Facts About Poverty In EritreaEritrea is a small northeastern country in Africa, surrounded by the larger Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. It is home to nearly 5.4 million individuals, of which, about 65 percent live in poverty. Eritrea’s harsh history coupled with its low rates of development has contributed to the poor economic conditions that oppress so many. This article will provide nine facts about poverty in Eritrea which will give reason to the concerns raised by international organizations.

9 Facts About Poverty in Eritrea

  1. A tumultuous history with Ethiopia: After a 30-year war with Ethiopia, Eritrea finally gained independence in 1991. It was not until 1993, however, that this separation was legitimized. Eritrean citizens were historically neglected under Ethiopian rule. Many were deprived of their nation’s resources and abandoned on the pathway to development.
  2. Cultural superstitions prevent sanitary practices: According to UNICEF, persistent cultural beliefs hinder many Eritreans from collecting clean water, washing their hands and disposing of animal products properly. Many believe that evil spirits are attached to certain animal parts while other customs prohibit the use of latrines during certain hours of the day.
  3. Limited access to clean water for rural Eritreans: Very few villages in rural Eritrea have access to clean water. In fact, as of 2015, only 48.6 percent of the rural population had access to improved water sources compared to 93.1 percent in urban areas. As a result, many drink from the same water source as animals. In addition, many communities do not have a local latrine due to a lack of financial resources. Sewage systems also contaminate water sources that would otherwise be feasible options. These issues can lead to numerous diseases such as schitosmiasis, giardriasis and diarrhea.
  4. Challenges in agriculture: While nearly 80 percent of the Eritrean population works in agriculture, this sector only makes up about 13 percent of the nation’s GDP. Landscapes in Eritrea are naturally rocky and dry. This makes farming a difficult task even in the best weather conditions. During the most fruitful periods, domestic agriculture production still only feeds 60 to 70 percent of the population.
  5. Susceptibility to drought: When drought does strike northeast Africa, Eritrea is one of the countries that experiences the greatest blow. Months can pass in the Horn of Africa without rainfall and these episodes are frequent and recurrent. This results in food shortages and increased rates of malnourishment among children. Statistics show that malnutrition has been increasing throughout Eritrea as nearly 22,700 children under the age of 5 suffer from the condition. Plans have already been crafted as an acknowledgment of the crisis, one being the African Development Bank’s Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood Programme for 2015-2021. For this, the Eritrean government has agreed to reserve $17 million to administer solutions for drought effects in rural communities.
  6. Many children are out of school: Public education in Eritrea is inconsistent across the nation. Children living in rural areas or with nomadic families do not have access to quality education like those living in urban regions. Overall, 27.7 percent of Eritrean children do not attend school.
  7. Low HDI: Recently, GDP in Eritrea has been growing. This can be attributed to the recent cultivation of the Bisha mine, which has contributed a considerable amount of zinc, gold and copper to the international economy. Even so, Eritrea’s Human Development Index is only at 0.351. The country is far behind other sub-Saharan nations, whose average is calculated at 0.475.
  8. Violence at the southern border: The central government has created large holes in the federal deficit in its preoccupation with Ethiopia. While the countries officially separated in 1993, discontent with the line of demarcation has left them in a state of “no war, no peace.” The Eritrean government sees the stalemate with Ethiopia as a primary concern, and the military forces needed to guard their territory has occupied most of the nation’s resources.
  9. High rates of migration: These realities listed above have encouraged much of the Eritrean population to flee the country. Eritrea is the African country with the highest number of migrants. Furthermore, the journey to Europe is a dangerous one, as the pathway through the central Mediterranean is highly laborious.

Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Children in Urban Poverty
Children who drink unclean water or expose themselves to poor sanitation and hygiene face seriously heightened health risks. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and malaria. Out of the 2.2 million diarrheal deaths each year, the majority are children under the age of five. In areas with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation, children are also at risk for parasitic illnesses such as guinea worm and trachoma. Health outcomes range from child weakness to blindness and death. Poor hygiene increases the likelihood of these diseases and this occurs frequently among children in urban poverty.

Splash

Splash emerged in 2007 to bring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs to children in urban poverty around the world. Splash’s 1,779 program sites in schools, orphanages, hospitals and shelters support over 400,000 kids every day in eight countries. This includes Nepal (101,149 kids), China (84,234), Ethiopia (73,622), Cambodia (71,234), India (49,404), Bangladesh (20,603), Thailand (10,385) and Vietnam (18,365).

Splash focuses on harnessing the technology, infrastructure and supply chains already in use in large cities for solutions that serve the poor. The nonprofit’s founder, Eric Stowe, saw that hotels and restaurants had access to clean water, but the children in poor schools and orphanages across the street did not. Stowe saw this as an easy problem to fix by leveraging the existing economies and infrastructure.

Safe Water

Everything Splash does begins with ensuring access to safe water. Its water purification system removes 99.9999 percent of bacterial pathogens. Splash has the water regularly checked for quality which has reduced costs and maintained reliability. Splash’s point-of-use filtration is much more cost-effective and durable than typical approaches. Well-digging projects are often expensive, time-consuming and do not always work for urban areas. Additionally, Splash’s stainless steel taps last infinitely longer than plastic ones.  This approach to clean water is very sustainable. No new chemicals add to the environment and people reuse contaminated water in a gray water system.

Hygiene Education and Behavioral Change

Splash believes it is not enough for a child to drink safe water. It also encourages long-term behavioral change and improved hygiene through student hygiene clubs, child-to-child training and school events. It provides hygiene training for teachers and conducts soap drives at every school. Five-hundred and forty schools have received hygiene education, hygiene education has impacted 328,666 kids and people have donated 145,241 bars of soap.

In addition to installing high-quality filtration systems, Splash provides colorful, child-friendly drinking and handwashing stations that have been field-tested to make sure kids are excited to use them. Often children in urban poverty must drink and wash their hands from the same spigot; however, Splash separates drinking fountains and hand-washing taps to reduce the risk of water re-contamination. Splash uses fun, kid-centered learning materials to teach kids how to properly wash their hands with soap and develop good personal hygiene.

Improved Sanitation

By leveraging the clean water supply chain, Splash works to improve bathrooms in public schools to meet global standards for safety, privacy, cleanliness and accessibility. It ensures safe and secure toilets, water for flushing, gender-segregated toilets and bins for menstrual hygiene management. So far, Splash has reached 48,802 children in urban poverty in Ethiopia, Nepal and India with improved sanitation through 91 sites. Mirrors, colorful facilities and information are helping to motivate behavioral change and encourage proper toilet use by girls and boys.

Goals for the Future

Splash is a unique nonprofit because it aims to become “irrelevant”, “obsolete” and “unnecessary” by 2030.  Just as everything begins with clean water, Splash aims to complete all projects with a sustainable and strategic exit.

The ultimate goal is ensuring local success on its own time, its own terms, through its own talent and with its own funding. This is why Splash designs each program to have local roots, and be economically stable and enduring. It intends the solutions to live on as the ownership transitions from Splash staff to local owners.

As of 2016, Splash was on track for each of its ambitious goals. This includes WASH program coverage for all 650 public schools in Kathmandu, Nepal by 2020 and all 400 public schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by 2022.

Splash is a great example of a forward-thinking international nonprofit with a clear vision to develop long-lasting WASH solutions for children in urban poverty. The world requires lots of work to ensure affordable and clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the urban poor, but organizations like Splash are making progress.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

Water bottle companies that give backOne of the most valuable resources people struggle to obtain is safe drinking water. According to the CDC, more than 2.5 billion people lack access to fresh and clean water — that’s more than 35 percent of the world’s total population. Fortunately, many water bottle companies have committed to the cause by giving a percentage of sales to charities that help supply water to people in need. Here are 10 water bottle brands that give back to people in need across the globe.

10 Water Bottle Brands that Give Back

  1. Drinkfinity- Drinkfinity is a monthly subscription box that contains a “Vessel” and a variety of flavored “Pods”. The Pods are composed of dry and liquid ingredients, which fills up a 20oz bottle when the Pod is popped. Drinkfinity’s mission is to reduce plastic waste and create a product with the “smallest possible environmental footprint”.  They have partnered with Water.org, a nonprofit organization that supplies developing countries with safe water. Through this partnership, Drinkfinity vows to donate 1 percent of every purchase to help reduce the global water crisis.
  2. d.stil– Chef’n, a company based in Seattle, Washington founded d.stil as away to give its functional and fashionable designs a bigger purpose. The bottle can be found in Targets across the country. With every bottle sold, d.stil donates 1 percent of the proceeds to Water.org. Through this partnership, d.stil hopes to fulfill their mission- “hydration with a purpose”.
  3. memobottle- Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt founded memobottle after witnessing the damaging effects plastic water bottles have on the oceans and the environment. Memobottle’s reusable and unique flat design makes it easy to store water in a bag beside valuables. With every memobottle sold, one person receives two months of clean drinking water. To date, memobottle has supplied nearly six million days of clean drinking water.
  4. Bota- Bota is a stylish backpack that contains a hydration pack, which has the storage capacity of up to three water bottles. The founders, Alexa and Katie, hope their product will help reduce the number of plastic water bottles sold. Bota has partnered with Water.org and pledged to supply over 3.5 years of safe water to a person in a developing country each time the hashtag #letsbota is used alongside a photo of their backpack.
  5. ÖKO- ÖKO applies NASA technology to a water bottle by utilizing a three-layer filtration system. With a replaceable filter, ÖKO guarantees that each sip is safe and clean. ÖKO is BPA-free and Phthalate-free. The company donates $.50 from each water bottle sale online.
  6. Copper H2O- Copper H2O is a lightweight, hammered copper water bottle. This water bottle is handcrafted to increase the surface area of copper that comes in contact with the water. The website claims that there are many health benefits to drinking copper infused water which is known as Tamra Jal in Ayurvedic medicine. Copper H2O donates 15 percent of its profits to several nonprofit organizations that strive to provide developing countries with clean drinking water.
  7. blk. Water- blk. is a company dedicated to personal health and fitness. Through its water bottle line, blk. Water, blk. has partnered up with Water.org to help communities in developing countries access to clean water. With each purchase, a percentage of the sale will go towards Water.org and their global initiative.
  8. Love Bottle- Love Bottle was founded by Minna Yoo, who has a strong passion for health and love. After all, its logo is a heart, embedded in each of the bottles to encourage others to spread the love. The Love Bottles are made in the U.S., but its purpose reaches far across the globe. With a passion for helping others, Love Bottle donates 5 percent of its gross profits to charity: water, a nonprofit organization that supplies drinking water to developing countries.
  9. Corkcicle- Corkcicle was founded in 2010 when the creators wondered how to keep a glass of wine cool. Though its products were originally intended for wine, Corkcicle drinkware is perfect for any beverage. Corkcicle has partnered up with charity: water and will donate 5 percent of each purchase.
  10. Lifestraw- Despite its name, Lifestraw sells more than just straws. Lifestraw started out with a groundbreaking and lifesaving filtration system that can filter out bacteria, chemicals and other harmful elements. Lifestraw has now developed an array of products that will benefit people around the world. With each purchase, a school child receives clean water for the whole school year. Through the company’s humanitarian efforts, Lifestraw also participates in aiding those affected by natural disasters.

As more people are made aware of water crises in developing countries, both small and large, the list of water bottle brands that give back continues to grow. While those who purchase from these water bottle companies receive a portable and reusable container, across the globe, families in need receive something much more precious.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

10 International Issues to WatchWith the world always changing, there are some issues that remain constant. Some of these issues are directly related to poverty while other events increase the likelihood of creating impoverished communities. Here are 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.

10 International Issues to Watch

  1. Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
    The good news is that global poverty rates have been dropping since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, there is still work that needs to be done. Approximately 10 percent of people in developing areas live on less than $2 per day. Poverty rates have declined in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but more than 40 percent of residents of sub-Saharan Africa still live below the poverty line.
  2. Lack of Access to Clean Water
    There are more than 2 billion people in the world who cannot access clean water in their own homes. Lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of contracting illnesses. When people get sick, they have to spend money on medicine, which can cause families to fall into extreme poverty. In other cases, people have to travel extremely far to collect clean water. Altogether, women and girls spend approximately 200 million hours walking to get water daily. Access to clean water is one of the 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.
  3. Food Security
    By 2050, the world will need to feed 9 billion people, but there will be a 60 percent greater food demand than there is today. Thus, the United Nations is taking steps to address the problem. The U.N. has set improving food security, improving sustainable agriculture and ending hunger as some of their primary focuses by the year 2030. The U.N. must address a wide range of issues to combat these problems. These issues include gender parity, global warming and aging populations.
  4. Improving Education
    Most impoverished communities around the world lack a solid education system. Some common barriers include families being unable to afford school, children having to work to support their family and the undervaluing of girls’ education. UNESCO estimates more than 170 million people could be lifted out of poverty if they had basic reading skills.
  5. Limited Access to Jobs
    In rural and developing communities around the world, there is often limited access to job opportunities. There is a multitude of factors that can lead to a lack of adequate work or even no opportunities at all. Two common roadblocks are a lack of access to land and a limit of resources due to overexploitation. It is obvious that no available means to make money ensures that a family cannot survive without outside help.
  6. Limiting Global Conflict
    When conflict occurs, it impacts the poor the hardest. Social welfare type programs are drained, rural infrastructure may be destroyed in conflict zones and security personnel moves into urban areas, leaving smaller communities behind. At the state level, impoverished communities have lower resilience to conflict because they may not have strong government institutions. Poverty and conflict correlate strongly with one another.
  7. Gender Equality
    From a financial standpoint, gender equality is vital to improving the world economy. The World Economic Forum states that it would take another 118 years to achieve a gender-neutral economy. In 2015, the average male made $10 thousand more a year than their female counterparts. However, there has been an increased amount of awareness on the issue that may lead to an improved economy for all.
  8. Defending Human Rights
    In 2018, the world saw a decline in global freedom. However, over the last 12 consecutive years, global freedom rights have decreased. More than 70 countries have experienced a decline in political and civil liberties. However, in 2019, steps are being taken to limit this problem. At the International Conference on Population and Development, there will be a focus on human rights. France will also align its G-7 efforts at limiting a variety of inequalities.
  9. Responding to Humanitarian Crises
    The 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview shows a large number of humanitarian crises around the world. Between Syria, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are more than 19 million internally displaced people. In 2019, approximately 132 million people have needed humanitarian help, costing the world economy almost $22 billion.
  10. Climate Change
    From a scientific standpoint, the land temperature has increased by 1 degree C. in the last half decade, and greenhouse gas emissions have risen to their highest levels in more than 800,000 years. This has led to increased storms and droughts throughout the world. In the last 39 years, weather-related economic loss events have tripled.

Even though the world still has many issues to address, progress is being made in a variety of areas that may help limit global poverty. These are but 10 international issues to watch in relation to global poverty. The global awareness of poverty-related issues is something that continues to be extremely important for the advancement of our world.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Google Images

PortaPureThe company PortaPure began research on water filtration systems after a massive hurricane hit Haiti in 2010. Millions of people were left without clean water. By Christmas of that year, PortaPure began donating their PocketPure devices. Today in Haiti, where the company PortaPure still does most of their work, 60 percent of the population are still living in poverty. They do not have easy access to clean water. Although there are other solutions to clean water, those solutions can be expensive. To continue its mission to provide access to clean water all around the world, PortaPure has created multiple solutions that can help in their goal.

Efforts to Aid Haiti

After the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, PortaPure was not the only organization to invest in providing access to clean water. The U.N. came to help as well. Unfortunately, their sewage leaked into a clean source of water that contaminated it. Consequently, the leak exposed the Haitians to cholera. About 800,000 Haitians became sick from drinking and using water from the contaminated source.

The need to solve this problem was even more apparent after 10,000 people had died from cholera, so PortaPure knew their filtration system needed to be able to filter this out.

Their filtration system has the water pass through a series of filters that, in the end, filters down to .02 microns. This level allows for diseases, like cholera, to be filtered out and safe to use.

PocketPure Offers Clean Water to Drink

PortaPure’s first innovation, PocketPure, was meant to be a cheap solution to provide developing countries access to clean drinking water. It is meant to be very portable, pocket-size, as it weighs less than a pound. Even though it is portable, it still allows the user to drink one liter of water.

This is one of the cheapest innovations on the market as it costs less than $20. PocketPure’s affordability allows for more people to be able to donate these systems to developing countries. Although this price might still seem like a lot, other filtration systems can be as much as 100 dollars.

PureLives in Africa

African families compared to families in first-world countries use much less water. Families in developed countries can use up to 550 gallons of water per day while African families use about five gallons per day. One of PortaPure’s most recent products, PureLives, addresses the need for a large amount of water.

PureLives is a water treatment system that can hold up to five gallons of water. This is just the right amount for families in developing countries. This water treatment system is also portable as it acts like a backpack, making it easier to carry water home if the water source is far away. Additionally, it is efficient as it can filter water into the system at a gallon per minute. The PureLives system also has a long filtration life as it can last up to three years or 5,000 gallons.

Although PortaPure’s mission was to provide access to clean water for Haiti, it has evolved into a global mission. There are 785 million people in the world without access to water service. Furthermore, two billion people use a water source that has been contaminated by feces. These contaminated water sources contain diseases, like cholera, and many others that contribute to 485,000 deaths per year.

Luckily, with inventions such as the PureLives system, PortaPure provides some cost-effective solutions that allow Haiti to have access to clean water.

– Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Desalination TechnologiesToday, 4.5 billion people around the world don’t have access to adequate sanitation. In fact, 2.1 billion lack access to safe drinking water. The majority of these individuals reside in developing countries. With 96.5 percent of the world’s supply of water being seawater and climate change making rainfall levels more unpredictable than ever, it is crucial to innovate desalination technologies for third-world countries.

Status Quo

Currently, only about 1 percent of the world’s drinking water is generated through desalination processes. Most of the saltwater being treated is brackish water. This is saline waters that are less salty than the ocean and have a salt concentration less than 10,000 mg/L. As of 2015, there were about 18,000 desalination plants worldwide. Over half of these were located in North Africa and the Middle East. The greatest challenge facing the adoption of desalination technologies in developing countries is likely its high cost: three dollars per cubic meter. This is about twice the cost of treating wastewater or rainwater.

Current Techniques

Two of the most popular desalination technologies being utilized today are membrane separation and thermal evaporation. Membrane separation involves the process of using a partially permeable composite polyamide membrane that traps salt but allows water to pass through. This process is also known as reverse osmosis. Outside of the Middle East water market, this form of technology has increased in popularity. Through pressurization, the process is able to reverse the transport of the water across the membrane that would otherwise equalize the concentration of the fluids.

On the other hand, technological and business ventures into thermal evaporation have also increased over the past few years. This process is essentially a multi-step process in which saline waters are heated, often through solar power, in a highly compressed environment. This encourages the evaporation of fresh water, which is then captured and harvested

Future Directions

The desalination industry is currently projected to grow by eight percent per year in the Middle East and North Africa regions. The most important objective of desalination technologies today is cost reduction. Luckily, the cost of water desalination is expected to be reduced by up to twenty percent in the next five years. This is being done through technological innovation. Furthermore, it’s expected to be reduced by up to 60 percent in the next 20 years. This makes it more competent in terms of price in comparison to other water treatment methods.

There are no major technologies currently expected from the desalination industry. Incremental, yet important, advancements can still be seen. For instance, the size of the pores in membrane filters has been consistently decreasing for the past decade. This decrease is expected to continue. The amount of energy expended per unit of water is also expected to be lowered over the next few years. Thus, further reducing the price of water desalination.

As the global population continues to grow, the demand for freshwater can only be expected to increase. The only solution to this problem is for the minds of the world to innovate creative ways to meet this demand, one of which is through desalination technologies.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

Water management in ArmeniaWith 25.7 percent of the population living below the poverty line, the people of Armenia consider water a luxury. Armenians face daily water shortages and unclean water supply in their homes. Despite this, several groups are working together to improve water management in Armenia. Maintaining a stable supply of water is an important step in lowering poverty and improving the lives of citizens.

3 Efforts to Improve Water Management in Armenia

  1. Relief to Yerevan: The World Bank sponsored a $50 million project to make water more accessible to Armenians living in the capital city, Yerevan. Before the intervention, families would have access to water in their homes for approximately six hours per day, and the water was usually unclean. Now, 332,000 families in the capital have access to water for 21 hours per day, and thanks to nine new chlorination stations, the water is cleaner and safer. The World Bank also recognized the need to monitor the water supply to prevent waste, so they introduced a software program that oversees the entire network of pipes and water mains. The program makes it possible to pinpoint areas within the network that need renovation or attention to maintain a stable supply of water. This program could help thousands of Armenians if it were implemented in other cities, but so far, it has brought a sense of security and relief to Yerevan.
  2. Wastewater Treatment Methods: Before 2010, the wastewater treatment system allowed unsanitary water to contaminate agricultural lands, causing a jeopardized food supply and an increased risk of disease. In the village of Parakar, Global Water Partnership’s Armenia branch stepped in to reform the wastewater treatment methods. They chose a cost-effective technology that treats domestic wastewater so that it can be later used for irrigation purposes and vice versa. This allows water to be recycled and reused, promoting a message of sustainability. The treatment program also focused on public awareness of the new treatment technology, involving the community in the process which facilitated the plan’s success.
  3. Water Within Reach: Armenians used to have to travel very far to get potable water. Some families were forced to drive over an hour to get to the public tap, spending a large portion of their income on the expenses associated with this travel. The Asian Development Bank launched a project that aimed to reduce the cost of obtaining water by making it clean and available within people’s own homes, benefitting more than 600,000 people across the country. Having access to water in the home for at least 17 hours per day now costs $12 per month – significantly less than what it previously cost to make the drive to the public tap. This initiative marginally contributes to the decrease in poverty among Armenian families, and it improves the quality of their lives significantly.

The World Bank, the Global Water Partnership and the Asian Development Bank have changed lives because of their work to improve water management in Armenia. This is a small but mighty step towards decreasing poverty in Armenia.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

technological InnovationsTechnology has the ability to change the way the world works and assist people currently living in poverty. Developing countries are often plagued by issues in sanitation as well as energy and medicine shortages that can hinder their economic security. Listed below are 4 new technological innovations that have the potential to reduce the effects of these issues and reduce poverty.

4 Technological Innovations That Can Reduce Poverty

  1. Sewage-free sanitation systems: There are roughly 2.6 billion people in the world without access to proper sanitation infrastructure. Some of the countries most affected by poverty, including India, Kenya and Pakistan, have millions of people living without proper sanitation systems. Without these systems, human waste is improperly disposed of into lakes and rivers, which can lead to health problems in the local population. Issues resulting from improper sanitation kill an estimated 1.4 million children each year. Researchers at Duke University, the University of Florida and Biomass Controls have been developing an energy efficient toilet that does not require a sewer system to operate. These toilets look like ordinary toilets. As of now, several different prototypes have been developed. One prototype, developed at the University of Florida, is able to filter out pollutants. Another prototype, developed by Biomass Controls, is able to heat waste and transform it into a carbon-rich material that can be used as fertilizer.
  2. Advanced fusion and fission reactors: New forms of nuclear power are expected to become available in the coming decades that will be both safer and cheaper than current nuclear power sources. Approximately 1.3 billion people live without access to energy. Energy poverty is unique because it is both a cause and a consequence of economic poverty. New nuclear designs that could help alleviate the issue of energy poverty include generation IV nuclear fission reactors, small modular reactors and fission reactors. Two companies, Terrestrial Energy and Terraworks, are hoping to use generation IV fission designs for grid supply in the 2020s. Small modular reactors are cost effective and reduce safety and environmental risks. While fission reactors seem to be a long way off, there has been some progress and they will be less controversial for public use since they create less long term waste and are safer than current nuclear sources.
  3. Blood testing for premature birth: Premature birth is a healthcare problem that disproportionately affects the developing world, particularly countries in Asia and Africa. Premature birth is linked to numerous health problems in newborns including increased risk of cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. Recent blood tests are now analyzing RNA instead of DNA, and scientists have identified seven genes linked to premature birth. This discovery of the genes related to premature birth could lead to future treatments for the problem.
  4. New desalination tech: Water scarcity is a huge problem that is linked to poverty. It is estimated that one in nine people (844 million) lack proper access to safe, clean water. Over the past few decades, scientists have developed a new method called desalination to turn saltwater into consumable fresh water. This process, however, is very expensive and requires a high amount of energy. New technology uses reverse osmosis for desalination. This process is not new, but instead of being powered by a battery, the new technology can be powered by solar energy, which is significantly more cost-efficient.

New technology has the potential to address many of the issues relating to poverty. Issues including energy, health and sanitation have long afflicted those in poverty and have hindered efforts to alleviate economic impoverishment. New technological innovations that are being developed today have the potential to be vital tools for reducing economic poverty in the future.

-Randall Costa

Photo: Flickr

ten facts about living conditions in Gabon

The West African country of Gabon is home to nearly 2 million people and shares a large part of its borders with The Republic of the Congo. While more politically stable than its neighbors, Gabon still struggles with extreme poverty and corruption. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about living conditions in Gabon.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Gabon

  1. Poverty: Even though Gabon boasts a per capita income four times the sub-Saharan average, as of 2015, 34 percent of the country still lived below the poverty line. Some estimates place unemployment at more than 40 percent. Of those who are employed, 64 percent are primarily employed in subsistence agriculture. By 2025, President Ali Bongo hopes to move Gabon into a “higher-tech, skilled economy,” which will potentially yield quality jobs beyond subsistence farming.
  2. Oil: Until oil was discovered offshore in the 1970s, Gabon primarily exported timber and manganese. As of 2012, Gabon had 2 billion barrels of accepted oil reserves, making it the fifth largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, oil makes up 80 percent of exports and 45 percent of the GDP. Despite the money generated from oil, the hydrocarbon sector, unfortunately, doesn’t generate sufficient jobs.
  3. Clean Water: More than 97 percent of urban populations have access to clean drinking water while only two-thirds of rural populations do. Relatedly, only 43 percent of urban dwellers and just below one-third of rural inhabitants have access to quality sanitation. In 2018, the African Development Bank granted Gabon a fund of $96.95 million to improve the water deficit in its capital Grand Libreville by expanding the drinking water infrastructure into Greater Libreville and other municipalities. The goal is to have sustainable universal access to drinking water and sanitation by 2025.
  4. HIV/AIDS: As of 2017, 56,000 people in Gabon were living with HIV/AIDS. That same year, 1,300 people died from causes related to HIV/AIDS. This, however, is a decline from 2003 when 3,000 people had died of HIV/AIDS-related causes. Since 2010, new incidences of HIV have dropped by 50 percent while the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen by one-third.
  5. Leading Causes of Death: In 2007, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death in Gabon. However, as of 2017, that number had fallen to fifth place, being overtaken by ischemic heart disease and lower respiratory tract infections as the top two causes of death. Although from 2007 to 2017, Malaria had risen to third place in deadliness. In 2017, there were more than 35,000 confirmed cases of malaria and 218 deaths.
  6. Corruption: Gabon has been relatively stable politically since gaining independence from France in 1960 and electing El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba in 1968. President Omar Bongo ruled for 41 years until 2009 when his son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, won the presidential elections. But, within this relative stability, dissent and distrust had begun to surface. The elder Bongo’s re-election in 2002 was riddled with allegations of electoral fraud. In 2016, when the younger Bongo was reelected, the country erupted into riots which resulted in the burning of the parliament building. The opposition, as well as international election observers, flagged the election results as suspicious, but Gabon’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Ali Bongo Ondimba extending his mandate to rule until 2023. In January of 2019, while President Bongo was in Morocco on an extended stay, several soldiers attempted a coup. They were unsuccessful and ultimately arrested.
  7. Education: According to the Education Policy and Data Center’s 2018 National Education Profile, 90 percent of primary school-age children were attending school. Literacy rates for young adults ages 15-24 were at 89 percent for females and 87 for males. This shows impressive improvement from 1985 when literacy rates were much lower, 53 percent for women and 70 percent for men.
  8. Maternal Mortality: The average woman in Gabon has about 4 children. In 2015, 291 women died out of 100,000 live births. As of 2018, there was still only one physician for every 3,000 people; therefore, complications from pregnancy and delivery can often go undetected and untreated. While still distressing, this maternal mortality rate represents a marked improvement from 1996 when it was 403.
  9. Infrastructure: In the 2013 World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report, Gabon ranked 112 out of 148 countries for quality of infrastructure. While roads are often impassable in the rainy season, railroad infrastructure had performed substantially better, coming in at 72 out of 148. Gabon has “one of the highest urbanization rates in Africa. More than four in five people live in cities.” In fact, 59 percent of the population lives in the country’s two dominant hubs: Libreville, the political capital and Port Gentil, the heart of its oil industry.
  10. Life Expectancy: In the 1980s, women were only expected to live into their early 50s and men only into their late 40s. Improvements in healthcare among other factors have extended life expectancy for women into their 70s and for men into their mid-60s. Furthermore, the mortality rate for children under the age of five was cut in half since 1990 when 80 out of 1000 children died. In 2017, that rate was approximately 40.

It is evident through these top 10 facts about living conditions in Gabon that there have been dramatic changes in the quality of life. Hopefully, Gabon will reach its drinking water and sanitation infrastructure goals for greater Libreville by 2025. It is through initiatives like this that Gabon will continue to improve the standard of living for those in the country.

Sarah Boyer
Photo: Flickr

Donate by SavingThere are countless efforts around the globe working to improve living conditions for those in extreme poverty. While per capita, Americans are the biggest charitable givers on Earth, charitable contributions can be increased. By cutting back on everyday living expenses, it is possible to donate by saving money.

Alternatives to Buying Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy habit, but bottled water is costly and creates single-use plastic waste.

One way to donate by saving is buying a reusable water bottle. For instance, the reusable Dopper bottle donates 5 percent of every purchase to the Dopper Foundation, an organization working to improve water resources in Nepal.

Upon saving money on single-use bottles, the amount saved can be diverted to a charitable cause. The average American spends around $266 on disposable water bottles, which can add up to over $17,000 in a lifetime. Those savings could be donated to support the work of organizations like Water is Life which pledges to provide clean drinking water to a billion people by 2020.

Water is Life helps communities around the world gain access to clean water through many means, including filters and wells. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the organization sent filtration straws and portable filtration systems to the hardest-hit parts of the island. Currently, it is working on installing 40 solar-and-wind-powered water filtrations stations in the northwest part of the country. The stations are capable of providing 20,000 liters of drinking water a day.

Credit Card Fee Avoidance

A recent survey of 200 U.S. credit cards found that credit cards average 4.35 fees per card. Furthermore, every card in the survey charged at least one fee.

No-fee cash-back cards are available. Card issuers will also offer a cost break to customers with a long series of on-time payments by lowering their interest rates, waiving the very occasional late fee, or both.

Trading in a big-annual-fee card, asking for late waivers and lowering interest rates can save cardholders $100 – 200 per year. The amount saved is almost enough to fund a grant to a Kenyan or Ugandan entrepreneur through Village Enterprise, which can transform the lives of a family living in poverty.

Since its founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has trained more than 154,000 owners who have gone on to create 39,000 businesses. One such success story is Angela Adeke, a Ugandan woman who was denied the opportunity to attend school due to her family’s extreme poverty. After her own children were denied entry to school because they could not afford uniforms, Adeke took action. With the help of a $150 grant, she invested in fabric and sewing machines for her tailoring business. Adeke sewed her own children’s uniforms and made uniforms for more than 4,000 Ugandan children. She now trains disenfranchised young women to become tailors.

Household Maintenance

The average family spends $6,649 on home maintenance. From major repairs to even the price of lawn mowing, it all adds up. A recent survey from Homeadvisor shows that 72 percent of new home buyers are learning how to do their own repairs. Video tutorials are now available online for most projects, enabling families to save on expenses.

The savings can be donated to a charity like Heifer International, an organization that helps families help themselves. The organization has been active in 25 countries, helping more than 32 million families to overcome poverty and hunger. In Nepal, projects targeting women have contributed to improved gender equality. Nine out of 10 of the families in Nepal interviewed say they had increased their income as a result of Heifer International projects, and it is possible to donate by saving on expenses as manageable household maintenance.

Trimming the Food Bill

Most Americans spend nearly half of their monthly food budget on eating out. By preparing more meals at home and packing a lunch more often, these funds can be diverted to donations. A conservative estimate is that preparing one meal per week instead of eating out will save more than $800 per year. These savings can fight worldwide hunger when diverted to an organization like The Hunger Project (THP).

The Hunger Project works to end hunger through strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. Mozambican citizen Moises Fenias Malhaule is an example of a THP success story: Malhaule joined THP education and microfinance programs, and in ten years, he has expanded his farm and paid for his children’s education. Malhaule has also taken many courses in development and construction and shared his knowledge with his community. Donations to organizations like this not only help individuals but often have ripple effects, making entire villages more resilient and self-sufficient.

Organizations like Water is Life, Village Enterprise, Heifer International and The Hunger Project are making a considerable impact in global poverty reduction, but their work relies on financial contributions.  While finding the extra money to donate can be challenging, with a few lifestyle tweaks, it is entirely possible to donate by saving money.

– Francesca Singer 
Photo: U.S. Air Force