New Industries UgandaThe Ugandan government recently announced the decision to draft a new national policy that will aid the country’s economic growth and assist in the creation of new industries in Uganda. Such development could draw more investment into the country and bolster the nation as a whole, and the silk industry might be the best way to achieve economic prosperity.

A New National Industrial Policy

In 2008, Uganda’s parliament passed the National Industrial Policy to combat the country’s slow economic growth. The policy was highly anticipated as it aimed to transform the structure of the country as a whole rather than just one specific industry. The National Industrial Policy was not only meant to lead to the creation of new industries in Uganda but it also to lead to the cooperation of the state by providing a plan of action.

Fast forward 10 years and many Ugandan citizens are disappointed with the policy’s impact. By 2018, only 30 percent of the policy has been realized. The main reason for this underachievement is the fact that the policy was not properly implemented. The plan and prediction were that GDP in Uganda would grow to 30 percent, but between 2008 and 2017, it only grew by 18.5 percent. The new policy seeks to rectify this situation by making investment easier, increasing funding to the industrial sector and strengthening existing laws that help industrial development.

Focus on Industrialization

Many economists and politicians believe that industrialization is a key component in lifting countries out of poverty and into a modern, industrial economy. The far-reaching goal of industrialization is to change the system, and such widespread aims can help lead to nationwide development.

One aim of the new industrial policy is the silk industry. Due to the high demand for silk, Uganda is looking to farm silkworms in a process called sericulture to produce more silk. Many hope to expand the silk industry through this new policy. China and India are the ultimate silk producers at this moment, but both are currently experiencing declines. Estimates state that Uganda could make almost $94 million and create up to 50,000 jobs every year in the silk industry; time will tell if such potential can be realized.

The Ugandan government is set to put in about $102 million into this endeavor over the course of five years with the hopes of making about $340 million. While the new national policy seeks the creation of new industries in Uganda, the silk industry has existed in the country before and had been implemented in the 2008 National Industrial Policy. Uganda has grown and produced silk since the 1920s and had had silkworm farms up until the late 1990s. Now, the nation seeks to revitalize the product and its process.

What’s Next?

While this new national policy has yet to be implemented in the Ugandan government, there is still the hope that this policy will create more domestic growth within the nation. It is necessary to wait and see the effects of the policy since the same problems that the 2008 policy faced could still exist. The effects are unknown, but now there is hope that the creation of new industries in Uganda is the start that the country needs.

Isabella Niemeyer
Photo: Flickr

Income Inequality in MalaysiaAfter achieving independence in 1957, the Malaysian government has maintained a laissez-faire approach. To an extent, this approach was successful as the country’s GDP grew by 4.1 percent from 1956 to 1960, 5.0 percent from 1961 to 1965 and 5.4 percent from 1966 to 1970. However, despite these positive trends, economic disparity continued to persist.

The UNDP 1997 Human Development Report and the U.N.’s 2004 Human Development Report (UNHDP) both found that Malaysia has the highest income gap between the wealthy and poor in Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines). The UNDP’s research also found that the richest 10 percent in Malaysia earn 38.4 percent of the nation’s wealth. In comparison, the poorest 10 percent only control 1.7 percent.

Impact of Income Inequality in Malaysia on Children

This level of income inequality Malaysia has an especially concerning impact on children. UNICEF warns that the widening gap between the poorest and richest 20 percent has implications on child development, protection, participation and survival. Dr. Alberto Minujin, Professor at The New School and at Columbia University explains that children experience poverty differently than adults. They are especially vulnerable to certain types of deprivation and even short-term destitution can result in long-term effects. For instance, malnourishment can influence a child’s health and ability to perform well in school. This in turn would negatively affect their long term health and education.

Hans Singer, who works for the U.N.’s Economic Affairs Department, explains that investing in children would actually help the economy. In his study, “The Role of Children in Economic Development,” Hans found that malnutrition was a factor in low productivity in developing countries. Therefore, development initiatives focused on the wellbeing of children would further spur the economy and potentially shrink Malaysia’s income gap.

On a national level, UNICEF Malaysia has been supporting the government to implement development initiatives to improve the well-being of children and improve inclusivity. Initiatives range from promoting equity to strengthening national policies to establishing social services to child-focused social inclusion and disparity reduction.

Recent Legislation Protecting Children

One of the organization’s achievements was the enactment of the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017. This piece of legislation allows for the advancement in the protection of children from sexual crimes. UNICEF Malaysia programme priorities match the goals of UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Headline Results. This means they focus on protecting children from both online and offline sexual exploitation, abuse and violence, fighting harmful practices against girls, strengthening civil registration and increasing access to justice and family-based care.

On a global level, UNICEF has also launched several development initiatives for the benefit of Malaysia’s children. In the 1980s and 1990s, the organization formulated the First Call for Children concept, which mandates that “children’s priority needs should have a first call on resources.” In addition, UNICEF established the 20/20 principle — a new initiative to restructure existing spending methods, rather than adding additional funds, to maximize current resources. The idea was that both donor and developing countries would contribute 20 percent of their national public expenditures to basic needs including primary health care, primary education, clean water and reproductive health in hopes of achieving greater global collaboration for a good cause.

– Iris Gao
Photo: Flickr

 

transportation impacts poverty
Transportation impacts global poverty in ways that are both obvious and subtle. If the job market is centered in an urban area and potential workers live in a distant, rural area, their immediate survival depends on access to transportation. On a larger scale, the ability for a developing country to transcend poverty and become productive and prosperous depends a great deal on the transportation systems that are implemented with the help of foreign aid. This article analyzes five ways transportation impacts global poverty.

Five Ways Transportation Impacts Global Poverty

  1. Rural isolation arguably deserves its own list of ways transportation impacts global poverty because it has so many consequences that perpetuate continued destitution. For example, farmers in isolated rural environments often fail to reach their economic potential because they cannot easily access marketplaces that offer seeds, fertilizers and other tools for agricultural success.
  2. Other casualties of rural isolation are the elderly or otherwise infirm. Healthcare services are usually in centralized urban locations. Even if the poor and sick or even the old, pregnant or injured can afford the costs associated with health services, they are often unable to get to where the providers are if they live in rural communities. World Bank has helped to address this in developing regions of India, Georgia and Vietnam by subsidizing travel costs and making health professionals available in more remote areas.
  3. Investing in basic infrastructure is often one of the most significant ways in which transportation impacts global poverty. The building of roads, trails and bridges creates greater accessibility even for those who can only travel on foot. Jobs are created to facilitate these developments, and there are often new modes of public transportation implemented to make use of newly created roads or railroad tracks. This helps to minimize the travel time between rural and urban regions. Bill Gates asserts that while domestic resources can and should be utilized for infrastructure investment, global aid is a critical component as well. An investment in a developing country ultimately benefits the entire world, including the wealthiest nations.
  4. It stands to reason that the more easily a population can access educational facilities, the more educated that population is likely to be. People living more than an hour’s walk from the main road in Papua New Guinea were shown to be experiencing twice as much poverty as those living closer to the road. Building new roads and providing greater access to transportation resulted in an increase in education enrollment and literacy as well as an overall decrease in poverty.
  5. A theory known as “spatial mismatch” describes a phenomenon in which those who can easily pay for transportation, whether by automobile or public means, move away from congested urban regions. This creates a problem for the poor because the market often follows the wealthy as do the jobs. In developing countries, this is especially problematic since it feeds a cycle of poverty in which cheap housing options are only available in areas where there are few amenities, poor transportation options and limited jobs.

Writer Wilfred Owen asserts, “Continuing global prosperity is contingent on the very large volume of trade with developing countries and on the foreign investment opportunities they provide.” This will not be feasible without a short-term investment in the infrastructure and transportation systems of those developing countries. While the governments of the developing nations play a vital role in upgrading transportation options in their countries, foreign aid must also play a part. As this article shows, transportation impacts global poverty; therefore, it is not a simple matter of charity but rather a wise investment in our global future.

Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr

United NationsThe United Nations is an international organization that was founded in 1945. At the end of the Second World War, many countries came together to focus on global peace, climate change, humanitarian emergencies and country development. The organization has become a forum for countries to negotiate and solve problems together in a regulated environment. Below are 10 cool facts about the United Nations.

10 Cool Facts About the United Nations

    1. The U.N. Has Almost 200 Member States
      There are currently 196 member states in the United Nations. These individual states are all recognized by the United Nations as members of the international organization. There are only four countries that are non-members of the U.N. They are Kosovo, Palestine, Taiwan and Vatican City. These countries have received invitations to join the U.N., but have yet to accept.
    2. Branches and Programs of the U.N. Received the Nobel Peace Prize 11 Times
      Over the last 70 years, the United Nations has been given 11 Nobel Peace prizes awarded to various agencies, specialized programs and initiatives. This prize was inspired by the last will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. Upon his death, he left most of his fortune to those who made advancements for the betterment of humanity in the areas of physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature and peace.
    3. The United Nations Was Proposed in 1942
      United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term the “United Nations” on January 1, 1942. Representatives of 26 nations came together at that time in order to fight the Axis Powers during World War II. However, the U.N. did not officially create a charter until 1945. The organization was officially formed in October 1945 when 51 member states ratified its charter. This day is now celebrated as United Nations Day.
    4. The U.N. Has Six Official Languages
      In 1946, the U.N. established six official languages for its meetings and distributed documentation. The languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. During meetings delegates and representatives must utilize one of these languages or provide a written interpretation in one of them. Each language is recognized on a specific day of the year to celebrate cultural diversity and multilingualism.
    5. The U.N. Has Its Own News Site
      In order to keep the world updated on pertinent international issues and achievements, the United Nations has a news site. The site separates stories by world regions, topics and timeliness. The site is available in the official languages of the U.N. and has both a written and audio option.
    6. It Prioritizes Specific Global Issues
      Conflict resolution and peacekeeping are the main efforts of the United Nations, but the organization has many other branches of foreign assistance. Through specialized programs, the U.N. also addresses global issues such as decolonization, climate change, ending world poverty, children’s rights and international law. The website also outlines fast facts to engage readers about various topics.
    7. The U.N. Hosts International Court Hearings
      The main body of the United Nations judicial system is the International Court of Justice. It is composed of 15 judges who each serve nine-year terms and are elected by the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council. This court provides legal advising and settles disputes between member states. It also regulates global commons, such as environmental conservation, international waters, outer space and global trade, and ensures that human rights violations are prosecuted.
    8. The U.N. Has 36 Specialized Agencies, Programs and Partnerships
      There are 36 agencies and programs known as the “U.N. Family.” The programs are funded through voluntary contributions and are considered independent international organizations. The agencies and programs specialize on different issues. For example, UNICEF is the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and focuses on ensuring the proper treatment of children worldwide and the protection of children’s rights.
    9. The Official Emblem Hasn’t Changed Since 1946
      The United Nations flag and symbol are blue and white. The design team created the logo in 1945, and it was officially adopted by the organization in 1946. The emblem is “a map of the world representing an azimuthal equidistant projection centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree, in gold on a field of smoke-blue with all water areas in white,” according to the original description.
    10. The U.N. Has the First Recorded Definition of Human Rights
      In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly drafted the first Universal Definition of Human Rights (General Assembly resolution 217 A). It was drafted by representatives from different legal and cultural backgrounds to make it more comprehensive. It sets out fundamental human rights that should be protected; condemning slavery, torture, imprisonment without trial and prejudice. It has been translated into more than 500 languages.
The United Nations has worked for decades to protect human rights around the world. These 10 cool facts about the United Nations shed some light on the history of the organization as well as some of its policies.

Emily Triolet
Photo: Flickr

sustainable irrigationIrrigation is as important to farming as seeds are. Irrigation, especially sustainable irrigation, is an oftentimes taken for granted by the general population in the United States where the average shower last over 8 minutes, using roughly 17 gallons of water at an estimated 2 gallons a minute. Being clean is important for many reasons but so is sustainability. In farming, especially in countries where water is not abundant, there are a few sustainable irrigation methods to choose from where less water is wasted.

Water Sources for Farmers

Many rural farmers around the world get their water from surface water. Surface water is water that has yet to reach the water-table underground. It can be found in naturally occurring pounds, streams and rivers or collected in basins, reservoirs or man-made ponds for later use. This is for those lucky enough to be near a body of freshwater or who have learned to collect water during their rainy seasons.

Groundwater is another important source for farmers to get their water. This water is underground and, therefore, can more difficult to use. A well must be dug down to the water table or a pump installed to get the water back to the surface for use. Digging a well uses a lot of energy, time and money. Finding ways to do this more efficiently is one way the United Nations is supporting sustainable irrigation methods.

Sustainable Irrigation Methods

Each of these sustainable irrigation methods has its upsides and downsides. The main drawback of using a more efficient method is often the time or money needed. For example, it is cheap to redirect a stream or direct groundwater already collected into a field where furrows are dug. The water runs along these furrows flooding the field for a short time without damaging the seeds or crops. This method is known as flood or furrow irrigation. However, this uses a lot more water than might be necessary.

Installing a sprinkler system to collected groundwater or pumping it up from underground is a better sustainable irrigation technique than flood irrigation. The water can be directed and controlled, which cuts back on water usage. However, these pumps cost money upfront, plus there are funds needed for upkeep. Fuel and parts must be taken into consideration when purchasing any farming equipment. Luckily the United Nations is working with groups around the world to supply solar and mechanical pumps to rural farming villages. The mechanical pumps look like bikes or “Stairmasters.”

The best sustainable irrigation technique by far is drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is a system of pumps and tubes. The tubes are either suspended above the soil or planted alongside the roots of the plant. A predetermined amount of water is then pumped through the tubes and released through tiny holes poked in the tubes. These systems come in a variety of complex options. This is also a technique promoted by the United Nations, specifically solar-powered drip systems.

A Sustainable Future

Sustainable irrigation methods are essential to farmers all over the world. There are several methods to choose from depending on the resources available to the farmers in any given region. What is important is ensuring a water supply so that farmer is arid regions can continue to grow and profit off of their crops.

Nicholas Anthony DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

John OliverJohn Oliver, comedian and the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, is renowned for putting a comedic spin on recent news stories. Indeed, he has mocked everything from horses to cereal mascots to his own self-professed bird-like appearance. However, fans of Last Week Tonight know that he has a soft spot for the less fortunate and endeavors to help them. What they may not know, however, is that John Oliver also supports the Touch Foundation.

John Oliver’s Philanthropy

Fans of John Oliver will know that his penchant for philanthropy is nothing new. On his show, he has been known to do outrageous, often hilarious, things to help those in need. Sometimes, this comes in the form of a plea made from the set of Last Week Tonight. For example, during the 2017 French election, John ended an episode by switching to a film noir style and urging the people of France not to vote for the far right extremist candidate Marine Le Pen. Another time, he hired singer Weird Al Yankovic to sing an accordion-filled song begging North Korea not to nuke the U.S.

Sometimes, however, John Oliver’s contributions to helping people are much more tangible. For instance, his team created a children’s book called A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. This book, which stars Vice President Mike Pence’s rabbit, supports the Trevor Project and AIDS United by allowing people to donate to one or both of those charities to receive a free ebook. The profits from sales of physical copies of the books also go towards those charities.

Another time, he bought several items from Russell Crowe’s The Art of the Divorce auction, including the jock strap from Cinderella Man, and donated them to one of the last remaining Blockbusters in the U.S. to help it keep its doors open. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation financially was never mentioned in the show.

About the Touch Foundation

The Touch Foundation is an organization that seeks to improve healthcare in Tanzania. Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is lacking, as is evident by the fact that the life expectancy of the average adult is 20 years less than that of the average American. In fact, one in five children won’t even live to see his or her fifth birthday. Tanzania, in particular, suffers from an abysmal number of healthcare workers, a high rate of childbirth complications, limited access to basic healthcare services and many deaths from treatable and/or preventable diseases.

The Touch Foundation fights the poor healthcare in Tanzania by looking for flaws in the country’s healthcare system, bringing them to the attention of the Tanzanian government and obtaining funding for long-term programs that teach sustainable techniques for good health care. They do all of this by using institutions that already exist in Tanzania.

The Touch Foundation’s focus is spread across the healthcare system. One of their main goals is training new healthcare workers and helping existing ones improve. That way, access to healthcare will become much more widespread. They also target specific healthcare priorities that impact Tanzania the most, including maternal and newborn health, non-communicable diseases and cardiovascular health. On top of that, they send detailed reports of their results to their local and international partners.

The Touch Foundation’s Impact

The Touch Foundation has spent more than $60 million improving Tanzania’s healthcare system. This has resulted in better lives for 17 million Tanzanians (one-third of the people who live there). The Touch Foundation has trained more than 4,000 healthcare workers. For the ones who are still in training, 900 of them are housed in new and refurbished dormitories. Also thanks to Touch, the enrollment rate at the Weill Bugando Medical College has increased from 10 to 900 since 2004, and 96 percent of graduates remain within the healthcare system.

The Touch Foundation has helped reduce maternal deaths by 27 percent. The number of surgical centers at the Bugando Medical Centre has increased from 7 to 13, allowing for 30 percent more surgeries. The Touch Foundation has also worked to install electricity generators, water pumps, high-speed Internet, waste incinerators and laundry facilities at medical centers across Tanzania.

John Oliver is very outspoken about what he believes in. He will do ridiculous things for those who he feels needs his help. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation is relatively obscure. Despite this, his contributions go to making Tanzania a better, healthier place to live. He doesn’t need to do something insane to show that he cares about Tanzania; his quiet contribution to the cause is enough.

Cassie Parvaz

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in LaosLaos is a developing country landlocked between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The nation struggles with high poverty levels, vulnerability to climate change and gender inequality among other issues. However, due to the progress of many NGOs and a slow improvement in political freedom, Laos has begun to enhance the quality of life of its citizens. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about living conditions in Laos.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Laos

  1. Education
    Education levels in Laos have improved from 91.6 percent enrollment in 2009 to 97 percent enrollment in 2011. However, access to education remains limited, especially for children living in rural areas and especially for girls. Although there is a 20 percent excess of teachers in the country overall, they are concentrated almost exclusively in urban and suburban areas. Unfortunately, only 45 percent of rural villages in Laos have education through the third grade and 20 percent of rural villages have no access to schools whatsoever. Save the Children has been successful in providing access to primary schools for over 3,000 children in 2012.
  2. Poverty Levels
    Poverty levels are dire in Laos. In 2012, 23.2 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line. In addition, 22.7 percent of the Laotian people were surviving on only $1.90 per day. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that there are very limited employment opportunities in Laos. The country’s economy is dominated by agriculture with 75 percent of the workforce working in this sector which offers little opportunity for economic mobility.
  3. Human Trafficking
    Between 200,000 to 450,000 people are trafficked each year in the Greater Mekong Subregion, with many of those people coming from Laos. In addition, 90 percent of Laotian trafficking victims are girls ages 12 to 18. However, the government is not doing enough to curb this issue according to a report from the U.S. State Department in 2018 which notes, “The Government of Laos does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts.” Fortunately, there are several NGOs such as the Lotus Education Fund working to provide young girls with access to education, school supplies, uniforms and books so that they have the opportunity to remain in school and avoid exploitation.
  4. Child Marriage
    Traditional customs and a lack of access to education for girls leads to high child marriage rates in Laos. According to the NGO Girls Not Brides, 9 percent of Laotian girls are married before the age of 15 and 35 percent are married before the age of 18. Understanding the effects of this issue and the other top 10 facts about living conditions in Laos is integral to fighting gender disparity in the region.
  5. Climate Change
    The impact of climate change has hit Laotian farmers hard. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. reported that “serious issues regarding deforestation, forest degradation, aquatic resource degradation and loss of biodiversity have been observed.” This has detrimental effects on the livelihood of farmers. Laos’s Deputy Director of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute said, “Temperatures are definitely rising,” and “rice is the staple crop, and climate change risks the food security of thousands of villages. Every 1C increase in temperature can result in a 10 percent decrease in rice yield.”
  6. Disease Levels and Prevention
    Despite the presence of threatening diseases such as Avian influenza, artemisinin-resistant malaria and HIV/AIDS, there are several projects in place currently to improve public health standards across the country. The U.S. is partnering with the Lao government “on a wide range of health-related programs to promote nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene, maternal and child health, support for people living with disabilities, and school feeding; programs which bring direct benefits to families across Laos.”
  7. Life Expectancy
    The average life expectancy worldwide in 2016 was 72 years. However, Laos fell short of this global standard with an average life expectancy of 66.7 years. This disparity is largely due to poverty levels and hopefully understanding these top 10 facts about living conditions in Laos can help turn these statistics around.
  8. Political Structure
    Political freedoms are unfortunately very limited in Laos. Although the constitution awards every citizen the right to vote, the political system is stuck in one-party rule under the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, which severely limits the ability of any citizen to run against the party or criticize the government. In fact, in May 2017, three Laotian citizens were sentenced to prison for criticizing the government on social media. The Freedom House gave the country a Press Freedom Status of “Not Free,” and a one out of 40 Political Rights rating. However, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith did make moderate progress in fighting corruption in 2017, which represents a step forward for the political progress in Laos.
  9. Wealth Disparity
    Income inequality in Laos remains a pressing issue although general poverty levels are decreasing. The Laotian Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, increased from 0.311 to 0.364 from 1993 to 2013. This inequality rose amongst all ethnic groups in Laos and across both rural and urban regions. However, despite the rise in overall inequality, “access to publicly provided services (primary education, lower secondary education, access to health care and household access to the electricity network) has become more equal.” In addition, the absolute poverty rate in Laos has been cut in half from 46 percent of the population living in absolute poverty to only 23 percent.
  10. Access to Electricity
    According to the World Bank, “access to energy is at the heart of development.” Having access to electricity is a modern luxury that many people in developing countries take for granted every day. In Laos, it is not a given for most citizens. In 1990, only 15.3 percent of the population had access to electricity. However, the World Bank funded more than 70 projects in more than 35 countries worth an estimated $5 billion. Laos has benefitted from this initiative as access to electricity rose to 87.1 percent of the population by 2016.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Laos explain the greatest issues facing the Laotian people and government as well as the most successful progress. The reforms made by NGOs and the Laotian government and people themselves have made enormous strides in improving the everyday lives of the Laotian people.

– Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

10 Clothing Brands That Give BackThousands of companies have made it a priority to invest in vulnerable communities around the world. A number of clothing brands in particular have emulated the one-to-one charitable giving model made popular by Toms Shoes. Keep reading to learn the top 10 clothing brands that give back globally:

10 Clothing Brands That Give Back

  1. Serengetee
    Two friends founded Serengetee with the goal of using fabric from around the world to make a positive change. They purchase fabric from over 25 countries to support artisans and their families. The company also gives 10 percent of its profits to grassroots causes in order to improve the lives of the communities where it sources raw materials from. According to Serengetee’s mission, “when you wear Serengetee you are truly wearing a piece of the world”.
  2. Out Of Print
    Out Of Print is a clothing company tailored for bookworms. The company creates clothes, totes and accessories featuring well-loved book titles, pictures and other popular references. For every purchase, Out Of Print donates books to improve and support literacy programs around the world. The company has been able to donate over 3 million books to communities around the world.
  3. Visible Clothing
    Visible Clothing provides high quality, ethically made clothing by creating a fair trade tailoring center in Dharamshala, India. The company places a particularly strong focus on human rights, providing stable and safe working conditions for its 37 employees in India.
  4. Musana
    Musana is a community development program that has created a skills development branch in order to sell clothing and accessories to help women in Uganda. The company has trained more than 350 women to create merchandise, which in turn allows them to provide for themselves and their families. Musana is committed to providing shelter, education and health care to struggling communities in Uganda.
  5. Toms
    Toms lives by its motto, One for One. For every shoe purchased, Toms gives a new pair to a child in need in another country. To date, the company has donated more than 35 million pairs of shoes in 60 countries. Likewise, for every pair of glasses purchased, Toms helps restore the sight of a person in need. And, for every bag of coffee purchased, Toms provides a week of clean water for someone in need. Toms also opened a manufacturing warehouse in Haiti, providing much-needed jobs in the poverty-stricken country.
  6. Lemlen
    Lemlen creates men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories through partnering with artisans in Africa. Lemlen has partnered with workshops in Kenya, Rwanda and Madagascar who create beautiful designs for their clothing. The Foundation’s goal is to empower female artisans in Africa through education, health care and jobs. Lemlen helps to train women in both Ethiopia and Kenya. The Foundation has also partnered with an African non-profit that is improving maternal health and reducing maternal deaths.
  7. Noonday
    Noonday sells jewelry and accessories in order to make a difference in vulnerable communities around the globe. The company partners with artisan businesses through fair trade in order to create sustainable jobs for people who need them the most. Noonday has 31 artisan business partners in 14 different countries around the world. The company’s goal is to empower these businesses to create more jobs for their communities.
  8. Nashona
    Nashona is a woman’s clothing line that uses colorful African fabrics from Tanzania to make modern high-quality clothing while serving global communities. A portion of the company’s total sales is donated to the Shalom Orphanage in Karatu, Tanzania. The money is used to fund education for the children as well as keeping the orphanage properly maintained. Nashona continues to build its relationship and impact with once-a-year visits to the orphanage.
  9. Krotchet Kids
    Krotchet Kids is another of the top 10 clothing brands that give back, using its products for men, women and children to help break the poverty cycle in developing countries. Each product is hand signed by the woman who created it allowing customers to learn their stories. Customers are urged to get to know the women who made their products and even write letters of encouragement to them.
  10. Sevenly
    Sevenly sells clothes in order to give to several different causes including food aid and clean water access through an organization called Convoy of Hope. The company has brought hope to 126 countries and counting. Its focus countries include Haiti, El Salvador, Lebanon, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Nepal.

– Savannah Huls
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sub-Saharan AfricaIn accordance with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Australia will spend $121 million in 2018-2019 in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to poverty-stricken areas including sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The amount of assistance includes investment priorities in areas such as health, building resilience, education, infrastructure and trade. Australia sees economic benefits in investing in SSA, such as future potential trade with Africa. Through the help of many nongovernment organizations, Australia seeks to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Agricultural Productivity

Two major areas of investment in SSA include agricultural productivity and food security. There is a spillover effect from achieving these two goals; as health improves from improving farming productivity, income increases as well. Due to a higher income, those in extreme poverty would be able to afford education, better food, clean drinking water and sanitation.

The livelihood of Africans would increase and that is one reason Australia has its focus on agribusiness. From 2009, Australia has awarded at least $31 million to small- and medium-sized agribusiness companies, the technology and renewable energy sector and the financial service sector. The $31 million is part of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, which is promoting resilient rural communities, helping eradicate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and creating jobs through the private sector.

Humanitarian Assistance

Australia’s humanitarian program in Africa focuses on economic downfalls, natural disasters and conflict, all of which contribute to food scarcity and poverty. Australia’s goal is to alleviate suffering from these shocks, save lives and bring stability and dignity to those affected. In the last few years, Australia focused on the crises in South Sudan and Somalia. In line with the Foreign Policy White Paper, its focus is on working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in supporting refugees.

Australia Awards

Australia’s method of improving Sub-Saharan Africa’s livelihood is through the Australia Awards Scholarship Program. Wealth generation and job creation are two areas that have developed from recipients of this award. Courses teaching hydroponic farming, macroeconomic development and professional development give awardees the knowledge and skills needed to drive economic growth and sustainable development. Awardees also learn leadership, negotiation, project management, public speaking and other soft skills.

One such awardee, Edmore Masendeke from Zimbabwe, works as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In 2018, Masendeke began an accessible housing project for people with disabilities. He helped the bank start a loan facility for Zimbabweans with disabilities. He is only one awardee that has accomplished positive change in underrepresented individuals.

Success

  • Over 12 million Africans have better healthcare, improved access to food security and better water and sanitation thanks to the collective work of 27 nongovernmental organizations funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program in 2017-18.
  • Through its humanitarian effort, Australia helped over 1 million vulnerable women, men and children in 12 countries by giving life-saving assistance.
  • Australia increased crop production by improving agricultural productivity that resulted in advanced farming techniques and better food security.
  • There were 479 Australia Awards Scholarship awardees in 2018.

Future

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that its strategic direction aligns with the Foreign Policy White Paper. Its main focus areas in the future include the following: agricultural productivity, humanitarian assistance, leadership and human capacity development and gender equality and women’s empowerment. Australia will continue to support the initiative to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and collaborate with nongovernment organizations, the United Nations and its subsidiaries to improve agriculture, food security, water and sanitation and hygiene programs in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

maternal mortality rates tajThe Republic of Tajikistan is a country located in Central Asia. In 1991, when Tajikistan became independent it was the most poverty-stricken country of the Central Asia republics. A civil war hurt Tajikistan’s economic and social growth, which led to a decline in overall health in the region. One of these health issues is that Tajikistan has had a very high maternal mortality rate. However, in the last decade progress has been made and maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Tajikistan currently has a rate of 32 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. This number has significantly decreased since 1990 when the rate was 107. There are multiple factors that are responsible for the decline in maternal mortality rates. One of the dangers had been the fact that many women have their babies at home. In fact, at least 15 percent of women still give birth without a doctor or midwife present.

Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

A project by the name of Feed the Future Tajikistan Health and Nutrition Activity (THNA) is spreading information about the dangers of giving birth at home. They also teach women in the country about the benefits of delivering in a hospital or other health care setting. Funded by USAID, THNA is working alongside hospitals and healthcare centers in different locations throughout the country to talk about the three main factors that lead to increased chances of maternal mortality, also known as the three delays:

  1. Seeking maternity care
  2. Reaching a healthcare facility
  3. Receiving high-quality care once at a healthcare facility

In 2016, THNA partnered with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population to further understand the problem. The duo conducted 14 in-depth assessments of hospitals in the region. They found out that many healthcare facilities did not have proper medical supplies, lacked adequate equipment and were understaffed. The duo worked together and provided the healthcare centers with new equipment and supplies.

The partnership also taught more than 1,400 people in the community to be health educators. The health educators, in turn, taught women about prenatal care and when they should go to a hospital. These changes are a major reason why maternal mortality rates in Tajikistan are declining.

Midwifery Services

Families in Tajikistan who cannot afford healthcare facilities often turn to alternatives such as midwifery. It is challenging to find a good midwifery service in the country. However, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working with the Ministry of Health to increase the quality of midwives in the region. They supply midwives with education, capacity building and medical equipment. Furthermore, the UNFPA trains midwives on effective perinatal care.

UNFPA also provides technical help in improving training curriculums at schools throughout the country. Nargis Rakhimova, the UNFPA National Program Analyst on Reproductive Health in Tajikistan said, “This initiative is considered a breakthrough as it raises educational programmes to the level of internationally agreed standards.” Improved midwifery services are another factor why maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Even though it is easy to recruit young women into midwife training programmes, it is not easy to keep them in the profession. Midwives do not make a lot of money and there is no official certification for midwifery, which may lower the standards of services in the region. Rakhimova said, “Though the midwifery situation in Tajikistan is improving, midwifery needs to be developed as a separate profession complementary to medicine.” Improving compensation for midwives will help continue to lower maternal mortality rates in Tajikistan.

Continuing to Improve

The poverty Tajikistan faced when it gained its independence led to a number of health crises in the region. Maternal mortality rates are one of these issues. Even though the country still faces problems with maternal mortality, the conditions are improving. The combination of advancements in healthcare facilities and midwifery services are a big reason for the improvements. These are the two main contributors as to why maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Nicolas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr