Child Marriage in the Democratic Republic of the CongoThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is ranked 19th globally for the percentage of girls who are married before they reach their 18th birthday (37%). A 2017 UNICEF study with this data also showed the DRC ranking ninth highest for the absolute number of child brides, at 1.3 million. These figures tell a story beyond girls marrying young — a narrative of recursive poverty and lack of education. But child marriage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be beaten. In fact, new programs for female education and community engagement are emerging every day to address this issue.

Identifying the Roots of Child Marriage

There are four main drivers of child marriage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: poverty, armed conflict, adolescent pregnancy and cultural traditions.

  • Poverty: As of 2018, 72% of the population of the DRC lived in extreme poverty. The practice of child marriage is a key indicator of poverty in a community. When a family gives a daughter away in marriage, they lower their own expenses. They no longer have to feed, clothe or educate the daughter. In addition, the promise of bride price is a motivating factor behind child marriage in the DRC. Bride price is an old tradition practiced in different areas across Africa. Unlike dowry, bride price entails exchanging money or valuable items from the groom’s family to the bride’s family as a record of their marriage. Historically, bride price helped tie two families together and strengthen the community as a whole. Today, it acts more as legal proof of marriage, used to determine the lineage of children or to secure inheritance. Families perceive the promise of wealth as an incentive for early marriage. For girls, however, the chance of receiving an education after early marriage is slim. As a result, girls who marry before the age of 18 in the DRC are less able to earn an income and to lift themselves, and their families, out of poverty.

  • Armed conflict: According to a study done by the U.N., around 200,000 girls and women have experienced sexual violence in the DRC since 1998. Ongoing military conflicts in the eastern DRC, Rwanda and Uganda are part of the cause of this high number. The continued prevalence of armed conflict has led to some young girls being forced to marry perpetrators of sexual violence.

  • Adolescent Pregnancy: Sexual health and education are not widely practiced in DRC, which leads to a lack of contraception and family planning. Early pregnancies can sometimes result in child marriage, as families hope to secure stability for later life. The cultural expectation that women will marry and become mothers leads to low contraception use, which can also contribute to adolescent pregnancies.

  • Cultural Traditions: Underlying all these drivers of child marriage in the DRC, is the cultural belief that girls are inferior to boys. As a result of internalized gender inequality, the global prevalence of child marriage among boys is one-sixth of that among girls. Accordingly, programs designed to oppose child marriage typically emphasize female empowerment and education. One such organization, Debout Fille, was established in 2005 to “defend and protect the rights of girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Empowering Girls

Debout Fille operates across DRC in many rural and urban communities. The organization is working toward “eliminating violence and harmful practices and achieving universal access to education and sexual and reproductive health.” In South Kivu, a region heavily affected by the conflict between Ugandan and Rwandan rebels, Debout Fille is partnering with Women’s WorldWide Web (W4) to fight the cycle of child marriage. Through new “Digital Learning Clubs and Spaces,” girls and young women are learning about reproductive and sexual health. These clubs help girls establish “Girls’ Parliaments,” through which they can engage in community decision-making and political advocacy to oppose child marriage. “Parents’ Schools” are also working to engage and educate parents. Debout Fille is currently training 1,200 girls and local community members. 

About 37% of girls in the DRC marry before reaching their 18th birthday. Poverty, armed conflict, adolescent pregnancy and cultural traditions can all be causes of child marriage. Organizations like Debout Fille are working to decrease child marriage through things like sexual and reproductive health education. While this is just one solution, it is an important step toward using education to end child marriage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Elizabeth Price
Photo: Pixabay

Homelessness in Costa Rica
Located in Central America and bordering the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is home to approximately 4.5 million people. Flourishing on global exports and the travel industry, many know Costa Rica for its exceptional exports in fruits, vegetables and coffee.

However, as a developing country, Costa Rica struggles from problems with sanitation, poverty and homelessness. More than 1 million Costa Ricans live in severe poverty, and approximately 52% of the population suffers from insufficient and unstable living conditions. Within the last few decades, citizens have emphasized the need to reduce overall homelessness, focusing on urban areas. Here are a few unique ways Costa Rican citizens are attempting to reduce overall homelessness.

Aiding the Homeless

The Chepe se baña project in Costa Rica aims to provide a better life for the homeless. Originating from the Promundo Foundation, Chepe se baña hopes to help around 200 homeless people near San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The name of the project references a large bus that consists of four showers and a ramp for people with disabilities. The bus provides efficient and free sanitation toward people living in poverty. Running on generous donations and private enterprises, Chepe se baña provides much help to the homeless in San José.

Costa Rican communities took matters into their own hands in 2015 when social groups Friends of the World and Vaso Lleno worked to provide relief for the homeless. More than 200 volunteers traveled to urban areas, ranging from Parque España to San José, offering daily necessities such as food, water and clothes. These volunteers were able to offer over 1,500 beverages, more than 18,000 kg of beans and hundreds of items of clothing for men, women and children. Volunteers would pack lunches with sandwiches and drinks, and deliver them to people in need.

While Chepe se bana and hundreds of volunteers may not end homelessness in Costa Rica, the support has certainly provided necessary relief for people who are in difficult living situations. It is important to understand that the acts of citizens do in fact create a noticeable difference when attempting to reduce global poverty.

Friends of Costa Rica

Outside of Costa Rica, an American organization called Amigos of Costa Rica is a nonprofit organization that uses funds to directly address poverty — specifically homelessness — in Costa Rica. Through donations and helpful resources, Amigos of Costa Rica has committed itself to aiding Costa Rica in achieving sustainable development.

The organization works alongside nonprofit organizations within Costa Rica, directing funds to Costa Rican nonprofit organizations every two weeks. Funds go towards reducing homelessness, providing better sanitation and distributing food and support to those in need.

Thanks to these and other initiatives, Costa Rica now has the lowest poverty rate in Central America. While Costa Rica continues to struggle to reduce overall homelessness and poverty, efforts to diminish or decrease poverty rates are now showing positive results. With increased efforts to support the homeless population in Costa Rica, overall poverty will likely continue to decrease. 

Elisabeth Balicanta
Photo: Unsplash

Scheduled Tribes in India
The term “Scheduled Tribes” refers to multiple tribes in India who the Indian government and the country’s constitution recognizes. Currently, 705 Scheduled Tribes exist in India. Among these 705 recognized tribes, 75 of them have the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) designation. These groups have a pre-agriculture level of technology, stagnant or declining populations, extremely low literacy and subsistence-level economies.

Scheduled Tribes

Scheduled Tribes of India are usually called Adivasi after the original inhabitants of India. Many of these Scheduled Tribes have their own languages, religious customs, forms of self-governance and traditions of their own.

During India’s industrialization era, from 1750 to 1947, many Scheduled Tribes experienced displacement from their homes and homelands. Mining activities, commercial farming, timber industries and war were the main causes of Adivasi displacement during this time period. Due to their displacement, Adivasis had to migrate to different parts of India. The majority of these Adivasi had problems integrating into the mainstream Indian society since many of them were illiterate and malnourished. This contributed to the Indian perception that the Adivasi were poor, ignorant and backward.

According to the 2011 census of India’s population, Scheduled Tribes made up approximately 8 percent of India’s population. Scheduled Tribes also accounted for 25 percent of the poorest populations in India. In 2018, India’s National Data found that Scheduled Tribes in India were the poorest populace. According to The National Family Health Survey 2015-2016, 45.9 percent of Scheduled Tribe members lived in the lowest wealth bracket. This finding was even more shocking since more people of Scheduled Tribes lived in the lowest wealth bracket than the people of Scheduled Castes, who people previously knew as the untouchable castes.

Statistics

A 2018 study in the Journal of Social Inclusion Studies delves deeper into the above statistics. The study points to the lack of access to productive income-earning assets, non-utilization of available resources, lack of education and equal opportunities, all serving as the main causes of poverty among Scheduled Tribes in India. What further complicates the matter is that traditional methods of addressing tribal poverty are not viable.

While economic development usually associates with poverty alleviation, economic development and industrialization are the cause of Scheduled Tribes’ poverty in India. The recent economic development has eliminated many of the traditional occupations that tribal inhabitants of India had. The same study presented a table of data about the incidence of poverty between tribals and non-tribals in India. The researchers noted that India’s economic development did not occur equally for the many Scheduled Tribes. The data from 1993 to 2012 shows that tribal poverty is always higher than non-tribal poverty. The study found that tribal poverty was still more than two times higher than non-tribal poverty, even though India’s overall incidence of poverty has been in decline since 1993.

The Indian Government

The Indian government is working to reduce poverty among Scheduled Tribes. In 2019, for example, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India is allocating 85,000 crore ($74,710.96) of its 2020 budget to furthering the development and welfare of scheduled tribes. The Indian Ministry of Tribal Affairs is also responsible for promoting and implementing the programs that will benefit Scheduled Tribes in India.

On February 14, 2020, the Minister of Tribal Affairs conducted a workshop with the Tribal Cooperation Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED). During the workshop, the minister recognized and congratulated TRIFED in its mission of expanding and promoting products that tribal craftsmen and craftswomen made. In the same workshop, multiple shareholders, mainly leading national institutions, social sector and industry leaders, met up to discuss their further cooperation with the TRIFED’s mission.

Scheduled Tribes in India still find themselves in a difficult economic reality. The historic and economic marginalization which displaced the Scheduled Tribes still seems to still loom over India. More shockingly, the cause of Scheduled Tribe poverty seems to have its roots in India’s improving economic conditions since 1750. The Indian government does, however, recognize the importance of economically supporting and developing its Scheduled Tribes. With the help of the Indian government, many hope that a better financial future waits for the Scheduled Tribes in India.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Millennial Celebrities Fighting Global Poverty
The term “millennial” is one that has garnered some negative attention in the past decade in that many associate the generation with adjectives like “lazy” or “entitled.” While there are people of all dispositions and work ethics in every generation, the following is a list of five millennial celebrities fighting global poverty and challenging stereotypes about their age group.

5 Millennial Celebrities Fighting Global Poverty

  1. Harry Styles: Former member of the hugely successful group One Direction, Styles is showing that he is not only a talented singer but also a generous philanthropist. Styles’ “Treat People with Kindness” slogan is proving to be a mantra that he takes seriously as he raised $1.2 million in donations for 62 charities around the world during his 10-month tour in 2017. Styles’ 2020 tour is also supporting various charities worldwide including Freedom from Hunger and Help Refugees. He will be donating proceeds from exclusive merchandise purchases and a portion of ticket sales to various charities across the globe.
  2. Rihanna: Singer and businesswoman Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty founded the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) in 2012 in honor of her grandparents. CLF supports and funds education and emergency response programs in various parts of the world including Malawi and Barbados. Rihanna is also an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness. Through her lipstick campaigns with MAC Cosmetics, she helped raise $60 million in 2013 to benefit women and children affected by the disease.
  3. Drake: Record-breaking hip-hop artist Drake has been involved with a number of philanthropic efforts. In 2010, Drake visited a poor community in Kingston, Jamaica, and became inspired to give back. He donated $30,000 to a learning center in the community, stating that “I went there and they had ‘Drake’ all over the walls, spraypainted, and all the kids were running after us. So I donated $30,000 to build computer schools for the kids.”
  4. Emma Watson: Former star in the Harry Potter franchise and more recently in the film “Little Women,” Emma Watson is not only a talented and intelligent actress but also an active philanthropist. Watson, a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, recently visited Malawi to celebrate achievements that U.N. Women and the Malawian Government made including the annulling of child marriages to allow many women to return to school. Watson stated that “It’s so encouraging to see how such a harmful practice can be stopped when communities work together to pass laws and then turn those laws into reality.”
  5. Beyoncé: Bestselling singer-songwriter Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is no stranger to poverty-fighting efforts. Beyoncé headlined the Global Citizen Festival in 2018 alongside guests like Ed Sheeran and her husband Jay-Z. Together, they raised $7.1 billion to aid Global Citizen in its fight to end global poverty. This money will go towards improving education, sanitation, health care and women’s rights around the globe.

These five millennial celebrities are breaking down negative stereotypes about their generation and serve as inspiring role models for the world when it comes to reducing global poverty. These celebrities’ efforts and generosity are changing the lives of countless impoverished people around the world for the better.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

Best Poverty Reduction Programs
In the global fight against poverty, there have been countless programs to effectively downsize this issue. Poverty reduction programs are an important part of the fight against poverty and because of this, countries should be able to cooperate and learn from one another. Thankfully, with the help of the U.N., the world has been making progress in terms of cooperating to implement good poverty reduction programs. In no particular order, these are the five countries with some of the best poverty reduction programs.

Five Countries with the Best Poverty Reduction Programs

1. China

For the Middle Kingdom, poverty reduction is a key contributing factor to its rapidly growing economy. China has helped reduce the global rate of poverty by over 70 percent, and according to the $1.90 poverty line, China has lifted a total of 850 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2013. With this, the percentage of people living under $1.90 in China dropped from 88 percent to less than 2 percent in 32 years. China’s poverty reduction programs have also benefitted people on a global scale by setting up assistance funds for developing countries and providing thousands of opportunities and scholarships for people in developing countries to receive an education in China.

2. Brazil

Brazil has taken great steps in reducing poverty and income inequality. Brazil has implemented programs such as the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program) and Continuous Cash Benefit. Researchers have said that the Family Grant Program has greatly reduced income disparity and poverty, thanks to its efforts of ensuring that more children go to school. They have also said that beneficiaries of this program are less likely to repeat a school year. Meanwhile, the Continuous Cash Benefit involves an income transfer that targets the elderly and the disabled.

3. Canada

Canada has implemented poverty reduction programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the National Housing Strategy. The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly benefit for low-income senior citizens. This program helped nearly 2 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the National Housing Strategy in an investment plan for affordable housing that intends to help the elderly, people fleeing from domestic violence and Indigenous people. With its poverty reduction programs in place, Canada reportedly hopes to cut poverty in half by 2030.

4. United States

Although the United States has a long way to go when it comes to battling poverty, it does still have its poverty reduction programs that have proven to be effective. According to the Los Angeles Times, programs such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have all helped to reduce deep poverty. In particular, people consider the Earned Income Tax Credit to be helpful for families that earn roughly 150 percent of the poverty line, approximately $25,100 for a four-person family. Social Security could help reduce poverty among the elderly by 75 percent.

5. Denmark

Denmark has a social welfare system that provides benefits to the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly, among others. People in Denmark are generally in good health and have low infant mortality rates. Denmark also has public access to free education, with most of its adult population being literate.

It should be stressed that none of these countries are completely devoid of poverty, but they do provide some good examples of how governments can go about reducing this issue. With the help of organizations like the USAID, it is clear that this is an issue many take seriously.

Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Nelson Mandela Quotes on ForgivnessForgiveness, depending on individual tolerance and level of wrong-doing, comes easier for some than it does for others. However, it is difficult to find a more selfless, modern-day message of forgiveness than that of Nelson Mandela’s life story. After being imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years, simply for his protest of Apartheid, one might expect that he would hold at least a small grudge. But, as he so eloquently said himself, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela’s quotes on forgiveness inspire many people to follow in his footsteps of compassion.

9 Inspiring Nelson Mandela Quotes on Forgiveness

  1. “In my country, we go to prison first and then become President.” – Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
  2. “We must strive to be moved by a generosity of spirit that will enable us to outgrow the hatred and conflicts of the past.” – 1990 Christmas Message
  3. “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”
  4. “It never hurts to think too highly of a person; often they become ennobled and act better because of it.”
  5. Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
  6. Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.”
  7. “Reconciliation does not mean forgetting or trying to bury the pain of conflict, but that reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.” – From a 1995 speech
  8. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Written during 27-year imprisonment
  9. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. They must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Long Walk to Freedom (1995)

These nine Nelson Mandela quotes on forgiveness help give a better understanding of the power that lies in forgiving. One consistent trend throughout these Nelson Mandela quotes on forgiveness – and in life itself – is that forgiveness provides a sense of freedom. Often, the verbal and physical abuse that discriminators throw at marginalized groups serves as an emotional shackle. Forgiving the wrong-doer and learning from the experience can help lift the internal weight on one’s soul. Mandela emphasizes how forgiveness can be such a respectable and responsible approach to take when dealing with hate and injustice.

– Fatemeh Zahra Yarali
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Feminine Product Companies that Give Back For people living in extreme poverty around the world, access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medical care is a daily struggle. In addition to this, women face another challenge — access to menstrual products like pads and tampons. In fact, 1 million women worldwide cannot afford sanitary products. This issue, called “period poverty,” is one that many people and organizations are trying to combat. Here are five feminine products that give back to women around the world.

5 Feminine Product Companies that Give Back to Women

  1. Cora – Cora is a company that sells organic tampons whose mission is to fight period poverty. Cora uses a portion of its monthly revenue to provide sustainable period management for women in India. The company also empowers women through employment and education opportunities. According to the company website, “with every Cora purchase, we provide pads and health education to a girl in need. We use the power of business to fight for gender equality and to provide products, education and jobs to girls and women in need in developing nations and right here at home.”
  2. Lunapads – Lunapads is a feminine product company that has been supporting menstrual and reproductive health as well as access to period education in the Global South since 2000 through an organization called Pads4Girls. Pads4Girls educates women about healthy and economically efficient period products, such as the use of washable cloth menstrual pads and underwear that can last for years. Pads4Girls has helped to supply 100,000+ reusable menstrual pads and period underwear to more than 17,000 menstruators in 18 different nations.
  3. Days for Girls – Days for Girls is an international organization whose mission is to address global issues surrounding period poverty and provide education and access to menstrual products to those living in poverty. The organization has been working to achieve this goal by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. To date, the Days for Girls movement has reached 1 million girls and counting.
  4. Bloody Good Period – Bloody Good Period is a period company based in the U.K. Gabby Edlin, the founder of the company, decided to do something about creating a sustainable flow of menstrual products for those who cannot afford them in the U.K. Bloody Good Period also sells merchandise and hosts events that highlight the stigmas around menstrual health and issues surrounding period poverty. The organization supplies 25 asylum seeker drop-in centers based in London and Leeds and supplies food banks and drop-in centers across the U.K. with period supplies.
  5. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) – Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is an organization whose main goal is to help women in Rwanda jumpstart locally owned franchises and businesses to manufacture and create affordable and eco-friendly pads. SHE works with local businesses to produce these pads with local farmers and manufacturing teams and works with these businesses on making pads affordable for those around the country. SHE also trains community health workers on how to provide education to boys and girls about puberty and menstrual hygiene. So far, SHE has allowed 60,101 girls and women living in poverty to have access to pads, and its mission has reached 4.3 million people through advocacy and social media.

Although the issue of period poverty continues to be a constant struggle for women and girls around the world, these were five feminine products that give back to women.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Corruption in the Northern TriangleThe Northern Triangle, consisting of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, is home to some of the highest levels of political and economic instability in the world. The nations of the Triangle (Or NTCA, Northern Triangle of Central America) are characterized by high rates of poverty and gang violence. Subsequently, this is exacerbated by rampant corruption, from local to national levels. This instability, along with the hazards of living in a poverty-stricken region, has led to an increase in the outflow of migrants from the Northern Triangle into the United States.

Nevertheless, things are getting better. With the Northern Triangle having received more international attention in recent years and immigration issues leading American political discourse, the underlying problems of the region are coming to light. Some U.S. and United Nations’ programs are successfully circumventing government channels to provide aid directly. However, other initiatives are attacking the problem of corruption at its source. Fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle requires a longterm method addressing the economic insolvency of these countries. Here are five ways the world is fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle.

5 Ways the World Is Fighting Corruption in the Northern Triangle

  1. Guatemala and the CICIG
    Guatemala hosts one of the most effective and successful anti-corruption NGOs in the region. The U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity (known as CICIG, per its Spanish initials) was implemented in the early 2000s to address the rampant corruption sprouting up in the wake of Guatemala’s civil war. The commissioner, Iván Velásquez, is a distinguished veteran of Colombia’s criminal justice system, where he worked to expose links between paramilitary groups and public officials—an identical background to the types of corrupt practices that burden Guatemala’s public sector.
  2. Identifying Criminal Ties to Government Officials in the NTCA
    In a list released in early May 2019, the U.S. Department of State has named over 50 senior government officials in the NTCA as guilty of corruption. This list includes officials in the orbit of all three countries’ presidents, some of whom are direct relatives. Representative Norma Torres (D-CA) noted that the release of the list was a step in the right direction, forward progress for the Trump administration recognizing the severity of corruption in the Northern Triangle. While many of the anti-corruption bodies operating in the NTCA need international backing to be as effective as possible, the State Department’s list indicates the U.S. has not completely voided its assumed role as stabilizer in the Western Hemisphere.
  3. Slow but Steady Progress in El Salvador
    Like the rest of the NTCA, El Salvador ranks low in global measures of corruption and impunity for government officials. However, the country’s most recent attorney general, Douglas Melendez, made it his mission to attack the systemic and embedded corruption permeating the government. While he was recently forced out of office by the national legislature, Melendez successfully prosecuted three former presidents and his own predecessor as attorney general. His failure to secure reappointment reflects both El Salvador’s closed-door (and thus inherently political) process of selecting an attorney general, and a backlash of the country’s political elite against his progress fighting corruption.
  4. Experts Discuss Corruption and Human Rights in the NTCA
    In May 2019, a panel of experts led by the nonprofit, Inter-American Dialogue, discussed the current initiatives fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle, and how they could benefit from expanding their focus to include human rights. Guatemala’s CICIG was brought up, as was the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH). A major point of emphasis was the commonalities across all three countries, specifically the way in which corrupt kleptocratic networks are indirectly committing human rights violation by embezzling money earmarked for public services. The discussion lauded the work of CICIG and MACCIH in Guatemala and Honduras, respectively, and emphasized the need for a similar external agency in El Salvador.
  5. MACCIH Brings its Twelfth Major Case to Court in Honduras
    The Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) has been operating since April 2016, presumably inspired by the success of CICIG in Guatemala. Unlike CICIG, which is a U.N.-backed Commission, MACCIH is organized by the Organization of American States, an international charter that was created in the late 1800s. Through the OAS, MACCIH can share investigation data with other member states, which is particularly effective when investigating transnational organization—namely, drug cartels. In May 2019, MACCIH brought forward its twelfth integrated case, this time addressing a federal-level scheme to launder millions in cartel money.

Fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle is not linear. Pushback from political and business elites has been a significant problem both for MACCIH in Honduras and for El Salvador’s nascent anti-impunity work. This is to be expected of any anticorruption initiative, however, as it deals with the removal of power and resources from officials that abuse them. Flagging programs within the member states of the Northern Triangle only emphasize the need for robust foreign support, which the U.S. continues to provide.

Rob Sprankle
Photo: Flickr

poverty alleviation through technology

Although breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult, poverty rates around the world have been improving. According to a report issued by the World Bank, 35 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty 1990. In 2013, that number was down to 10.7 percent, which means the U.N.’s first Millenium Development Goal, to cut poverty in half by 2015, has been accomplished.

However, while many have moved out of extreme poverty, statistics show that the end of poverty is far from over. As a potential way to help speed up the process even more, many companies are helping with poverty alleviation through technology programs.

Companies Tackling Poverty Alleviation Through Technology

  1. Microsoft 365: Microsoft teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme on Jan. 23, 2004, to help with poverty alleviation through technology in Africa. It strongly believes that technology is a crucial aspect that can bridge the gap between schools in urban and rural areas, eventually eliminating world hunger and poverty. Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates hopes to end poverty by 2030 by launching his software in more developing countries around the world.Microsoft set up a three-pillar model in order to make sure the technology was applied correctly in schools. The first pillar provided the appropriate service for the individual based on their technological ability or age group. The second pillar equipped more than 200,000 teachers with the software in order to make sure the teachers were trained and familiar with the technology before it was introduced to students. The third pillar encouraged participation and creativity. The students were introduced to programs such as Skype or OneNote.
  2. GeoPoll: GeoPoll is a company that is taking advantage of mobile phones becoming more common in developing countries. Since 2012, it has partnered with more than 85 mobile network operations and has had connectivity in 64 countries of the world. Its purpose is to send a survey text through those living in the developing countries. Once citizens fill out the survey, the results are sent to the government and NGOs, allowing them to help with poverty alleviation.An example of when a GeoPoll survey was used was during the outbreak of Ebola in 2014. GeoPoll conducted food security surveys in countries that were affected and helped gather data on food prices and wages. From these results, it was able to decipher which areas needed more aid and which areas should continue to be monitored.
  3. Humanitarian Accelerators: Humanitarian Accelerators was launched in 2016 by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is meant to help with cultural, social and environmental issues in the region by connecting businesses all around the globe to United Arab Emirate’s humanitarian sector. Humanitarian Accelerators has set up its technology in over 116 different countries with the hopes of improving the lives of those in developing countries.In the past, the company has worked to provide educational technology to refugee students in order to ensure they receive the same level of education as other children. One of the company’s current initiatives is to employ technology in order to provide job opportunities to refugees.
  4. Poverty Spotlight: Poverty Spotlight is a program that is currently working in 18 countries and is most advanced in South Africa. It is meant to help with poverty alleviation through a mobile app that enables those in poverty to self-diagnose their own level of poverty. Its mission is to help individuals and families in poverty discover innovative solutions to lift themselves out of their situations.Individuals complete a survey about what they are in need of, then their neighbors fill out the same assessment and together they work on achieving them. The app allows individuals to become aware of their situation and build motivation and support from others to overcome it. The staff behind Poverty Spotlight also creates a personalized plan for every family.

Technology allows for many things today that were impossible in the past. The more technology advances, the more opportunities it gives us to learn, educate and help poverty alleviation through technology around the world.

– Negin Nia

Global Citizen: Success Stories of the Global Poverty ProjectThe Global Poverty Project, also known as Global Citizen, is an education and advocacy organization working to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action to see an end to extreme poverty. Global Citizen’s advocacy work focuses on eight issues: girls and women, food and hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, environment, finance and innovation and citizenship.

Global Citizen has had success stories in these areas: 

  1. Girls and Women
    At the 2017 Global Citizen Festival, Accenture, Citi, Ernst & Young and Procter and Gamble committed to sourcing $100 million each through their supply chains from women-owned businesses, a majority based in developing countries. 
  2. Food and Hunger
    In 2017, the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, confirmed that $575 million of $990 million committed by Congress in May, helped by 49,291 actions taken by Global Citizen, was released to the WFP and others to immediately fight famine.
  3. Health
    Over the past seven years, Global Citizen has taken 1.47 million actions to increase access to global health services, including HIV/AIDS treatment. These actions have led to 48 commitments by governments and are set to affect 626 million people by 2030.
  4. Education
    In Feb. 2018, Global Citizen held the first Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference hosted jointly by a G7 leader, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the president of a developing country, Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal. The conference was held in Dakar, Senegal, to support $2.3 billion for education in developing countries. GPE’s global ambassador, Rihanna, was present and spoke as well.
  5. Water and Sanitation
    At the Global Citizen Festival, Nigeria committed to getting 5.5 million people out of open defecation by the end of 2018. 
  6. Environment
    In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment committed $50 million on the Global Citizen Festival stage to fund renewable energy supplies and another $10 million toward humanitarian relief in Antigua and Barbuda. 
  7. Finance and Innovation
    Global Citizen partners with the private sector to further fight poverty. One of the biggest successes was at the Global Citizen Festival in 2015, where the European Commission committed to increase support for the refugee crisis by €500 million over the existing development aid budget of the European Commission.
  8. Citizenship
    In 2017, over three million Global Citizen supporters’ actions helped to drive $5.7 billion in 143 commitments by calling upon leaders as a collective power to step up for the world’s most vulnerable.

Because of its advocacy and supporters, Global Citizen will continue to reduce poverty significantly in the coming years. 

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr