Progress in Benin
Despite a low unemployment rate of one percent and a GDP growth rate that increased from two percent to over five percent from 2015 to 2017, progress in Benin has been slow and it is still a poor country in West Africa. With more than a third of the over 11 million population living below the poverty line, it is difficult for Beninese to live without a feeling of unease. Three major reasons Benin has a rising poverty rate is because of over-reliance in Niger’s economy, the largest exporter, reluctance for Benin to modernize its own economy and climatic shocks, particularly massive floods.

Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project

The agriculture sector employs over 70 percent of Beninese. In an effort to boost the economy, the Republic of Benin is investing in improvements in the agriculture sector. The Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project began on March 22, 2011, with a budget of $61 million and ends on February 28, 2021. Its purpose is to repair major damage caused during Benin’s 2010 flood and improve productivity in certain export-oriented value chains, such as aquaculture, maize, rice, cashew and pineapple.

One component of this project is improving technology and restoration of productivity. The devastating flood in 2010 destroyed over 316,000 acres of cropland and 50,000 homes. The project began after the major flood and takes into account the need for drainage systems to stifle rising waters during floods. Small-scale irrigation infrastructure repair and improvement are issues that the project faces and hopes to correct in the timeframe. Climate-smart production systems are another investment that the country is developing to prevent widespread destruction to cropland when a natural disaster threatens to destroy homes and crops. The project is also set to create new jobs by investing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially for youth and women.

Improving the Business Environment

Although flooding caused several Beninese people to lose their homes and cropland, there is one impediment that halts economic development: corruption. President Talon became the President of Benin in 2016 and stated in his inaugural address that he would “make the fight against corruption an ongoing and everyday struggle.” A 29 percent electricity access is another issue that prevents developmental progress in Benin, but since 2016 blackouts have reduced and electricity generation has improved significantly.

Economic Diversification

The last major impasse that prevents development in Benin is over-reliance in Nigeria, Benin’s major exporter. Current IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, announced a call for economic diversification in Benin. Lagarde believes diversifying is one way to reduce the high poverty level of 36 percent. Due to the country’s economic reliance on the agricultural sector and economic conditions in Nigeria, it is difficult to grow if a recession, such as the 2017 recession in Nigeria, occurs. In her speech at the Chamber of Commerce in Cotonou, Benin, Lagarde discussed how Benin could strengthen land tenure, increase food security in rural areas and invest more in education and health, and improve transparency in the government so that outside investors would find investing in Benin appealing.

Rate of Progress in Benin

There is room for growth, though the poverty-stricken nation has had success in certain areas, such as the average life expectancy that rose from 50 years in 2000 to 62 in 2018. With the creation of the Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project, improvements in agriculture and infrastructure are already underway. The estimated rate of urbanization is fairly high at 3.89 percent from 2015 to 2020. At this rate of progress in Benin and under the leadership of President Talon, the country will continue its headway in development so that the percentage of Beninese in poverty will gradually drop in the coming years.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

What is Food Insecurity?What is Food Insecurity? Food insecurity occurs when a person is consistently unable to get enough food on a day-to-day basis. This epidemic plagues millions across the globe, resulting in malnutrition, chronic hunger and low quality of health. When a person lives with hunger or fear of going hungry, they are considered to be food insecure. It is important to understand why food insecurity happens and what can be done to alleviate it.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity can be broken down into three aspects. The first is food availability, which means having physical access to a food supply on a consistent basis. The second is food access, which means that a person has the resources, such as money, available to obtain and sufficient amount of food. The third is food utilization, which addresses how a person consumes food and whether or not they use the food available to maintain a nutritious diet. It is important to note that proper sanitation and hygiene practices also contribute to food utilization.

On average, more than 9 million people a year die from global food insecurity. Unfortunately, poverty and food insecurity have long gone hand-in-hand because people living in poverty are less likely to have sufficient resources to buy food or produce their own. Families without the resources to escape extreme poverty are likely unable to escape chronic hunger as well. There are several factors contributing to the large number of people who are food insecure.

  1. The steady growth in human population contributes greatly to the increase in food insecurity. With more people on Earth comes more mouths to feed. The rate in which food is grown simply isn’t able to keep up with the projected population growth.
  2. Another contributing cause of food insecurity is the global water crisis. “Widespread over-pumping and irrigation” are leading to a depletion of water sources needed to produce agriculture and produce. Water reserves in many countries have dropped drastically, directly impacting food supplies in these countries and others.
  3. Recent climate extremes and natural disasters also affect food supplies, ruining communities and the agriculture within them. Climate change has impacted crops, forests and water supplies, ultimately spiking prices in areas that are already affected.

The Impact of Food Insecurity

Food insecurity impacts individuals, families and communities far and wide. Although the number of people living with hunger has dropped since the 20th century, there are still more than 800 million people in the world without food security. In developing countries, nearly one in six children is malnourished and poor nutrition accounts for almost half of deaths in children under five. While Asia has the highest population of food insecure people, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence with 25 percent of the population living in hunger.

Food insecurity can lead to many health problems if a person is not getting the nutrients they need. Malnutrition is an issue that can affect all aspects of one’s health. While food insecurity directly impacts all these people, it indirectly impacts the whole population. The problem of food insecurity is a product of behaviors that people do every day, and it has the ability to affect people who may not even know it.

Combatting Food Insecurity

Despite a large number of impending causes, there are still actions that can be taken in daily life to contribute to combating food insecurity. Urging the government to make nutrition programs that emphasize nutrition as a priority is one way to help in the fight. Even if someone is not exposed to food insecurity in their personal life, they can still put pressure on the government to make policies that could help people in developing countries fight this epidemic.

There are also a number of programs and nonprofit organizations that rely on donations and aid in order to make a big difference. The World Food Programme and World Health Organization are two examples of charities that devote time and resources to combating malnutrition and hunger. Donating food to a local food bank or volunteering at one are more hands-on ways to make a difference. Of course, an emphasis on foreign aid and public policy are two of the most impactful ways to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

While the numbers may seem staggering, there has been a 17 percent decrease in global food insecurity since the 1990s, but with awareness and effort, that number could be improved. There is reason to believe that, given the right tools and commitment, global food insecurity could become a more manageable problem in years to come.

Charlotte M. Kriftcher

Photo: Pixabay

effects of el nino
The 2015-2016 El Nino climate pattern was one of the most extreme occurrences in years, affecting almost 60 million people, more than half of whom live in Africa. The effects of El Nino created extreme weather changes, ranging from severe drought to severe flooding. These changes posed drastic problems for the population. Drought caused food insecurity and poverty due to crop failure, and flooding created problems with sanitation and increased the spread of water-borne and communicable diseases. Furthermore, flooding threatened infrastructure and housing. The damage also restricted access to healthcare facilities, preventing victims from receiving the help they need.

The Effects of El Nino on Africa

In Southern Africa, El Nino-related droughts had led to massive crop failure. South Africa had a 25 percent drop in maize and a 23 percent drop in grain production. Maize prices were the highest they had ever been following the drop. The drought aggravated the existing food insecurity, with 14 million people already hungry and as crop failure continued, the number of people at risk of hunger increased.

Most El Nino effects are related to soil dryness or reduced rainfall, but in 2016, this occurrence resulted in a massive drought. In Cambodia, 2.5 million people were left without access to clean water. People had to travel long distances in search of clean and drinkable water after the wells and ponds had dried up. In South Africa, parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, these effects of El Nino are still posing problems. In past years, most food production decreases have corresponded to El Nino, regardless of its magnitude.

The Effects of El Nino on South-East Asia

South-East Asia faced droughts and below-average rainfall as well. Thailand had faced its most severe drought in 20 years during the 2015-2016 El Nino. Water levels in dams throughout the country fell below 10 percent, leading to Thailand pumping water from nearby rivers. The Mae Jok Luang Reservoir, for example, typically served 11 sectors and can now, as a result of El Nino, can only serve one.

The droughts hit farmers hard, causing mass crop failure. Rice production and exports especially had gone down in Thailand. Consequently, many farmers found themselves in debt and unable to pay back loans. To deal with financial stress, many Filipino farmers started sending their children into town to work instead of going to school. Indigenous farmers turned to odd jobs as well, giving up on trying to farm in the drought.

The Effects of El Nino on Latin America

Effects of El Nino on Latin America often vary, and in 2016, there were droughts in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America as well as floods in Argentina and parts of Peru and Chile. Areas like Brazil had an increase in wildfires and tropical storms as a result of El Nino. Similar to South-East Asia, farming and fishing industries faced decreased production and exports during El Nino.

This was not the first time that El Nino has harmed the health and population of South American fisheries. The 1972 El Nino played a major role in the collapse of the Peruvian fishery, the largest fishery in the world at the time. With less fish, the population of seabirds also decreased, which damaged the seabird-dependent fertilizer industry. The impact on agricultural production led to higher food prices and lower food availability.

As a result of El Nino, 2.3 million people in Central America needed food assistance in 2015-16. The weather conditions also posed a great threat to civilians. Peru declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces where the lives of two million people had been at risk of mudslides and flooding. In October 2015, 500 people in Guatemala City died because of widespread mudslides.

Aid for Countries Affected by El Nino

Fortunately, there are organizations working to combat the effects of El Nino. Care, a nongovernmental organization, for example, has distributed food and emergency supplies to drought-ridden countries. In Cambodia, Care distributed water tanks and filters to the most affected areas. They had continued aid well into 2017.

While the work of organizations like Care is valuable, long-term plans to combat general climate change is necessary for countries to prepare for future climate change events. The results and effects of global warming and weather changes can be felt throughout the whole world, and the countries that suffer the most are usually less developed ones that do not have the right tools to combat this issue. People need to start taking climate issues seriously before it becomes too late to recover from these effects.

– Massarath Fatima

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Economic Growth in India in the Face of Climate Change
Hotter temperatures, more frequent monsoons, droughts and climate refugees: these are all predicted to occur in the years to come in India because of climate change. Luckily, it remains possible for sustainable economic growth in India to occur.

India and Climate Change

India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In many ways, however, it is unsustainable and promotes the use of fossil fuels. The research that the Binzagr Institute on Sustainable Prosperity carries out is trying to change this model, and promotes sustainable economic growth which could help local communities in India grow and thrive! Their motto — People, Planet and Prosperity — aims to expand the world to think about more than the bottom line and GDP.

Check out the list below to see three ways that economic growth in India can happen while saving the planet:

  1. Locally-oriented economies could revolutionize the way capitalism operates throughout the globe. The goal is to move from a global-centric, export-oriented model to a more local way of encouraging communities to thrive especially when many members of the labor market depend on agriculture in rural areas. Instead of building foreign factories and paying employees lower than a living wage, focusing on community development is key to ensuring that development, prosperity and sustainable economic growth are promoted in India.
  2. Aquaponics is an agricultural model that combines plant and fish production to create a symbiotic relationship through fish waste and water so as to provide plants with nutrients. The plants use these ingredients to grow and flourish, then release clean water back to the fish. The process is completely sustainable, and provides food for local communities without requiring any soil. By instating this technology, India will fight climate change and spur sustainable economic growth and development in India. This method would also also enable the allocation of fertile land. Just as leafy greens can be grown using the aquaponics system, fertile land can be used to prioritize agricultural products, such as livestock, fruits and grains.
  3. In addition to the above solutions, we must change the world’s mindset about how to measure prosperity. Currently, we use the standard GDP model, but GDP growth does not always mean positive growth. An oil spill will increase GDP because more work is being done to fix the problem — people and businesses are indeed hired, but is this really a positive contribution to citizens’ quality of life? The Binzagr Institute is working on a new way to define growth that takes out negative impacts on people’s quality of life as a contribution to ‘growth.’  This will encourage and support the ideas proposed above.

Hopeful Solutions

As we can see, while there are a lot of problems facing this world, there are solutions developing that can rectify the situation of poverty in India and hopefully prevent the disastrous effects of climate change that could have dire consequences for India’s impoverished. Sustainable economic growth in India can be promoted through the implementation of these strategies.

– Jilly Fox
Photo: Flickr

8 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research Papers
Today, people are starting to become active participants in the fight against global issues and as a result, progress is being made. However, there are still individuals unaware of pressing issues around them. One way of bringing these people up-to-date would be through the use of essays or research. Here are 10 global issue topics for essays and research papers.

10 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research

  1. Water Contamination and Shortage: 2.1 billion people in countries undergoing urbanization have inaccessibility to clean drinking water as a result of pollution, poverty and poor management of resources. Water resources are depleted by agriculture and industry energy production. To put into perspective, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the reduction of water around the world, with 75 percent of a given countries’ water used for this purpose and depleted by contamination. Fortunately, there has been a recent increase in efforts to develop technology to combat contamination and reduce the rate of water depletion.
  2. The Relationship between Education and Child Labor: Despite a surge in funding for some countries and increasing attention through social media, education continues to be a luxury around the globe. Reasons include gender preferences and poverty, and child labor — the use of children in industry. According to UNICEF, 150 million children participate in laborious activities dangerous to their health. As one can imagine, this work hinders a child’s ability to fully invest in education. Therefore it’s most challenging to bring education to sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates of children enrolled in primary education continue to stagger. In addition, fewer students successfully complete secondary education here.
  3. Violence: Violence is a global issue that exists in all shapes and sizes. Violence can be done towards a particular group like women or LGBTQ+ members, or it is an act that can be a result of a mentally disturbed mind. There is also violence in response to economic stress. All these varying forms of violence lead to attention on the safety and prevention of such acts. However, there isn’t much consideration on how an everyday person can help. In discussions about violence, the biggest questions to answer are: How is this violence used? How is it achieved/accessed? Does the media have a role? How much is the foundation for a particular act of violence is personal? What is the overall goal?
  4. Poverty: In 2015, the International Poverty Line was set to $1.90. This number means that a person is living in extreme poverty if they live below this line. According to this set line, more than 1.3 billion people are living in this extreme worldwide. This fact suggests that 1.3 billion people have difficulty obtaining food and shelter, regardless of the availability of homeless shelters and organizations. Current questions or topics to explore in an essay or research would be the cause of variation in wages on the international level, and the nature and initiatives that can be taken to solve this global issue at large.
  5. Inequality: On a global scale, the focus on inequality tends to be in terms of the distribution of wealth. According to a Global Wealth Report, 44 percent of global net worth is held by only 0.7 percent of adults. This suggests that there is a significant division between economic classes around the world. Recently, research has shown the effects that this economic divide has on communities particularly in health, social relationships, development and stability. For example, in a society where there’s a large gap between the rich and the poor, life expectancy tends to be shorter and mental illness and obesity rates are 2 to 4 times higher. In terms of social relationships, inequality on a larger level introduces more violence and crime.
  6. Terrorism: Terrorism like the bombing incidents of the last few years continue to claim the lives of innocents. It is a threat to the peace, security and stability of the world, so terrorism prevention methods have been implemented to illustrate what is wrong and should be/could be done to uphold justice. However, the basis of the threats, mindsets and the successes/failures of response efforts still need to be evaluated.
  7. Child Marriages: Child marriages are defined as the union between one or two individuals under the age of 18. One in five girls are married before the age of 18, and child marriages prevent children from becoming educated, can lead to severe health consequences and increased risk of violence. Legislation and programs were established in order to educate and employ children in these situations as child marriages do not have enough awareness on individual involvement or emphasis on the common causes for these marriages.
  8. Food: Poverty, economic inequality and water contamination mean inability to produce sufficient amounts of food to sustain a population. This can, in turn, lead to poorer health and decreased energy to carry out physical and mental functions, leading to more poverty. By 2050, the world would need to find food for approximately nine billion people as cost of production for food will rise in response to the increased amount of individuals. Thus, the United Nations established programs to ensure food security and technology companies make efforts to reduce food production costs.

The Role of Essays and Research

There has been increasing progress towards solving the global issues; however, for some, this progress is too slow due to lack of understanding of preventative methods, diffusion of responsibility and unanswered questions. These global issue topics for essays and research papers can be used as a starting point to give more insight to others into the issues and how to get involved.

– Stephanie Singh
Photo: Flickr

houses made of plastic
When it comes to environmental preservation, plastic represents a huge global problem. The average American or European throws away 100 kilograms of plastic per year, as reported by the Worldwatch Institute in 2015. The plastic waste issue not only affects the environment but also increases poverty. Fortunately, initiatives all around the world are trying to fight plastic pollution by promoting recycling while also reducing poverty by building houses made of plastic.

Conceptos Plasticos

This Bogota-based company produces low-cost houses made of plastic; each one averages around 430 square feet. Since 2010, Conceptos Plasticos has been building temporary and permanent homes, shelters, classrooms, community rooms and other buildings in Colombia.

Founded by Colombian architect Oscar Mendez, the company transforms the recycled plastic into Lego-like bricks that are easy to assemble and contain additives that make them resistant to fire and earthquakes. Its clients are the government, non-governmental organizations, foundations and private companies, who pay for housing solutions in the communities where the houses are built. Each house costs the equivalent of $130 per square meter.

Conceptos Plasticos provides the materials to be used by the communities and gives people training on how to build the houses. A home for a single family is built by four people with no experience in construction and takes only five days to be built. In 2015, the Colombian startup helped build a shelter for 42 families displaced by the violence in Guapi, Cauca, recycling a total of 120 tons of plastic.

EcoDom’s Innovative Houses Made of Plastic

In Mexico, every year 800,000 tons of plastic waste is produced and only 15 percent is recycled. To minimize this problem, Carlos Daniel Gonzalez founded the Mexican startup EcoDom, which means “Eco House”. The company recycles everything from soda bottles to toys and turns it into material to build houses made of plastic. It works with local trash collectors in Puebla to achieve its goals of reducing plastic waste as well as improving Mexico’s economy through affordable housing.

EcoDom turns plastic, as well as cardboard, into four different products to structure a house: thermal wall, concrete roofing, thermal roofing and structural beams. Weekly, the company recycles 15,000 kg of solid waste and turns it into 1,200 prefabricated walls, flooring and structural roofing.

EcoDom is helping reduce the number of Mexican people living in poverty, which currently stands at 63 million. So far, the startup has built more than 500 houses out of recycled plastic at a cost of less than $300 each.

Fundación Eco-Inclusion

The Eco-Inclusion Foundation is an Argentinian network of NGOs that manufactures ecological bricks made of plastic. Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Leandro Miguez, Leandro Lima, and Fabio Saieg, the organization works to reduce plastic waste and have a social impact by building houses out of the recycled plastic.

Eco-Inclusion has 45 plastic collecting spots in four cities. They turn every 20 plastic bottles into one brick and can produce 20 bricks in one hour. The plastic bricks have the same characteristics as a regular brick. They are also light, insulating and are made with a production process that does not damage the environment.

The bricks, built in partnership with Ceve-Conicet, are used to build community spaces that help the most impoverished people of Argentina. Right now, with the help of volunteers, the trio of entrepreneurs is building a dining hall and bathroom for an Argentinian soccer club, attended by hundreds of children.

If more people support these projects, two huge global issues can be minimized: plastic waste and poverty. It is a way of both helping the environment and improving people’s living conditions.

– Júlia Ledur

Photo: Flickr

Women Globally are Combating Climate Change
As people continue to notice the increase in climate change patterns, those who have been mostly affected by the alternations have come together to discuss solutions to the re-occurring consequences of climate change.

Many of these people are women from rural communities around the world. Women globally are combating climate change by standing up to the companies who provoke pollution in the environment, and collaborating with international organizations, like the United Nations (U.N.), to propose solutions to help those affected the most by climate change and help rebuild their livelihoods.

Women from Rural Communities: The Main Struggle

Over the past few years, reports have surfaced about the plights of women who live in rural communities around the world; many who depend on agriculture to make a living.  These plights often reflect the societal disadvantages rural women face, compared to their male counterparts.

A report published by the United Nations states that, “Women and girls are among the people most likely to be poor, to lack access to assets, education, health care and other essential services, and to be hit hardest by climate change.”

With this statistic proven as a reality for many women from rural communities, many of these women globally are combating climate change by reaching out and getting those in power to listen.

Initiatives for Change

Several initiatives have been established in partnership with the United Nations, as well as other organizations, to combat the effects of climate change in international rural communities.

One such initiative is the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation, which brought together indigenous women from North America to discuss solutions to the ever-present issue of indigenous territories being threatened by oil company exploitation. These companies will try to expand profits by overworking and mistreating local populations. In addition to the loss of sacred territory, these indigenous women also face the threat of climate change that can destroy their livelihoods.

According to Osprey Orielle Lake, executive director of WECAN, “Women are standing up for their own territories but also for the climate, for the water, for the forest, for the land. It’s important to understand that women who protect their land also protect the climate.”

Osprey also explained how the purpose of meetings like this are to confront banks with the option of exchanging the manufacturing of fossil fuels for the manufacturing of renewable energy.

Other Initiatives for Change

Women globally are combating climate change in nations like Bolivia and Mali, and have made significant efforts and collaborations with organizations to better assist women recover from the effects of climate change.

  • Bolivia: Since women hold the most responsibility for producing and preparing food, they are accounted as the most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. Women in Bali have made initiatives to create better livelihoods for themselves by passing laws that requires at least half of government positions to be held by women. Furthermore, donations  to Bolivian women have helped empower them to live more independent lives.
  • Mali: Women have dealt with the degradation of land and natural resources due to climate change, and so numerous supporters created initiatives to help equip these women to better overcome agricultural challenges. One of these initiatives is Agriculture Femmes et Développement Durable (AgriFed), created by the organization, Groupe d’Animation Action au Sahel (GAAS) Mali. This effort serves to help women farmers advance their farming practices as well as provide them with information on how to produce the best quality products.

As women strive to protect their land against climate change and businesses who try and push them from their sacred territories, more effort can definitely be done to ensure that mother nature doesn’t destroy the livelihoods of mothers around the world.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is a landlocked country in central Asia with a long history of poverty. It is important to first identify the issues affecting poverty in the country, and then look at what is being done to address them. Here are ten facts about poverty in Turkmenistan:

 

10 Facts About Poverty in Turkmenistan

 

  1. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 15 percent of the population used the internet in 2015. This statistic shows a lack of access to not only the internet and technology, but also to disposable income and affordable energy.
  2. Also in 2015, the Turkmenistan currency was devalued by 19 percent, which was the first drop in almost seven years.  Bloomberg noted that Turkmenistan and neighboring nations would need to devalue the currency in order to keep their exports competitive.
  3. Although the definitions for appropriate living standards defer in Turkmenistan, the World Bank reports that 58 percent of the population receives cash incomes below the official national minimum wage. According to the government, however, having 50 percent of the national median income indicates unacceptable living conditions; only 1 percent of the population falls below this line.
  4. According to the World Bank, in 2016 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $36.18 billion; in comparison, the United States’ GDP is around $18 trillion.
  5. Carbon dioxide emissions are also a good indicator of a country’s development and urbanization. With a 2014 population of 5,466,241, Turkmenistan produced 12.517 metric tons of CO2 per capita. This high level of CO2 production — compared to a relatively small population — indicates unsustainable and slow development, as well as low access to clean energy sources.
  6. There are only 26 registered refugees in Turkmenistan, but it is likely that this number is actually much higher. The United Nations Human Rights Commission once estimated 40,000 refugees in the nation but indicates that most of them have become naturalized citizens.
  7. In 2011, Transparency International named Turkmenistan as the third most corrupt country in the world; this corruption is preventing genuine change that could reduce poverty in the nation.
  8. According to the United Nations Development Program, Turkmenistan has an adult literacy rate of 99.6 percent, which is extremely high for a nation with such high poverty levels; this indicates strong education systems in the country.
  9. In 2012, Turkmenistan adopted the National Climate Change Strategy, which aimed to develop more efficient resource use, a greener economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
  10. According to the Turkmenistan government, 75 percent of the national budget was dedicated to the implementation of the National Programme (2007- 2020) on Improving Social and Living Conditions of People in 2012. This funding demonstrates at least an intention to improve the lives of Turkmenistan residents.

Based on these facts about poverty in Turkmenistan, the country has a lot of work to do. Plans need to be improved for reducing poverty, improving the standard of living and becoming more transparent as a nation. Government corruption also needs to be addressed before real change can be made.

Finally, Turkmenistan needs all the assistance it can get from organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank, as this will speed up the process of improving the lives of those in the country.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in KiribatiKiribati is a Pacific coral atoll nation located close to Australia. An atoll is a ring-like island formed by the rim or border of the mouth of a former volcano which is now submerged in water. Atolls are an ideal habitat for colorful coral reefs, but on the other hand, only a small set of crops can flourish here. Hence, the pressing need for sustainable agriculture in Kiribati must be acknowledged.

Kiribati is one of the most impoverished and least developed countries in the world. Here, families largely depend on subsistence agriculture for survival and nutrition. Common crops are coconuts, pandanus, pumpkins, taro, breadfruit, banana, papaya and mango. Most food items are imported from other parts of the world.

Like several other small island nations, Kiribati is critically vulnerable to climate change and global warming. According to the New Yorker, experts believe that at the current pace of rising water levels, “there would be no Kiribati after 30 years”. Kiribati president Anote Tong told the New Yorker in 2013 that “according to the projections, within this century, the water will be higher than the highest point in our lands”.

In 2014, Tong finalized the purchase of a 20-square-kilometer stretch of land on Vanua Levu, one of the larger Fiji islands, 2,000 kilometers away. The move was described by Tong as an “absolute necessity” should the nation be completely submerged.

Developing sustainable agriculture in Kiribati could increase productivity, ensure food and income security, enhance the quality of life and create inclusive and equitable economic growth for everyone. Thankfully, Kiribati has access to financial aid and agricultural expertise. Global organizations and developed nations are offering their powerhouse of knowledge to assist with sustainable economic growth in the country. It receives $36 million in foreign aid, largely from Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

An agreement signed by Tong and the International Fund for Agricultural Development promises $7 million to promote activities to increase the household production of fruits, vegetables, poultry, root crops and tree crops. The agreement also aims to improve diets through the consumption of a higher proportion of calories and nutrients from local food crops. It will also implement ways to harvest rainwater to increase household water supply.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has designed and implemented several programs for farmer training and soil improvement in the area to enhance the production of coconut and banana. It has slowly and steadily phased out the senile coconut trees that comprised 40 percent of the entire plantation and replaced them with a new rodent-resistant variety.

In addition, by leveraging a novel narrow pit planting system and tissue culture technology, farmers have successfully increased the production of bananas and other fruits and vegetables. In partnership with the Timber and Forestry Training College at Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, hundreds of farmers have been trained in nursery establishment and management, use of equipment and tissue culture technology, among others.

Needless to say, the future of sustainable agriculture in Kiribati looks hopeful and bright, just like the bright yellow sun rising above the ocean waves on its national flag.

– Himja Sethi

Photo: Flickr

Mitigating Climate Change in Bangladesh
According to the 2015 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Bangladesh’s economy suffers the most from climate change compared to any other country in the world. Such impact greatly depresses Bangladesh’s annual GDP, as the nation diverts most of its financial resources toward the management of climate change impacts.

Risky Location

Geographically, Bangladesh is a low-lying country that is predominantly comprised of flatlands. The economy is very dependent on the success of agricultural advances and yields, yet this facet is challenged by climate change. In 2012, the National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) lists the different natural disasters and impacts from global warming and climate change in Bangladesh, which includes: floods, tropical cyclones, salinity intrusion and fluctuations between extreme temperatures and drought.

All of these have resulted in decreased crop production and arable land for agricultural practice.

The nation’s government is working hard to address climate change in Bangladesh and further efforts of mitigation. Bangladesh has invested more than $10 billion dollars into its mission, and these funds go toward coastal resilience projects, increasing the number of government agencies that respond to emergencies and building coastal shelters.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea levels is one of the biggest concerns faced by the community. An article in the Scientific American discusses that the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas due to rising temperature has been a significant contributor to the rising water levels the country faces. For example, Sandwip Island has “lost 90 percent of its original 23-square-miles,” author Robert Glennon reports.

The projects that the government has developed are beneficial as current fixes to the issue of climate change. Any family that is affected by rising water levels or a cyclone are able to take refuge in one of the shelters the government has built.  The coastal embankment projects have worked create more durable islands. They accomplish this by laying sandbags on the coastline as well as building trees to help barricade the islands and absorb some of the water increases.

Long-Term Mitigation Efforts

For more long-term mitigation techniques, the Bangladesh government is addressing the need for more energy-efficient initiatives in rural areas that are most affected. For example, the World Bank supports initiatives such as building 320 solar irrigation pumps for farmers, offering training on electrical-alternative livelihoods for the poorer households in the community and the installation of energy-grids to help power rural businesses.

While the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh are felt the most out of almost any other country in the world, Bangladesh emits one of the lowest percentages of gas into the atmosphere. This means that as a nation, it is contributing very little to the climate change that so affects it as opposed to developed countries that emit levels in the double digits. Luckily, the community in Bangladesh is well-equipped with a resourceful and intelligent government that delivers climate resilience while also accomplishing societal development.

– Caysi Simpson
Photo: Flickr