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

The World BankThe World Bank Group has announced a $12 billion initiative that would allow COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatments to be readily available for low-income countries. This plan will positively affect up to a billion people and signals the World Bank’s initiative to ensure that developing countries are equipped to distribute vaccines and testing to citizens. The plan is a part of the overall $160 billion package by the World Bank Group, which aims to support developing countries in the fight against the pandemic.

A Multitude of Goals

Since early March and April, the World Bank Group has provided grants to low-income countries to help with the distribution of health care equipment. Recognizing that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the poor and has the potential to push up to 115 million into poverty, the World Bank Group has been active in financing an early, timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income areas. As of November 2020, the World Bank Group has consequently assisted over 100 developing countries in the allocation of medical supplies and technologies.

With the spread worsening all across the globe, the next step is to administer vaccinations. This new initiative hopes to strengthen health care operatives while also providing economic opportunities within those communities. Other expectations are increasing awareness of public health, training health care workers and focusing on community engagement. As a result, the four primary goals of the World Bank Group’s Crisis Response are to save lives that are endangered by the COVID-19 virus, protect the poor and vulnerable, retain economic stability and facilitate a resilient recovery to the pandemic.

Moreover, the World Bank Group has extensive experience with dispersing vaccines, specifically with combating infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Through these experiences, the World Bank Group understands the importance of quick, tailored distribution based on individual country needs. As a result, countries will have flexibility in how they want to receive and administer vaccines — for example, through the improvement of health care infrastructure, procurement with the support from varying, multilateral mechanisms or reshaping policy and regulatory frameworks.

Partnerships and Funding

Funding for this project will consist of “$2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; $1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritization of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and $6 billion from IFC, including $2 billion from existing trade facilities.”

The IDA will provide grants to low-income countries while the IBRD will be supplying them to middle-income countries. The World Bank’s private sector arm, the IFC, will be the main donor for continued economic stability within its clientele. The IFC’s support will specifically aid in the continuation of operating and sustaining jobs. The total funding will cover a broad scope to strengthen the health care sector. These solutions hope to reduce the harmful economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

World Bank Group president, David Malpass, has been working extensively with these institutions on this project. Malpass pointed out that the need for economic backing is drastically important when it comes to receiving this vaccine. Manufacturers might not deem these low-income communities as important as those in more advanced economies. Hence, it’s extremely important to provide this funding to ensure global equity and distribution.

Moving Forward

Many countries have been able to discover viable vaccine treatments. It’s important that future doses be distributed globally and equitably, as more and more people are being pushed into extreme poverty. Malpass wrote, “The pandemic is hitting developing countries hard, and the inequality of that impact is clear … The negative impact on health and education may last decades — 80 million children are missing out on essential vaccinations and over a billion are out of school.”

As the number of global cases increases each day, it is becoming even more important to provide relief to all countries. Low-income countries and communities are at the most vulnerable. This is why the World Bank Group has made it transparent that their main mission is to provide extended relief to these countries during the pandemic.

Natalie Whitmeyer
Photo: Flickr

Alimenta la SolidaridadVenezuela has a convoluted political, economic and social situation. The present humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has placed the country in fourth for the largest food crisis in the world. The nonprofit organization  Alimenta la Solidaridad (Feed Solidarity) chooses to tackle this issue head-on.

The Situation in Venezuela

According to the World Food Program, one in every three Venezuelans require food assistance. Venezuela’s deteriorating situation has decreased the household’s access to food as well as the purchasing power of the people. In 2019, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans suffered from food insecurity and approximately 9.3 million required immediate food assistance.

The current food dilemma is expected to worsen due to the current economic crisis. Already, the plight has increased childhood malnutrition and starvation. Children in Venezuela rarely obtain vital nutrients for proper growth and adequate cognitive development.

A Nonprofit to the Rescue

Alimenta la Solidaridad was determined to combat the rampant food insecurity in Venezuela. Since 2016, it has provided around 7,508,000 meals to Venezuelan children in need. The program started mainly in Distrito Capital, the capital’s state, but it has gradually expanded nationwide. It now operates in 14 additional states, has a total of 188 dining rooms across the national territory and gives food assistance to over 14,000 children.

The nonprofit recognizes the necessity to contribute their part to society. Alimenta la Solidaridad aims to find sustainable solutions to the food-related challenges that plague many low-income Venezuelan families. This organization works exhaustively to soften the effect of the nutritional deficiencies that many children in this program possess.

How Alimenta la Solidaridad Works

Alimenta la Solidaridad operates through donors with the help of mothers and fathers from the communities. The nonprofit gathers people willing to share their home to provide the space for community kitchens. Volunteers cook, organize the children, clean and manage the daily operations of this effort. The organization is “more than a plate of food.” When people with Alimenta la Solidaridad get together, they create a place of transformation.  Sometimes, they create activities that turn into opportunities for the development and empowerment of children. Mothers in the program also receive growth opportunities.

Alimenta la Solidaridad provides training courses that will empower the mothers. The new skills are then put right back into the organization. These mothers often end up taking one of the most important roles within the organization. They don’t only make the initiative possible, they also teach the children to grow in the values of co-responsibility, involvement and service.

Alimenta la Solidaridad aids the outside communities as well. The initiative contributes to the reduction of criminal indexes within the surrounding areas. Further, the organization promotes community organizations and volunteer work. They uplift these avenues of aid as a way to fulfill their mission of providing daily meals to children with food insecurity in Venezuela.

Hope for the Fight

Despite the painful reality in Venezuela, many efforts across the territory keep trying to find ways to help. Alimenta la Solidaridad is the perfect example of an organization that managed to provide aid despite the bleak circumstances. The nonprofit’s dedication and goodwill has developed a model based on responsibility and empowerment. This method boosts the sense of involvement and amount of voluntary service within Venezuelan communities in need. Food insecurity has met its match with the hopeful spirit of the resilient Venezuelan people.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Pixabay


Agribusinesses in Trifinio, Guatemala renovated cattle and pasture lands into crops for exports which dramatically changed the area. The transformation drove approximately 25,000 people into this remote area in the southwest rural region of Guatemala and employed thousands of people who sought an opportunity in this growing business. The University of Colorado created a healthcare alliance to provide quality medical treatments in the now booming community.

Trifinio, Guatemala

Few people know about Trifinio, Guatemala even though it is a major producer for AgroAmerica’s Chiquita bananas. The town is made up of small concrete houses and only a few paved roads. Most homes are single-room units. When it comes to cultural development, the town’s only form of entertainment is a local bar.

This small and highly impoverished community suffers from the reality of poor health care access. With its nearest hospital one hour away in the town of Coatepeque Guatemala, the residents of this area face the challenges of malnutrition, high infant mortality rates, and a range of infectious diseases. More than 46% of children have intestinal parasites, 38.7% of children have anemia and one-third of women are affected by pregnancy complications. The numbers could not say it clearly enough; this community needed help. Fortunately, AgroAmerica teamed up with the University of Colorado to find a solution.

University of Colorado partners with AgroAmerica

In 2011 Fernando and Gustavo Bolaños, brothers and CEOs and COOs of AgroAmerica, became frustrated by the lack of health care access in their community. With Guatemala’s history of little investment in healthcare, they found themselves unable to ask the public sector for help. Gustavo Bolaños himself addressed this issue in an interview where he claimed, “In Guatemala, we have a lot of inequality and poverty, the government hasn’t been able to really cover the basic needs of the population. We as a private company, see all the needs of our people, and the biggest problem we are facing is education and health”. Therefore, rather than going to the government, they turned to the University of Colorado’s Global Health Center.

With an investment of 1 million U.S. dollars, the Bolaños made a healthcare alliance with the Colorado School of Public Health. Their goal was to build a medical center on their banana plantation. Three years later, the Bolaños proudly stood before the new medical facility. It houses a clinic, laboratory and conference space. The Trifinio Center for Human Development serves around 4,500 plantation workers, along with the 24,000 residents of the neighboring villages, and is “staffed by CU doctors, nurses, midwives, students and other health professionals rotating through Guatemala”.

The Last Six Years

Before Trifinio’s Center for Human Development (CHD) a visit to a health professional cost people in this community at least $25 USD. This did not include transportation fees and the loss of a day’s wages. With the medical facility, that cost has dropped to less than $5 USD. Families now have access to health resources without a geographical and economic barrier. The clinic is committed to decreasing neonatal morbidity, childhood mortality and increasing safe delivery practices and childhood growth and development. Along with these medical goals, the center hopes to impact the health education and social realities of its community.

In 2017, the CHD began a youth leadership program run by participating high-school students from the area. This initiative provided an opportunity for future leaders to learn about community organizing and advocacy that could improve human development. The program not just helps the community, but “students selected for this program receive a scholarship to cover their school fees,” promoting access for educational attainment.

Along with the youth program, the center provides sexual health education to neighboring schools in the area. For mothers, it has a maternal and child health program. This provides quality prenatal care and gives families a direct line for medical professionals to track both the mother’s and child’s health.

The center also conducts research to serve the needs of the community and bring new knowledge to the rest of the world. Their Student Health Survey, taken in late June and early July of 2019 “enrolled 1,414 participants from 15 Trifinio middle and high schools” to better understand the health and social realities of these children, and hopefully address the needs that are found.

The Future

In 2013 Stephen Berman, the director of the Center for Global Health at the University of Colorado said, “The solutions we develop through this program may someday be replicated in communities all over the world”. The program has had measurable benefits for its community, which is a good reason for its replication in other regions. Health care accessibility is not an easy system. But we saw major success through the healthcare alliance of a privately run company and a public institution. There are possibilities for new solutions to address the needs of those most vulnerable.

Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in HaitiHaiti, a small country that borders the Dominican Republic on the Hispaniola island, suffers greatly from poverty. Natural disasters, systemic inequality and diminishing economic opportunities create a dire state of extreme poverty. Specifically, child poverty in Haiti is the major poverty crisis.

Over half of Haiti’s 11.2 million population live on less than $3 a day, and malnutrition affects 65,000 children under five. Many children under 14 — over a third of Haiti’s population — do not have ready access to health care, clean water, food security or the right to fair and decent work. The question stands: What does child poverty in Haiti look like today, and what obstacles persist in ending it?

It’s easy to forget that statistics reflect the experience of real, living people. Please keep this in mind. Considering this, here are five facts about child poverty in Haiti.

The Statistical Perspective

  1.  Caloric and nutritive malnutrition affects nearly a third of children in Haiti. Out of every five children, one child is malnourished and one out of 10 is acutely malnourished. Before the age of five, one child out of 14 will die. Those who live deal with the effects of inadequate food supplies. Poor access to vital nutrients means that children are subject to poor health, growth and development.
  2. Despite Haiti’s free publication education, only half of elementary-aged children are enrolled in school. Millions of disadvantaged parents have very few with little resources to secure education for their children. This is a result of Haiti privatizing 92% of schools.
  3.  Nearly half a million children are orphaned in Haiti. A significant proportion of these “lost” children are exploited for labor in dangerous conditions. “Host households” take in children whose families cannot provide for them. Many of these children — known colloquially as “restaveks” — end up as victims of human trafficking.
  4.  Adequate health care is hard to come by in Haiti. Child immunization has stagnated at 41%. The proportion of children who die before their first birthday has risen by 2% in the last year – from 57% to 59%. HIV, tuberculosis, and a variety of other chronic, crippling diseases ail an estimated 20,000 children in Haiti, and treatment is increasingly difficult to obtain.

COVID-19

Haiti is particularly prone to natural disasters, in large part due to its geographical situation in the Bermuda. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake ravaged the island of Hispaniola in 2010. A slew of tropical storms, hurricanes and additional earthquakes further compromised Haiti. Nearly 10 years later, Haiti still struggles with recovering from its 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew alongside dealing with recent social unrest and COVID-19.

Humanitarian aid efforts are nearing an all-time high for the country, but the efficacy of these programs and endeavors has been questioned. The threats of COVID-19 aren’t the only ones Haiti must face. The future is increasingly uncertain for millions of Haitians and their children, due to equipment shortages, lack of qualified health care professionals and a worsening economic climate.

Ways to Help

What is there to do? Explore The Borgen Project’s homepage. From there, it’s easy to email and call representatives and leaders. There is the option to donate to the cause. For free, one can create momentum on social media to raise awareness about the dire situation in Haiti. A number of ways exist to combat child poverty in Haiti; it just takes action.

Henry Comes-Pritchett
Photo: Flickr