Despite achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by 50 percent, Mali continues to struggle with extreme poverty. 50 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. There are nearly 59,000 internally displaced people and 143,500 Malian refugees located in neighboring countries. More than 600,000 Malians are in need of food assistance. A low-income nation, Mali was ranked 179 out of 188 countries on the 2015 Human Development Index. Though Mali’s economy is projected to grow by 5 percent over the 2017-2019 period and all economic sectors are projected to contribute to this growth, poverty persists. Why is Mali poor?
The answer to this question must consider the negative effects that drought and erratic rainfall have had on the country. Climate change has also led to higher temperatures, less rainfall and growing desertification in Mali, already one of the hottest countries in the world. 90 percent of the rural population works in the agricultural sector. Most farming is done on a subsistence basis; therefore, there is little to no reinvestment made in mechanization. Due to the adverse conditions, 25 percent of families are moderately to severely food insecure. During the 2016 lean season, approximately 315,000 Malians experienced severe food insecurity. One in three Malian children under the age of five is affected by stunting, a condition brought on by poor nutrition which affects both physical and cognitive development.
With an undiversified economy dependent on commodity exports, Mali is also extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices and the consequences of climate change. Though growth accelerated to 7 percent in 2014, its highest level in over a decade, and is expected to remain steady at 5 percent, Mali’s economic prospects are contingent on several important factors, including the stability of global prices for cotton and gold, Mali’s two biggest exports. Climatic shocks that negatively affect harvests could also cause a drop in economic growth and an increase in food insecurity.
Another contributing factor to why Mali is poor is the military coup that took place in the country in 2012. The coup resulted in the occupation of the northern regions of Mali by armed non-state groups. The signing of a peace agreement in 2015 between the Malian government and two rebel coalitions allowed for the implementation of a program of accelerated development in the northern regions. Due to fragile security and attacks on United Nations forces and the Malian army by terrorist groups in the northern regions, putting the program into action is difficult.
In addition to adverse weather conditions and conflict, poverty in Mali has also been perpetuated by the lack of access to education and career training. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the expected amount of schooling in Mali is 8.4 years, while the average amount of schooling is only 2.3 years. Educational programs such as those implemented by the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) have taken steps to make education more accessible to children in Mali, particularly those who have been out of school for a prolonged period of time.
“In Mali, 89 [percent] of out-of-school students who enrolled in a CARE accelerated learning program also completed it,” says CARE’s Senior Technical Advisor for Education, Katherine Begley. “100 [percent] of them successfully transitioned into formal schools.”
With the emphasis put on reaching those most affected by conflict and poverty, it is the belief of organizations like CARE that the cycle of poverty can be ended in Mali.
– Amanda Quinn
The African island nation of Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world. The extreme poverty rate in Madagascar was nearly 78 percent of the population in 2012, and that high rate has likely continued into the following years. Around 19 million Malagasy live on less than $1.90 a day.
Due to the severely high poverty rate in Madagascar, improvements are a long, uphill battle. A recent report found obstacles to poverty reduction include a lack of infrastructure, poor access to markets, land degradation and volatile food prices.
Unproductive micro-enterprises are another barrier. Small businesses cannot grow and create more jobs because of a low demand for non-agricultural products. Widespread poverty constricts Madagascar’s consumer base.
The government of Madagascar is not idly standing by while millions suffer in poverty. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina made poverty reduction, infrastructure development and educational attainment national priorities following his election in 2014. The government is adhering to these goals through several national strategies and multiparty agreements.
In cooperation with the United Nations, Madagascar adopted a national biodiversity plan that includes the Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries Sectorial Program. This program should ensure economic growth through investments in agriculture and export sectors. It also resolves to reduce poverty by improving farm productivity and household income through crop diversification.
Another method through which the poverty rate can decrease is Madagascar’s work to improve education. One tactic Madagascar has implemented in this regard is building literacy centers for people to learn reading, writing and math necessary for further technical training.
The government is also trying to eliminate gender discrimination with land ownership law enforcement and awareness workshops concentrated in the most rural, impoverished regions. Dispelling customary notions that prevent women from inheriting land will allow more women to support themselves and their families.
In April, Madagascar outlined its poverty reduction strategy in an economic development report submitted to the International Monetary Fund. In it, the government vows to prioritize social and poverty-related spending in the federal budget. Contained within that promise is the continuation of integrating teachers into the civil service and distributing school kits. Those two practices will lessen the financial burden on families and local organizations that have to pay for children’s education.
Madagascar’s national strategy also calls for macroeconomic stability and a strong financial system. This would ensure a healthy reduction in inflation and stable prices that guarantee sound purchasing power for consumers.
Madagascar is not battling its high poverty rate alone. The African Development Bank, the World Bank Group and the United Nations Development Programme pledged $6.4 billion to Madagascar for its 2017-2020 development projects.
Madagascar’s economy is gradually improving. Its GDP growth rate was 3.3 percent in 2014 and is projected to reach 4.5 percent this year, which should stimulate job growth and pull people out of poverty.
The poverty rate in Madagascar can decrease if the government follows through on its many objectives to improve the lives of its people.
– Kristen Reesor
Human rights have always been a hot topic for the global community. Hence, when countries seem to get it right, we all can’t help but go to the old search bar to find out for ourselves whether human rights in Switzerland is that good.
Multiple internationally-acknowledged measures create a positive image of human rights in Switzerland. In 2016, Switzerland ranked third in the human development index, a composite index set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to measure human development according to life expectancy, access to education and gross national income.
They were ranked first in the gender inequality index (GII), another UNDP project, which looks at development from the view of gender inequality. It measures gender inequality by reproductive health(maternal mortality and adolescent birth rate); gender empowerment; the number of seats women hold in Parliament; female secondary education and female labor force participation.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly on the topic of human rights, Switzerland ranked second on the human freedom index. This index tries to be as comprehensive as possible, taking into account 79 clear indicators of personal and economic freedom in multiple areas such as the rule of law, religion, movement and expression.
The above information highlights the importance that the Swiss government and people place on human rights in Switzerland. A quote from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation(SDC) says, “sustainable development is only possible if fundamental human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, and the rule of law are respected. These rights form the basis of international cooperation. This fact is why the promotion of human rights is a critical issue for the SDC.”
Indeed, human rights in Switzerland exceeds the norm in several areas, but that does not mean it is perfect. For instance, in reaction to the influx of migrants going to Europe, the country provides asylum to a few thousand refugees, resettling them across the country. One town mayor boasted that his town was “safe and idyllic” and that this would continue because “no refugees were there.” The mayor went so far as to pay a $300,000 penalty than to accept the federal quota of eight refugees in a town of two thousand.
Furthermore, according to Amnesty International in September, the Lower Chamber of the federal Parliament adopted a bill to ban the use of full-face veils at the national level. At the end of the year, the bill was still pending. It all goes to show that while human rights in Switzerland in comparison to others may seem ideal, like many other things in life, nothing is perfect.
Finally, Switzerland is ranked fifth on the corruption perception index, where over two-thirds of countries out of 176 scored less than halfway on their scale: “no country gets close to a perfect score.”
– Obinna Iwuji
In the past few years, poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis has been significantly reduced, and other grand achievements were made on a wider scale. However, certain events have left the two-island country vulnerable, particularly in areas of health, the environment and economic situations.
- Before the financial crisis of 2008, nearly 24 percent of the population in Saint Kitts, or one in four people, was considered poor. Nevis’ numbers fell shorter at 15.9 percent, or one in seven.
- Poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis worsened as a result of the global economic crisis that began in 2008 and the hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean in previous years. Hurricanes Omar and Earl struck the country in 2008 and 2010, with an impact on the balance of payments at $19 million, or about 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP.
- According to the United Nations Development Programme, 4.5 percent of the total population is unemployed.
- According to the CIA World Factbook, improved drinking water sources have been noted in Saint Kitts and Nevis for 98.3 percent of the total population which leaves 1.7 percent of the population without improved water sources as of 2015. Similarly, improved sanitation facility access has assisted 87.3 percent of the total population.
- Poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis also links to the existence of chronic diseases, one such being dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus central to the area. As of 2010, 122 cases of dengue have been reported.
- Fortunately, education in Saint Kitts and Nevis has experienced an upward spiral, with the net enrollment in primary schools at 89 percent in 2009 and the literacy rate in people over 15 at 97 percent.
Saint Kitts and Nevis has had its share of events with negative impacts – physically, socially and economically. However, with the nation continually making plans for improvement, poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis in all its forms can hopefully be eradicated.
– Mikaela Frigillana
A great deal of poverty in Bahrain stems from a systematic discrimination of Shias by the Sunni leaders. Bahrainis were one of the first to begin protesting in the Arab Spring of 2011 but were also one of the first to be shut down. The discrimination of the Shias still exists today in Bahrain. To better understand Bahrain, here are four facts that you need to know:
- Bahrain is run by a monarchy that has been in power since their occupation of the island during the 1700s. The monarchy works within itself, through a private council that resolves familial disputes and financial issues. Today, Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature.
- The monarchy consists of Sunnis, but the majority of the population of Bahrain is Shia. This encourages systematic discrimination throughout Bahrain, which sparked multiple protests by Shia Bahrainis in 2011. Shias claimed that privileges and opportunities were given out more freely to the Sunnis within Bahrain. Mainly these protestors argued for a new constitution and an equal society in terms of job opportunities for Shia Bahrainis, but the protests were shut down quickly. The monarchy called the protesters traitors and used troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end the protests.
- There is a large wealth disparity between Shias and Sunnis throughout Bahrain. The capital city of Manama is full of beautiful buildings and skyscrapers, but the villages surrounding the city show the disparity. However, figures do not suggest that Bahrain has any citizens living in extreme poverty (under one U.S. dollar a day) according to the United Nations Development Programme. But, 12.2 percent of the population lives under five U.S. dollars a day, therefore poverty in Bahrain still exists.
- Most of the unemployed Bahrainis are between the ages of 15 and 24. Unemployed females within that age group have an unemployment rate of 16.8 percent in 2014, and unemployed males are at 8.5 percent, according to the International Labour Organization. There is a clear disparity between females and males who are able to acquire jobs, as well as the disparity between the Shias and Sunnis that is still prevalent today.
Poor Shias living in Bahrain without any connections to wealthier Shias or Sunnis will most likely stay in that caste. Bahrain is very committed to its traditions including its monarchy. While extreme poverty in Bahrain is not the country’s biggest issue, the disparity that is rampant leads more into poverty every day.
– Meagan Foy
The United Nations Development Programme has recently collaborated with the top Turkish soccer club, Galatasaray Sports Club, to help promote the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s leading poverty eradication initiative.
After winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000, the Turkish soccer club has kept worldwide support for its athletic ventures. With stars like Wesley Sneijder representing the team, fans of international competitions have taken their enthusiasm to the club scene. Galatasaray is able to add on an impressive domestic following with over 20 local league cup wins, and in addition, has established bases in Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul.
Four of the iconic Galatasaray players, “captain Selçuk İnan of Turkey, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay, Aurélien Chedjou of Cameroon, and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder,” starred in a video promoting the new partnership between the football club and the UNDP. In the video, the players stress the idea of “leave no one behind” in a world where many are forgotten in poverty.
Outside of the film room, the club continues to make its mark. Along with the UNDP, “Galatasaray will raise funds for a diversity of programmes to tackle poverty, inequalities and exclusion across the world,” according to a UNDP article. Even so, this isn’t the first Turkish soccer club that has set humanitarian goals. In 2014 and 2015, the organization assisted with the relief of flooded communities and victims of mining disasters.
Soccer unites people despite language, geographic and political barriers. The World Cup is the single most watched sporting event in the world, with over 700 million viewers watching the 2010 final. Millions of children, and even adults, admire the stars that play on their favorite teams. It’s only natural that these spotlighted individuals should take the lead in the fight against global poverty.
France’s Zinedine Zidane and Brazil’s Ronaldo are two iconic examples of soccer stars joining the fight against poverty. Last year the duo, along with many other stars such as van de Sar and Seedorf, put together the 12th annual Match Against Poverty, in conjunction with the UNDP and EUFA, the European soccer authority. The money from the tickets which cost “from €8 to €12” went to “aid specific projects in different countries dealing with difficult challenges.”
With power and wealth on the line, soccer’s role models quickly become the hopes and dreams of children all around the world. Youth most affected by poverty in countries with glorified soccer stars use the potential for glory and riches as motivation to conquer their own situations. Sometimes, the stories of players they watch are not unlike their own.
In Brazil, Adriano and Ronaldo are just two of those kids that have climbed out of poverty with their skills on the ball. A talent scout for Flamengo, a local professional club, says, “For Brazilian kids growing up in some of the world’s roughest neighborhoods, soccer is a ray of hope amid violence and poverty.” Around 800 Brazilian kids are able to escape the country and poverty with professional soccer careers, which is not many when the population size is considered.
Professional soccer careers are not the logical solution to poverty, but the sport is promoting poverty’s eradication in ways like Galatasaray’s public service announcement, which is in association with the Sustainable Development Goals. Soccer’s far-reaching scope and enthusiastic following can increase awareness and support for the goals of ending poverty.
– Jacob Hess
When people think of South Korea, they may imagine an export powerhouse replete with skyscrapers, neon lights and a booming economy. Few remember the South Korea of yesteryear, a war-torn nation with a GDP per capita of $70 in 1957, equivalent to Ghana. Even fewer recall the New Village Movement. To teach the world about this program that eliminated its extreme rural poverty, South Korea held its second annual Global Saemaul Leadership Forum (GSLF) from Nov. 24 to Nov. 27, 2015.
The New Village Movement is called “Saemaul Undong” in Korean. Begun by President Park Chung-Hee, South Korea’s dictator from 1961 to 1979, it is based on a simple idea: community-led development. Park provided each of the nation’s 33,267 villages with 335 bags of cement, a half ton of iron rods and a plan.
The plan consisted of four steps that began with selecting community leaders and gathering seed money. Step 2 featured small meetings with villagers to persuade everyone to join. Step 3 was the main phase of the project, and involved modernizing homes, establishing cultural facilities and launching cooperative ventures. Lastly, villages would create their own newspapers, build city halls and partner with neighboring towns.
Within 9 years, rural income nearly sextupled from a household average of 225,800 won to 1,531,800 won. Thatched huts gave way to tiled houses across the country. Rural poverty decreased from 27.9 percent before the program to 10.8 percent after, and women gained a more prominent place in the local economy.
Due to the success of the New Village Movement, the United Nations recognized the program as a model for rural development. At the November GSLF conference in Daegu, more than 500 delegates from 50 countries gathered to learn more about the model. Countries with representatives included Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Myanmar, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Honduras and Azerbaijan.
The primary aim of the conference was education for New Village Movement leaders in countries outside of South Korea. Leaders are trained at the Global Saemaul Undong Training Center in Seoul, but the conference provides a unique opportunity for them to learn from each other as well as their Korean mentors.
South Korea has made considerable progress in getting other countries to adopt its model. According to a press release in September 2015, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Korean government, created an updated New Village Movement called “Saemaul toward Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities” (ISNC). ISNC is being implemented in Bolivia, Vietnam, Uganda, Myanmar, Laos and Rwanda .
Whether the New Village Movement will flourish in other countries remains to be seen, but there is reason to hope. Sri Lanka has already implemented seven New Village Movement projects in its country. By following the Korean model, villages now have concrete roads, a city hall and electricity. One village has already seen its income quadruple through the addition of powered pottery wheels. This had the added benefit that local women could become potters.
People often dismiss efforts to eradicate poverty, but in truth, it has already been done. South Korea lifted millions of impoverished villagers out of poverty while entwining them in the larger fabric of the national community. As the New Village Movement spreads around the globe, millions more are sure to benefit.
– Dennis Sawyers
A handful of standard policies have been used throughout the world over many decades to attempt to decrease poverty. However, poverty is still a massive problem worldwide. It is also known that healthy economic growth is vital to reducing poverty. What are some new, innovative policies that can be used more widely in conjunction with existing policies to maximize poverty reduction and spur economic growth?
One of the most well-known innovative systems of reducing poverty has been the microcredit or microfinance system that has been perpetuated throughout areas with high densities of impoverished people. Bill Gates has said that he believes that providing more access to mobile banking (an extension of the ideas behind microfinance), will have huge impacts on the way the poor deal with money and will help reduce poverty.
Many innovative new policies are aimed at specific demographics in order to fully leverage the investment in a way that affects the poor best. For example, many of the poor live in rural areas and are involved in agriculture.
Due to the large role of agriculture in many impoverished people’s lives, one organization named Katalyst gives out small packets of high-quality seeds to farmers in Bangladesh. The result? Incomes for these farmers increased on the whole by over 300 million dollars.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has begun to fund proven methods of development. Two programs, one from Colombia and one from Haiti are being funded by the UNDP. Both programs focused on job training and development for people in vulnerable areas of the respective countries.
A third program was aimed at helping the government of Laos address the infrastructure concerns and problems in local areas, which eventually helped over 300,000 people to get better goods and services as well as local infrastructure.
Another idea which is incredibly simple is now being more widely accepted as a method that would prove valuable. Give poor people money. Giving unrestricted cash transfers to the poor has not been a popular policy in the past because many fear that the money would be wasted on nonessential goods or illegal activities.
However, a study based on a model like this was done in Uganda and resulted in a 38 percent increase in wages by the end of the study in the group that was given the unrestricted cash transfers. In addition, hours worked and business assets both increased significantly. The myth that the money would simply be wasted via this simplistic approach seems to be being dispelled.
Most of these ideas are not based on some new understanding of poverty. The existing rationale behind each one is held in commonly held knowledge about the different attributes of poverty and those in poverty.
The innovations are creative ways of tackling the most basic traits of the impoverished, unemployment (specific job training centers), lack of money (unrestricted cash transfers), and giving high quality seed packets (agriculture as a means of income).
By addressing these known factors in new ways, these policies have proven to be of use in the instances they were used, and should be more widely spread across the globe to help increase the rate of poverty reduction.
– Martin Yim
In an August 11th press release, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced a $41 million financial injection to Sudan to advance its response to the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic.
Sudan is an African Country in the Nile Valley of North Africa bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest.
Although recent years have seen improvements in the response to HIV/AIDS and TB, the illnesses maintain their death grip on the population.
The UNDP in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS have created two new partnership agreements totaling $41 million for the country to continue fighting the deadly diseases.
The funding is broken into two grants. The first grant worth $20.4 million will be used to manage and track the decrease in TB cases from now until 2017, as well as to commit to identifying more new cases.
By identifying more cases of TB, the disease can be better controlled and spread less. The grant will also go toward improving treatment for 90 percent of newly infected patients as well as for 75 percent of those undergoing a relapse.
The second grant amounting to $20.8 million will go toward halting the spread of HIV among communities most at risk between now and 2017. The grant will also work at keeping the HIV prevalence rate below 2.5 percent among key populations and below 0.3 percent among the general population.
The UNDP, since 2005, has been a key organization assisting Sudan with its ongoing health care challenges. It’s played an important role in decreasing the transmission and morbidity rate of HIV and TB plaguing the Sudanese.
In the past few years, the UNDP has assisted the government with containing the epidemic, increasing service coverage and strengthening the national health system.
The UNDP website reported that the number of people accessing HIV counseling and testing increased from 14,000 in 2007 to more than 250,000 in 2014. In the same period, the number of health facilities providing antiretroviral treatment increased from 21 to 36.
Also, as of 2014, the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment has increased to 3,937 from only 319 back in 2007.
UNDP Sudan Country Director Mr. Selva Ramachandran was quoted in the press release to say, “UNDP’s goal is to strengthen the response at the national, state and local level by supporting the development of local expertise and backstopping program performance.
To get TB under control, the authorities are planning to provide social support to patients and develop a national campaign to fight the stigma and discrimination that severely hinders TB efforts. Regarding HIV, testing is essential to bend the curve of the epidemic and we remain committed to supporting the provision of HIV testing, counseling and treatment to those in need.”
In nations like Sudan, poverty grips the population and health care can be almost nonexistent. With the help of the UNDP and the extra funding given, the fight to help the poor in Sudan has again gained momentum, and another dent in ridding these ugly diseases has been made.
– Jason Zimmerman