5 Facts About Insecurity in KuwaitLocated on the western edge of the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is a small Arab state comparable to the size of New Jersey. Nevertheless, Kuwait holds the sixth-largest oil reserve in the world. This has helped its citizens become among the wealthiest in the world. Kuwait has consistently ranked among the Arab world’s best for food security. However, its reliance on food imports, as well as having underdeveloped agriculture and fishing industries, could hinder its future. Here are five facts about food security in Kuwait.

Top 5 Facts About Food Security in Kuwait

  1. According to the Economist’s 2019 Global Food Security Index, Kuwait received a score of 74.8 out of 100 and ranked 27 out of 113 countries for food security. As a result, Kuwait only trails Qatar (ranked 13) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (ranked 21) in the region. Kuwait is most notably fifth in the world for food “affordability” and boasts a high “sufficiency of supply”. Both factors significantly prevent hunger.
  2. Despite its high ranking on the Global Food Security Index, Kuwait imports over 96% of its food. Given that Kuwait only has 1.4 million citizens, more than 700,000 foreign nationals and migrant workers benefit from a subsidy program. In November 2019 alone, subsidy expenditures reached upwards of $23.5 million. Kuwait’s food subsidy initiative has ultimately improved the nutrition of Kuwaiti children and created widespread food security in Kuwait.
  3. Expatriates in Kuwait who do not receive subsidized food are at great risk of food insecurity. The average non-Kuwaiti worker in 2018 earned about 299 KD, while the average Kuwaiti citizen earned 1,415 KD. In the event of another surge of COVID-19, this wage gap could be especially catastrophic for the 2 million foreign nationals in Kuwait who do not receive food subsidies. For some, their salary might even not cover all of their basic human needs.
  4. A major reason for Kuwait’s reliance on imported food is its weak agriculture industry, which has traditionally consisted of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, onions and melons. Ultimately, agriculture contributes less than 0.5% to the country’s GDP. Further development of agriculture seems unlikely considering an average annual rainfall of about four inches and 8.6% arable land. An underdeveloped agriculture sector would be an existential threat to most countries. Conversely, Kuwait’s small population, great wealth and diversified imported food supply chain allow it to circumvent such risks.
  5. Kuwait’s fisheries have experienced reduced production. Kuwait’s fisheries can provide only 33-49% of total fish demand in Kuwait and their production has dropped by over 20% in recent decades. Anything that negatively impacts Kuwait’s fishing industry could make Kuwait more dependent on other countries for their fish supply. If water temperatures increase as predicted, the average price of fish would likely rise with the departure of locally-sourced fish. This could increase poverty nationwide. Therefore, programs like the DNA Project are crucial to protecting Kuwait’s food security in the future. The DNA Project intends to collect DNA from local and migrating fish in order to manage stock more effectively.

Kuwait Works with FAO

Although fighting domestic poverty has long been a priority for Kuwait, the growing presence in foreign policy is exciting. Kuwait’s current work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to combat hunger in Syria is just one example of this transition. In May 2019, Kuwait donated three million dollars to the FAO, securing 200 kilograms of enhanced wheat seeds for 20,000 Syrian farmers and their families. Consequently, agricultural production and food security in Syria have both been bolstered. Kuwait’s involvement in eliminating poverty in Syria builds on its partnership with the FAO in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, where it has achieved similar success in improving food security. As collaboration develops between nations to eliminate poverty, the ability to achieve other humanitarian goals will significantly increase as well.

Alex Berman
Photo: Pexels

The Tug-of-War Between Women’s Rights in MalaysiaThe issue of women’s rights in Malaysia is one that has people divided throughout the peninsula. Women in Malaysia are increasingly engaging in the workforce as well as the government. This does not, however, diminish the gender inequality that still exists. Women in this country have further struggles that inhibit them from gaining equality.

Gender Inequality in Malaysia

As 61.3% of the population are Muslims, there are groups that hold either traditional or progressive views regarding women’s place in society. Despite the various views exhibited toward this issue, women are continually moving forward to gain their rightful equality.

Although increased positions of leadership within the workforce are being partaken, gender inequality is still being experienced. According to UNDP, women earn $0.23 less for each dollar that men make. One in three women has been physically or sexually abused, and nearly 750,000,000 women have been involved in child marriages, while only 13% are agricultural landholders. Furthermore, women only constitute 24% of the national parliamentarians as of November 2018.

Sisters In Islam (SIS)

As a majority of Malaysians are Muslims, there is an NGO that focuses on protecting the rights of Muslim women. Sisters in Islam (SIS) is an NGO that works toward fighting for Muslim women’s rights in Malaysia. In 1988, a group of Muslim women created SIS to tackle the issue of unjust treatment of women under Islamic law. SIS believes that since men had the major control of interpreting the Qur’an in history, they have misinterpreted some aspects in order to justify their cultural actions. As a result, women are put in a lower position than men. Thus, SIS focuses on researching hermeneutical interpretations of the Qur’an in which women could be treated with equality within the Islamic framework.

The main focus of SIS is to reform the laws and policies that oppress women’s rights. It also raises awareness of issues such as child marriages, female genital mutilation and polygamy. Additionally, the NGO advocates for women to gain equal rights to their children, as well as freedom of expression and religion. The organization also operates a free helpline called Telenisa, providing Muslim families with free legal advice on basic rights and Shariah law.

Pushback on Progressive Women’s Rights

Although NGOs like SIS promote more progressive views on advocating for women’s rights, there are groups that push back against ideals. SIS has been under scrutiny for its attempts to reinterpret the Qur’an. The established principles of Islam state that only those who have had traditional religious education can have the authority to interpret and discuss this doctrine. Thus, the women at SIS do not have any right to interpret the Qur’an as they have been doing in the traditional sense.

The Selangor Fatwa Committee and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council issued a fatwa on the SIS in 2014. The fatwa stated that the group was deviant as it promoted liberalism. In addition, the religious pluralism that SIS promoted did not follow Islamic teachings. Moreover, an attempt in 2019 to challenge the fatwa was dismissed in court. The civil court decided that the fatwa was linked to Shariah state law and not the federal court. Fortunately, the High Court has temporarily suspended the fatwa in 2020 as the SIS continues to appeal for its case.

With groups such as SIS fighting for women’s rights in Malaysia, the country is moving toward achieving gender equality. Furthermore, if more women come into leadership then a greater possibility of reform exists. Humanitarian organizations and Malaysia’s government needs to address the gender inequality in Malaysia in order to open the country to new economic opportunities, progressive growth and equality. By furthering Malaysia’s approach to gender equality, the global community will take one more step toward global justice and equity.

Hakyung Kim
Photo: Flickr

tutudesk campaignA healthy learning environment means adequate school supplies and sufficient and quality learning materials. School desks are often less thought of but are also essential resources that impact a child’s learning. UNESCO conducted a study examining the impact of school desks on children in the learning environment and found that a proper school desk is a determining factor in how a child processes information. In another study, it was found that sufficiently designed furniture is an essential factor in the development of the capabilities of school children. The quality of the learning environment influences the quality of education that a child receives. The Tutudesk campaign has found that more than 95 million children throughout sub-Saharan Africa lack school desks for classroom learning.

Education for Poverty Reduction

An adequate education can be the deciding factor in whether an impoverished child is able to progress out of poverty in adulthood. UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) team conducted an analysis of the influence of education on poverty in 2017. It was found that an estimated 420 million people could be alleviated from poverty with the completion of secondary education, reducing the number of global poor by half and reducing the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by two-thirds. Since school desks are essential for education, organizations are putting desks at the forefront of their initiatives.

The Tutudesk Campaign

South African human rights activist, Desmond Tutu, founded the Tutdesk campaign in 2012 in partnership with the United Nations Special Envoy for Education. The Tutudesk campaign recognized the dire need for school desks and workstations for students throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The campaign aims to supply portable and sustainable workstations for children in need of desks both in school and at home. Made from a robust, child-friendly blend of polymers, the Tutudesk workstation can last the duration of a learner’s school career. Since its launch, the nonprofit organization has provided more than 1.5 million desks to disadvantaged children. The Tutudesk campaign believes that the Tutudesk provides a viable solution to literacy development and the general infrastructure crisis. The organization’s current goal is to combat the severe desk scarcity throughout sub-Saharan Africa by delivering 20 million desks to children in need by 2025.

The K.I.N.D. Campaign

Lawrence O’Donnell in collaboration with UNICEF launched the K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Desks) campaign in 2010. When visiting  Malawi school teachers expressed the dire need for school desks to O’Donnell. O’Donnell collaborated with UNICEF and a local woodworking shop to fund the production of 30 school desks. This small initiative developed into the K.I.N.D. campaign. The organization seeks to provide desks for schools in Malawi as well as secondary school scholarships for Malawian girls. The K.I.N.D. campaign has brought desks to more than 938,000 Malawian children. The K.I.N.D. campaign hopes to enhance education for children in need through its efforts.

Desks, Education and Poverty Reduction

Education is the gateway to economic progression and thus the answer to solving global poverty. School desks play a prominent role in this. Quality education can provide a way out of poverty for poverty-stricken children around the world.  By providing desks to the impoverished, the K.I.N.D. campaign and the Tutudesk campaign address both education and poverty simultaneously.

– Imani Smikle
Photo: Flickr

Combat Poverty in RomaniaIn an effort to combat the nation’s longstanding battle with poverty, the Romanian Government passed 47 measures in 2015/16 to combat poverty in Romania through to 2020.

Poverty in Romania

At the time these measures were passed into law, 40.2% of Romanian people were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Furthermore, absolute poverty in Romania increased from 23.4% in 2008 to 27.7% in 2012. Low educational attainment, intergenerational transmission of poverty and lack of inter-regional mobility all contribute to the integral causes of poverty in Romania.

However, the Romanian government set a substantial and significant new precedent on how the nation combats poverty by adopting The National Strategy and Strategic Action Plan on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction for 2015-2020. These measures hope to reduce the many causes of poverty in Romania.

Key Measures:

  • Increasing employment rate through labor market activation programs
  • Increasing financial support for low-income individuals
  • Improving social inclusion of marginalized communities
  • Improving the functionality of social services
  • Reducing school drop-out rates
  • Scaling-up of national health programs
  • Integrating social assistance benefits with social services, employment services and other public services.

These measures were an encouraging shift in political focus that revolved around social benefits and a more community-based and integrated approach that generated widespread support. The World Bank supports these measures, commenting that these measures will strongly contribute to narrowing poverty gaps in the country.

Impact of Poverty Reduction Strategy

Since these measures were adopted, monthly income per person increased by 10% between 2016 and 2017 and by 16% between 2017 and 2018, in part due to the increases in public-sector wages and improved minimum wages and tax cuts. As a result, poverty rates fell from 28.4% in 2014 to 15.8% in 2017.

Currently, the employment rate at 68.8% is approaching the EU2020 target and is just below the EU average of 72.2%. Additionally, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the EU at 4.9%.

Implementation Delays Cause Concern

Although there have been clear steps toward improving Romania’s struggle with poverty, these measures have been criticized as many measures are expected to have delayed or minimal results. These concerns were further exacerbated in 2017 when a change in government occurred. The political change delayed implementation and altered the original plan, putting full implementation in jeopardy.

In addition, more legislation is needed to address the growing condition of the Roma minority group residing in Romania. A whole 78% of Roma are at risk of poverty compared to 35% for non-Roma citizens. Furthermore, 84% of Roma households do not have access to a water source, sewage or electricity. To successfully combat poverty in Romania, the Roma need to be prioritized.

Poverty Reduction Progress

While no single piece of legislation will be the end all be all to combat poverty in Romania, the anti-poverty measures passed in 2015/2016 have shown that a top-down, legislation-focused approach to fighting poverty can lead to progress, poverty reduction and improved social inclusion.

– Andrew Eckas
Photo: Flickr

Aid to SenegalSenegal’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in Africa, with a growth rate of above 6% from 2014 to 2018. The country is home to 15.4 million people and is one of the most stable countries in the region. This growth was heavily burgeoned by the service industry, which made up about 60% of the country’s total GDP. The shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major slowdown in growth, falling to an estimated 1.3% in 2020. Although the country has instituted a comprehensive stimulus plan, Senegal’s economy is still facing a slow and painful recovery, which could be disastrous for the country’s long-term future. Aid to Senegal is essential for the country’s recovery.

Incoming Aid to Senegal

In a press release on November 11, 2020, Germany and the European Union (EU) announced the approval of relief funding for Senegal — 112 million euros in EU funding and 100 million euros in funding from Germany itself. The EU has a broader history of aid to Senegal, with more than a billion euros of aid sent from 2014 to 2020. Germany also has a history of friendship with Senegal, as the two entered into a reform partnership in 2019. The amount of aid rendered illustrates the strong commitment of both the EU and Germany to Senegal’s economy. The money will go toward Senegal’s COVID-19 stimulus program and will enable the government to continue relief efforts for its population.

German development minister, Gerd Müller, was strongly in favor of aid to Senegal and described many problems currently ailing Senegal’s economy. Nearly half of the country is unemployed and the shrinking economy will especially impact small and medium businesses, which make up 90% of all Senegalese jobs. Müller says, “We must not forget that the consequences of COVID-19 are far more dramatic in developing countries.”

Impact of Aid to Senegal

Müller is optimistic that the aid will enable the protection of jobs and the production of medical equipment necessary to fight COVID-19. The Senegalese government also started a program for businesses to receive cash loans for support.

Although Senegal’s economy is robust, it is still dependent on foreign aid to finance these measures. Aside from the aid coming from the EU and Germany, the World Bank approved $100 million worth of aid back in June 2020, demonstrating a need for further funding to prevent larger setbacks in Senegal’s economy.

An Admirable COVID-19 Reponse

The way that Senegal handled the COVID-19 pandemic itself has been praised throughout the world. It ranks second only to New Zealand on Foreign Policy’s Global COVID-19 Response Index, which measures the response of national leaders to the pandemic. The country took broad health safety measures at the beginning of the crisis, which had an unfortunate impact on Senegal’s economy. International aid to Senegal plays a large role in the country’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

– Bradley Cisternino
Photo: Flickr

5 Social Issues Dividing NigeriaNigeria, one of the biggest exporters of oil and the most populated country in Africa, is living through severe poverty. In one day, Nigeria can produce 2.5 million barrels of crude oil. Starting at only $30 per barrel, Nigeria is battling high production costs with extremely low oil costs. With oil prices falling, high unemployment rates and rampant poverty, Nigeria stands divided. As of 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 40% of the population in Nigeria is living below the poverty line. But poverty is not the only thing halting Nigeria’s progress, social issues also stand in the way of furthering the country. Organizations such as Global Giving, a non-profit that gives people a chance to fundraise globally for up and coming charity projects, is targeting some of Nigeria’s social issues.

5 Social Issues Dividing Nigeria

  1. Poverty — Even though Nigeria is one of the top crude oil producers in Africa, its government has neglected to spread the wealth into rural communities. Instead of funding necessities such as proper infrastructure, much of oil producers’ revenue is given to the “rich elite.” With a population of 195 million people, 40% are living below the poverty line. To live below the poverty line means that families in Nigeria make less than 137,430 Naira per year. This is equivalent to $381.75.
  2. Unemployment — Currently Nigeria’s unemployment rate is at an all-time high, with 27.1% of the population left without a job. This accounts for every one in two people. According to Quartz Africa, 27.1 million people are out of work in Nigeria. This is due to the government struggling to create new jobs to boost the economy. According to the World Bank, “Given that the economy is expected to grow more slowly than the population, living standards are expected to worsen.”
  3. Corruption — Transparency International has declared Nigeria one of Africa’s most corrupt countries as of 2016. Listed 146 out of 180 countries, corruption in Nigeria is a significant factor holding its people back from raising themselves out of poverty. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, bribery, nepotism and voter buying and three other factors all contribute to the corruption and poverty in Nigeria. “Some of the Nigerian politicians and people in ruling offices in just one year make as much as other citizens would make in 65 years!,” states Effecting Change In Nigeria in its platform.
  4. Education — In Nigeria, education inequality is a major issue. Due to gender-based biases, girls’ education is not valued as much as boys. Additionally, Muslim girls are favored over Christian girls when it comes to receiving a proper education. What region you live in also plays an important factor in education. Girls living in the northeast are more likely to get an education than those living in the northwest although the numbers are not that far from each other. According to UNICEF, 47.7% of girls are out of school in the northeast compared to 47.3% of girls in the northwest. This is almost half of all girls in Nigeria.
  5. Terrorism — Boko Haram, meaning “western education is forbidden,” is a terrorist group in Nigeria. Boko Haram is against adopting to western culture, this includes voting, dressing differently and secular education. Since 2011 this terrorist group has killed more than 35,000 people and continues to attack villages, police stations and religious or political groups. The group gained national attention in 2014 when they kidnapped more than 200 girls from a local school.

Global Giving

Global Giving is an organization that connects other non-profits with potential donors. It works with individual donors, other non-profits and companies to help them safely donate anywhere in the world. Since 2002, Global Giving has assisted in raising $526 million for causes around the globe. So far, 27,941 projects are in place in 170 different countries.
One project Global Giving is helping with is the “Empowering Victims of Boko Haram Violence in Nigeria” project. The Center for Sustainable Development and Education In Africa started this project to help victims of Boko Haram. The project aims to build a “skills acquisition center” in North-Eastern Nigeria to give support to rape victims, widows and others affected by the terrorist group. In two years the project raised $28,500.
The CSDEA has another project called, “Save Street Children in Nigeria.” The goal of this project is to help 1.5 million homeless children get off the streets. If the project raises $25,000 then 10,000 children can be sent to school, fed and given shelter. In the past two years, $1,055 has been collected for the cause. Donations can be made at Global Giving’s projects.

– Jessica LaVopa
Photo: Flickr 

Mobile Technology in KenyaAround 75% of working Kenyans make their living through agriculture. Being the largest industry in the country, the ability of Kenyan farmers to produce crops is essential for both economic and food security reasons. Agriculture provides food and money to the many farmers and their communities. This vital sector is in danger, with unpredictable climate conditions and the emergence of pests that can decimate entire crops. Artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile smartphones are new resources being used to save the produce of these farmers and the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans. Mobile technology in Kenya has great potential to increase the production of the valuable agricultural sector, keeping millions above the poverty line.

Cellphone and Internet Acess in Kenya

The mobile phone industry has been steadily growing in Kenya. According to a survey of 577 farming households, 98% of respondents own a mobile phone. The increasing affordability of cellphones and internet access in the country has opened the door to bring new forms of aid to the farmers who produce more than a third of the country’s GDP.

Project FARM

Mobile apps powered by machine learning have been created to help farmers all over the world make as much from their crops as they can. In Kenya, which has been experiencing unpredictable levels of rainfall each season, a mobile app is working to consolidate data to help determine the best course of action for the farmers during changing weather conditions. Project FARM (Financial and Agricultural Recommendation Models) is a program designed to take into account weather, temperature, strains of crops and success rates from other farms in order to determine what actions will produce the largest yield. FARM sends notifications to farmers via text so that they can be readily alerted of any danger as heavy rain can occur suddenly and damage entire fields. The program can be operated from the cellphones of farmers so the resources can be easily accessed and implemented. After just one year using FARM, on average, a single farmer increased their yield from six 90kg bags of maize to nine bags.

AI Apps as an Educational Resource

Programs like this also work in conjunction with resources that seek to educate farmers about ways to sell their products as well as how to maximize efficiency and yield. These resources are free and greatly help those who could not afford to hire an agronomist to inspect their farm. This combination helps farmers produce more and know how to manage more product so that they can sell them in the most efficient way possible.

Apps for Crop Pest Control

AI also helps farmers by giving them valuable information about crop-decimating pests. Pests pose a grave threat to African farms and it is estimated that each year around 50% of all crops in Africa are lost to pests and diseases. The Fall Armyworm (FAW) is a type of caterpillar that has recently plagued East Africa and is capable of ruining huge amounts of produce. The Farmers Companion App is a program powered by AI which is capable of determining which crops are infested and the stage of the lifecycle of the pest. This will allow farmers to take the best possible steps to contain the spread. Another app, PlantVillage Nuru, is capable of diagnosing crop diseases without an internet connection.

Mobile Technology in Kenya Helps Agriculture

Mobile technology in Kenya is an important step to help farmers deal with the evolving problems of the 21st century. With agriculture being such an important industry in Kenya and with so much of the produce at risk each year, it is vital for the economy and wellbeing of the country that crops are protected and that yields are produced at an effective rate. These types of developments in AI and mobile technologies have the potential to significantly help the livelihoods of millions of farmers in Kenya and other countries too.

– Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

Innovations Reducing Poverty in IsraelDeveloping nations like Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Chad tend to capture global attention as the world’s most impoverished countries. While these countries take precedence in discussions regarding global poverty, with good reason, countries that one would not consider “impoverished” do exist outside the limelight. One of these countries is the state of Israel. However, innovations reducing poverty in Israel have changed the lives of many impoverished citizens.

Situated on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has a population of 8.6 million people and an annual GDP of $350 billion as of 2017. As a global innovator in technology and science, it is often referred to as the “start-up nation”. One might assume that poverty would not plague a country with such a flourishing international economy. However, even people living in countries with strong economies experience poverty.

Poverty in Israel

The challenge of reducing poverty in Israel is at the forefront of low-priority socio-economic issues. The lack of attention can be attributed to the Israeli government’s focus on security. As of 2018, more than 21% of Israel’s population was living below the poverty line. One in three children across the state lives in poverty. For a country that has seen so much economic growth in the last decade alone, the idea that over a fifth of its citizens is unable to sustain themselves is hard to swallow. Nevertheless, several key factors explain just why the number of people living in poverty is so high.

Of those living beneath the poverty line in Israel, several social groups have been particularly affected. Single mothers constitute one group, though in recent years the percentage of Israeli single mothers in poverty has declined. Israel’s disabled population makes up another substantial group of its poor. The groups most significant and crucial to understanding Israel’s poor, however, include Orthodox Jews and Arab communities. Devoted to full-time religious study, many Orthodox Jews do not work and depend on state-issued pensions.

Discrimination in Israel’s social order and workplaces have contributed to the significant increase in unemployment in Arab communities. While these groups continue to struggle, a number of Israeli NGOs have produced innovations that are key to reducing poverty in Israel.

Pitchon-Lev

The largest humanitarian organization in the state of Israel, Pitchon-Lev, aids more than 168,000 Israelis per year. Its campaigns range from ensuring Israel’s children have enough food to lobbying for direct government aid for the poor. Pitchon-Lev’s success in combating poverty in Israel is due to innovation in a surprising arena: personal connections. Pitchon-Lev’s team of volunteers develop close and personal relationships with those whom they aid, giving the impoverished the friendships and tools they need to rebuild their lives. With its personal connections to the people it helps, Pitchon-Lev is truly striving towards reducing poverty in Israel.

Latet

In Hebrew, Latet means “to give,” and the NGO Latet does just that. As the head of Israel’s largest food bank, Latet is known for its continued fight against both poverty and hunger in Israel. Latet has aided a wide range of diverse groups, from Israel’s youth to Holocaust survivors. Its innovation in reducing poverty in Israel appears simple, but it is effective: promoting responsibility. Volunteers of the organization teach ideals of care for others and shared responsibility for the state of the country’s citizens. They aim to spread these values not only to those whom they assist, but also to the general Israeli public. By encouraging these ideals, Latet aims to push the issue of national poverty further into the public eye, and eventually into the government’s priorities as well.

Shalva

As previously mentioned, Israel’s disabled population makes up one of the largest groups of the country’s poor. As Israel’s leading NGO in the care of disabled persons, Shalva provides more than 2,000 services for disabled people in areas ranging from education to vocational training. Shalva’s innovation in combating poverty is perhaps the most important of all: promoting equal opportunity. All of Shalva’s programs are non-denominational. This provides disabled persons from all religious and social backgrounds the help they need to bring themselves out of poverty. Shalva has national recognition from the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and the Ministry of Health. It continues to be one of Israel’s most innovative NGOs for citizens with special needs.

Despite its global success as an innovator in science and modern technology, Israel still has a long way to go in terms of prioritizing its own people over international beneficiaries. Thankfully, organizations such as Pitchon-Lev, Latet and Shalva have proven that this small nation is working toward a better future.
Alex Poran
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Innovations in AfricaAfrica has struggled with healthcare for decades. Low life expectancy due to poor healthcare and high infant mortality rates are some of the healthcare issues that Africa still struggles with. Healthcare innovations in Africa are helping to improve the health and well-being of African people in several ways.

Medical Drones

Doctors in Rwanda are able to order blood or medical supplies via text message and have them delivered to remote areas via drones. The drones facilitate the timely availability of blood supply for medical use in hard to reach areas. Transfusions of blood are critical for situations involving significant blood loss due to hemorrhage during pregnancy or child delivery. Blood transfusions are also needed for women with severe anemia. This innovation thus reduces maternal mortality rates in Africa.

Pelebox

Pelebox is a smart locker that dispenses medication for patients. When the patient’s medicine is ready for pickup, they receive a text with a code that opens the locker. Before Pelebox, patients would wait hours in line with other sick people to receive their medicine which would further spread diseases. The hope is that this innovation will also lighten the load for medical staff, allowing them more time to focus on critical needs.

KidzAlive Talk Tool App

The KidzAlive Talk Tool app uses games and animated videos to educate children in South Africa about HIV/AIDS and combat stigma at the same time. The stigma of HIV/AIDS prevents people from accessing treatment. The KidzAlive Talk Tool app seeks to end this stigma and educate children to prevent the spread.

Crib A’Glow

The Crib A’Glow is a portable, solar-powered crib that utilizes LED lights to treat jaundice in babies. Roughly 3.3 million babies in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive proper treatment for jaundice, which can lead to hearing loss, cerebral palsy, mental struggles and even death. A whole 600 babies with jaundice have already been treated with Crib A’Glow.

With the onset of COVID-19, innovations were developed to address the issue of limited healthcare resources in Africa and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tippy Tap

The Tippy Tap is a hands-free and water-efficient handwashing station. Making a Tippy Tap is low-cost as it requires only simple materials such as sticks, string, a container for water and soap. The Tippy Tap helps prevent the spread of diseases and is currently helping Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Respire-19 Portable Ventilator

This portable automatic ventilator was created by a Nigerian engineering student. Ventilators are essential to prevent respiratory-related deaths due to COVID-19. The Respire-19 portable ventilator is an easy way to help combat the shortage of ventilators in Africa.

3D Printed Face Masks

South African innovator, Natalie Raphil, is able to create 100 face masks a day from a 3D printer. These masks are then delivered to major South African hospitals to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Around half of all COVID-19 cases in Africa come from South Africa so face masks are especially essential for the region.

With the healthcare innovations in Africa, quality of life and life expectancy will be improved. Especially during a global health pandemic, access to these healthcare innovations proves critical to protecting the health and well-being of people. Africa’s healthcare system can develop even further with the help of more healthcare innovations.

– Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

Pollution in Mongolia
Pollution is just as much of a problem in the developing world as it is in the developed world, perhaps even more so. For one, developing countries cannot always afford to fight it. Additionally, oftentimes pollution is created directly by what is needed to survive. This is the case in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Efforts to address pollution in Mongolia go hand-in-hand with helping the poor.

Pollution and Poverty

Many people in Ulaanbaatar, often impoverished, rely heavily on coal to keep themselves warm during cold winters. The problem is that the widespread usage of coal concentrated in one area creates a great deal of air pollution. Temperatures in the city rarely reach above the upper 60s, creating an almost yearlong reliance on coal.

In turn, air pollution negatively impacts the impoverished in Ulaanbaatar, where poverty is increasing. Many struggling Mongolian families deal with the unhealthy air firsthand. Air pollution can cause a variety of health problems, including lung and heart diseases. As the impoverished are likely to be unable to afford or access high-quality health care, this often leads to higher mortality rates.

Potential Solutions

The most straightforward solution would be to do away with coal usage. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done, considering the temperatures in Ulaanbaatar. The government would need to establish more sustainable and better methods of heating to provide people with the necessary heating to survive. It is also essential for these methods to be affordable to ensure the impoverished can use them. Two alternative methods are geothermal heating and underfloor heating.

Geothermal heating involves using the underground to heat a home, as the temperatures underground are often reliably warmer than above-ground temperatures. Installing geothermal heating pumps requires finding suitable areas underground to drill. Unfortunately, the pumps can also be expensive to install; humanitarian organizations would need to provide significant funding to set up this heating system in Ulaanbaatar.

Another viable method of heating is underfloor heating. It is similar to geothermal heating but a bit less work and has significant benefits such as being much cheaper than other heating sources and eliminating drafts entirely. However, it also requires funding for installation. The installation could help those in poverty, however, as it could utilize local workers for the construction.

Underfloor heating may also be the better alternative because many poor Mongolians have a nomadic lifestyle and the installation must take place in unused areas. With an understanding of migration patterns, underfloor heating could be installed in areas that are currently in disuse so that it is ready to be used when people return.

Moving Forward

Pollution in Mongolia continues to be an issue, particularly in cities like Ulaanbaatar. With concerns about health problems associated with high air pollution, it is clear that a sustainable alternative to coal needs to be implemented. Implementation, however, will require significant funding from the Mongolian government and humanitarian organizations. Moving forward, it is essential that these groups make addressing pollution in the country a priority of their efforts. Pollution and poverty are intertwined; pollution must be adequately addressed in order to eradicate poverty.

Remy Desai-Patel
Photo: Flickr