USAID programs in Kenya
Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development in 1961. Kennedy’s goal was to spearhead the United States’ international development and humanitarian initiatives. Additionally, the highest executive position is the Administrator of the USAID. This position’s responsibilities include executing foreign aid programs under the guidance of the President. Furthermore, the Administrator of the USAID selects members of the President’s cabinet and the State Department. USAID coordinates with different levels of the United States government. As a result, this agency often works closely with the State Department to achieve common goals. USAID programs in Kenya also contribute to the global economy and aid in alleviating global poverty.

USAID’s mission statement is to dedicate itself to the promotion of democratic values in its works and advance freedom and prosperity. As such, USAID is well-integrated into the United States’ foreign policy vectors and gives perspective in improving the lives of many in the developing world.

Mark Green is the most recent non-acting Administrator for USAID since 2017. USAID’s agenda underwent reorientation and Administrator Mark Green’s tenure resulted in the reframing of its definition of foreign assistance. Journey to Self-reliance is a new policy that emerged to reforge all existing USAID policies and strategies.

USAID’s Program Cycle’s policies and decisions reinforced its initiatives. In addition, an evaluative set of processes regarding a structured cycle of self-examination, planning, implementation and re-examination of outcomes helps countries become more self-reliant.

USAID Today in Kenya

USAID programs in Kenya have been making a difference for more than 60 years. Kenya received $540 million in aid from USAID in the 2019 fiscal year. Thus, this ranks Kenya as the fourth most-funded African country. As a result, USAID programs in Kenya provide more than the average $144 million funding that these regions typically receive. The HIV/AIDS sector receives the greatest amount of aid from USAID. It contributes a total of $260 million.

Kenya’s performance scores of self-reliance lag behind the average low and middle-income countries. However, Kenya surges ahead in having an open and accountable government. Yet, Kenya’s safety and security rates at 33 points out of 100. This is significantly lower than the statistical average. Thus, the nation’s lowest-performing index is the poverty rate. Kenya’s poverty rate is a mere 14 out of 100, whereas the statistical average rests at 44.

USAID Programs’ Focuses

USAID programs in Kenya have three primary focuses. First, it aims to effectively implement governmental devolution. This requires devolving the powers of the central government to regional bodies. Second, it aims to strengthen the health and human capacities of Kenyans. Lastly, it has the goal of driving environmentally sustainable economic growth.

Kenya’s economy is the largest and most diverse economy in all of East Africa. It serves as an important trading hub for the African continent. However, agriculture makes up the backbone of Kenya’s economy today. Agriculture provides an obvious pathway for economic development and poverty reduction. Furthermore, agribusiness accounts for roughly 40% of Kenya’s overall workforce and roughly a quarter of its annual GDP.

As an example of the United States government’s integrated approach to foreign aid, USAID’s Feed the Future initiative is currently improving social, business and human health in Kenya by increasing productivity and income. Moreover, its greater agenda is to develop a more effective and sustainable agricultural future.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

Japan’s Emergency Grant Aid
Armenia primarily controls Nagorno-Karabakh, a portion of land in Azerbaijan. This area experienced a major war conflict. The war has plagued Armenia and Azerbaijan for the past three decades. Additionally, Armenia and Azerbaijan have struggled with humanitarian crises including food insecurity, repairs for local shelters and medical support since 1988. However, the U.S. granted $10 million to humanitarian crises to provide food, shelter and medical supplies to those the conflict heavily affected. Additionally, the European Union provided €3 million in aid for food, clothing for winter and medical supplies. In addition, Japan’s emergency grant aid has helped aid people in Azerbaijan.

According to BBC, Azerbaijan sought to suppress the separatist movement, while Armenia backed it. This led to ethnic clashes and after Armenia and Azerbaijan declared independence from Moscow, a full-scale war ensued. Nagorno-Karabakh remains part of Azerbaijan while still under Armenian control. However, a ceasefire occurred in September 2020 and Armenia and Azerbaijan received additional aid.

Aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan

A study that the country’s Statistical Committee conducted revealed that 23.5% of Armenia’s population was living below the poverty line as of 2018. While much of the population lives below the poverty line, only 1% of the population lives in extreme poverty. However, access to education, security, neglect and freedom of speech factor into what contributes to the impoverished cities in Armenia.

Aid to Armenia’s population can benefit from hospital supplies, winter clothing and food could begin the process of rebuilding Armenia and its people. As a result of the destruction caused by the conflict, many had to flee their homes. Countries provide emergency support to give Armenia humanitarian needs and basic supplies. Furthermore, it can spread awareness to help those in need in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The need for food, shelter and medical supplies is evident.

Japan’s Emergency Grant Aid

Japan implemented a $4.8 million emergency grant aid to help those in Armenia and Azerbaijan in February 2021. Armenia is receiving $3.6 million of Japan’s grant aid whereas the remaining $1.2 million is going towards Azerbaijan. This aid goes toward medical training in six hospitals and supplies medical equipment. Furthermore, there are new hand-washing stations in three elementary schools to ensure safe water access, hygiene kits, renovation repairs to evacuation centers, relief supplies for winter and educational supplies for 15 schools.

The Asian Development Bank states that 5% of Azerbaijan’s population lived under the poverty line in 2018. This country is a developing country facing many issues. Azerbaijan’s healthcare is among the top two priorities in efforts to maintain a well-rounded economy. Budgeting for healthcare has increased by 44.5% since 2019.

Japan’s emergency grant aid of $1.2 million to Azerbaijan goes toward medical equipment for one hospital, access to safe water, relief items for during their winter and food assistance for about 800 people.

– Vanessa Morales
Photo: Flickr

India's Foreign Aid
The Republic of India receives millions of dollars each year in foreign aid. This money goes toward ending poverty and improving living standards. However, as India develops and modernizes, the government has started to lend a helping hand to poorer nations across the world. Many see India’s foreign aid as both a tool for diplomacy and an act of good faith. As in the words of India’s Development Partnership, its approach to foreign aid is, “shaped by India’s struggle for independence and solidarity with other colonized and developing countries and the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi…” The nation is transitioning from a recipient to a donor, as the nation often gives more in foreign aid than it receives.

By The Numbers

The Indian Government allocated $1.32 billion for foreign aid in its 2019-2020 budget year (around 0.3% of the budget). This amount follows a trend of India drastically stepping up its foreign aid over the past decade. The budget went from around $500 million in 2010 to a peak of $1.5 billion in 2015. Despite a three-year slump in funding, the central government is now stepping back up to the plate. The main focus of India’s foreign aid centers around the development and modernization of its recipients.

Most of India’s foreign aid goes to countries in Asia and Africa, as it seeks to improve relations with its neighbors and assert its global presence. The nations India is providing aid to include Myanmar ($56 million), Bangladesh ($24.5 million) and Bhutan ($392.7 million). Aid that these nations receive has the goal of promoting regional stability and creating higher living standards. The Indian Government has also taken more interest in Indian Ocean countries such as Mauritius ($161 million), Sri Lanka ($35 million) and The Maldives (~$81 million) to increase Indian presence in the Indian Ocean.

How India’s Foreign Aid Helps

India’s foreign aid goes to a variety of projects such as infrastructure, agriculture and energy. The nation has invested billions in infrastructure projects in nations like Nepal and Afghanistan, such as hydroelectric plants, dams and schools. Famously, India and Afghanistan finished the Salma Dam, renamed the Afghan-India Friendship Dam. The Dam cost India around $300 million and provides hydroelectric power and irrigated farmland to the surrounding area. Additionally, India gave millions in foreign aid to Caribbean nations to improve their renewable/clean energy sectors that combat pollution and environmental challenges.

India is also heavily active in humanitarian efforts and disaster relief, frequently giving out loans, medical supplies and other types of assistance. The Brookings Institute has even called the nation “The Neighborhood First Responder,” helping with disaster relief in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Humanitarian aid has gone to nations like Fiji after Cyclone Winston hit the nation in 2016. Recently, India has helped combat the COVID-19 pandemic through monetary aid, donating food and distributing vaccines. Brazil, which faces a vaccine shortage, received 2 million doses from the Indian government.

