water purification in LesothoLesotho is a small, mountainous country surrounded by South Africa. In recent years, the country has become a prominent player in regional water trading. Exports to South Africa and surrounding nations have provided a major revenue source, accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP. Despite this, clean drinking water is hard to access due to high levels of poverty. A lack of infrastructure and water purification in Lesotho means that the country’s most impoverished people struggle to obtain this critical resource. However, three companies, WASCO, Pure Aqua and World Vision, are working to solve this problem.

Water Purification in Lesotho

The United Nations reports that “In Lesotho, water, sanitation and hygiene lie at the center of the poverty cycle in which almost two out of every three Basotho live in poverty.” According to the World Bank, water is linked to the development of a country and is connected to almost every Sustainable Development Goal. Access to water is imperative for “protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks” such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explaining how water supports economic growth, the World Bank states that “water is a vital factor of production, so diminishing water supplies translates into slower growth.” As such, increasing access to clean and safe water directly correlates with global poverty reduction.

Hence, improving water purification in Lesotho as well as distribution and infrastructure are key to improving living conditions and fighting widespread poverty.

WASCO: Clean Water

Lesotho’s government is invested in improving water access for its citizens. In the year 1992, the Lesotho government created the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). WASA’s goal was to provide water access and sewer services to the cities of Lesotho.

In 2010, the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) replaced WASA. According to the Lesotho Ministry of Water, WASCO provides safe drinking water to 300,000 city dwellers. Additionally, almost 50% of city locations have water connections manned by WASCO and another 13% connect to sewer systems maintained by WASCO.

WASCO’s work has primarily targeted urban centers. However, a large portion of Lesotho’s population lives in rural locations where infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. Moreover, “80% of the rural population” obtains their drinking water from unfiltered and unprotected water sources in these rural regions. The next step for WASCO is improving water purification in Lesotho’s countryside. Providing clean water access to those living in rural Lesotho will help end the ongoing poverty cycle in the nation.

Pure Aqua: Filtration and Cleaning Systems

Given that Lesotho’s water supply is larger than the country’s demand, providing water to those in poverty, especially in rural areas, is a matter of economically affordable innovation. Pure Aqua is a company headquartered in California that aims to provide “efficient, high-grade water treatment solutions for people and places all over the world.”

The company has more than 20 years of experience providing water purification systems to nations around the world. The company uses different technologies depending on the water source in a local area. For example, Pure Aqua treats surface water with its Ultrafiltration System, while brackish groundwater can be put through reverse osmosis or UV treatment, among other methods.

World Vision: Water for Children and Families

Lastly, World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that works to improve the welfare of children. One of World Vision’s main goals is providing access to clean water and improving sanitation standards. World Vision seeks to improve water purification in Lesotho by drilling new boreholes where people can draw water from the ground. These untapped sources are likely to be cleaner than surface water or previously available groundwater.

On top of this, World Vision performs repairs, upgrades and maintenance to existing infrastructure. With this support, the organization also aims to provide hygiene and sanitation education to children and adults. As a result of its work, World Vision reports that, in Lesotho, “33,874 people [have] gained access to clean water sources” and “18,780 people are benefiting from improved sanitation facilities.”

The Future of Water Purification in Lesotho

Fortunately, these technologies and approaches to water purification show that it is possible to improve the lives of those living in poverty with relatively inexpensive filtration systems, repairs, education programs and more. Overall, this work is certainly making a difference in Lesotho while upholding the fundamental human right to water.

– Julia Welp
Photo: Flickr

sports in mexico
The nation of Mexico is well-known for its tacos and tequila, but less known for its staggering poverty rates and rising obesity cases. The Mexican State of Jalisco has a poverty rate of 41%; nearly half of the population lives without basic nutrition and suffers from the violence and theft of local drug cartels. Children raised in the vicious cycle of generational poverty suffer the most. Sports can provide a refuge for these children growing up surrounded by violence and hardship. Organized sports in Mexico provide children with the safety to build confidence and essential life skills that can help end cyclical poverty.

Sports Address Health Concerns

According to Mexico’s national social development board in May 2020, half of all Mexican children ages five through 14 hadn’t engaged in physical exercise for at least a year. The lack of physical activities and available sports contributes to Mexico’s climbing obesity rate, which neared 30% as of early 2020.

Malnutrition is typically equated with being underweight, but overweight children in poverty are also victims of malnutrition. In both instances, the child’s brain remains underdeveloped and cannot reach its full potential. Without proper nutrients, it is increasingly difficult for children to retain information and benefit from education.

The Social Significance of Sports

An aspect of poverty often overlooked is the lack of opportunity that children have to build and practice social skills. Sports in Mexico provide a safe space for children to play, socialize and build friendships without the threat of theft and violence that lurk on the streets.

Often played casually without referees, sports in Mexico frequently result in a conversation or reflection post-game. These discussions often revolve around gender equality, teamwork, perseverance, diversity or cooperation. Such discussions exemplify how the universal language of sports can help people find common ground and grow together.

Organizations Creating Space for Sports

Organized sports in Mexico offer a haven for children trying to avoid violence. Exercise and engagement in a stimulating social environment provide further benefits for their future. Thanks to the efforts of Children International, there are five community centers in the capital of Jalisco. These community centers provide protected spaces where children can read, use computers, play sports and learn about healthy eating habits.

At the beginning of 2020, the UEFA Foundation for Children collaborated with the Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense (FECHAC) to open and run 88 schools that offer an opportunity for children to get involved in sports. The organizations hope to increase that number of schools to more than 100 in the next two years.

The Sports for Sharing initiative, or Deportes para Compartir, aims to teach children healthy lifestyles while also introducing cultural diversity and social issues. The initiative has reached more than 63,000 young Mexicans across the country and aims to expand internationally. The program empowers girls who are playing sports for the first time and reduces street violence by providing sports outlets for young men.

The physical and social rewards that children gain from sports in Mexico cannot be overstated. In addition to health and social benefits, playing sports acts as an escape for children leading difficult lives in poverty. It allows children to feel normal, forget the harshness of their world and imagine a better life for themselves. Moving forward, it is essential that more organizations make increasing opportunities for children’s sports in Mexico a priority.

– Veronica Booth
Photo: Pixabay

Child Poverty in Canada
While Canada is one of the world’s more developed economies, the country has had serious issues with its child poverty rates. Child poverty in Canada sits at the 23rd position out of 35 industrialized nations when comparing the gap between overall poverty rates to child poverty rates.

Facts About Child Poverty in Canada

In Canada, 26% of children— a little more than one out of every five children — suffer from childhood poverty. This number puts Canada in the bottom third of industrialized countries with child poverty, representing 1.3 million children. 8% of impoverished children under the age of 6. Furthermore, one-seventh of people in homeless shelters are children. One in every three food bank users is under the age of 18. These statistics illustrate the staggering number of children suffering from poverty. While Canada has been making strides to address the issue, it needs to do much more work.

Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty

Campaign 2000 is a movement that formed in 1991 over concerns that the government was not doing enough to address child poverty. It is a network of organizations that work on addressing poverty and issues children face across the country. The organization initially committed to eliminating child poverty by the year 2000 during an All-Party Resolution in the House of Commons. The pledge to end child poverty in Canada underwent renewal in 2009 and in 2015 and continued through this movement.

The group also works on advancing public and government consultations and making long-lasting changes through lobbying and advocacy. Campaign 2000 specifically focuses on ensuring that all actions are bipartisan and can be supported by everyone. Through all these actions, the group aims to raise the basic standard of living for all Canadian children so that none live in poverty and all can become active and contributing members of society. This standard includes affordable and safe housing. Finding ways to strengthen family support ensures that families can provide the best care for their kids.

Next Steps

While Canada has made progress throughout the past few years, there is much room for growth. UNICEF believes there are two main steps that the government needs to take.

The first is to increase transfers and tax benefits that go towards children and resources for children. By increasing the Child Tax Benefit to a minimum of $5,000, thousands of children in Canada would be lifted out of poverty. These children would gain the resources necessary to become active members of society and have stable food and housing.

The second is to create a formal definition of child poverty within the nation. By doing so, local governments should each create a strategy to eliminate child poverty in Canada. At a minimum, the goal should be to push it down to 5% to match the lowest level of any industrialized country.

Canada sits in the bottom third of industrialized countries in terms of child poverty rates. Canada needs to make a lot more progress, but organizations like Campaign 2000 are working toward it. Moving forward, the Canadian government needs to take a firmer stance when it comes to addressing child poverty in Canada and adapt policies and benefits in order to ensure Canadian children aren’t suffering.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr

Eliminating Childhood Poverty
Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs people with children living in areas of extreme poverty in order to release those children from all of poverty’s aspects. What makes the organization so unique is its strict focus on children, with the hopes of eliminating poverty in their lives by the time they reach adulthood. Its impact has been massive with a high success rate: children in its programs are 75% more likely to become leaders in their communities and 40% more likely to finish secondary education. Moreover, they are more likely to spend thousands of hours in safe programs. The organization that is garnering recent attention from professional athletes has been working toward eliminating childhood poverty for years.

How Compassion International Began

Rev. Everett Swanson founded Compassion International. He was troubled by the masses of war orphans he saw living on the streets in South Korea. Another morning, Rev. Swanson saw city workers throwing rags into the backs of trucks, which turned out to be the frozen bodies of the orphans on the street. When Rev. Swanson returned to the United States, he told people of what he saw and encouraged them to donate so they could sponsor the orphans and work toward eliminating childhood poverty. Within 10 years, Compassion International helped 108 orphanages and homes in South Korea by donating funds to purchase rice and fuel.

Compassion International’s Mission

The nonprofit uses a ministry-based program in order to release children from poverty. This includes helping with child development, which the organization believes will provide the children with the skills to succeed. Compassion International’s programs begin as early as when the child is in the womb, aiming to eradicate poverty from their lives by young adulthood. Primarily, the work it does is through child sponsorship, but it has implemented initiatives that help babies and mothers in order to develop future leaders and meet critical needs as well.

The Fill the Stadium Initiative

Compassion International works with thousands of churches in 25 countries across the globe. One initiative it is running in the United States currently is the Fill the Stadium initiative. Due to COVID-19, 70,000 children and their families who are in Compassion Programs are in extreme poverty. Athletes such as Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and Jaccob Slavin have donated and joined the leadership team, encouraging fans to donate if able. The recommended donation amount is $500, around the same price as a game-day experience for a group of four. About $500 provides a year’s worth of essential food, nutritional supplements, hygiene essentials and medical screenings for COVID-19 for a family and their children. So far, the Fill the Stadium Initiative has “filled” 47,587 seats to provide essential care and support for these families in crisis, raising $23 million from athletes and national leaders. Due to COVID-19, a halt to in-person sporting events has occurred. The hope is that the money a family would spend on a game would go toward those in need instead.

Former Quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and team member for the initiative, Carson Palmer pledged to donate $300,000 and challenged others to match his donation. “This is an incredible opportunity for American families to help children who are in dire straits and truly fighting for their lives,” said Palmer in an interview with Fill the Stadium.

A Look into Compassion International’s Impact

In 2020, Compassion International surpassed $1 billion for the first time in the history of the ministry. That year alone, Compassion International served 2.2 million children across 8,000 frontline partners. Since 1952, the sponsorship programs have impacted the lives of over 4.2 million children.

Because of the work of Compassion International, partners across the world have obtained access to hygiene kits, lifesaving surgeries, academic scholarships, classes, bathrooms, emergency food and water, electricity and countless other life-saving services. The organization will continue to strive toward eliminating childhood poverty, and especially aiding children the pandemic has hit hard.

– Jai Phillips
Photo: Flickr

5 Things to Know about Feed the Children and Their Work in Haiti
For the last 40 years, Feed the Children has been working toward a hunger-free world by providing resources to those who lack basic necessities. In 2020, Feed the Children has created a substantial impact worldwide and reached countless children and families in need. Most notably, Feed the Children is making a difference in Haiti.

Feed the Children’s Goals

Feed the Children works in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania to reduce hunger and bolster education. The specific approach in each country varies slightly based on the overwhelming needs of the area. However, the dedication to alleviating food insecurity and teaching self-reliance remains a priority in every community. These impoverished areas desperately need assistance to help build better communities for their children. Feed the Children hopes that its efforts will yield the following four results:

  • Properly nourish children by age 5.
  • Provide all children with clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene resources.
  • Enable all children to receive a high-quality education.
  • Cultivate financially stable families that contribute to their communities.

Successfully Reached over 1.6 Million People

The organization displays its impressive impact in its 2019 Annual Report and shares its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. While the organization works both in the United States and internationally, its combined impact accounts for 6.3 million people worldwide. In its 10 countries of focus, it has reached 1.6 million people and distributed over 9.4 million pounds of food and essential items; the value of these items total over $31 million. The organization gave school supplies and books to 17,821 international students. Moreover, 228,450 school children now benefit from regular, nutritious meals at school. In its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, Feed the Children plans on implementing many new initiatives to create an even larger impact in the future. Here are some of its most prominent strategic visions:

  • Expanding its emphasis on child-focused programming to 10% of total resources.
  • Reducing chronic and acute undernutrition in impoverished communities to only 12%.
  • Increasing the percentage of food donations by 8%.
  • Gaining 36% more corporate partners to contribute toward product and service donations, financial gifts and promoting shared values.
  • Increasing overall revenue by 21%.

Intervention in Haitian Natural Disasters

Haiti is both the most impoverished and least developed country in the western hemisphere. The country’s literacy rate is only 61%, which is significantly below the 90% literacy rates among most Latin American and Caribbean countries. Its education expenditures account for only 2.4% of the GDP; these numbers make it apparent that the Haitian commitment to education is staggeringly low. The economy struggles from political instability, natural disasters, disease and mismanagement of humanitarian relief. Frequent hurricanes contribute to the high rates of damage and death seen in Haiti. In 2017, Haiti only collected 10% of its GDP for tourism. This is significantly low compared to its past percentages and the Caribbean states’ average of 15%. These startling statistics caught the attention of Feed the Children and inspired them to extend aid to this struggling nation.

Community Development Programs and Peer-to-Peer Care Groups

The Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD) programs have been making a difference in Haiti through their implementation into 12 different communities. This program teaches children and their families how to prevent malnutrition and reduce poverty through food and nutrition, health and water, education and lifestyle. This training is extremely pertinent to the members of these Haitian communities, as many children suffer from malnutrition. At least 17% of babies are born with low birth weights and 22% of children have stunted growth. Feed the Children hopes that this community development program will save many children from the harmful effects of malnutrition. Through an emphasis on low-cost sanitation initiatives that possess high impact results, families can learn how to address health issues more quickly and prevent disastrous health outcomes.

Additionally, Feed the Children has incorporated peer-to-peer Care Groups in Haitian communities. These groups meet to help educate mothers of young children about nutrition and health. With the ultimate goal of raising healthy children, the peer-to-peer Care Groups teach mothers how to utilize nutritious foods and how to prevent water-borne illnesses through safe cooking.

Positive Results

Not only has Feed the Children been able to give its 12 targeted Haitian communities more food and basic resources, but it also equipped them with the tools they need to build more self-sustaining societies. From the peer-to-peer Care Groups alone, over 1,600 women received training as caregivers who are equipped with extended knowledge on nutrition and safe health practices for their children. Feed the Children also incentivized families to keep their children in school by offering a hot meal three times per week at school. For many families, this school food serves as the only guaranteed meal a child would consume in a day. Therefore, providing these meals for school children both helps keep them from malnourishment and encourages consistent school attendance.

Feed the Children is a great example of an organization that has been making a difference in Haiti and yielding substantial results in the fight against global poverty. With various initiatives spanning 10 nations, countless numbers of vulnerable children and families are learning about how to implement healthy food, water and hygiene habits into their daily lives. Food insecurity and lack of education are huge contributors to poverty; Feed the Children recognizes this and strategically approaches malnutrition and education in a way that cultivates improvements in the lives of the poor.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Venezuela
Poverty in Venezuela has reached a historic high during the current crisis. Researchers from one of Venezuela’s top universities found this year that about 96% of the population lives in poverty, while 70% live in extreme poverty.  This makes Venezuela the poorest country in the region. With a vast majority of the country living below the poverty line, child poverty in Venezuela is a growing concern.

Child Poverty in Venezuela

Children are often the most vulnerable to poverty. The extent of child poverty cannot be measured through family income alone; the entire context of their living conditions must be evaluated. UNICEF has developed a tool to assess more accurately how children are impacted in settings of poverty through a process called Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA).

MODA has a defined list of indicators that researchers use to evaluate child poverty in each country. Indicators change based on which are the most relevant to that particular country. Indicator categories include water, sanitation, housing, nutrition, education, child labor and more.

The challenge with analyzing the full extent of child poverty in Venezuela is the lack of reliable information available to researchers. The Maduro regime has continuously hidden figures from international databases to hide the full extent of the Venezuelan crisis. Nevertheless, researchers are examining child poverty with the broad indicators of the MODA tool. Besides low income, hyperinflation and national shortages of foods and products, water and power are two of the main factors causing multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Water

Venezuelans have suffered shrinking access to water. According to a study by nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Public Services, 86% of Venezuelans do not have reliable access to water. The same study found that 11% do not have access to a water service at all.

In addition to being crucial for adequate hydration, water is also essential for sanitation. Without access to running water, personal hygiene and health suffer. In 2020, water became even more important to protect from COVID-19. Using the MODA tool, not having access to showers/baths, a protected water source, or a place for handwashing are indications of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Power

Power outages are becoming more common in Venezuela due to the ongoing crisis. Gas-powered backup generators are available for those who can afford them; for those who cannot, wood and charcoal become imperative for cooking and heating.

Without power, there is also no internet. The internet has been particularly important in 2020, as many children are now attending school online. A lack of access to power has thus affected children’s ability to attend school, furthering the education gap between the rich and the poor. According to MODA, a lack of access to electricity and the internet are indicators of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Save the Children

In response to the situation, there are many groups looking to help Venezuelan children. The nonprofit Save the Children is one of these groups. In its mission, the organization recognizes the need for clean water, personal safety and access to education.

While the nonprofit does not have access to Venezuela, they have set up centers in Colombia and Peru for families that have been forced to migrate. Entrance into Venezuela remains difficult, as its leader, Nicholas Maduro, is against humanitarian aid. In an attempt to help Venezuelans in need, humanitarian organizations were leaving relief trucks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, but Maduro rejected this help.

Moving Forward

Whether or not international humanitarian organizations will be able to effectively address child hunger within Venezuela in the coming years remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the existence of such programs is paramount to those Venezuelans seeking relief from the oppressive conditions in the crisis. And, until the government situation changes, programs like Save the Children may be the only way to help ease child poverty in Venezuela.

Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

Agencies Accept Shoe Donations Even During COVID-19 Pandemic
Donating old clothes is often one of the easiest ways people can help the less fortunate. From coat drives in the winter to fight hypothermia to toddler outfits for newborns in poverty, there has always been an immense amount of value in used clothes. However, during the global pandemic, both organizations and donors have shied away from accepting or donating pre-owned clothes in hopes of stopping the spread of COVID-19. Yet, shoe donations remain a safe way to donate to those in need. For people living in extreme poverty, owning just one pair can be life-changing. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe are unable to afford shoes. This includes countless school children. A simple shoe donation can protect someone from hookworm, puncture wounds, sores and blisters, and provide overall comfort. In regions of the world where cars and public transportation are scarce, walking is a means of survival.

The Importance of Shoes in the Developing World

Resources are not as readily available in impoverished regions and can require a person to travel long distances to obtain them. In Africa and Asia, the average distance to reach clean water is 3.7 miles on foot. For medical resources, the journey is even longer. A study in Niger revealed that 61% of the population needed to walk for more than one hour to reach a hospital. This includes pregnant women trying to receive proper healthcare, and anyone experiencing a health emergency. Traveling over two hours on foot for medical care is excruciating, and requires addressing. Luckily, these important charities are working to bring shoes to those who need them most.

Put Foot Foundation

School children are the primary focus of the Put Foot Foundation. Growing up with proper footwear can help children’s feet avoid injury and allow them to play worry-free. The foundation locates schools in South Africa that have student populations unable to obtain shoes and launches a “shoe drop.” Armed with comfortable all-purpose shoes in various sizes for both girls and boys, these shoe drops provide entire schools with footwear for all children. In many cases, the Put Foot Foundation provides children with their very first pair of shoes.

Shoe4Africa

Born out of a runner’s trip to Africa, Shoe4Africa began in the mid-1990s. In the 25 years since the nonprofit began, it opened multiple schools and a hospital that has treated more than 200,000 patients. This was possible because of all the donations that it received at its numerous events, centered mostly around running. While the work has changed to include healthcare and educational improvements, Shoe4Africa does not forget its roots in shoe donations. Seeing women and children walk miles barefoot for basic human resources motivated this agency to begin, and to this day, it still delivers shoes to Africans in need.

Soles For Jesus

The work that church congregations in Africa are doing is crucial to improve living conditions. The nonprofit organization Soles For Jesus noticed the significant need for footwear in Africa and made it a part of its church mission to alleviate the issue. Donations of new and gently used shoes go to a warehouse where people separate pairs by sizes and place them in new boxes. After it collects a total of 8,000 pairs, a freight ship carries the load to its destination. The shoes then undergo distribution to the numerous church congregations that Soles For Jesus has a relationship with. This ensures that it sends pairs all across the African continent, rather than one specific country. Over half a million pairs of shoes that Soles For Jesus has sent out have reached people who rely on walking to access basic needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down donations of material goods all across the world. Yet, shoe donations have remained a safe, helpful and easy way to improve the lives of those in the direst situations. These three charity organizations continue to accept donations of new and pre-owned shoes throughout the year. People who must travel 3.7 miles on foot to get fresh water cannot stop because of the pandemic, and neither can the agencies trying to send them the proper footwear for their journeys.

Zachary Hardenstine
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Lebanon
Conflict has impacted Lebanon over the past few decades, including civil war, revolution and occupation. As a result, many children in Lebanon grow up and live in harsh conditions. Here are five things to know about child poverty in Lebanon.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Lebanon

  1. Poverty by the Numbers: There is severe inequality in Lebanon as 5-10% of the population receives more than half of the total national income. Around 25-30% of Lebanese people live in poverty. Refugees and other populations face an even higher rate of poverty. For all of these groups, families with children are more likely to live in poverty. Current estimates say 1.4 million children in Lebanon are living in poverty. This affects their ability to receive an education, adequate nutrition and water and future standard of living and employment.
  2. Education: An estimated 10% of children in Lebanon do not attend school. The schools that do exist are low quality in both education and the physical state of the buildings. The poor education in Lebanon causes less young people to acquire jobs in technical or competitive fields. Armed and violent conflicts in Lebanon have also damaged school buildings. Furthermore, children’s access to education is hindered by the 1925 Nationality Law, in which only children with Lebanese fathers receive citizenship. If a child’s only parent is their mother or the father is not Lebanese, public schools will not admit them until all other Lebanese children are enrolled.
  3. Child Labor: Lebanon has lower rates of child labor than many of the surrounding countries, but still 7% of children work. Many of these children work to support their families, though their salaries are often low. Boys often work in factories or agriculture which have inhumane and very harsh working conditions. Lebanon has signed on to the ILO’s Convention on Child Labor, but this has not decreased child labor.
  4. Refugee Children: Lebanon has a very high number of refugees living inside its borders because of its geographical location. These refugees come from Iraq, Syrian, Palestine and more. The majority of refugees live in extreme poverty. Refugee children often work in poor conditions to make money. Many also suffer from mental health problems due to their trauma. In refugee camps, children face many dangers, including domestic violence, drug use and minimal health care and basic hygiene. Lebanon has not ratified the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and does little to protect these people living inside the country. The country also lacks the resources to address children’s mental health problems, but NGOs are working to provide more medical help inside the refugee camps.
  5. Reducing Child Poverty: The Government of Lebanon launched the National Poverty Targeting Program in 2011. The World Bank provided technical and financial assistance to this program to provide a safety net for families living in extreme poverty. Families are chosen based on level of food security, labor force status and other variables. This program currently helps 43,000 households, although more than 150,000 families are in extreme poverty and more than 350,000 qualify are in poverty. The families benefiting from the program receive a “Hayat Card,” which gives them access to free health care and educational services, and the poorest receive a debit card for food.

Children in Lebanon are still heavily affected by poverty, whether it is through health care, education or labor. Refugee children and girls are particularly vulnerable as they lack basic rights under law. Although strides have been made in recent years to eradicate poverty, the government and other organizations must prioritize addressing child poverty in Lebanon.

Claire Brady
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty In Honduras
Honduras, a country home to nine million people, is crippled by poverty, gang violence and a lack of education. Roughly 60% of the population of Honduras lives below the poverty line. The country is also known for having one of the highest crime and violence rates of all time. In terms of child poverty in Honduras, poverty impacts children in multiple ways, including health, safety and education. Nearly 75% of children use outdoor bathroom systems or open fields and 69% of 9-10 year-olds are infected with parasites because of this. Furthermore, 23% of Honduran children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. This article will explore the consequences of child poverty as well as efforts to address it.

Children and Gang Violence

Children face many dangers from exposure to gangs and gang violence in Honduras. Many children are too afraid to go to school because of the prevalence of gang members on the streets. A report from the Norweigan Refugee Council highlights the risks that Honduran children face, including pressure, sexual harassment and abuse.

Gang members have also successfully infiltrated Honduran schools and now promote the distribution of drugs to minors and attempt to recruit them. Families are also faced with pressure from gangs, often in the form of war taxes, which prohibits their ability to buy school supplies and uniforms.

Children and Education

The Honduran government provides free schooling until the sixth grade. However, when children in Honduras graduate from the sixth grade, many of them stop their education to support their families. After receiving a partial education, boys will often go to work in the fields while girls will stay at home to care for their families until marrying around the ages of 12-14 years old.

The lack of education in Honduras increases involvement in gangs, drugs and other dangerous behaviors in order to survive and to support their families. One organization working to alleviate this problem is the Honduras Good Works Secondary Education Scholarship Fund. This fund provides school supplies, transportation and school uniforms to children in Honduras.

Changing the Future for the Children

Children International, an NGO aimed at protecting and aiding children, works to address many of the issues facing Honduran children. Among their current projects is the distribution of annual parasite treatments and workshops about hygiene, the Sport Development and Youth Leadership Training program to alleviate pressures of gang violence and the Youth Health Corps that ensures equal rights for girls and boys. Children International has five centers on the ground in Honduras and focuses on combatting child poverty in Honduras.

Save The Children is another organization working to better the futures of children in Honduras. With the support of generous donations, this organization was able to aid 141,000 children in Honduras just last year, and more specifically have raised 36,000 children from poverty. Save The Children is currently working to promote food security for families in coffee-producing areas, addressing causes of migration and training government officials on the prevention of trafficking.

Moving Forward

Child poverty in Honduras continues to impact millions of children across the country. Fortunately, organizations like Children International and Save The Children are stepping in to help. Moving forward, it is essential that these efforts and others continue to prioritize alleviating child poverty and ensuring better livelihoods for children in Honduras.

Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Children in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, a small, landlocked country in Western Africa, is one of the least developed countries in the world. About 45% of the over 20 million who live in the nation face poverty. Nearly 2.2 million people live in dire need of aid, with children half of those in need. This crisis has only worsened due to the ongoing conflicts in the Sahel region of Western Africa, which have displaced millions of Burkinabé people and put them at a higher risk of poverty.

Children in Burkina Faso, who make up 45% of the population, face more challenges than nearly any other group of children on Earth — many of them have low access to nutrition, education, and healthcare, and are often subjected to child labor and marriage.

Hunger and Malnutrition

While Burkina Faso has always struggled with hunger, with 25% of children stunted from malnutrition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The number of people in need of food aid has tripled to 3.2 million, and many of those suffering from malnutrition are children. Doctors and nurses in Burkina Faso are reporting extremely high numbers of malnourished children entering their healthcare facilities each day. Prior to the pandemic, Burkinabé children experienced hunger as a result of displacement from the conflicts in Africa’s Sahel region.

Education

While attending primary school is compulsory for children in Burkina Faso between the ages of seven and fourteen, this rule is not enforced, and about 36% of children do not attend. Additionally, 67% of girls over the age of fifteen do not know how to read or write. The high levels of poverty in the country lead to low levels of education. Furthermore, the conflicts in the area have only made it harder for children to access and attend their schools. Attackers have raided the schools, injuring teachers and putting Burkinabé children at risk.

Healthcare

Burkina Faso has the tenth-highest under-five mortality rate in the world, with 87.5 out of every 1,000 children in 2019 dying before their fifth birthday. About 54 infants die for every 1,000 live births . That majority of these deaths are from communicable diseases and malaria, which the nation has struggled to prevent and control. While the number of healthcare workers in the area has increased in the past few decades, particularly between 2006 and 2010, it has not been quite enough to combat the need of the ever-growing population, and many children in the area are left without healthcare access.

Child Marriage

Over half of Burkinabé children are married before their eighteenth birthday, and the country has the fifth highest rate of child marriage in the world. One in ten girls under nineteen have already given birth to at least one child. Girls with limited access to education have a higher chance of marrying as children. The same holds true for girls who live in impoverished households. Both of these trends remain common in Burkina Faso. The apparent social value ascribed to girls in the region is considered lower than their male counterparts. As a result, young girls who enter child marriages often do not have a choice in their future husbands.

Child Labor

42% of children in Burkina Faso are engaged in child labor rather than attending school. Though the government adopted a “National Strategy to End the Worst Forms of Child Labor” and raised the legal minimum working age to sixteen, these high rates of child labor have not decreased significantly over the past few years. These children work as cotton harvesters, miners of gold and granite, domestic workers, and in some rare cases, sex workers. Child labor puts children at risk of serious injury, and, in some extreme cases, even death.

While children in Burkina Faso face all of these challenges, work is being done to help them live safe, healthy and educated lives. Save the Children, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and Girls Not Brides are just a handful of the organizations working in Burkina Faso to ensure that these children receive the care they need and deserve. Childhood in this region is, in fact, difficult. Yet, all is not lost as these groups work to improve the lives of children across Burkina Faso.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr