How Japan Can Solve Its Own Hunger Crisis
Japan has the third-largest economy in the world. However, the nation’s poverty rate is 15% and continues to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Japan’s hunger crisis has notably risen because efforts to provide consistent meals to children stopped after schools closed. The nation has enough rice and resources to feed its citizens. However, organizations and communities urge the government to take action in acknowledging the lack of infrastructure around federally-mandated food security.

The Role of Kodomo Shokudo

Nonprofit organizations and communities have provided food welfare in Japan through Kodomo Shokudo. Kodomo Shokudo is a series of programs that provide students with a space to eat and socialize. Hiroko Kondo is a restaurant owner who coined the term. She kickstarted the movement when she heard that a student only had one banana to eat for one week. Kondo established the first Kodomo Shokudo so young adolescents could eat affordably. As a result, a network of restaurants and community members participated to help eliminate Japan’s hunger crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Kodomo Shokudo. There has been a 33% increase in people who rely on food pantries and services. Furthermore, a survey revealed that half of the people had concerns about exposing themselves to the virus at these eating spaces. As a result, many locations and vendors have recoursed to alternative solutions such as donating bento boxes. Moreover, some organizations are working towards community-based solutions to simultaneously improve food distribution and aid struggling businesses.

How the Government Could Help

The Japanese government has struggled to distribute food for a long time. Japan holds an emergency supply of rice to prepare itself for potential famines. These reserves currently hold a million tons. Furthermore, it has assisted Kodomo Shokudo vendors in the past. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) set a precedent that rice handouts for students receive categorization as food education. However, welfare efforts are strictly dissociated from it. Yet, the demand for food handouts has doubled within the past year. As such, recent challenges suggest the government should implement radical changes.

The government continues to practice extreme budgetary caution. The nation allowed charities to take a limited amount of cooked rice at the beginning of the pandemic. It was careful to eliminate any chances of scheming the system and distributed 10 tons of rice. Additionally, food banks are frustrated with the slow-moving bureaucracy of feeding the hungry and continue to lobby for more generous rations.

The government could resolve Japan’s hunger crisis. However, the government must find it economically and politically beneficial. Fortunately, there are potential avenues to improve government assistance such as nonprofit organizations and Kodomo Shokudo. Although the food crisis in Japan remains largely unrecognized, the need for improved general governmental welfare has not gone unnoticed. Only 40 food pantries exist in Tokyo to support 14 million residents. In addition, the pandemic has eroded the prospects of economic security. Furthermore, unemployment rates are steadily rising. Addressing Japan’s hunger crisis is the first step in alleviating poverty within the nation.

– Danielle Han
Photo: Flickr

Gender Poverty in Japan
Despite its economically advanced status, Japanese society continues to struggle with lessening the gender gap for women. Gender poverty in Japan has become a major concern. Experts predict poverty rates for elderly women will double or triple in the next 40 years. Governmental leadership is well aware of the need to enact policies to address issues of poverty. However, it has been slow to implement changes.

5 Facts About Gender Poverty in Japan

  1. High Employment Rates, Low Wages: Overall, female employment has risen to 71% in recent years. However, Japanese mothers work in part-time jobs that cap out at relatively low salaries compared to full-time careers. Japanese women in the workforce also earn nearly 30% less than men.
  2. Higher Expectations of Unpaid Work: On average, women in Japan participate in 224 minutes of unpaid work per day while their male counterparts only participate in 41 minutes. This amount of unpaid work time for men is the lowest among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
  3. Child Custody Falls on Women: In cases of divorce, many primarily expect women to take custody of their children. Taking a break from the workforce or maintaining long-term, low-paying part-time work makes it difficult for women in Japan to access higher-paying jobs in addition to providing childcare that Japanese people typically do not expect of men.
  4. High Rates of Poverty for Single-Parent Families: The rate of poverty for single-parent families is an alarming 56% which is the highest among OECD countries. COVID-19 has presented additional challenges as a majority of job cuts in the early stages of the pandemic were part-time jobs predominantly employing women, including single mothers.
  5. Lack of Access to Leadership Positions: Women hold only 15% of senior and leadership positions in Japan, of which their salaries are half of those of their male counterparts. Additionally, Japan has a mere 10% female representation in its parliament. The country also has not had a female head of state for 50 years.

Addressing Gender Poverty in Japan

The government under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempted to address gender poverty in Japan under an economic plan called Womenomics. During his tenure, overall employment rates for women rose. Additionally, Abe enacted a plan to increase female leadership positions to 30% by 2020. Abe did not achieve this goal but it is still in place under new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Abe also enacted generous maternity and paternity leave reforms along with access to free early education and childcare for toddlers. Only 6% of Japanese men take advantage of paternity leave, citing workplace stigma for not doing so. Before leaving office due to health reasons, Abe enacted a wide-ranging five-year plan. He implemented this plan to address gender inequality and it has continued under his successor.

In recent years, there have been some important victories for women’s rights in Japan. In addition, there are new social movements related to the #MeToo movement. Journalist Ito Shiori won a landmark rape case against a television reporter with close ties to Abe, bringing more attention to gender-based violence and discrimination in the country.

The Japanese #MeToo movement gained more traction in 2019 when actress Yumi Ishikawa took to social media to question why her part-time job at a funeral home required her to wear high heels. This set off the #KuToo social movement which is a play on words for “shoes” and “pain” in Japanese. Although the movement has experienced some backlash from men and women in Japan, it raises important societal questions about rigid gender norms in the country and has broadened public debate about gender inequality.

Conclusion

Some are implementing efforts to address gender poverty in Japan. It is a positive sign that significantly higher numbers of women are now experiencing representation in the workforce. Moreover, a public discussion is occurring to challenge traditional gender roles and expectations.

– Matthew Brown
Photo: Flickr

Elderly Poverty in HaitiIn 2020, the average life expectancy worldwide was 72 years; in Haiti, it was 64 years. The majority of the 500,000 Haitians over age 60 are economically dependent and nearly 80% of the population is forced to survive on less than $2 a day. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the older generation is not immune to this crisis. Elderly poverty in Haiti is an imperative issue in need of increased advocacy and aid.

Natural Disaster Created Major Need

The devastating earthquake of 2010 demolished Port-au-Prince. An estimated 250,000 people were killed and over 1.5 million were displaced from their homes. Many elderly were left without shelter, proper clothing and inadequate methods of sanitation. Age is the main factor contributing to the immense vulnerability of this population after disaster. Often, the young and healthy receive vital aid during catastrophes rather than the elderly. As a result, the lack of food and water has hit Haitian elders exceptionally hard.

Water can come with a hefty price tag that some cannot afford. Unfortunately, Haitians living in poverty often walk for miles to streams or ponds to obtain water. If that fails, people sometimes resort to “garbage-filled rivers” to supply their households with water for daily use. This can be an impossible task for an elderly Haitian struggling with mobility. The task of accessing clean water is even more of a challenge for those living in Haiti’s countryside. A majority of Haitians live in rural areas and almost 70% are deemed “chronically poor” compared to only about 20% living in urban areas.

Elderly Poverty in Haiti During COVID-19

In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember all groups need assistance. Different segments of society often receive help unequally. Those left behind in terms of aid tend to be the elderly poor, many of whom do not have the resources to help protect themselves. An October 2020 assessment found that 98% of older adult Haitians did not know where the nearest COVID-19 testing site or treatment facility was located. Soap and basic sanitary needs are now luxuries. Additionally, almost 90% reported having less than two days worth of food at home. Further, nearly half said their mental health had been affected and worry plagued them most, if not all, the time. The pandemic has worsened the situation of elderly poverty in Haiti, which was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.

Aid for the Elderly

Nonprofits and NGOs have stepped up to aid the elderly in Haiti. One nonprofit committed to solving this need is Mission-Haiti, founded in 2005. Within its first year, the organization was able to build the Mission-Haiti Orphanage. The organization then furthered its efforts by opening The SAM Home for the Elderly, a Haitian-led elderly care program. The SAM Home for the Elderly provides elders in need with a safe place to live, access to medical care and three meals a day. Mission-Haiti also began an Advocates for Elders program, which allows anyone to sponsor an elderly Haitian in need for $35 a month.

Increased housing is one of many solutions to ending elderly poverty in Haiti. The World Bank’s projects in Haiti provide an array of other types of aid, including sanitation and water. One of the World Bank’s water projects has seen major success. In its efforts to build, extend and improve drinking water supply systems, more than 70,000 Haitians in rural areas have better access to clean drinking water.

In response to COVID-19, the World Bank collaborated with UNICEF and OREPA to set up more than 2,100 hand-washing stations. The organization has also helped to build 50 sanitation blocks in various public schools and markets. This has helped 26,000 people gain access to sanitation facilities. In the first three months of the pandemic, health care facilities were gifted with protective equipment, including 3.5 million masks. Additionally, around 750 oxygen concentrators were installed to aid in treatments for COVID-19 patients. The World Bank has also focused on awareness campaigns on the importance of good hygiene practices and regular hand-washing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Looking to the Future

The extensive list of adversities facing elderly Haitians will continue to require resilience. However, continued activism can eradicate elderly poverty in Haiti. But in order to achieve this, everyone must be included in the fight. Increased efforts to end elderly poverty in Haiti will allow the country’s life expectancy to continue its upward trend.

Sarah Ottosen
Photo: Flickr

Mostar's Election
More than 25 years ago, the Bosnian War ended. Today, the country is still working to repair the damage the divisions of people within its borders caused. In 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitutional court declared that the city of Mostar’s election rules were discriminatory toward more than half of its population. In the past 12 years, no elections occurred within the city. The two major political parties of the country, the Bosniak and Croat parties, have not agreed on new election rules. As a result, the same mayor did not run Mostar for the period. He has had no local council and has been solely responsible for allocating the city’s budget of 230 million euros.

With little accountability, the institutions of the city have slowly disbanded. As a result, the city has been crumbling, with trash piling up in the streets. Both the Croats and the Bosniaks started to leave the country to find better opportunities abroad.

The Efforts of Irma Baralija

Realizing that the city was only worsening, while the division amongst political officials was never going to result in a proper democratic vote, Irma Baralija sued the government through the European Court of Human Rights. Barajila, a local philosophy teacher, sued because the country had deprived her and the other 100,000 citizens of the right of voting in her district.

In October 2019, Barajila won her case. This resulted in the European Union and the United States officials working with Bosniak and Croats to set election rules by June 2020. With the rules specified in time, the first democratic vote occurred in December 2020, where the citizens had a say in local policies and officials for the first time in more than a decade.

Barajila is proud of the accomplishment within her home city. She stated that hopefully, other citizens would see the impact individuals can have in seemingly party-driven and group-oriented politics. She hoped that people followed her lead by voting in Mostar’s election on December 20, 2020.

The Outcome of Mostar’s Election

The results of the election caused different feelings. On the one hand, citizens were able to express their opinions. On the other, the two parties that have divided the country still are heavily running the show and causing conflict. In particular, both parties have claimed fraud and asked for a recount in specific districts.

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to express one’s opinion is as important as ever. How a country decides different issues regarding healthcare and economic openings can have a significant impact on individuals’ lives. Regardless of the controversial outcome of the election, the realization of Mostar’s election can be a major achievement in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s development.

– Aidan Farr
Photo: Flickr

The Feminization of Poverty in Thailand
Feminization of poverty refers to the higher likelihood that women will experience poverty than men. This rate is disproportionately high, even in industrialized nations where people encourage climbing the corporate ladder. The feminization of poverty in Thailand is a key issue for the country, and other gender inequality issues exacerbate it.

Gender Inequality in Poverty

Of all of the people living in poverty in the world, 70% are women. For these women, poverty is more than just a lack of money. It also includes not having access to necessary resources, such as healthcare, education, food and housing.

Poor households are also susceptible to chronic poverty. Chronic poverty refers to when households are stuck in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to escape. For example, having an uncertain source of income instead of a stable one is difficult to overcome, especially when society deems women less than men. Feminization of poverty in Thailand and other places not only affects the particular individual in poverty but also generations to come. The cycle of poverty is incredibly difficult to break, which can lead women and their families to feel hopeless.

The Wage Gap in Thailand

Around the world, women earn less than men for doing the same work. The wage gap in Thailand was 2.5% in 2015. Unfortunately, in 2020, this gap increased to 10.94%. Further statistics from 2020 show that the average number of unpaid work hours per day is 3.2 for women and 0.9 for men. Additionally, the average number of total work hours for women and men differs by 0.9.

Furthermore, Thai women do not receive enough access to economic resources and financial services. Therefore, women do not possess the same amount of financial and digital literacy as men, resulting in underdeveloped technology skills. This puts women at a disadvantage when searching for jobs. Because of this, women in Thailand do not have equal access to markets.

As demonstrated in the unpaid work statistics, women bear the burden of unpaid responsibilities at home, such as cleaning and cooking, due to societal gender roles. This unpaid work results in women having less time to spend with their family and community. Women are also more likely to prioritize spending money on their children’s well-being, including health and education. The effects of the wage gap on working mothers often include living in poor conditions, lacking access to healthy foods and having fewer opportunities for their children. As a result, many women face increased levels of stress and unhappiness.

The Good News

The first step toward gender equality in Thailand occurred in 1933 when the government granted Thai women the right to vote. Thailand was one of the first Asian countries to give women this opportunity. The current Constitution of Thailand states that both women and men have equal rights.

The role of Thai women in the workplace has increased in recent years. Approximately 17.5 million women work in workplaces throughout Thailand. According to research from Grant Thornton International in 2019, women held 33% of all CEO and managing director jobs in the private sector in Thailand. Moreover, 20% of directors in Thailand were women according to the 2019 Corporate Governance Report.

Women have more protections than before and additional opportunities to advance their careers. Thailand now has anti-discrimination rules in hiring, rules against workplace sexual harassment and equal pay for equal work, which improves the feminization of poverty.

– Miranda Kargol
Photo: Flickr

E-learning in Mexico
In Mexico, education has led discourse within the public and private sectors. Improvement efforts in education depend greatly on government administrations. However, the country’s government has been hindered in its efforts to improve education. Mexico has grown a lot in the last decades, but structural inequality and regional economic disparities are prevalent. Four out of every five people are in situations of poverty or are vulnerable to poverty. Additionally, only 40% of people in rural areas have internet access and the pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Due to COVID-19, internet service has become crucial to guarantee proper education, as well as tools for students and entrepreneurs. Increased use of e-learning in Mexico is imperative now more ever.

Previous Projects in Education

Approximately two decades ago, Mexico began to carry out several academic-related projects. Universities, such as Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the government worked together to provide information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural and remote communities. More precisely, the Virtual University of the Tecnológico de Monterrey established an initiative that built over 1,000 Community Learning Centers.

These centers guaranteed online education to rural communities by providing computers with internet access. Faculty members, teachers and students all contributed to this effort. They provided support and guidance to these rural and remote communities, which directly contributed to the development. The beneficiaries of this initiative reported that these centers helped them obtain employment opportunities, carry out their businesses and facilitated educational involvement.

In 2012, México Conectado (Mexico Connected) was implemented. The project’s aim was to provide a national network that guaranteed internet connectivity for the entire population, especially for those in rural communities. This achievement would promote greater access to all people and also contribute to social inclusion. By the end of 2012, there were approximately 14,000 connection points around the nation. Three years later in 2015, the 14,000 connection points skyrocketed to a total of 101,000 connection points. This initiative helped reduce the digital gap and promoted e-learning in Mexico’s public schools and universities.

Current Status

The pandemic has generated a shift in social demands. Actions are needed to provide e-learning — not for comfort, but out of necessity. Public health, social equalities, economic prosperity and effective education all rely on increased access to e-learning in Mexico. Currently, around 30 million Mexicans in public schools must learn from their homes. In cities, the number of people enrolled in online courses skyrocketed, but distance learning in rural areas has become challenging. The cost to rent a computer with internet access — a requirement for remote learning — is approximately $0.50 an hour. This cost may seem low but the reality is that the income in some areas in Mexico can be only $5 a day. Furthermore, nearly half of the educational institutions previously utilizing México Conectado for internet access no longer have internet service.

As a result, Internet para Todos (Internet for All) replaced México Conectado. The new program seeks to provide internet service to remote and highly marginalized areas. It aims to facilitate government actions and promote economic development. Nonetheless, budgetary insufficiencies and improper management of resources have hindered contract renewal with the suppliers as well as the overall availability of e-learning in Mexico.

As a result, the Mexican government was forced to create a distance learning program through television and radio. Although it is a way of solving the problem, it is an outdated method that does not contribute in the same way as e-learning does to the economic development of communities. Investment into the education sector is undervalued as an effective mechanism for poverty reduction. Improved e-learning infrastructure is crucial in order to achieve integrated economic development and sustainable growth.

A Call for Increased E-Learning

Education is a fundamental pillar for the progress and integral growth of societies. It is necessary to implement strategies to fulfill the current social and economic needs of communities. Currently, the education sector is shifting to e-learning due to remote schooling during the pandemic. Even after quarantine measures end, innovative internet technologies will have permanently shifted education strategies. Location will no longer inhibit access to education, as quality education is becoming accessible anytime and anywhere.

Social programs should provide these tools to all the national territories to give students and entrepreneurs the necessary tools to continue creating prosperous communities. E-learning in Mexico enables economic development and poverty reduction, making it the way to a brighter future.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

Libraries Helping Communities Around the World
Libraries are often the cornerstone of communities. Libraries offer people free internet, resources, events, workshops and books. These resources allow many people to pursue education. In the United States, more people have easy access to libraries than in developing nations. However, there have been libraries helping communities all over the world find creative ways to access the resources a library can provide.

The Zambia Library Service

The Zambia Library Service aims to bring more provincial and public libraries to the country, to improve the libraries in schools and colleges, and to provide more digital resources to educators. This library now has a collection of more than 60,000 books, despite struggling to receive government support. The library service started six provincial libraries that serve about 400,000 individual members and 850,000 institutions every year. Furthermore, it established the Zambia Knowledge Center in 2011 to help provide Zambia’s educators and students with a wealth of online sources from around the globe.

The library continues to advocate for the expansion of copyright laws so that more people can receive access to videos, e-books, audiobooks, journals and websites. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zambia Library Service aims to provide new opportunities for community members to engage with the library. It hosts movie nights, events for International Girl Child Day and a Girl’s Club.

Bangkok’s The Library Train Project

Police Major General Jarumporn Suramanee started The Little Train Project in Bangkok in 1999. He converted two old train cars into a library and education center. These cars have a school area for classroom lessons and a library with books, computers and a television. Suramanee initiated this project because the number of homeless children in the city had been steadily increasing. As such, it was designed to give children an opportunity to receive an education, a place to stay during the day and options for a better future.

Bangkok’s library train features lessons in typical academic subjects and classes on topics such as manners, sports and gardening. Though children are not required to attend class, many enjoy coming to the library to use the resources it has to offer. Furthermore, the library has aided its patrons in other ways, such as helping individuals find a job or helping homeless children find families who want to take them in. It is also intentionally located in the park so it is as accessible as possible.

Norway’s The Bokbåten Epos

Norway’s The Bokbåten Epos was a boat that aimed to give books and other cultural resources to small, rural, fjord communities. The ship visited 150 small villages in less than a month after it was built in 1959. The boat was designed to hold 6,000 books, but it often circulated 20,000 books at a time. Furthermore, the ship would often bring other events such as concerts and plays—usually the only cultural events these villages would see in a year.

Unfortunately, The Bokbåten Epos shut down in 2020. This upset many Norwegian citizens. However, the government hopes to find a solution that is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and that can access more areas. The Bokbåten Epos could also serve as a model for other libraries committed to helping communities.

Zimbabwe’s Donkey-Drawn Libraries

A nonprofit called Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme (RLRDP) started a mobile library project to help provide more resources to Zimbabwe’s rural schools in 1990. These schools struggled to be acknowledged and receive the needed funding. These 15 mobile libraries can hold up to 1,000 books each. Additionally, four donkeys pull these books along to increase the distance the mobile libraries can travel.

These mobile libraries work with communities to tailor services to people’s needs, such as using bikes to deliver books or making more stops if there are elderly patrons or patrons with disabilities. Additionally, some of these carts have solar electricity and internet access that allow access to e-books and educational resources, as well as make it possible to hold movie events. These mobile libraries have helped nearly 1,600 people and have become an integral part of communities.

Many people who live in impoverished, rural areas do not have access to books or other services that libraries provide. These innovative libraries are focused on helping impoverished communities and have successfully helped thousands of people. Efforts like these around the world have the power to transform education in developing countries.

– Mikayla Burton
Photo: Flickr

9 Facts About IDPs in Colombia
For more than 50 years, Colombia grappled with a civil war that left more than 220,000 dead and millions displaced. The protracted issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) continues in the country despite the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in rural Colombia. Here are nine facts about IDPs in Colombia.

9 Facts About IDPs in Colombia

  1. In 2019, there were approximately eight million IDPs in Colombia. This does not include the additional 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees in the country.
  2. There are still citizens being displaced since the peace agreement in 2016. As of 2019, the number of people of concern in Colombia has increased by 13%.
  3. The government lacks control of many rural regions of Colombia. Although FARC largely demobilized in 2016, there are other armed groups still controlling large swaths of the country that are perpetuating the IDP crisis. These groups are funded by the lucrative cocaine trade, which continues to thrive in unstable regions.
  4. Environmental impacts also play a role in the IDP situation. Colombia has the fourth-highest rate of deforestation in the world, a majority of which occurs in areas of origin for IDPs. Criminal elements and the government share responsibility for environmental degradation.
  5. Human rights activists are at risk. Since the 2016 Peace Accord, more than 400 human rights activists and environmental defenders have been killed in Colombia, many of which were from indigenous communities. These advocates are crucial in establishing crop substitution programs and helping resettle and empower IDPs.
  6. For IDPs living in urban areas, UNHCR and national NGOs have implemented the legalization of informal settlements. This has helped provide better access to government services, energy and the sewage system, along with lessening the stigma of not having ownership titles for housing. This UNHCR project has been ongoing since 2015 and has benefitted more than 24,000 IDPs.
  7. The Opción Legal NGO assists IDPs with reintegration into rural communities through legal means. Reintegration was included in the 2016 peace agreement but it is still in need of better implementation. With the help of funding from UNHCR, Opción Legal operates programs encouraging and strengthening political participation for IDPs. This NGO has assisted IDP populations in regions like Atlántico and Bolívar.
  8.  The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is supporting the implementation of the peace agreement. The agency is seeking out durable solutions to conflict, such as education and job training. The programs have benefitted more than 10,000 Colombians directly and 235,000 indirectly.
  9. USAID is working to build institutional trust in regions with high levels of IDPs. Vulnerable populations in addition to IDPs, such as women, community leaders, migrants and ethnic minorities, are all considered crucial populations for funding and empowerment. USAID also has a strategy to build capacity for youth leaders, which is viewed as a possible long-term solution for peace and self-reliance.

Looking Forward

The 2016 Peace Accord was a big step in working to improve livelihoods for millions of IDPs in Colombia. Although many challenges remain in implementation, the legal frameworks are in place for the country to continue toward its ultimate goals of peace and stability.

– Matthew Brown
Photo: Flickr

Chad's Food Security
Chad’s food security is a persistent issue and challenge. More than 2 million people suffer from malnutrition, and 43% of children under 5-years-old have developed stunting due to malnutrition. In total, 3.7 million people experience food insecurity in Chad. Fortunately, many great organizations work to reduce food insecurity. These organizations include The World Food Programme (WFP), The World Bank and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States (FAO).

The World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme has provided food assistance to 1.4 million people in Chad. Furthermore, this organization has provided food assistance and school meals to 370,000 refugees and 135,000 children.

WFP worked with other nonprofits on a project in Farchana, a refugee camp in Chad in 2018. This project allowed about 30,000 people to unite and help build a more self-reliant, food-secure community. The project consisted of reworking the landscape and providing workers with money to purchase food or other necessities. According to WFP, “The work done by both host communities and refugees expands the availability and diversity of food produced and consumed locally, and ensures that local food production and income-generating activities can continue through shocks and crises.”

Furthermore, WFP has developed a strategic plan for 2019-2023 that includes how the organization plans to aid in improving Chad’s food security. The nonprofit will help ensure that people in targeted areas have access to food year-round, meet their basic food needs and have more self-sustaining ways of obtaining food. WFP also hopes to increase the nutritional levels in the population and make sure the government can help feed the population.

The World Bank

The World Bank has supported over 50 projects in Chad and is currently working on 19 projects. This organization launched the Emergency Food and Livestock Crisis Response AF project in 2017. The project aimed to “improve the availability of and access to food and livestock productive capacity for targeted beneficiaries.” Additionally, the project received an $11.6 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) that focuses on social protection, agriculture, fishing and forestry, livestock and crops.

The World Bank approved a $75 million grant from the IDA to continue the Refugees and Host Communities Support Project for Chad (PARCA) in September 2020. PARCA has helped improve the lives of impoverished and vulnerable people in the country. The project is set to end in 2025 and has received a rating of “moderately satisfactory” as of October 2020.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO)

The FAO has been working hard to improve Chad’s food security for the past several years. Furthermore, the World Bank published an analysis of a project that the FAO and other organizations contributed to in 2019. This project consisted of providing agricultural knowledge and tools to people in Goré, a town in Southern Chad. In addition, the project aided almost 500,000 people and established a process for the community to feed itself year-round at an affordable price.

The FAO provided “emergency agricultural assistance to vulnerable populations” in 2019. Additionally, the organization helped just under 300,000 people improve their agricultural output and prevented them from suffering from future climate inconsistencies or disasters.

The FAO completed the Sustainable Revitalization of Agricultural Systems project which aided about 4,000 people in 2020. In addition, it provided irrigation systems and fences to protect crops. The project succeeded in increasing agricultural yields.

Chad rates 187/189 on the Human Development Index and 66.2% of the population lives in severe poverty.  Despite these struggles, organizations are helping improve the lives of the people. The government of Chad has also been working to help improve the lives of its population. Chad created a plan to improve Chadians’ quality of life by developing human and social capital, social protection and economic empowerment by the end of 2021.

– Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Extreme Poverty in Botswana
The nation of Botswana, home to approximately 2.3 million people, has undergone an amazing change over the past three decades, transforming from an impoverished nation to one of the wealthiest nations in sub-Saharan Africa. While many of its neighbors have lagged behind—in fact, the United Nations classifies sub-Saharan Africa as the poorest region in the world—Botswana reduced the percentage of its population living on less than $1.90 a day from 29.8% between 2002-2003 to 16.1% between 2015-2016. What are the secrets to success in combatting extreme poverty in Botswana that have allowed it to prosper relative to its neighboring African nations?

A Brief Look at the History of Botswana

Botswana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966 and quickly adopted a parliamentary constitutional republic. In fact, Botswana is the oldest democracy on the continent, though one party—the Botswana Democratic Party—has dominated elections since the adoption of the country’s constitution. Compared to its neighbors, Botswana began with a commitment to free enterprise, rule of law and individual liberties. Its first president, Seretse Khama, had a devotion to fighting corruption, which was critical to Botswana’s success.

To fight extreme poverty in Botswana, the country invested in four critical pillars: public institutions, education, economic diversification and women’s rights.

4 Pillars to Tackling Extreme Poverty in Botswana

  1. One of the most remarkable aspects of Botswana is its extraordinarily low levels of corruption as a result of institutional checks and balances. According to the 2017 Corruption Perception Index, Botswana was the least corrupt nation in Africa, with its score twice as high as the average sub-Saharan African nation. Botswana is one of only a handful of nations that outperform parts of Western Europe, with its score outpacing Spain in 2018. This is as a result of institutional checks and balances, including the Corruption and Economic Crime Act of 1994 and the development of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, an agency tasked with investigating and preventing corruption. As a resource-rich state known for diamond mining, Botswana was careful to prevent government employees from benefiting from what the nation’s first president deemed public resources.
  2. Botswana invests a considerable percentage of its GDP in education; this percentage was more than 20% in 2009. Botswana’s investment in education translated to a literacy rate of 87% in 2019, compared to a regional average of 65%. High rates of education have contributed to Botswana’s increased economic diversification and strong political stability, making the nation one of the more attractive places to do business in Africa.
  3. Smart economic development has contributed to Botswana’s high living standards and low corruption levels, placing it ahead of its peers. Botswana derived much of its early economic growth from diamond extraction which, among other exports, accounts for approximately 40% of Botswana’s GDP composition by end-use. However, consistent investment in other sectors of the economy has remained a strategy for the ruling party, and the government has increasingly diversified its economy towards the service sector and tourism jobs. Investment in conservation and wildlife has grown the tourism industry to approximately 14% of Botswana’s GDP,  nearly doubling since 1999. Remarkably, Botswana’s commitment to managing its domestic ecosystems allowed it to sign one of the first “debt-for-nature” agreements with the United States, which forgave more than $8 million in debt in exchange for the continued protection of the Okavango Delta and tropical forests.
  4. In addition to the high rates of women’s education and literacy, Botswana remains committed to a strong National Family Planning Policy and healthcare service. Botswana has experienced a rapid decline in fertility, according to the CIA World Factbook, with the total fertility rate falling from over five children per woman in the 1980s to 2.42 in 2021. Easy access to contraception and above-average rural and urban access to healthcare facilities have not only contributed to a decline in fertility but emboldened women’s rights and improved standards of living.

Botswana is by no means a perfect nation. It has extremely high rates of HIV/AIDS, like many of its African peers, and its single-party government has been criticized by some international organizations for suppressing competition. However, decades of consistent improvement in education and women’s rights, increased economic diversification, high levels of economic freedom and a commitment to fighting corruption have made Botswana the most prosperous nation in sub-Saharan Africa and a model for its peers.

– Saarthak Madan
Photo: Flickr