increased literacy rates worldwide to 81 percent in 2010 and increased primary school completion to 75 percent in 2011. Since 2004 they have trained 300,000 teachers, built and equipped 53,000 classrooms and purchased and distributed 50 million textbooks.

Plan International

Founded more than 75 years ago, Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children’s development organizations in the world. Plan’s ideal world is one in which “all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people’s right and dignity.” They hope to gain lasting improvements in the quality of life of children in developing countries by uniting people across cultures. They aid deprived children, their families, and their communities by enabling them to meet their basic needs and building relationships to increase understanding amongst people of different cultures. In all of their endeavors, the rights of the world’s children take priority.

Save the Children

The goal of Save the Children is to promote global education and the rights of children around the world. To increase the quality of instruction and help ensure lasting education, Save the Children teaches effective teaching strategies to instructors and trains them to engage students. They coach parents and caregivers to help foster learning early on, and offer ways for parents to encourage schoolwork and continued learning outside of the classroom. They also hope to introduce children to artistic expression, encourage learning during and after crisis and invest in the health of children to ensure they don’t fall behind. In 2012, Save the Children reached 9 million children.

UNESCO

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization began in 1945 and is “committed to a holistic and humanistic vision of quality education worldwide, the realization of everyone’s right to education and the belief that education plays a fundamental role in human, social, and economic development.” Their mission is to aid in the building of peace, eradication of poverty and lasting development. They seek to achieve these goals and create an intercultural dialogue through global education. Their membership includes 204 countries, 9 of which are associate members.

UNICEF

Established in 1946, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund imagines a world in which the rights of every child are recognized. Their goals include reducing inequities and discrimination, fulfilling global education goals such as the 2 Millennium Goals that focus on education, achieving gender equality and equity in education, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn and continuing education during and after a crisis.

- Kristen Bezner

Sources: Association for Childhood Education International, Education International, The Global Partnership for Education, Plan International, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF
Photo: Global Partnership for Education

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Who is my Congressman?http://borgenproject.org/congressman/ http://borgenproject.org/congressman/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91832 Have you ever wondered who speaks on behalf of the voters for the area you live in? There may be a number of issues that citizens are passionate about and even push for bills supporting their causes to be passed. So the real question, then, becomes who is my congressman? Who is designated to speak […]

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Who is my Congressman
Have you ever wondered who speaks on behalf of the voters for the area you live in? There may be a number of issues that citizens are passionate about and even push for bills supporting their causes to be passed. So the real question, then, becomes who is my congressman? Who is designated to speak on behalf of myself and neighbors of those in power to change what is going on?

It is a question that should be asked by every young adult registering to vote and even veteran voters that may not be as conscious of the person currently representing them in office. Sure, we see their names on papers, maybe even in emails, but many times that is where it stops. So when you ask yourself who your congressman is, you may not be able to answer further than a name on a sheet of paper.

The Congress is made up of 100 U.S. Senators and 435 U.S. Representatives in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives for any state depends on the population, not the size. For example, there are 27 representatives for the state of Florida, compared to the 7 representatives for Alabama.

Congress makes up the federal government alongside the President. Both branches determine how much funding goes to programs ranging from healthcare to programs related to living conditions of the world’s poor. That means that members of the congress play a very important role in the lives of people around the world.

Members of the House of Representatives are commonly referred to as Congressmen or Congresswomen. Each representative is responsible for a district in your state depending on how many representatives you have. States with larger populations, like New York, will likely have different representatives for neighboring cities and areas.

It is important to educate yourself on who will be representing you in the federal government. Regardless of how we may feel about a particular representative, these individuals are selected to speak on behalf of “the people.” Not only do they represent the voters of their respective states, but they stand for whatever changes voters wish to enact and even stop.

Just as Congress has a heavy influence on U.S. funding, citizens have just as much influence on members of congress in their respectable districts. When asked who my Congressman is, I answer with confidence, Representative Ron Desantis, Republican.

- Janelle Mills

Sources: The Borgen Project, EDHP, Govtrack
Photo: Wall Street Daily

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Brazzaville and Les Sapeurshttp://borgenproject.org/brazzaville-les-sapeurs/ http://borgenproject.org/brazzaville-les-sapeurs/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:00:21 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=91825 In Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo, a group of men—gentlemen—always gallantly brighten up the moods of those around them. Meet la Société des Ambienceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance), abbreviated as La Sape—an apt abbreviation that also happens to mean clothes, or dress, […]

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la-sape
In Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo, a group of men—gentlemen—always gallantly brighten up the moods of those around them. Meet la Société des Ambienceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance), abbreviated as La Sape—an apt abbreviation that also happens to mean clothes, or dress, in French. The members of this association are referred to as les sapeurs.

La Sape originated from Dandyism of the 19th century that was brought to Congo by colonialism. Colonial officers wanted their servants—or as they were called during that era “houseboys”—to dress in such a manner that would reflect the status of their masters. Congolese men coming back to their country from France also brought French fashion with them. Thus, among the youth and those who worked for the colonizers, many wanted to emulate and live up to the myth of the Parisian elegance.

However, nowadays, this foreign-influenced fashion has been appropriated and utilized as a uniquely Congolese sartorial expression to defy the harsh reality of everyday poverty and to allow those who partake in this subculture to articulate their art of living and their joie de vivre. In a country where 46.5 percent live at or below the national poverty line, an average person earns $3,240 per year. Nevertheless, today’s sapeurs are willing to pay a fortune for a pair of crocodile shoes, which can cost anywhere between $1,300 and $3,900. That is not to say that the sapeurs are on average wealthier than most Congolese or that they indulge in conspicuous consumerism.

Most members of La Sape have medium-income occupations such as electricians, shopkeepers or marketing agents. Despite their meager incomes, the sapeurs manage to use their creativity to assemble fashionable dresses to turn the streets of Brazzaville into runways. To save money, the sapeurs often buy second hand clothes or obtain them from friends. Besides their à la mode (and perhaps even a little avant-garde) clothing, the sapeurs also uphold—to a near commandment status—certain types of demeanors and manner that are the quintessence of politeness and elegance. Some of these commandments include: “1. To dress oneself here on earth as it is in heaven,” “8 & 9. To not be tribalist, racist, nationalist, or violent” and “ 10. To not display any hesitation in trying to charm all those who are sappophobic.” In Brazzaville, the sapeurs are somewhat celebrities—not unlike reality TV starts. Their presence at weddings, celebrations, parties and even funerals, are appreciated as they so often bring a sense of lightheartedness and stylishness to the occasions.

Although outsiders may see La Sape movement as a direct legacy of colonialism and the European imposition of Western values, the sapeurs in fact defy the stereotypes that are, too, imposed upon the many peoples of Africa by outsiders. In contrast to the usually clichés of a monolithic Africa of famine, wars, and safaris, the sapeurs show that there are more dimensions beyond the clichés. No matter how difficult the circumstance may be for the sapeurs, they nevertheless know how to make the best out of what they possess and in doing so, bring joy to both themselves and those around them. And as for the accusation that the sapeurs are perpetuating the legacy of colonialism, Baudouin Mouanda—a photographer who immortalized the numerous members of La Sape—has once stated, “the Westerners made the dress, but how it is worn was invented in Brazzaville.”

- Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: Zone Zero, Racialicious, Jeuneafrique, NPR
Photo: Fashion Junkii

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The Sherpas and Mount Everest Tourismhttp://borgenproject.org/sherpas-mount-everest-tourism/ http://borgenproject.org/sherpas-mount-everest-tourism/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:02:38 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=92189 On April 18, 2014, an avalanche on Mount Everest tumbled down upon the nearby Everest Base Camp—at the altitude of 1,900 feet above sea level—killing 16 Nepalese guides. The victims of the deadliest accident on Mt. Everest ever recorded were mainly Sherpa mountain guides. After Tenzing Norgay helped Sir Edmund Hillary reach the summit of […]

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sherpa_mount_everest
On April 18, 2014, an avalanche on Mount Everest tumbled down upon the nearby Everest Base Camp—at the altitude of 1,900 feet above sea level—killing 16 Nepalese guides. The victims of the deadliest accident on Mt. Everest ever recorded were mainly Sherpa mountain guides.

After Tenzing Norgay helped Sir Edmund Hillary reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, this ethnicity came to be associated—at least in mainstream Western imagination—with expeditionary mountaineering. In fact, more than half a decade after Norgay, many Sherpas still make their living from this perilous occupation. As part of their tasks, Sherpa guides often embark on 20-25 round trips carrying climbing kit and supplies to base camps closer to the summit. This physically demanding and dangerous activity exposes those working in this tourism sector to great risks.

Historically, people living along the Himalayan ranges used to make their living carrying goods between Nepal and Tibet and exchanging them for wheat and sugar. Although Sherpa guides recognize that they are working in an immensely dangerous job, they also admit that work in other sectors are difficult to come by. Despite that not a year goes by without at least one death; in a country where the average annual income is $700 USD, an opportunity to make up to $5,000 USD in three months is indeed hard to turn down. Furthermore, an expedition to the summit may cost up to $90,000 USD for those wishing to undertake it.

Thus, despite the inevitable dangers that multiple journeys up Mount Everest entail, many find it an indeclinable chance to quickly earn a living. The Sherpas, once among Nepal’s poorest communities, have been benefiting from visitors to the world’s highest peak. Tourism has allowed this once isolated ethnic community to form their own middle-class. Nevertheless, as trail preparers as well as porters, Sherpa guides face much higher risks than their co-expeditionary clients. Being the first on every journey to scout the trail and having to break the ice and deep snow, to lay ropes and to carry heavy equipment, in case of an accident, the guides are much more likely to bare the blunt of it. Other potential risks include altitude sickness, the lack of oxygen, hypothermia and avalanches.

Tourism—now Nepal’s largest industry as well as a major source of foreign revenue—decidedly has been beneficial for Nepal and the Sherpa community in certain aspects. Many Sherpa families now own trekking companies and only work in well-paid high-altitude expeditions. As for Nepal itself, although tourism attracts more than 700,000 foreign tourists annually—most of whom visit the Himalayan nation for trekking—the country has been dramatically transformed from the remote Himalayan kingdom that Sir Hillary encountered to a republic bustling with tourists on the crossroad of two global economic giants.

As for the Sherpa community, following the tragedy that struck their community, many are demanding better compensation as well as higher insurance payments for the lives lost in the avalanche. The Nepalese government has so far offered only $400 USD to the families of the guides perished in the incident. Nevertheless, is the money earned from trekking worth the risks that frequent trips up the world’s highest mountain pose? Although Mt. Everest’s tourism industry brings much prosperity to the Sherpa community and to Nepal as a whole, the guides have to put their own lives and the livelihood of their families at what would, in “more regular circumstances,” be considered unacceptable risks. $5,000 USD during the climbing season—approximately three months in duration with multiple journeys involving a wide range of dangers and annual fatalities—would certainly not be considered a sufficient remuneration in high-income countries. What then makes the lives of the Sherpa guides less valuable? The exchange rates and the cost of living?

- Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: BBC News, South China Morning Post, Global News, Newser, The Guardian
Photo: Mount Everest Cafe

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Impact Genome Project to Predict Social Effectshttp://borgenproject.org/impact-genome-project-predict-social-effects/ http://borgenproject.org/impact-genome-project-predict-social-effects/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:01:47 +0000 http://borgenproject.org/?p=92008 Some of the biggest opponents to foreign aid believe that aid given out will not have the impact the projects set out to have. While case studies in Europe, Asia and some African countries show the positive impacts that foreign aid will have on struggling economies, there is still always doubt that the international community […]

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Some of the biggest opponents to foreign aid believe that aid given out will not have the impact the projects set out to have. While case studies in Europe, Asia and some African countries show the positive impacts that foreign aid will have on struggling economies, there is still always doubt that the international community can make a positive impact.

The Impact Genome Project was announced in April of 2014 to look at how programs will impact the communities they set out to help. The Project was introduced by Jason Saul and Nolan Gasser, two scholars who are prominent members of the Mission Measurement Corporation. The corporation advertises itself as “the world leader in measuring social outcomes,” and this new project will draw on the existing database the company has in efforts to predict social impacts.

The hope is that this Project will make foreign aid more efficient and allow the international community to learn more about what they can do to encourage emerging economies. Jason Saul, the CEO of the Mission Measurement Corporation, says “we’ve been working to improve the world by changing the dialogue around social impact… creating a literal ‘social capital market.’” While Saul may be espousing a wildly optimistic viewpoint, the hope is that the project will bring about a substantial stage in the social advocacy discourse.

Moreover, the way this project works may be difficult for some observers to understand. Saul and Matt Groch, another Mission Measurement executive, compare their project to Pandora’s Music Genome Project, which used listener preferences to predict songs they might like. Using a number of factors such as capacity, cost and consistency, as well as metrics concerning the number of people likely to be affected positively and the cost to affect each of those people. Mission Measurement hopes that the combination of these considerations will measure social impact as easily as a bank can evaluate a loan.

The project carries a great amount of promise for the future as we look to bring the world forward into a flourishing global economy, yet there are some doubters over the project’s potential. One writer for the Guardian newspaper points out that, “establishing benchmarks on costs-per-outcome can be reductive and inaccurate because they are changing so rapidly.” The worry is that outdated information will promote inaction rather than positive impacts.

The Impact Genome Project has a big goal ahead of it, and it will surely be judged harshly by some sectors of the international community. If the Project can give some additional clarity that will help bring down the number of people living in extreme poverty, then it can surely be considered a success. The Borgen Project and organizations like it continue to work to reduce this number as well. The hope is that the Impact Genome Project will be another great ally in this fight against global poverty.

- Eric Gustafsson

Sources: The Guardian, Business Wire, Stanford
Photo: The Guardian

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