Poverty Line BreakdownOver three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, showing that poverty remains a top global issue. Every country has a poverty line, which is the level of personal or family income below which one is considered poor by government standards. While there are a handful of countries with extreme poverty, there are others that have maintained the poverty line within their country.

Poverty Rates

According to the Huffington Post, factoring poverty rates is a mixture of art and science. When coming up with a country’s poverty line, the measurement of wealth and distribution has to coincide with the cost of living rates or price purchase parity adjustments. In other words, someone who may be perceived as poor in the United States can be considered wealthy in another country. The global quantification of extreme poverty is categorized differently than middle- and upper-income countries.

Countries with the Highest Poverty Line

  • The Dominican Republic of Congo: Despite the most recent decrease in DRC’s poverty rate, 71 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2012, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations has estimated that 2.3 million people living in the DRC are poor and living in refugee camps. Due to the detrimental political corruption, the people of DRC continue to suffer for minimal necessities. The nutritional statistics of DRC are extremely low and health conditions are severe. Stunting, wasting, immunization coverage, drinking water conditions and diseases are just a few examples of matters that need to be taken seriously to solve these conditions.
  • The Central African Republic: As of 2008, the poverty rate for the Central African Republic stood at 66.3 percent and not much has changed. Although this is a healthy decrease from 84.3 percent in 1992, a majority of the countries’ population lives on less than $1.90 per day. To many, the Central African Republic may appear to be the land of diamonds, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. With a low population count of five million people, most of them are living without food, sanitation and decent housing. Every year, the Central African Republic only brings in $750. The Central African Republic’s issues reside from civil conflict, diseases and lack of infrastructure for schools and jobs. With minimal annual income, jobs are scarce and in high demand.

Countries with the Lowest Poverty Line

  • Finland: With a low poverty rate of 5.5 percent, Finland has one of the lowest poverty lines in decades, although the risk of poverty for many residing in Finland is the highest it’s ever been. There’s a secret to Finland’s success story: employment, education and parenting take priority. In addition, Finland is committed to improving education and healthcare. It is generous with welfare and possesses a low infant mortality rate, good school test scores and an extremely low poverty rate. Finland is considered the second happiest country on earth, falling second to the United States.
  • The Czech Republic: About 9.7 percent of the Czech Republic’s population live below the poverty line. Of all the European Union member states, Czech has the lowest amount of people threatened by poverty. In comparison to the average rate of 17 percent for the eurozone, Czech is doing pretty well for itself. Czech’s high-income economy is primarily based on the revenue it receives from its auto industry. This still remains its largest single industry, accounting for 24 percent of Czech’s product manufacturing. Czech’s wealth is due to its successful trading system.

Poverty lines will continue to be a global issue until countries ally to reduce the gap in socioeconomic status. Without the rich, there would be no poor. Even within impoverished areas of the world, there are different levels of poverty and what one can afford. Unity and prioritizing citizen’s needs is a necessity to promote change in poverty lines.

 – Kayla Sellers 

Photo: Flickr

Africa
In a world of limited choices, becoming a child soldier can sometimes seem like the closest thing to freedom. Since 2012, more than 14,000 children have become Central African Republic child soldiers. At merely eight years old, these children are vulnerable targets and used as human shields, combatants and spies for various rebel militia groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Civil Conflicts and Child Soldiers

The CAR has experienced civil turmoil since gaining its independence from France in 1960. The current civil conflict began when the rebel Muslim group Seleka took control of the predominantly Christian country in 2013, overthrowing then-President Francois Bozize. While the 2016 election of current president Faustin-Archange Touadera inspired hope among many, government security and control of the widespread violence remains largely in the CAR’s capital Bangui.

Contrary to popular belief, Central African Republic child soldiers often join rebel militia groups by choice. Children who voluntarily join militias often live in impoverished areas with unstable conditions. Desperate for food and a sense of protection, these children decide to become child soldiers in hopes of a better life. Although many child soldiers join these militias by choice, some are forced into these roles with drugs.

Central African Republic child soldiers are used as spies and messengers for their rebel groups because they aren’t as suspect as adults. Boys are more readily thrown into conflict than girls, but both sexes are exploited; sometimes, they are sexually abused.

Community Integration of Combat Children

With little or no education prior to joining, these children are unaware of the true nature of the situation. Many have lost the guidance and protection of loved ones and seek revenge on groups that may have killed family members. Rebel militia groups take advantage of this by offering support and aid to their cause.

Releasing child soldiers from their militias and reintegrating them into safe communities presents a persistent problem. Advocacy group Child Soldiers International (CSI) offers continued support in fighting child military recruitment internationally. Thankfully, progress is being made in this area.

CSI has led education initiatives to bring awareness and education regarding child soldier recruitment and devastation in the CAR. One such effort supported by CSI, UNICEF, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) and Enfants sans Frontieres (ESF) was the publishing and distribution of illustrated booklets that explained the effects of child soldier recruitment to communities affected in the CAR. In May 2018, workshops regarding child soldier recruitment, devastation and laws preventing further recruitment were held in Bangui.

Child Soldiers International

CSI supports the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) treaty, ratified in September of 2017. OPAC sets the minimum age for military draft and involvement at 18, which is also the minimum age for non-state armed groups; however, 16 is the minimum age for state armed forces recruitment.

According to CSI, “Since OPAC was adopted, 166 of 197 states (84 percent) have ratified the treaty.” CSI’s three-year plan entitled ”Declare 18!” intends to raise the minimum draft and involvement age to 18 in 100 percent of states with armed forces by 2020. Continued support of such organizations will continue to change the discourse of this exploitation in the CAR.

– Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr

Infant Mortality in Central African Republic
Newborns remain at high risk in war-torn countries, and in the case of Central African Republic, many women lack adequate resources to ensure a successful pregnancy. This absence has resulted in the nation having one of the largest statistics of infant mortality in the world.

In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the infant mortality rate for Central African Republic in 2016 was 42.3 deaths per every 1,000 births, making Central African Republic one of the riskiest places for a child to be born.

Causes of Infant Mortality

According to a study by UNICEF, the main cause for infant mortality in third-world countries is preterm birth complications, which encompasses 35 percent.

Complications can often result from limited access to medical care. According to the same study by UNICEF, not only was infant mortality in Central African Republic one of the highest in the world, but as of the year 2009, there were only three healthcare professionals to assist with every 10,000 people in the country.

Also, due to the lack of trained medical professionals to assist pregnant women, many mothers decide to have the child at home or end up in labor before they reach a facility. In a 2012 report published by Doctors Without Borders, the report stated that 26 percent of newborn deaths occurred in a hospital, while 74 percent of deaths occurred at home or en route to a hospital.

Solutions to Infant Mortality

Due to the high risks that newborns encounter, organizations have provided and proposed solutions to infant mortality in Central African Republic. According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), midwives can serve as a substitute for mothers who are unable to make the journey to the nearest healthcare facility.

The organization stated that a midwifery program in Nigeria was able to see a 60 percent increase in the use of prenatal care and almost 50 percent increase in healthy childbirth, when there was the presence of a midwife during pregnancy.

The Importance of Breastfeeding

Another proposed solution is aiding mothers with breastfeeding before and after they give birth. UNICEF has addressed the importance of breastfeeding mothers by stating that, “delaying breastfeeding by 2–23 hours after birth increases the risk that a newborn will die by more than two fifths. Delaying it by 24 hours or more increases the risk by almost 80 percent.”

UNICEF has made efforts over the years to address this statistic and stated that it has supplied thousands of children and mothers in Central African Republic with Vitamin A supplements to aid with breastfeeding.

Safe and Quality Treatment

Furthermore, Doctors Without Borders has established a project in the town of Boguila that includes a hospital which operates and provides secondary health care, an outpatient department and 10 health posts in proximity to the town.

With access to safe and quality healthcare facilities, midwifes and proper nutrition before and after pregnancy, mothers can be in better means of having children that survive after birth — an occurrence that would decrease the alarming rate of infant mortality in Central African Republic.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

credit access in the central African republicSince its independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has faced adversity in growing its economy. While poverty plays a significant role in the region’s struggles to achieve food security, safe sanitation and shelter, a lack of credit access in the Central African Republic is another main contributor.

Obstacles to Credit Access in the Central African Republic

Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) states that the weaknesses in the CAR’s financial sector have held back its economy, as it contributes only 17.6 percent to the country’s GDP. The inadequacy of services also makes it difficult for people to access loans or other banking services that could be helpful in their businesses or personal lives. To help the CAR’s citizens improve their quality of life, increased credit access in the Central African Republic is crucial.

CAR’s financial services have been relatively stable, but the sector is considered fragile due to deficient bank loan portfolios and inactive loans, known as non-performing loans (NPLs), which account for 30 percent of all loans in the CAR. The sector also has an above average percentage of loans to the public sector, making it vulnerable to losses due to government instability.

To help address these issues, the International Monetary Fund approved a disbursement of $40.2 million and an augmentation of $55.1 million to the CAR in 2017 as part of the Extended Credit Facility Arrangement. The funds will be used to support economic growth and develop the banking sector. According to Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the CAR’s program consists of “improving regional institutions, stricter monetary policies, removal of statutory advances, sound bank regulation and supervision, and firm controls over the extension of credit to banks.”

Bringing Credit to Individuals in the CAR

A more direct way of aiding impoverished families is through the Mercy Corps project Microfinance in the CAR, which launched in 2010. The project’s mission is to produce, educate and assist 169 Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLA). The project was also created to assist in constructing supervision strategies, insurance funds and credit policies. The project’s answer to the CAR’s issues is to educate the VSLA groups to practice saving and credit strategies during the members’ first nine-month loan and savings cycle. Its long-term goal is to help 3,300 households by expanding the groups’ assets in developing and overseeing independent businesses to gross earnings.

In recent years, credit access in the CAR has been made possible through a microfinance program established by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) for entrepreneurs developing businesses. The UNDP opened a saving bank called Gogoro that gives users the opportunity to save money securely. Severin Saragourne, an entrepreneur and a user of Gogoro, said, “If you borrow wisely and respect the deadline for your program, you’ll have no problem paying the money back.” The micro-credit program has saved many people from poverty and starvation in the CAR. Through Gogoro, more than 49,000 people in underdeveloped nations have received access to credit, savings and other financial services to overcome poverty.

Another sign of progress in financial services is the UNDP’s project with the Leaders of the International Centre of Credit Unions, which made magnetic cards available for all transactions in 2011. Even with the obstacles the CAR has struggled with, the region shows promise in improving its financial sector and resolving the limitations of credit access in the Central African Republic.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr


Relations with the United States and the Central African Republic (CAR) began in 1960 following the nation’s independence from France. While CAR is one of the least developed nations in the world, the United States has enjoyed strong relations with CAR since it began. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic by recognizing the steps the country has taken after decades of instability and weak governance.

The United States had suspended embassy operations three times over the past 20 years, most recently in December 2012 in the CAR due to violence and the overthrow of the CAR government. The embassy reopened in September 2014 and remains open today.

Keeping the Peace

Due to the result of years of weak government and violence, the United Nations (U.N.) installed a multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation with over 10,000 peacekeepers in September 2014 to aid the transition process of a new constitution and election.

In December 2015, the country approved a new constitution and successfully held national elections for the President in February 2016 and for the National Assembly in April 2016. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic through a more stable country that enjoys greater security through improved economic growth and development.

While the CAR has a more a stable government, conflict has grown between armed groups across 2017 as have attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeeping forces. The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Relief Coordinator of the U.N., Ursula Mueller, has noted that 637,00 people received emergency food help and 1.4 million people received clean water assistance.

A Strong Ally

In addition to a now more stable government, the CAR does have some natural resources, with timber and diamonds dominating exports; however, transportation and electricity are extremely limited. The CAR is now the United States 187th largest goods trading partner with $37 million in total goods traded during 2015.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that U.S exports of good to Central African Republic supported 100 jobs in 2014. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic through top exports, including vehicles ($23 million) and electrical machinery ($3 million).

USAID decided to step up its aid to the people of the CAR as over 60 percent of the CAR lives in poverty, population displacement continues to increase as a result of ongoing violence, and the number of internally displaced persons increased by more than 70 percent since early 2017.

Humanitarian Aid

Both the U.N. and USAID’s partners coordinate to give emergency humanitarian help to affected populations. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace continues to support the U.N. World Food Program’s distribution of food to the most vulnerable people of the CAR — an estimated $14.9 million expenditure to the U.N. agency.

USAID and other humanitarian organizations also established an early warning system that sent or received nearly 130 humanitarian alerts throughout the year, identifying areas for potential relief interventions.

The U.S. has provided over $500 million of humanitarian, development and security assistance in support of the CAR people’s efforts to find long-term stability and peace. It remains to be seen how relations between the Central African Republic and the United States continue, but so far, the two nations are mutually beneficial.

– Zachary Ott

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in the Central African Republic
With a GDP per capita of only $639, the Central African Republic is ranked as the poorest country in the world. In a study undertaken by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic project, infrastructure in the Central African Republic was found to have contributed much to the country’s economic growth.

Between 2005 and 2009, despite the decades of conflict that have riddled the Central African Republic, the total contribution to the country’s per capita growth by telecommunications, electricity and road infrastructure was 0.9 percentage points. Though this was significantly lower than other central African countries, the study made it clear that infrastructure development in the sub-Saharan context led to faster growth per capita in several countries.

This strong potential is also beset by a dire reality: the central African region has the worst infrastructure on the African continent. According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the “region stands out on the continent as one with the least infrastructure network, particularly transport and energy, which impacts negatively on production capacities and regional trade as well as social conditions and welfare.”

Infrastructure in the Central African Republic, in particular, is in a very poor state. For instance, only 10 percent of the population — mainly in the capital of Bangui — has access to electricity, which is not available to the rural population.

Other services like telecommunication and banking are either lacking or nonexistent beyond Bangui. Corruption within the government not only fuels instability but also hinders developmental and growth efforts in the country as natural resources like diamond and gold are exploited within the inertia of instability.

Despite the many challenges, transport, water, power, and information and communications technology infrastructure in the Central African Republic have seen significant progress with $134 million in annual spending, $37 million of which is lost to inefficiencies.

The World Bank has estimated that a sustained expenditure of $346 million per year over the next decade can address the challenges that remain. Just by improving efficiency in infrastructure operations, around $34 million of additional resources can be unlocked.

Alternatives to the government’s poor budgetary situation have also been proposed, including extending the time horizon for meeting the infrastructure targets, prioritizing infrastructure spending and exploring additional resources from outside the budget. These are all ways infrastructure in the Central African Republic can be improved.

2017 saw some economic recovery in the Central African Republic, with GDP growth estimated to be around 4.5 percent, which fell short of the projected 5.3 percent. In 2018-19, the AfDB foresees a rise in average annual growth to 5 percent or higher. This growth “will hinge on improved domestic security, which is crucial to agricultural recovery and implementation of investment plans and economic reforms supported by international partners.”

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr


The Central African Republic (CAR) is an impoverished country that suffers from continued violence, conflict and instability. As of 2016, the country ranked last out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Development projects in the Central African Republic are needed, and thus, many organizations are working in the region.

At a 2016 global conference, the international community pledged $2.2 billion to help meet CAR’s most urgent needs. Here are five development projects in the Central African Republic that are making a difference.

  1. The Rural Connectivity Project in the CAR is working to give people in rural areas greater access to markets and social services. This will be accomplished through rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, resettlement and emergency preparedness. The project has received $45 million to accomplish these objectives.
  2. The LONDO Project is a development project in the Central African Republic that is designed to support social and economic recovery. The project also facilitates peacebuilding in the country. These objectives are achieved through a combination of methods including improving governance, improving infrastructure and increasing employment. Twenty million dollars has been allocated to this project.
  3. The European Commission’s Bêkou Trust Fund Program is seeking to improve the economic and political landscape of the Central African Republic. The goal of the fund is to help the country transition from short-term disaster relief to long-term development. This includes re-establishing essential services and utilities, increasing economic opportunity and working toward political stability.
  4. The Reintegration of Ex-combatants project supports reintegration into communities and works to improve the overall social and economic infrastructure of host communities. This program works in four steps that are represented by the acronym DDRR— Disarmament, Demobilization, Reinsertion and Repatriation. The budget for this project is $30 million.
  5. USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) supports low-emission development in the Central African Republic and the surrounding area. This includes supporting sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. The program is currently in its third phase, which focuses on institutionalizing conservation monitoring approaches. This phase is slated to continue through 2020.

The Central African Republic has a long way to go to recover from decades of conflict and instability. However, with sustained investment from the international community and a focus on long-term development projects in the Central African Republic, the country can begin to provide a safer and more stable way of life to all living there.

– Aaron Childree

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in the Central African RepublicThe landlocked Central African Republic has a population of about 4.7 million and a land area of 623,000 square kilometers. Women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic is a challenging task in this nation, known as the unhappiest country in the world. The Human Development Index ranks this country the lowest among 188 nations.

Similar to a few other undeveloped nations, economic and social discrimination are common barriers to women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic. Single women are not regarded as the heads of households and are often denied family subsidies to which they are entitled. While the constitution guarantees equal rights, many women, especially seniors and those without families, had been accused of being witches. The proportion of women in government ministries and female seats in parliament remains relatively low, at 12.5 percent as of 2015.

While equal inheritance and property rights are enshrined in civil law, women are vulnerable to discriminatory customary laws, especially in rural areas. There is no penalty for spousal rape, nor a minimum sentence for rape. Incomplete statistics suggest that one in seven women had been raped during the previous year, while the true incidence of rape could be even higher. Of women surveyed, 22 percent claimed physical harm by a member of their household. Also, there is no set of penalty on sexual harassment till then.

A 2013 report found that access to primary school was not equal for girls and boys. While 65 percent of girls were enrolled in the first year of school, this number sharply declined to 23 percent after the sixth grade. Many girls left school in their early teens to marry and have children. The illiteracy rate of females was also much higher than that of males.

A recent study reported that this nation has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, where 68 percent of teenage girls got married before the age of 18 and 29 percent were married before the age of 15. There is no prohibition against polygamy and bride-trading, which poses significant barriers to women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic.

A few global institutions such as U.N. Women and the International Rescue Committee put great effort into the protection of women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic. Their officials appealed to the international community to mobilize for the peace and security of women.

While some notable progress had been recognized on women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic, gender inequality and other related issues persist, demanding patient global advocacy on closing the long-existing gender gaps for this nation.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr

Central African RepublicThe Central African Republic has been the scene of years of conflicts and violence since 2012, which has left thousands of people without access to clean water. Armed forces decided to use water spots, known as wells, as graves for those who died during the conflicts, leading to the contamination of the water and impacting the health of the population.

Access to clean water has always been a problem in the Central African Republic, but the conflict affecting the region has multiplied the issue and the number of affected people. Around 70 percent of the country’s population suffers from lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitary conditions, a percentage that translates to around 2.2 million people, according to the global humanitarian organization Concern.

An issue that the country needs to address is the lack of water pipes available and the poor conditions of roads which make it extremely difficult for remote populations to bring water to their community. One solution to this problem was the idea to drill wells, but this requires funds and technical expertise for mechanized drills, that isn’t readily available. Fortunately, Concern found a way to create these wells without the use of mechanized drills. They decided to gather people of the community and have them work together to manually drill the wells. While mechanized drills rely on electricity, these drills, known as “village drills”, are built by the people. Not only is this innovation less financially burdensome, but it is also an efficient way to enable the transportation of water to remote areas.

Concern has been providing aid to Central African Republic communities since May of 2014 and has reached thousands of people so far. Humanitarian organizations such as Concern can become keys actors in finding innovations that can help poor regions. Through their work, they showed that people and societies can be brought to work together, as a community, to help improve their lives.

Sarah Soutoul
Photo: Flickr

Central African Republic ConflictSince 1960, when the Central African Republic gained its independence from France, different armed conflicts have emerged in the country, principally fights for political power. However, in this decade, a confrontation between two different religious groups and the government has led to an environment of constant violence, forcing many people to leave their homes. These are 10 key facts about the Central Africa Republic conflict that you need to know.

  1. The Central African Republic conflict began in 2012 when the Seleka, a Muslim rebel coalition, attacked different cities in the country in order to overthrow the regime of President Francoise Bozizé.
  2. The main opposition group to the Seleka is the coalition known as Anti-Balaka, formed principally by Christian fighters.
  3. In 2014, Seleka rebels and Anti-Balaka forces agreed to a tentative ceasefire agreement.
  4. The Central African Republic conflict started again in 2015 when the government rejected the agreement by Seleka and Anti-Balaka forces.
  5. The Central African Republic conflict has displaced 466,000 people, who are now refugees in other countries.
  6. Since 2013, when the conflict started, more than 935,000 people have been internally displaced and about 60 percent of them are children.
  7. It is estimated that 3,000 to 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
  8. According to the U.N., nearly 2.5 million people are facing hunger in the country.
  9. Reports by human rights groups and the United Nations suggest crimes have been committed by both Seleka and Anti-Balaka.
  10. Different allegations of sexual abuse have been made by the United Nations, making the conflict worse inside the country.

Several organizations, principally the United Nations, are working in the country in order to end the conflict. However, the conflict is still ongoing, creating a wave of violence that has resulted in thousands of refugees, deaths and political uncertainty.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr