Universal Poverty in Afghanistan
According to the UNDP, 97% of Afghanistan could be in poverty by 2022. This would be a quick plummet considering current UNDP data shows that only 54.5% of Afghans live below the poverty line. This is not particularly good either but is significantly better than the predicted more than doubled rate. This drastic predicted change is a result of a combination of things. Food prices and food insecurity are skyrocketing while economic and essential services experiencing interruption. COVID-19 is still prevalent and presents an active struggle. Those in rural communities and poor urban areas are feeling these problems quickest and hardest. If drastic change does not occur soon, there will undoubtedly be universal poverty in Afghanistan.

UNDP Predictions

The political turmoil of the Taliban resuming power, paired with economic and humanitarian issues, is creating a “full-on development collapse,” according to UNDP regional director Kanni Wagnaria. The UNDP’s 97% prediction is a worst-case scenario.

The prediction is based on 2018 estimates of the country’s GDP declining between 3.6% and 13.2% in the 2022 fiscal year. This depends on how the crisis continues and how other economies interact with the new Taliban leadership. This is a huge contrast to the previously predicted 4% GDP growth under the previous Afghan government.

Local Area-Based Programme

In response to these predictions, the UNDP has created a proposal of strategies to intervene and improve the current living conditions for those in poverty in Afghanistan. The “Local Area-Based Programme,” has four core elements: “provision of essential services, community-based livelihoods and local economies, disaster and climate-resilient response and social cohesion and inclusion participatory processes.”

The major goal of the program is to support approximately 9 million impoverished people over the course of 24 months. Another goal is to ensure the prediction of universal poverty in Afghanistan does not occur.

Local community groups, NGOs and small businesses will lead and implement this program. Within the plan, the most vulnerable would benefit significantly from cash-for-work grants for small and medium businesses and specifically within women-owned businesses. Households including children, the elderly and those with disabilities would receive a temporary basic income as well. There will also be assistance for natural disaster mitigation such as flood protection for farmlands.

ABADEI

The UNDP officially launched the program called ABADEI in October 2021. The primary goal is providing “immediate humanitarian assistance” while keeping the local economies moving. The first priority of the program is to help the people of Afghanistan meet their basic needs, with a focus on health and food security. As it raises more funds and receives more donations, ABADEI will be able to move into other priorities outlined in UNDP’s intervention strategies.

A significant indicator of outcome in the coming months and into 2022 will be how Afghanistan will do in the coming months and how the Taliban chooses to lead the country. The Taliban should be able to avoid the possible universal poverty in Afghanistan but it must make the decision to do so.

As of early September 2021, the Taliban had not reopened government offices. This is leading to many other industries such as banks and universities remaining closed as well, according to the UNDP. This has led to unstable employment and grave uncertainty among most of the country.

Additionally, expectations have determined that the Taliban could restrict capital, likely leading to inflation. This would reduce purchasing power and cause food prices to rise. The number of people below the poverty line would be even higher.

Much of what will happen to Afghanistan is relatively uncertain, yet rather imminent. Nevertheless, there are organizations such as UNDP that are being proactive and involved before universal poverty in Afghanistan becomes reality.

– Alex Mauthe
Photo: Unsplash

The Weeknd’s Charitable Work
Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd to R&B fanatics, is one of the world’s most well-known musicians. However, his passion extends far beyond his love songs. The Weeknd’s charitable work positions him as a humanitarian celebrity as he uses his celebrity platform to help those in need.

The Weeknd’s Biography

The Weeknd was born in Toronto, Canada, to parents who are immigrants from Ethiopia. The musician grew up in Scarborough, Canada, where “the working poverty rate” stands at roughly 10% and 13% of the population is non-working poor. These circumstances of poverty prompted The Weeknd to take action to reduce poverty in the area and beyond.

5 Facts About The Weeknd’s Charitable Work

  1. Supporting Scarborough with COVID-19 relief. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, The Weeknd began donating profits from the sales of his popular range of face masks, which carry an “XO” label, matching every dollar for COVID-19 relief in Scarborough. In June 2020, the popular singer and songwriter donated $500,000 CAD to the Scarborough Health Network Foundation to provide COVID-19 relief to his hometown. The Scarborough Health Network Foundation began in 1977. It works with volunteers and members of the Scarborough community to build infrastructure and purchase medical technology. This is especially important during the COVID-19  pandemic as hospitals work to fight off the virus. Since implementing a COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the Foundation has raised more than $3 million for COVID-19 relief.
  2. Supporting Musicians During COVID-19. The Weeknd donated $500,000 to MusiCares, a charity that supports musicians with programs to “address financial, medical and personal health issues.” The charity created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support musicians facing the impacts of COVID-19 and “the cancellation of multiple music events” due to social distancing protocols. The relief fund has provided more than $13 million worth of assistance to about 14,000 people in the music industry.
  3. Providing Food Aid to Tigray. An “ongoing conflict between the government” and the people of the Tigray Region within Ethiopia prompted The Weeknd to give back to his parent’s home country. The conflict arose in November of 2020 after the Ethiopian Prime Minister “ordered a military offensive against regional forces in Tigray” after “an attack on a military base,” home to government troops. The conflict led to thousands of deaths and more than 2 million displacements. A June 2021 article on GlobalGiving indicates that Ethiopia’s Tigray Region now faces the most severe food crisis in 10 years as more than 350,000 people endure “severe famine conditions.” Soldiers within the region “are accused of blocking food aid and stopping farmers from harvesting, plowing or planting” while “killing livestock and looting farm equipment.” Feeling a personal connection to Ethiopia, in April 2021, The Weeknd vowed to donate $1 million through the United Nations World Food Program U.S.A., which would ultimately provide 2 million meals for the people in this region.
  4. Supporting Ethiopic Studies. In 2016, The Weeknd made a donation of $50,000 to the University of Toronto’s Ethiopic studies program. This program commits to helping those of Ethiopian descent with academic, personal and professional achievements. The program works to teach the ancient Ethiopic language of Ge’ez to students in hopes of decoding “excerpts of history” that are rarely understood. The musician also made a donation of $30,000 to the program in 2020.
  5. Assisting Beirut, Lebanon. On August 4, 2020, an explosion in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut led to the deaths of more than 200 people while destroying a majority of the city. In response to his Lebanon-born manager’s call for aid to Lebanon, in August 2020, The Weeknd made a donation of $300,000 to the Global Aid for Lebanon fund which his manager created. The funds went toward supporting “the Red Cross Lebanon, the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon and the United Nations World Food Programme.”

Descending from parents who immigrated from Ethiopia to Canada jumpstarted The Weeknd’s strong passion for helping people in Ethiopia, Canada and beyond. His desire to provide people with entertaining music has made him into a household name throughout the United States, but his ability to influence does not end with just that. Through donations and a commitment to use social media to raise awareness of global issues, The Weeknd’s charitable work makes him a rockstar, both on and off stage.

– Nia Hinson
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Afghanistan
Some definitions of foreign aid provide a distorted vision of its purpose. This in turn drives citizens, government officials and donors away from supporting it. An accurate definition of foreign aid is one country helping to improve a recipient country’s standard of living through economic, military and various other services. Donors provide this type of support after war or natural disaster. The recent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is slowly concluding more than 40 years of conflict. However, foreign aid to Afghanistan remains necessary.

Afghanistan’s Violent Past

More than half of the population in Afghanistan lives on $1.90 a day. In headlines, history books and news stories, many do not see Afghanistan beyond the label of an economically developing country. This label often comes from a place of unfair judgment.

The longevity of the Afghan crisis is why aid is vital in transforming the country to work toward a better quality of life and future for the younger generations. The detrimental relationship between the state and citizens has damaged every part of what is necessary for a society to flourish. For example, the top-down monopoly with profiteers and warlords on top formed to control economic markets producing bottom-up violence is a significant barrier in the country flourishing. Understanding the nature of the conflict that has created a dystopian climate throughout the country is vital in producing foreign aid to Afghanistan because planning for the long term is what will produce change.

Antony Blinken’s Push for Reform

The U.S. is the world’s largest provider of foreign aid, but reform is necessary for providing quality aid for the future. During secretary of state Antony Blinken’s visit to Afghanistan on April 15, 2021, he spoke on several areas of reform to ensure the foreign aid sector continues to progress and attend to the needs of Afghanistan.

The U.S. is studying previous aid distribution models and methods to ensure that country receives the maximum amount of help. This also promotes other governments to continue the change. The U.S. plans on holding the Afghanistan government accountable to the pledge of acknowledging the basic human rights of their citizens. For example, traveling outside of the country has been nearly impossible for Afghan citizens. The U.S. will also hold the Taliban accountable for using Afghanistan as a base for formulating attacks on other countries. Neutralizing any form of threat prevents damage to other countries that would ultimately produce the need for more foreign aid and will push away allies.

The U.S. will ensure even aid distribution throughout the country. It will have clear communication with the Taliban in the coming years. The Taliban must allow aid groups to work on uninterrupted terms. Overall, the U.S. is enforcing long-term change through rectifying the relationship between the state and citizens that has been upholding the unlivable climate.

The Future of Foreign Aid to Afghanistan

The narrative of putting a stop to the current war or any war in the future is an unreachable goal. Foreign aid will not go towards a single issue. Instead, it will focus on changing the systemic problems that continue to produce wars. The U.S. often uses a militant approach, however, with the updated forms of foreign aid, it will not be using violence to overcome it. This includes $64 million in new humanitarian assistance which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will distribute. This new surge of funding will provide a large range of assistance including shelter, essential health care, sanitation, food aid, hygiene services and more. These are forms of aid that will contribute to the overall building of a better livelihood for Afghan citizens.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which U.S. Congress introduced in 2004 is an agency separate from the State Department and USAID. It continues to abide by its mission statement of reducing poverty through economic growth by providing aid to countries like Afghanistan. The U.S. has also developed a range of grants and programs to assist Afghan women who the civil upheaval greatly impacted. USAID continues to provide grants in helping Afghan women gain access to universities through the Women’s Scholarship Endowment.

The US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM)

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) funds several programs for Afghan women refugees and internally displaced persons. The programs include literacy training, gender-based violence prevention and mother-child health care. PRM works with various partners to ensure change including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In large groups, varying interests can prevent the proper allocation of funds to aid. However, the government and donors continue to work closely together. The impact that aid has extends beyond providing food and emergency medical assistance. It has the potential to provide a hopeful future for those who have only known living in a war zone. It reconciles individual relationships within the society. As aid strategies are revised to adhere to current needs the long-term quality of life for Afghan citizens will improve.

– Maggie Forte
Photo: Flickr

Irish Aid
Colm Brophy, Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, announced an additional €2 million in Irish Aid support less than two months after the initial €1 million, crediting the severity of the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian [need] in Afghanistan” as the reason for the additional support. In children under the age of 5 years old, there is a high level of food insecurity and the risk of malnutrition. Minister Brophy stated in the press release that “One in three Afghans is facing crisis levels of food insecurity and more than half of all children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.”

Ireland Aid Can Make International Changes

The aid that Ireland is providing has the potential to save lives and serve as a model for other countries to follow. Showing the actual impact of aid on Afghan refugees can also spark a positive reflection on the Afghan community, rather than the negative connection from recent conflicts.

Only a month prior, Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced €1 million in Irish aid for humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. This initial assistance was in addition to the €2 million that the HALO Trust, Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH) and Concern Worldwide received at the start of 2021.

The funds will go to UNICEF and the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH). The AFH assists with the health, education and nutrition of the Afghan people.

Changing Visa Policies

On top of the Irish Aid support, Ireland has extended its refugee visas policy for up to another 150 Afghan people under the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP). Ireland strongly condemns the violent action against the people of Afghanistan, especially the attacks against women and children.

It has called for safe and reliable access to humanitarian needs in Afghanistan for Aghani citizens and those who work with U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, without exemptions. This means that even those across conflict lines must get the humanitarian access they need for safety.

Refugee Visas to Make a Difference

Ireland, which many know for its strong advocacy for women and girls, is attempting to play a role in relocating some Afghan women and girls to Ireland. There will be a priority for those who work in human rights issues and those who work with NGOs, including European and international organizations. Family reunification is also at the top of Ireland’s list in regard to the 150 refugee visas.

This is not the only way for Afghans to obtain refugee visas. There are a few protocols in place that help Afghans obtain refugee visas as long as they meet or find a way to meet the criteria. According to the 2015 International Protection Act, if an Afghani person already knows someone in Ireland who can handle their international protection application or if they have someone who will meet them at the border, they are exempt from the application fee. Deportation has also experienced less strict enforcement since COVID-19. Given the current state of Afghanistan, there is no clear answer to whether someone would experience deportation.

At the end of the day, Ireland is doing everything it can to assist with the humanitarian need in Afghanistan. In this time of crisis, it uses funds, policies and aid to do what it can. By expanding its visa list to accept more refugees, Ireland demonstrates that it will do everything possible to assist another country’s crisis.

– Veronica G. Rosas
Photo: Unsplash

Aid for Lebanon
At the beginning of the year, in January 2021, the World Bank approved and accepted the United States’ $249 million project proposal to bring aid into Lebanon. The social and economic situations in Lebanon over the past several months and years have become desperately dire, and the United States, the World Bank and its parent organization, the United Nations, are all seeking to meet the needs of the many suffering Lebanese people.

The Situation in Lebanon

Lebanon has been facing a prolonged financial crisis as well as economic upheaval, which, in 2020, resulted in severe inflation of the country’s currency, the Lebanese Pound (LBP), and led to a 19.2% drop in the GDP. As of September 2021, the U.N. reported that the multidimensional poverty rate in Lebanon has risen to 82%, with 32% of the Lebanese population living in extreme multidimensional poverty.

The Lebanese people are lacking in basic commodities and healthcare services, which has also exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on Lebanon. Unable to reach treatment facilities or even get diagnoses, the Lebanese people have suffered greatly from the pandemic. The pandemic’s stifling effect on businesses in Lebanon has also further compounded the financial struggles that Lebanon is already facing.

The Emergency Crisis and COVID-19 Response Social Safety Net Project (ESSN)

The Emergency Crisis and COVID-19 Response Social Safety Net Project (ESSN) began official operations in February 2021, providing funds and services to those struggling under the combined crises of Lebanon’s dismal financial state, complicated geopolitical relations and poor COVID-19 response infrastructure. The ESSN will attempt to work with and bolster existing active programs within Lebanon; the goal is to complement other projects without collateral damage to the already fragile internal systems.

The ESSN has been working closely with social programs that are already established, and that both the Lebanese Social Development Centers of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education run. Understanding the importance of using every available resource, the ESSN has also been working closely with other third-party projects, most notably Lebanon’s National Poverty Targeting Program (NPTP), which also runs through the U.N. and the World Bank to identify problem areas within the country and help codify response programs.

How the ESSN is Providing Aid for Lebanon

To try to get Lebanon back on its feet, there are two main fronts on which the ESSN is attempting to help revitalize economic growth and stem the tide of poverty. The first is basic aid packages in the form of cash deposits for families, individuals, and those with unfortunate circumstances. These are to provide immediate relief and bring some sense of stability to the people stranded in poverty. In order to accomplish this, the ESSN had been providing financial and technical support in order to greatly increase the capabilities and operations of the NPTP. Using the infrastructure already put in place through the NPTP, both projects hope to be able to proliferate aid quickly, effectively and fairly.

The second front that the ESSN is attempting to fight poverty on is that of human capital, specifically the promise of the young people of Lebanon. Recognizing that people are the most valuable resource, the ESSN’s work with the Lebanese Ministry of Education has begun to keep children in schools. Education is the key to opportunity, and ESSN is working to subsidize both the public school systems in Lebanon and also the schooling costs for individual students. By ensuring the quality of education and by granting students the socioeconomic stability to be able to continue attending school, the ESSN is attempting to assist Lebanon with investing in its future.

Becoming fully approved and operational in 2021, the ESSN will receive funding, and it will remain running for three years as it provides aid for Lebanon. Reports as recently as July 2021 have positive responses, and already, a large amount of aid has undergone disbursement to individuals, families and students alike. The ESSN has plans to continue to show support by investing in Lebanon and its people, a hearty show of humanity.

– John J. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Why Afghanistan Needs More Foreign Aid, Not less
A 2019 census reports an average household income for U.S. residents of slightly more than $68,000. The thought of running water to brush one’s teeth, three hot meals a day and educational attainment up to a minimum of nine years is a certitude in all states. Yet, many Afghans are not able to access the same. Roughly 42% of Afghan people have access to safe drinking water and more than half the population lives below the poverty line, with 11 million individuals experiencing acute and severe food insecurity. Furthermore, despite Afghanistan mandating nine years of compulsory education, education is not gendered equitable. Afghan education often leaves girls and women behind. For these reasons, Afghanistan needs more foreign aid, not less.

Poverty in Pictures

The foundation Gapminder “is an independent educational nonprofit fighting global misconceptions.” As an educational tool, Gapminder hosts the Dollar Street project. Anna Rosling Rönnlund invented Dollar Street as a way for the global public to understand data. Rönnlund’s 2018 Ted Talk challenged the world’s views on poverty. She ranked countries and families by displaying their wealth in images by comparing resources such as beds, toothbrushes and toilets. Additionally, U.S. citizens saw the United States rank in the top 2% of the wealthiest countries, a far contrast from the bottom 25% where households survive on less than $200 per month. This blatant exhibition of wealth inequality provides a strong case of why a country like Afghanistan needs more aid, not less.

With poverty in images, the strife in Afghanistan is something that simply cannot be ignored. Foreign aid, for example, the U.S. International Affairs Budget, can make real change in an impoverished country. A September 2021 article by Al Jazeera Media Network reports on data projecting that by the half-year mark of 2022, about 97% of Afghan people will face circumstances of poverty. Economically, a country receiving aid can become an emerging or stronger trade partner when its low-income citizens receive assistance. Poverty assistance is not the only way in which foreign aid helps a country. Foreign aid can serve as humanitarian aid and combat transmissible diseases such a COVID-19. In turn, increased foreign aid has the potential to increase the protection of all Americans domestically and internationally, including U.S. military personnel abroad.

The Need for More Foreign Aid

The Borgen Project’s economic and political model is a strategic approach for making real change. The Borgen Project influences multiple U.S. legislative policies to impact foreign aid contributions. Currently, the U.S. donates a mere 0.18% of gross national income (GNI). This contribution of 0.18% is far below the official development assistance target of 0.70% GNI. This 0.70% target was developed and based on the work of Nobel Prize winner Jan Tinbergen. His work demonstrates that a contribution of 0.75% of GNI from high-income nations would allow “developing economies to achieve desirable growth rates.” The U.N. agreed to this target, establishing a timeline for countries to meet this goal by 2015. Yet, since the target was set, the goal has still not been achieved.

Increasing the International Affairs Budget

Aligning with The Borgen Project’s mission, the U.S. and the global community must remember the commitments made to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1970 in order to make significant strides in global poverty reduction. A small increase to the International Affairs Budget will assist humanitarian aid organizations seeking to help Afghans on the ground with immediate needs, such as food, shelter and access to clean water. As a country riddled with conflict, violence and poverty, it is clear why Afghanistan needs more foreign aid, not less. With more individuals supporting the International Affairs Budget, Afghans have an opportunity to rise out of poverty and look toward a brighter tomorrow.

– Michelle Renée Genua
Photo: Flickr

Princess MariePrincess Marie of Denmark completes her tenth year working with DanChurchAid, an organization working to combat global poverty. She has also contributed to several other philanthropic organizations over the years. Her Royal Highness actively advocates for the critical cause of diminishing global poverty through her work and commitment.

DanChurchAid

DanChurchAid is an organization that works with economically developing nations to combat hunger, poverty, and oppression. It has been operating for over a hundred years, and with the help of donors, volunteers, and partners, it has aided people in more than 120 countries. The group uses popular and political forces to urge political decision-makers to improve living conditions for the underprivileged. Along with their long-term aid in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the organization offers relief to disaster-stricken areas. They make sure that communities reemerge more robustly, and are more adequately prepared if disaster strikes again. The group’s mission emphasizes the importance of human rights as well as working with those in need on relevant, sustainable, and practical projects.

Humanitarian Trips

Through her years as a patron, Princess Marie’s philanthropy has shown through her multiple humanitarian trips with DanChurchAid. During a recent trip to Uganda, she visited the Raising Gabdho Foundation in Kampala. There, she learned more about the foundation’s work, and the techniques they developed to cook in a more sustainable way. She also saw a DanChurchAid project called Fresh Fruit Nexus. The Danish International Development Agency first developed this project in Northern Uganda in 2018. Here, Princess Marie visited Ugandan farmers in the Omugo Refugee Settlement. Together with their refugee families, the farmers formed a cooperative in which they collected crops together and had the opportunity to borrow money from each other.

Princess Marie’s philanthropy extends to other countries as well. She has also traveled to Myanmar in the past. In Myanmar, DanChurchAid has provided underdeveloped communities with practical tools to advance their economic status and quality of life. People have worked to financially organize themselves through savings and loan systems. The underprivileged community could use the money to purchase essential tools, such as sewing machines, for economic sustainability. Princess Marie made this humanitarian trip alongside Danish donors who are also passionate about combating global poverty.

Promoting Sustainability and Accessibility

Another project that Princess Marie was active in is a supermarket called Wefood, which is located in the capital of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her Royal Highness worked with DanChurchAid in unveiling the project. Wefood aims to promote sustainability and accessibility by collecting surplus produce daily and selling it. By using this method, they can cut costs by 30 to 50%. The supermarket has aimed to cut back on food waste and provide food to those affected by poverty. This is the first of its kind in the nation.

In addition to Wefood, Princess Marie has also worked with FoedevareBanken, a Danish food bank. This organization also aims to fight food waste and poverty. Similar to Wefood, they work to provide disadvantaged people with sustainable food, and this initiative ensures that all people can have access to nutritious and balanced meals.

Through her advocacy and patronage with DanChurchAid, Princess Marie has effectively influenced the fight against global poverty. After her ten years with the organization, people worldwide eagerly await to see where Princess Marie’s philanthropy will inspire change next.

– Carly Johnson
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Aid in Vietnam
The relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam was at one time a negative one. However, over several decades, both countries have formed a positive and beneficial relationship. In 1995, both countries established a bilateral relationship and have since developed a friendship. The U.S. hopes for Vietnam to one day be strong enough to be independent of aid from outside sources.

Until that day comes, U.S. aid in Vietnam will continue to help the Vietnamese people. In just the past 20 years alone, the U.S. has provided $706 million worth of aid to improve health in Vietnam. In that same amount of time, the U.S. provided an overall total of $1.8 billion in aid to Vietnam.

US Health Aid in Vietnam

Much of the U.S. aid in Vietnam aims to improve the health of the Vietnamese people. In particular, the U.S. hopes to control the spread of infectious diseases in Vietnam such as HIV. There are various programs USAID has operating within Vietnam to achieve this goal. One such program is Healthy Markets. The purpose of this project is to create a market in Vietnam with easy access to viable medical goods and services used to combat HIV. The program called Local Health System Sustainability (LHSS) provides services directly to the government of Vietnam. This project aims to increase the financing of Vietnam’s health sector. These are just two of the 16 health projects operating in Vietnam thanks to USAID.

US Aid to People With Disabilities

The U.S. aid in Vietnam also targets Vietnamese people with disabilities. Over the years, USAID has changed the way it helps Vietnamese people with disabilities. Originally, the U.S. helped this group of people directly by providing prosthetics. Over time, the U.S. has come to appreciate the fact that people with disabilities in Vietnam also need access to important services and the need for their inclusion in Vietnamese society.

Similar to the medical projects, there are also projects in Vietnam working to help Vietnamese people with disabilities. One of these projects is Advancing Medical Care and Rehabilitation and Education. This project is working toward improving care for people with brain impairments. Projections have determined that this project will last until 2023 on a budget of $10.3 million. The project called the Disability Rights Enforcement, Coordination and Therapies is working to make sure disability rights undergo enforcement within Vietnam. This project also works to improve therapy and other essential services for people with disabilities. It will last until 2023 and has a budget of $10.7 million.

Why it Matters

While Vietnam’s poverty rate has been 5.8% as of 2016, U.S. aid in Vietnam still goes a long way. People living in poverty often do not get to participate in the better aspects of society. This makes U.S. aid in Vietnam so important because it allows all people to have a better life including those in poverty. For example, the U.S. has been able to reach 30,000 people with disabilities in Vietnam. It is numbers like this that show the positive impact aid can have on other countries.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Irish Aid in Vietnam
The S-shaped country of Vietnam has many picturesque sights to behold. Rice paddies stretch out over the Mekong and Red River Deltas that run through the country. Vietnam’s geography includes hills and various elevations with only 20% of the country being flat. Despite the beauty of Vietnam, the people in the country find themselves in need of aid. Since 2005, Ireland has been providing much-needed assistance to Vietnam. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade runs the Irish Aid Programme. Irish Aid in Vietnam has provided various forms of assistance for the Vietnamese people.

Irish Aid’s Support of Ethnic Minorities

The aid that Ireland offered to Vietnam has given support to numerous sectors within the country. Sectors working with Irish Aid include human rights, agriculture, education and health. From 2011 to 2016, Irish Aid spent 17 million Euros on its Vietnam Country Strategy. One goal that the organization is working toward is the inclusion and provision of sustainable development for the various ethnic minorities that live in Vietnam. The largest of all the ethnic groups in Vietnam is the Kinh, otherwise known as the Viet. There are 53 other ethnic groups outside the Kinh that vary in how much of Vietnam’s population they make up.

Through the Irish embassy in Vietnam, Irish Aid has been addressing the needs that these ethnic groups need to better improve their quality of life. These needs include access to basic nutrition and gender empowerment. Irish Aid determines the needs of these ethnic groups by working with them and partnering with NGOs that are active in Vietnam.

Results of Irish Aid in Vietnam

Vietnam has made many improvements in various areas over the years. Life expectancy in Vietnam rose from 70 years to 76.25 just from 2005 to 2016 according to the World Bank. The stunting rate for children under the age of 5-years-old in Vietnam declined by 5% in only five years. In 2010, the stunting rate was at 29.3% and by 2014, it declined to 24.9%. Some of the work of Irish Aid in Vietnam has benefited the Vietnamese people as well. For one, the program was able to finish 60 different infrastructure projects that improved living conditions for the various ethnic minorities residing in Vietnam. Irish Aid also assisted with landmine removal across a distance of 879,431 meters.

Irish Aid held 132 landmine education sessions that taught about the dangers of landmines in Vietnam. These sessions helped to educate 38,124 children. Lastly, Irish Aid helped 400 people with disabilities in gaining employment or an improved living situation.

Despite the hardships for the people living in Vietnam, Irish Aid continues to assist. Not only has the organization provided aid, but its work has and is having a positive impact on the people of Vietnam.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Greenland's Foreign Aid
Many countries around the world benefit from foreign aid, but few rely on it for their livelihood. Greenland is one of the few countries that would struggle to exist at all without it, as Greenland’s foreign aid is essential to its economy. Each year, Denmark, Greenland’s former colonial ruler, gives the island nation about $591 million in subsidies. That represents about 60% of the Greenlandic government’s budget and comes to more than $10,000 for every person living in Greenland. The subsidy, however, is not the cure-all Denmark might hope it to be.

Greenland’s Foreign Aid and Social World

Greenland is a land of contradictions. It is the largest island in the world, yet has a population of fewer than 60,000 people. Its average income is about $33,000, placing it far above the international average, yet Greenland also suffers from a suicide rate seven times higher than in the United States, and a poverty rate of 16.2% as of 2015. Traditional practices remain the norm in many parts of the country. Fishing accounts for 90% of Greenland’s exports, and dog sleds are still a common sight in the island’s undeveloped interior.

How can Greenland receive so much aid and still suffer from such social ills? Part of the answer lies in international politics. Although Greenland is nominally independent, many of its politics are still under the control of Denmark. Worried about losing influence in Greenland, Denmark has often blocked other countries’ efforts to invest in Greenland.

For example, Denmark raised objections to a $12.1 million aid package to Greenland from the U.S. in 2020. While politicians raised some valid concerns about the package (particularly in light of President Trump’s tactless 2019 offer to buy Greenland from Denmark), the fact remains that foreign investment would almost certainly enrich Greenlanders. This would be especially relevant if Greenlanders, rather than Danes, were the ones to make decisions about foreign aid.

Potential Wealth in Greenland

On the other hand, Greenland itself enjoys huge sources of potential wealth. The island is strategically located in the arctic region. Greenland also possesses valuable mineral deposits in its interior, which global warming will eventually uncover. Unfortunately, Denmark’s reluctance to permit foreign aid, and a lack of local capital, have prevented Greenland from taking advantage of these resources.

Greenland’s dependence on Danish money is a major source of instability for the country. Were the Danish government to change its policy, Greenland’s fragile economy would collapse. Greenland’s reliance on fish also creates uncertainty, since fish prices tend to fluctuate quickly. Economic development, as well as investment from a variety of countries, would remove much of the country’s economic uncertainty.

The goal of foreign investment should be to make countries prosperous and, eventually, self-sufficient. Greenland, however, shows few signs of becoming more economically independent from Denmark. Greenland’s GDP has grown very slowly and actually shrank between 2013 and 2014, despite Denmark’s funding. Danish aid to Greenland seems to have become an absent-minded gift, rather than an aid program with a clear purpose and goals.

Consequences of Denmark’s Aid

If Denmark sticks to the status quo of offering aid but preventing others from doing the same, Greenland will continue to suffer from its high poverty rate. Denmark will still have to pay huge sums of cash to keep the Greenlandic economy afloat.

However, if Denmark were to permit more investment in Greenland and put more emphasis on helping Greenland achieve self-sufficiency, Greenland would become wealthier and its economy would be more stable. This would in turn benefit Denmark because Greenland would eventually no longer need so much financial support. Whatever Greenland’s foreign aid future holds, it seems clear that it can do better than the status quo.

– Thomas Brodey
Photo: Flickr