Indian-US Relations

India is a prime example of how U.S. Foreign Aid benefits all sides. Nations like the United States have invested heavily in India and continue to help the government combat problems that plague the nation. As a result, India and the U.S. are now close allies and often cooperate on shared goals such as combating environmental challenges and ending extreme poverty. The two nations also cooperate with each other in international organizations like the U.N. and IMF. Both nation’s economies benefit from a strong India, with bilateral trade totaling around $149 billion. A diverse array of U.S. businesses operate in India, from energy and infrastructure business to ones involving technology and entertainment.

– Malcolm Schulz
Photo: Flickr

Aid to the Philippines
In November 2020, the Philippines faced several moderate-strength typhoons: typhoons Vamco, Goni and Molave. After the disastrous effects of these storms, organizations based in the Philippines and the U.S., as well as ambassadors from European countries, pulled together to provide resources to aid the Philippines in its time of need. In particular, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) both stepped in to assist those who lost their homes and who were in great need of supplies like food, shelter, water and soap.

The Philippines’ 2020 Typhoon Season

Each typhoon occurred within weeks of one another during the Philippines’ 2020 typhoon season. Typhoon Molave was the first to hit the Philippines and Vietnam. The Category Two natural disaster began on Oct. 25, 2020, in Batangas. Eight days later, Typhoon Goni hit Bicol on Nov. 2, 2020, destroying cities as a Category Five typhoon. Typhoon Goni was the strongest to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Meranti in 2016.

Typhoon Vamco

The situation worsened beginning on Nov. 11, 2020, as Typhoon Vamco reached the islands. According to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which generally moves from 210-249 kilometers per hour, Vamco was a Category Four typhoon. Typhoon Vamco affected areas across the Philippines such as Bicol, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Manila. Moreover, around 350,000 people lost their homes due to this most recent tragedy. Additionally, the storm affected 4 million people due to the destruction of farmland and businesses.

What is the PDRF?

In November 2020, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation teamed up with Dutch, German and United Nations ambassadors to help the Philippines and Cagayan Valley. The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, or PDRF, is a private organization the provides aid during emergencies and disasters within the Philippines. The PDRF managed to deliver food and non-food items to Cagayan Valley in an event called “Aksyon Para Sa Cagayan.” People secured hygiene kits and food, while other organizations like AirAsia provided labor by helping move supplies and managing transportation and temporary housing. The PDRF, along with Netherlands Ambassador Saskia de Lang, German Ambassador Anker Reiffenstuel and U.N. Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez cooperated to distribute food and organize hygiene kits and other supplies to those in need.

What is NAFCON?

One other group that is working to provide aid and resources to those the typhoon has affected is NAFCON, or the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. NAFCON is a U.S.-based Filipino advocacy alliance intended to focus on Filipino and Filipino-American wellness. Various organizations involved with NAFCON include Kabataan Alliance, Filipino Community Center, Filipino Migrant Center and Malaya Movement. NAFCON uses connections with the U.S. to gain exposure to provide aid to the Philippines following Typhoon Vamco.

A super typhoon has hit the Philippines that has robbed many people of their homes and livelihoods. Still, Filipinos are lucky to have organizations like PDRF and NAFCON mobilizing to provide aid to the Philippines following Typhoon Vamco. With continued efforts both at a national and international level, Filipinos can hopefully recover and prosper in spite of the effects of this natural disaster.

Alyssa Ranola
Photo: Flickr

The Liberian Civil War
Freed American slaves founded the country of Liberia. It boasts a reputation as an African state that upholds many western values. English is Liberia’s official language, and the country modeled its constitution after the United States’ constitution and named its capital Monrovia after James Monroe. Additionally, Liberia literally means “Land of the Free.” For 130 years, this uniquely American country celebrated independence and economic power. Then in 1980, members of the Krahn ethnic group overthrew the governing body and executed the president and 13 of his aides. This violent coup d’état led to a civil war nearly a decade later, which lasted until 2003. Today, the country is working through the lasting effects of The Liberian Civil War.

The Current State

The Liberian Civil War subjected Liberia’s 4.61 million citizens to tremendous pain and terror. According to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the war killed an estimated 250,000 people. Another 1 million experienced displacement from their homes and had to go abroad as refugees. For years, the United States government and other African nations have hosted these refugees. However, repatriation has proven to be difficult due to the instability of Liberia’s economy.

In 2019, the Human Development Index (HDI) ranked Liberia in the low human development category. This means that Liberians are losing out on “a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living,” according to the HDI’s basic dimensions of human development. Along with this, “Currently 38.4% of the population is food insecure, 25% of the population does not have access to drinking water and just 17% have access to basic health services.”

The 14-year civil war tested the nation and the livelihoods of many who suffered. Despite this, a glimmer of hope exists for the country. Work is underway to reverse the trends that the violent conflict set forth more than 40 years ago.

Action Against Hunger (AAH)

Food security, water accessibility and health services have proven to have experienced the most damage due to Liberia’s post-war economy. As a result, aid has been mainly targeting these sectors. NGOs, IGOs and the Liberian government have each worked to improve the lives of Liberian citizens.

In the fight against food insecurity, Action Against Hunger (AAH) has greatly impacted Liberia. In 2019, AAH’s team in Liberia reached 301,507 people through screenings and treating malnutrition. AAH has also partnered with Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance in Liberia to further its work. AAH advocates on the local and national levels for more support to improve general nutrition statuses all around the nation.

Water Accessibility

Water accessibility is another struggle throughout the country. After the war, Liberia’s new government developed a program called WASH. The intent of the program was to improve water quality, sanitation and general hygiene. USAID—the largest donor to the WASH sector—focuses on and addresses the infrastructure surrounding accessibility and sanitation. The program is also expanding services to both rural and urban communities. As a result, more than 353,000 new people have access to improved drinking water and nearly 154,000 have access to improved sanitation.

Malaria and Ebola

Following these fronts, general health services in Libera have exhibited positive growth. The Ebola outbreak that ravaged sub-Saharan Africa put Liberia’s health system to the test and cracks began to show. In the wake of the epidemic, the CDC expanded its focus beyond malaria intervention by investing in stronger “laboratory, surveillance, emergency management and workforce capacities to respond to disease outbreaks in support of the Global Health Security Agenda.” The CDC also teamed up with Riders for Health in the fight against Ebola. Since 2015, the partnership has transported over 300 relay stations to help rapid diagnosis of the disease. The country has not fully recovered from The Liberian Civil War but these organizations are striving to help it meet that goal.

Looking Ahead

Years of devastation due to war shook the country’s institutions to the core. But as time progresses, the improvements within Liberia are unmistakable. Efforts by NGOs, IGOs and the Liberian government alike provide hope for a recovered Liberian economy. Sustained efforts will allow Liberia to put its civil war in the past.

Matthew Hayden
Photo: Flickr

Prosthetic Innovation Gives a Hand to African Amputees
A McKinsey report states that prosthetic innovation will improve global health by 2040. Innovative 3D-printed, robotic prosthetic limbs provide African amputees with an affordable and high-quality alternative in comparison to conventional prostheses.

The most common prostheses are artificial limbs. Only a small fraction of amputees living in low and middle-income countries have access to suitable prosthetic services. Thus, prosthetic innovation is particularly important in impoverished areas.

In 2017, there were 16 million amputees in Africa, making up 24.6% of global amputees. Expectations have determined that these numbers will increase due to a rise in illnesses and diseases.  Furthermore, deteriorating roads and increased urbanization will lead to more traffic accidents.

Devastating Effects of Losing a Limb

It is difficult for amputees to work and prosper without proper medical assistance. Additionally, amputees are more vulnerable to accidents, infections, diabetes, poor medical care and injury due to war or natural disasters. Furthermore, prostheses and rehabilitation services typically cost thousands of dollars. In many lower-income communities, prostheses are simply unaffordable.

Amputees are unable to use poorly fitted prostheses due to pain. Specially trained prosthetists need to assess patients before fitting them. Also, patients need to visit a clinic several times for physical therapy before effectively using prosthetic limbs.

Providing Prosthetic Services

Governments in lower-income nations do not invest in prosthetics due to the lack of data and economic benefit. International and local NGOs provide most prosthetic services in impoverished countries. Without government and donor support in prosthetic innovation, access to these services will remain low.

The 3D Revolution in Prosthetics

Within the last decade, 3D printing has entered the prostheses market in Africa. Now, 3D designs are free, editable and available online for beginners to maneuver. Furthermore, a 3D-printed hand costs around $50. In recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO), governments and other organizations have spurred prosthetic innovation throughout Africa.

Nigerian Tech Lovers Launch 3D Lab for Victims of Violence

Muhammed Jafar is a 25-year-old member of a vigilante group in northeastern Nigeria. He lost his left hand while helping rescue a teenager who a gang had kidnapped. Now he is working as a tailor with a 3D-printed prosthetic arm he received from the Northeastern Humanitarian and Innovation Lab. The Nigerian government helped a group of tech enthusiasts launch a tech hub in 2018. Furthermore, the Northeastern Humanitarian and Innovation Lab print limbs and add robotics to improve functionality. Also, the cost of the 3D limbs is significantly less than conventionally manufactured prostheses. The Northeastern Humanitarian and Innovation Lab is a great example of how government investment in local volunteer groups can change the lives of those in need.

South African Post-Grads Launch Robotic Prosthetics Company

In 2017, Drew Van der Riet created the world’s most advanced low-cost “Touch Hand” prosthetic hand with his engineering team. This new prosthetic hand provides unique sensory feedback so that users can pick up delicate and irregular objects. Van Der Riet was shocked to discover that most hand amputees had to use basic “claws.” Furthermore, robotic hands similar to the “Touch Hand” are 10 times more expensive.

Van der Riet launched Touch Prosthetics in Durban in an attempt to keep prosthetic innovation on top. Additionally, the organization aims to develop simple, affordable upgrades for amputees. Fortunately, Touch Prosthetics was able to secure government and business support and has already developed Touch Hand II. However, Van der Riet notes that often strong university projects do not make it to market due to a lack of capital and marketing savvy.

As the Northeast Humanitarian and Innovation Lab in Nigeria and Touch Prosthetics in South Africa exemplified, the 3D revolution has inspired African prosthetic innovation to improve the lives of amputees. By amplifying aid for these efforts, more African amputees will be able to support themselves with ease.

– Shelly Saltzman
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Algeria
Algeria is the largest country in Africa and about 5.5% of its population lived in poverty as of 2011. Surprisingly, about 75% of those in poverty live in urban areas. They typically make a living from informal jobs such as selling services, foods and goods outside of government regulation. Additionally, many Sahrawi refugees live in camps in Algeria’s Tindouf province. Poverty and Sub-Saharan migration create vulnerability to human trafficking in Algeria.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 report, Algeria is in tier three for combating human trafficking. The Trafficking in Persons Report places countries in one of four tiers depending on their progress in preventing human trafficking. This report measures a country’s efforts in creating laws and penalties against human trafficking. Furthermore, it analyzes measures a country takes to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. This overview of human trafficking in Algeria shows the problems the nation faces and the progress it has made to prevent it.

Progress in Algeria

Algeria has not made significant progress to eliminate human trafficking within its borders. It only dismantled 100 smuggling groups and identified and helped 34 victims in 2019. Furthermore, the Algerian government prosecuted fewer human traffickers in 2020. As a result, the government is protecting fewer victims of human trafficking.

Vulnerability to Human Trafficking

Refugees, asylum seekers and sex workers from sub-Saharan Africa are most vulnerable to human trafficking in Algeria. According to Human Rights Watch, Algeria deported thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers. However, the U.S. State Department said that these deportation efforts may deter reports of human trafficking for fear of experiencing deportation.

Prosecuting Traffickers

A demonstration of force must be present in order to charge people with child sex trafficking in Algeria. This law makes it difficult to prosecute many human traffickers. As a result, Algeria has prosecuted fewer traffickers in 2020 than in previous years. Additionally, human traffickers may face up to 20 years in prison or have to pay fines up to $8,420.

The General Directorate of National Security has maintained 10 police brigades for combatting human trafficking in Algeria. As a result, Algeria only prosecuted 13 traffickers in 2019. Unfortunately, the Algerian government did not report how many alleged trafficking cases it investigated in 2020.

Protecting Trafficking Victims

Up until 2019, Algeria lacked effective ways to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. Unidentified victims underwent deportation or punishment for their illegal actions rather than receiving assistance. Algeria provides free services to trafficking victims to increase identification. However, people often underutilize these free services. Moreover, the government does not report how many resources are provided for victims.

Hope for Algeria

Algeria is working with the United Nations on Drugs and Crime to train and educate magistrates to better prosecute human traffickers. These workshops train them in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking. For example, these workshops hold mock trials for Algerian magistrates to practice human trafficking and smuggling cases.

Furthermore, the Danish Refugee Council is a nonprofit that helps Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. Its training programs on self-reliance have assisted over 200,000 refugees. The organization provides refugees with skill and job training, legal services and shelter. Its services have successfully prevented many human trafficking incidences.

Support from these organizations and aid from the Algerian government has made substantial improvements aiding victims of human trafficking. Although Algeria has much to do, it will hopefully return to tier two on the Trafficking in Person Report in 2021.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Inequity and the COVID-19 Crisis in PalestineThe COVID-19 crisis in Palestine is worsening due to conflict in the region. Palestine is comprised of two territories that are separated by Israel. This includes Gaza and the West Bank. With Israelis preventing Gazans from leaving the area, Israeli soldiers are destroying agricultural lands that are vital for the Palestinian economy.

Palestinians, specifically those living in Gaza, have lived their entire lives relatively isolated from much of the outside world. A wall that was erected along Gaza’s borders prevents Palestinians from leaving the territory and subjects them to Israeli discretion. Help from NGOs and humanitarian aid can reduce the COVID-19 crisis in Palestine.

Pre-Pandemic Healthcare in Palestine

One consequence of the Israeli occupation is the scarcity of healthcare providers and resources in Palestine. In order to access Israeli health facilities, Palestinians must obtain travel permits, but these permits are frequently denied. There are 300,000 Palestinians living without access to adequate healthcare in the West Bank. The few healthcare facilities that do exist in the occupied territories face equipment and medicine shortages. The effort to increase the number of health facilities in Gaza has been hindered by Israeli refusing to grant construction permits and restrictions on medical imports and exports.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Palestinian Healthcare

The COVID-19 crisis in Palestine devastated its already inadequate Palestinian healthcare system. Gaza and the West Bank have a total of 375 ICU beds and 295 ventilators between them, for a population of over three million. The lack of available resources has severely hindered pandemic response in the territories, with health officials halting COVID testing in June due to a shortage of test kits in Gaza.

The sole laboratory in Palestine capable of processing COVID tests was forced to close as it lacked sufficient equipment. Household resources such as hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and even soap are scarce in Gaza and the West Bank. This is due to the lack of financial means. In addition, Palestinians don’t have the luxury to use social distancing to prevent the spread of the pandemic as the territories are severely overcrowded.

The ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict has exacerbated the severity of the COVID-19 crisis in Palestine. In July 2020, Israeli forces destroyed a quarantine facility in the West Bank, thus further decreasing the amount of pandemic-response resources available to Palestinians. Moreover, hospital space that could be used by COVID patients is largely occupied by the high volume of people seeking treatment for injuries acquired from conflict with Israelis.

Israel has also imposed restrictions on medical supplies, subsequently reducing treatment capacity in Gaza. In April 2020, Israeli authorities destroyed a Palestinian COVID testing center. It has been reported that water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are also casualties of Israeli attacks.

Aiding Pandemic Response in Palestine

The World Health Organization published an updated COVID-19 Response Plan for Palestine in April 2020. This plan involves increasing testing capacity, providing additional hospital beds and educating the Palestinian public about virus prevention. It also aims to increase the amount of personal protective equipment available to health professionals.

Palestinian healthcare providers rely heavily on humanitarian aid and NGOs such as Anera. Anera works towards increasing healthcare access in Palestine by distributing medication, wheelchairs and funding to healthcare providers in Gaza and the West Bank. In addition, Doctors without Borders or, Medecins Sans Frontieres, provides medical care such as trauma support, mental health services, surgeries and treatment for burn patients in the occupied territories.

The COVID-19 pandemic and other preceding disease-outbreaks have often been referred to as “great equalizers,” as they are able to affect all people. Yet, as noted by Dr. Stephen Mein, low-income populations and racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to contract these diseases. Socioeconomic disparities and political situations such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict prevent pandemics from becoming equalizers. This is because disadvantaged groups are disproportionately being impacted.

In the case of Palestine, tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have had devastating effects on the pandemic-response. The isolation of Gaza and the West Bank should have prevented the COVID-19 situation in Palestine from escalating so rapidly. Yet, the lack of funding and medical resources as well as political tensions and overcrowding in the territories, have resulted in many potentially preventable fatalities.

Although the COVID-19 crisis in Palestine remains a critical issue, the number of daily COVID cases has been continuously declining. Support from organizations such as Anera has alleviated pressure from the Palestinian leadership.

– Maariyah Kharal
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in ArgentinaPrior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children in Argentina had been living in poverty. The pandemic has caused numbers to soar due to its many negative effects. When considering the long-term presence and future impacts caused by poverty, it is all the more critical to help the children in this country, and around the world. This article highlights facts about child poverty in Argentina, as well as some organizations on the ground helping such children.

The Current Situation

There has never been a more critical time for action than now. UNICEF estimates that 63% of Argentinian children will be living in poverty by the end of 2020, due to COVID-19. In August of 2019, child poverty reached over 50%, with 13% of children in a state of hunger. As compared to the year prior, this is an 11% increase. UNICEF estimates that at the end of 2020, there will be an increase of 18.7% in extreme poverty among children and teenagers.

Stats

The above figures depict that one in every two Argentinian children lives in poverty, which amounts to five million children. One million of these children are homeless. Those who do have homes often deal with rough home lives. Many children are subject to child labor, which includes work as domestics or “house slaves.” These children end up working in illegal textile workshops, mining, construction, or agriculture. The exploitation of child labor is commonly related to sexual exploitation. In response, Argentina has passed laws and social programs to end child labor and sexual exploitation. However, the fight to end these practices must continue.

When not at home, (only a few) children received a formal education. As of 2017, nearly 20% of Argentinian children do not attend school. After the collapse of the economy nearly 20 years ago, funding for education was heavily reduced. Children living in poverty were the first to be affected, as they had to work in order to provide for their families. There are also issues with violence occurring in schools. Bodily punishment still takes place when young school children misbehave, which can develop into behavioral problems and the belief that violence is the norm.

As compared to the rest of the population, Native children are at high risk for poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. For example, in the province of Tucumán, the Indigenous children and families live well below the poverty line and have also suffered illegal evictions from their ancestral lands. Additionally, these children are exposed to violence, malnutrition, disease, and a lack of proper education.

Aid

Child poverty in Argentina seems rather defeating based on these statistics. However, there are multiple organizations that are on the ground fighting for the human rights, safety, health, and happiness of Argentinian children.

One is Mensajeros de la Paz, a temporary home for vulnerable girls. Another is the Sumando Manos Foundation, which extends pediatric visits out to more than 7,000 at-risk children and their communities. The foundation also supplies food, provides critical medical and dental attention, and teaches fundamental health care. There is also Fundacion Oportunidad. This organization increases opportunities for economic and social integration of young Argentinian women in a situation of social vulnerability. Involvement in these organizations, as well as donation opportunities, are endless.

There are five dimensions of well-being that are vital to the success of childhood development. They are adequate nutrition, education, safe areas to live and play, access to health services, and financial stability. The fight cannot stop until there is an end to child poverty in Argentina and until each child has access to a self, healthy life.

Naomi Schmeck
Photo: Flickr

Aid Transparency Index Improves Development Data
Publish What You Fund: The Global Campaign for Assistance and Development Transparency, an NGO watchdog, created the Aid Transparency Index in 2010 to compare the levels of transparency among aid agencies. Today, it is the only independent measurement for transparency among major development agencies. It aims to improve the efficacy of development assistance by refining the quality of data that donors make public.

How Does it Work?

Donors that are part of the Aid Transparency Index have to meet at least three of four requirements, which are:

  1. The organization has to be in majority public ownership, with one or more governments as shareholders.
  2. Its main purpose must be either to provide development finance and/or aid across the world or to oversee the administration of these resources.
  3. It must play a leading role in setting finance and/or aid policy in its home country, sector or region.
  4. Its budget or resources must be at least $1 billion per year.

The donor’s commitment to transparency is measured by the existence of legislation or disclosure policies, intentions for International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) publication and the promotion of information access, use and re-use.

The Aid Transparency Index takes into account 35 indicators to monitor aid transparency, which have been selected based on the IATI Standard. The Index collects most of its information from organization websites, the IATI Registry or from national data platforms. Two of the 35 indicators collect information from other data sources for assessment purposes.

The 2020 Index

The latest index revealed that there has been a great improvement in the donors’ overall transparency since 2018. More than half of the donors on the list now rank as “good” or “very good.” This results from an increase in data quantity and quality in the IATI Standard, which has made data more centralized and accessible.

Eleven donors are now in the “really good” (meaning in between the “good” and “very good”) category, which constitutes an increase of four from 2018. Also, 15 donors are now in the category of “good,” two more than two years ago. These are the organizations with the highest ranks in the 2020 Aid Transparency Index:

  1. Asian Development Bank (ADB) — Sovereign Portfolio with a ranking of 98.0/100.
  2. World Bank, International Development Association (IDA) with a ranking of 97.1/100.
  3. UNDP with a ranking of 96.6/100.
  4. African Development Bank (AfDB) – Sovereign Portfolio with a ranking of 95.5/100.
  5. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with a ranking of 95.4/100.
  6. UNICEF with a ranking of 92.9/100.
  7. The United States, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) with a ranking of 92.1/100.
  8. Global Fund with a ranking of 86.5/100.
  9. The United Kingdom, Department for International Development (DFID) with a ranking of 85.4/100.
  10. Canada, Global Affairs with a ranking of 80.9/100.

Addressing Shortfalls

Despite these improvements, gaps still exist between donor publications and their projected outcomes. Many organizations publish their objectives, but only a minority also publish information on the projects’ performances and evaluations. As a result, there are limitations to measuring the effectiveness and value of financial spending in development assistance.

So, to further improve development aid data, Publish What You Fund provides a series of recommendations to donor countries. This includes sharing more information on project results, publishing project budget documents and increasing the participation of stakeholders in partner countries. Altogether, this will contribute to building trust and increasing available information.

Why is it Important?

Today, billions of dollars of aid and assistance are going toward addressing the COVID-19 crisis, which highlights the crucial role that aid transparency plays and how it can contribute to better results when it is formalized.

“Aid transparency is a key way to improve the efficiency of resource allocation, coordination of the response, and for donors to learn from one another’s interventions,” says Gary Forster, the CEO of Publish What You Fund. “The Index provides an illustration of what’s possible when transparency is valued and institutionalized.”

Helen Souki
Photo: Flickr