On August 5, the ONE Campaign sent out a press release discussing a recent partnership between ONE Africa and Big Brother Africa to raise awareness about poverty. The collaboration is taking place this week to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the African Union (AU).

This is the second year that Big Brother Africa has worked with One Africa to end extreme poverty. The press release stated that, “During this year’s Charity Week, housemates will undertake a series of tasks centered on educating viewers about the most pressing poverty issues facing the continent while highlighting possible solutions.”

In addition, the African Hip Hop star Ice Prince will talk with Big Brother housemates about extreme poverty in Africa and how the AU is working to address it. As part of the events of the week, housemates will choose an issue of poverty that they are passionate about and make a video about it asking the AU to address the issue. Viewers will then be able to vote on their favorite video.

Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, the Africa Director for ONE said, “The Big Brother Africa platform presents an incredible opportunity to highlight the unconscionable plight of extreme poverty, which millions of Africans face on a daily basis. The good news, we know, is that research has shown that extreme poverty can virtually be eradicated by 2030.”

– KC Harris

Sources: The One Campaign

In a country where over 80% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day, Haiti is a country burdened with struggles. In a country that suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes in the Western Hemisphere in 2010, daily life is characterized by endless tribulations. As food prices soar, the Haitian situation becomes even more precarious as life revolves around food security, of which the average Haitian generally has none.

Throughout the developing world, a healthy aquaculture remains vital to food security, as fishing is often the primary source of sustenance for many of these populations. In small island states like Haiti, fish are even more important, as they generally constitute more than 50% of an individual’s protein intake. Furthermore, fishing in Haiti and other countries is an important source of employment for the developing world, where 97% of the world’s fish are caught. A healthy aquaculture can positively transform a struggling country like Haiti.

The World Resources Institute characterizes all of Haiti’s reefs to be at high risk.  Mass unemployment, overpopulated coastal areas, narrow shelf areas, and easy access to reefs have exponentially increased the danger to Haiti’s aquaculture, making Haiti’s coastal regions the most exploited in the Caribbean. Furthermore, due to the lack of sewage treatment plants and sanitary landfill, there is a heavy flow of nutrients into the ocean, sparking excessive algae growth.

Organizations like Food for the Poor have recognized the enormous need to stabilize and develop Haiti’s fishing economy. They have established 41 fishing villages in Haiti, providing entire communities with a reliable source of food and income. Additionally, Food for the Poor has constructed 40 tilapia ponds, further expanding the fish stocks in Haiti.

On their work with Haiti’s aquaculture, the Vice President of Food for the Poor Jean Robert Brutus commented, “The organization Food for the Poor has grown over time and has strengthened, the founders and managers of Food for the Poor have quickly realized, that although they distributing thousands of meals to the needy […] that the needs of Haiti go beyond simply distributing food to the poor…” Thus, the creation of sustainable fishing practices is much more effective in the long term, as Haitians will develop the skills to cultivate their aquaculture in a sustainable way.

Improving the fishing industry in Haiti could have an enormous impact on the lives of all Haitians, serving as an important step towards the future autonomy of Haiti.

– Anna Purcell 

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization, World Resources Institute, Haiti Libre
Photo: Nouvelle

These are ten women transforming Africa through economic, literary, and technological spheres.

  • Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer transforming the next generation of African literature. Her critically acclaimed breakout novel, Purple Hibiscus, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book, whilst her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the prestigious Orange Prize. Her latest book, released in May 2014, tackles the precarious issue of race in the post-9/11 world.
  • Dambisa Moyo is a Zambian economist best known for her acclaimed book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working, which argues against the introduction of foreign aid in Africa. The book instead advocates for an African-based initiative for the continent’s future.
  • Saran Kaba Jones is a Liberian social entrepreneur and a powerful advocate for clean water. She formed FACE Africa, an organization that supports access to clean water, proper hygienic conditions, and sanitation facilities in Liberia.
  • Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the founder of soleRebels, based in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, which sells fair-trade, locally-produced footwear. Its sales have introduced over $1 million dollars into the local economy.
  • Ndidi Nwuneli is the Nigerian founder of LEAP Africa, an organization that provides leadership training and coaching services to a variety of social entrepreneurs to provide them with the skills necessary for success.
  • Khanyi Ndhlomo is a South African woman reshaping the course of African media. Her company, Ndalo Media, runs two highly successful business and lifestyle publications: Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man.
  • Lisa Kropman established The Business Place, a collection of business centers that provide support to young entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.
  • Julie Gichuru serves as one of the leading journalists in Kenya, having done so for the past eleven years in a variety of mediums, including broadcast, print, and online media. She works presently as an executive at Citizen TV, Kenya.
  • June Arunga is the founder of Open Quest Media LLC, as well as a founding partner of Black Star Line SA, a technology-based company that facilitates cell-phone payments and money transfers. All of her ventures are focused on nurturing the African economy.
  • Ory Okolloh is a Kenyan lawyer and activist who created Ushahidi, a crowd sourcing system through which people from around the world can report violence as it unfolds through their cell phones, emails, or Twitter accounts. She is globally recognized as one of the prominent female leaders in technology.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: Forbes, The Guardian
Photo: University of Liege

For celebrities and average Joes alike, Red Nose Day is a great chance to make a complete fool of yourself. The idea, originating in the U.K. and supported by the BBC, is to take one day every other year to donate some of your time, humor, and your nose to help change lives across the U.K. and Africa. Wearing red noses, thousands of people across the United Kingdom take to “comic relief” (also the name of the organization behind Red Nose Day) as a way to raise money for households in need.

The U.K. audience is no stranger to those laying it all on the line for a laugh. So, it’s no surprise when even the more serious celebrities, including David and Victoria Beckham, take to donning red “badges” of courage and let themselves be the butt of a little sporting humor. The famous couple was interviewed by Ali G, or Sacha Baron Cohen, to raise a few bucks for the cause and hilarity ensued.

But the day is not reserved for the wealthy or famous. Young and old people across the U.K. get together to raise money by hamming it up on and off the stage. From schools and grocery stores, to a live comedic set on the BBC Red Nose night, few public spaces and TVs are safe from the do-gooders and their jokes. This year, the day saw contributions accumulating to well over 100 million pounds.

Although Comic Relief and Red Nose Day donations go to fund projects worldwide, the vast majority of money is centered on projects in the U.K. and Africa. Generally, the issues addressed by these projects concern poverty and social justice, but also include mental health and asylum causes, among others. Every four years, the funding structure and program investments are reevaluated to accommodate change in the world and the local communities in which these projects take place.

On a rolling basis starting September of this year, Comic Relief accepts grant applications to receive funding for potential projects. The 2009-2012 funding cycle just ending, so now is the time for organizations to apply for these grants. So, if you have an idea that you would like to pursue, check out the application process here.

Herman Watson

Sources: BBC, Red Nose Day, Comic Relief
Photo: Chronicle Live

‘The world sends us garbage. We send back music,” said Favio Chávez, the conductor of the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra.

The Cateura Dump, in the Bañado Sur area along the Paraguay River, is surrounded by seven neighborhoods. 2,500 families live in these neighborhoods, and the majority rely on the landfill to survive, sorting through the 1,500 tons of waste delivered daily and reusing whatever can be found. Poverty has forced many children to work with their families instead of attending school, resulting in inadequate education and a low level of literacy. The area also faces frequent flooding, as well as problems with sanitation and clean drinking water. It is from these troubled beginnings that the Landfill Harmonic originated.

Whilst working in the area, Favio Chávez, an ecological technician decided to teach music to some of the children. Chávez had previously trained as a musician and initially used his own instruments to give lessons. But he soon had too many students and not enough instruments. It was then that the idea to create instruments from recycled materials first struck him. The result was “Los Reciclados” (the Recycled Orchestra) was born using oil cans and scavenged wood, forks and kitchen utensils to create orchestral instruments.

Since its beginnings, the Recycled Orchestra has toured the world, performing in Argentina, Brazil, and Germany, and will be the subject of an upcoming documentary, “Landfill Harmonic.” And while the orchestra may have been created to “educate the world and raise awareness,” as Chávez says, the profound impact on individual lives is very apparent. Chavez continues, “…even though these students are in extreme poverty, they can also contribute to society. They deserve an opportunity.”

One of the orchestral members stated, “My life would be worthless without music.” For children living in poverty, and in an environment where the potential for education and advancement is slim, being given the opportunity to study music and travel the world can be invaluable.

“People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly,” Chávez says. “Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.”

– David Wilson 

Sources: Time, Notes on the Road, UNICEF
Photo: MSNBC Media

In a traditionally volatile region, violence has once again broken out. In the province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two rebel groups have been engaging in fighting with the Congolese armed forces. M23, the most active of the rebel groups operating in the DRC, launched an assault on the army stationed around the city of Goma on July 14th. Prior to that though, the Allied Democratic Forces engaged the armed forces on July 11th. Caught in the crossfire of these separate engagements are tens of thousands of civilians, forced to flee as fighting erupted.

Many of these refugees fled across the border into Uganda where transit centers are quickly filling. In the first few days of the conflict 66,000 Congolese refugees crossed the border. And that was before violence erupted between M23 and the national forces. The situation is even more difficult in Uganda as the country is already playing host to more than 200,000 refugees – 60% of whom originate from the DRC – before this latest round of violence.

The UN Refugee Agency has an annual operating budget of $93.8 million for Uganda, but less than half of this has so far been funded. With the sudden influx of refugees from both Ugandan conflicts, a large portion of the extra burden is falling on Uganda. With transit centers near the borders rapidly filling, the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister pledged to begin registering refugees and relocating them to longer term refugee camps, where they will be supplied with plots of land to farm. This process, however, is time-consuming, and over-congestion in the transit camps, and the subsequent risk of disease as livestock and people live together in close quarters, has become a primary concern.

With the rebels, particularly M23 around Goma, refusing to back down, UN intervention may soon be seen. UN peacekeepers in the DRC, MONUSCO, had set a deadline of August 1st for rebel troops to hand in their weapons and demobilize. Leaders of the rebel group however dismissed the ultimatum as irrelevant. As a result, a UN intervention brigade, comprised of 3000 troops from Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania – part of the 20,000 strong peacekeeping force – may soon engage rebel troops in an attempt to establish a “security zone” around the city of Goma.

– David M. Wilson
Sources: UNHCR, Times Live, IRIN News
Sources: Alissa Everett

The issue of poverty in South Sudan is very complex, however, the organization Plan International is adamant that a key component to poverty reduction is concentrating on decreasing poverty among young people in the country. A 2009 Southern Sudan Household Survey disclosed that 50.6% of the population survives on less than $2 a day. In addition to income limitations, poverty also brings a lack of healthcare, food, sanitation, and clean water.

In order to improve these conditions, Nigal Champman, the Chief Executive Director of Plan International, suggests focusing on children as a financially small investment. He explained, “We all know that young people can play an important role in national development if provided with the right tools, the learning and capacity to employ those tools, and a supportive environment in which to use them.” However, these children can just as easily continue to live in the poverty cycle if they are not provided with education, healthcare or proper nutrition.

The organization has invested $30 million in South Sudan since 2006 and is planning on providing another $30 million in the next three years. Plan International will utilize this money by working with government officials to implement policies meant to keep children in school. Other ways Plan International contributes to the reduction of poverty in South Sudan is through food and clean water distribution, supporting agricultural developments, peacekeeping programs, and providing access to health services.

In a country where 50% of the population is young children or adolescents, about 60% of the poor belong to this demographic. In addition to the previously mentioned disadvantages, these young people also struggle because many are orphans of parents who have AIDS or victims of conflict or child labor. While South Sudan may be a convoluted situation, organizations like Plan International are working to ensure that poverty is a thing of the past by investing in children, who are our future.

– Mary Penn

Sources: All Africa, Youth Policy
Photo: Doctors without Borders

More than half a million children still die from malaria every year. Any day a child dies of a preventable disease is not a happy day, but those working to fight malaria – and that number includes activists like you and I – should give ourselves a pat on the back for being a part of the political action that has increased funding for the work on the ground, enabling a 25 percent drop in malaria deaths globally since 2000.

It wasn’t that long ago that kids here in America became ill and died from malaria. Atlanta’s history as a global health research center actually grew out of the efforts to fight malaria in the US in the early 20th century. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- formerly known as the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas- had its headquarters planted in Atlanta beginning in 1947 due to the prevalence of malaria throughout the southeastern US. Malaria was declared eliminated from the US in 1951.

Although one may not be working directly on the ground in Africa to eradicate malaria, every phone call, in-district meeting or public event one participates in to further the progress of the Millennium Development Goal #6 (fighting HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria) really does add up.

The progress that has been made in fighting off these diseases has been phenomenal. Dr. Emerson (who is Dr. Emerson???) says that in his work in places like Ethiopia, you no longer see “two or three children to a bed” stricken with malaria, thanks to better distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and other preventative measures.

Now is a crucial time in the fight against malaria. Even though much progress has been made, the last stretch of the race is still before us. As long as we can push through and continue to fight this disease effectively, we can see the eradication of malaria in the relatively near future. Let’s finish malaria for good.

Matthew Jackoski

Sources: ONE, World Community Grid
Photo: The Guardian

The injustice of ableism is often overshadowed by sexism, racism and LGBT discrimination in the media. The US International Council on Disabilities, however, hopes to raise ableism’s profile. USICD aims to cultivate global empowerment of disabled people by prioritizing the rights of the disabled in U.S. foreign policy. As an organization, it also strives to foster a mutual understanding between disabled and abled individuals within the United States and in foreign countries, thereby creating a united front of advocacy for the disabled.

Mentally and physically handicapped people are among those most susceptible to human rights abuses and poverty. Because they are often stigmatized by employers and assumed to be virtually worthless in the workforce, members of the disabled community are systematically denied access to jobs and, thus, opportunities for upward social mobility. Lacking stable means to earn an income, many disabled people struggle to support themselves. USICD is intent on striking down these common misconceptions and insists that the disabled have much to contribute to society.

Disabled people are also among those most vulnerable to the chains of modern slavery. In China for instance, there have been several documented cases of forced sweatshop labor among the mentally handicapped. Human traffickers often prey upon the disabled, being fully aware of the disadvantage they have in being able to advocate for themselves. Even if they escape such terrible circumstances, their plight will likely be ignored by the justice system, in which their testimony is often discredited based on assumption of their intellectual defects.

Throughout this past year, USICD has worked to lobby on behalf of passing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through the Senate. If CRPD is ratified, countries participating in the Convention would be obligated to grant their disabled citizens with the same legal rights and protections afforded to disabled Americans under the 1990 Disabilities Act. This would mean that the rights to employment and basic healthcare services would be guaranteed to disabled individuals under international law.

Moreover, by compiling content for a digital database, USCID aspires to develop among its constituency budding human rights activists for the disabled cause. Armed with knowledge that then translates to power, its members realize that although the struggle for equality between disabled and abled people is far from over, it is nonetheless a battle worth fighting.

– Melrose Huang

Sources: USICD, Huffington Post, National Council on Independent Living, China, U.S. Department of State
Photo: RFA

5 Ways to End Poverty
The end of global poverty is in sight. While this may seem like a difficult, if not impossible feat, in fact, the opposite is true. By adhering to these concepts, the United Nations states that poverty can be ended in the near future.

  1. Economic Growth: Training and education are key for economic growth in the developing world. Once these two necessities are met, more jobs can be created and people will earn more money to fuel the economy.
  2. Representative and Responsible Government: Corruption has been known to prevent foreign aid from reaching the most impoverished people. Open governments are less likely to be corrupt and more likely to provide social services to their citizens.
  3. ‘Green’ agriculture and development: Due to climate change and population increases, environmentally friendly policies are critical for ensuring sustainability and healthy lifestyles.
  4. Healthcare/Sanitation: Without access to proper healthcare, communities are affected by disease, illness and death, factors that contribute to lack of economic development and social progress. Access to clean water and sanitation will also improve health conditions. When children are healthy, they can go to school and grow up to have careers, thus ending their parents’ poverty cycle.
  5. Global Partnerships: No one country can end global poverty on its own. In order to reduce poverty, everyone must work together to ensure that these other factors are met. Foreign aid, improving trading relations or diplomacy are ways that countries can contribute to eliminating poverty.

Although this is a simplified list, these big ideas are vital for finally ending world poverty. Once poverty is reduced, hunger, war, and illicit operations common to developing countries will no longer be prevalent because people will no longer be imprisoned by extreme poverty. The U.N. is on track for meeting its Millennium Development Goals and hopes to see the end of world poverty by 2030.

– Mary Penn

Sources: Plan Canada, Government of the United Kingdom
Photo: The Guardian