Global Maker Challenge
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative) launched the second cohort of its Global Maker Challenge in late 2019, in Abu Dhabi. The challenge is an innovation-based contest that brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to present ideas and solutions for promoting global prosperity and improving living standards.

Global Maker Challenge 2019 Themes

The Global Prosperity Initiative partnered with 10 U.N. agencies as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve, a marketplace for social impact initiatives, to select four themes that Global Maker Challenge submissions must follow. This cohort’s themes are (1) Sustainable and Healthy Food for All, (2) Climate Change, (3) Innovation for Inclusive Trade and (4) Innovation for Peace and Justice. Nearly 3,400 participants submitted cutting-edge ideas — including web and mobile applications, machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and cloud-based solutions.

The Finalists

In the end, 20 finalists (five from each section) were chosen by a select group of experts from U.N. agencies, global organizations, digital innovation companies, NGOs and academia. The final projects selected stood out among the rest because they were both affordable and scalable — two characteristics that are critical when working with disadvantaged communities. Limited infrastructure and resources  are often some of the greatest challenges that must be overcome.

Category Objectives and Finalist List

  1. Sustainable and Healthy Food for All: Ideas submitted to this category aim to address issues regarding access to sustainable and nutritious food among growing urban populations, as well as reducing hunger and malnutrition. Finalists presented solutions for storing fresh produce and extending the shelf life of foods. Finalists accomplished this using temperature control hubs and sustainable packaging that reduces waste. Another finalist introduced an idea for a social enterprise that makes affordable and nutritious food more accessible to low-income communities.
  2. Climate Change: Contestants focused on promoting sustainability and efficient resource use to lower carbon emission and eliminate waste. Several finalists addressed the textile industry and how to make its materials more sustainable. Submissions included technologies to create biodegradable textiles from plant-based materials, upcycled plastic and ethical sourcing. Other projects addressed the issue of climate change in different ways, such as generating electricity from wastewater and creating a circulation system to convert compost into fertilizer.
  3. Innovation for Inclusive Trade: This category aims to increase the market inclusivity of rural populations to promote global, economic growth. Finalists introduced several digital platforms that provide access to financial literacy tools and empower small business owners. Ideas included an application providing financial tools and market information to emerging enterprises. Also, platforms for connecting rural farmers to international markets and mapping tools — which increase the visibility of small retailers.
  4. Innovation for Peace and Justice: Contestants provided solutions for displaced populations and refugees seeking essential services and resources. Several finalists focused on making education more accessible. Ideas included virtual reality classrooms for students in underserved communities. Also, technology training and legal services for residents of refugee camps and solar-powered learning hubs. Other finalists presented solutions for improving the quality of life of displaced populations, such as user-managed identification and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) learning technology and games.

Final Pitch

Finalists will present their solutions in a series of virtual pitches, starting in late August 2020 and commencing in early September of the same year — during the Global Maker Challenge Award Ceremony. Prizes include project funding and mentorship worth up to $1 million.

Seeing the Big Picture

The second cohort of the Global Maker Challenge comes at a critical time. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups lack humanitarian aid, social protection and stimulus packages. Unless action is taken, as many as 50 million people could fall into extreme poverty, as a result of the pandemic. Innovation and collaboration are powerful tools for developing solutions to unprecedented challenges. Today’s entrepreneurs and designers provide hope for overcoming setbacks caused by the pandemic and maintaining progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

Environment
Esteemed service organization Rotary International describes itself as “a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders and problem solvers.” Running strong for upwards of 110 years, Rotary uses its expansive network to enact positive change for its focus areas: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education and growing local economies. These six areas act as pillars, each sustaining the vast organization by way of focused motivation. On June 25, 2020, Rotary International announced, with unanimous support from the Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International Board of Directors, that it will be adding a seventh area of focus: supporting the environment.

The Decision to Add

This new area of focus did not come about randomly. Rotary has consistently shown support for environmental projects over the past five years, contributing over $18 million in funding from Foundation grants. Before the environment was an official area of focus, Rotary regularly made the environment a priority, recognizing how intertwined the issue is with the other six focus areas. The benefit of officially announcing the environment as an area of focus, then, is that it allows Rotary to directly channel global grants to this issue, creating new projects and innovations. Rotary International President Mark Maloney said of the decision, “I believe strongly that our Rotary Foundation programs now have a valuable added dimension to our efforts.”

Support for the Addition

In January 2020, when discussion of whether to add the new focus area occurred, the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group advocated for its addition, arguing that it would help to maximize the success of environmentally-focused projects. Their reasoning also touched on how other focus areas are impacted by the environment. For example, to effectively achieve the focus of providing clean water, Rotary must acknowledge how water shortages can occur in communities near areas of deforestation. In addition, trash and toxic waste dumped into water sources can undermine Rotary water projects while also spreading disease. On the flipside, Rotarians implementing projects to support the other focus areas must consider their effects on the environment and whether a project as a whole is sustainable.

Sustainability Projects

The Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group oversees a number of sustainability projects running globally. The group’s environment-specific projects show their commitment to this new focus area. Some of the projects include Rotarians for Bees, started by the Rotary Club of Canterbury in Australia to conserve bee populations; Lunch Out of Landfills, created by the Southern Frederick Rotary Club in Maryland to reduce food waste, and Ocean CleanX, which uses technology to increase awareness of ocean pollution. There are many more projects that Rotary clubs have adopted to limit society’s negative effects on the planet. The announcement of the seventh focus area will bring about new environmental projects and increased funding to make this global issue a Rotary priority for years to come.

The Future

Adding the environment as a new area of focus provides Rotary International with the influence needed to continue sustaining humanitarian projects in the long term while also actively working to make the planet cleaner and safer for the communities it serves. This proactive approach to climate change ensures that Rotary International will be able to handle the inevitable changes arising from a warming planet amid increasing levels of pollution, deforestation and extinction. Rotary is not alone. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a partner of Rotary, has also added climate change to its top issues. Humanitarian organizations like Rotary have the network and resources necessary to help vulnerable communities adjust to environmental changes that are on the horizon.

Maria Marabito
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malta
Considerable progress has been made in addressing poverty in Malta. Malta has experienced substantial increases in its GDP, with a real GDP growth rate of 6.7% in 2017. The unemployment rate in 2018 was also relatively low at 3.7%, exhibiting a -2.5% change from 2012, compared to the European Union average of 6.8%. Malta has further experienced a positive improvement in almost all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty and zero hunger. In addition, Malta is among one of the fastest-growing economies within the E.U., further exhibiting their ability to effectively address poverty.

What Is Being Done?

The government of Malta is fighting poverty through its National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and for Social Inclusion 2014-2024. The strategy works to address poverty in Malta through a focus on income and benefits, employment, education, health and environment, social services and culture.

The national strategy has been successful in that it has led to continued increases in the figures for At Risk of Poverty and Social Exclusion (AROPE). Progress addressing poverty in Malta is also being measured by the World Bank, which found that from 2010 to 2015 the income of the bottom 40% in Malta experienced a 3.6% increase, a growth rate faster than the average of the total population.

Pushing Forward Further Progress

While Malta has experienced considerable improvements in addressing the 2030 SDGs, progress has stalled in addressing sustainable consumption and production, inequality and climate change. Malta has put forth policies to push forward progress with regard to these stalled SDGs.

The reform package measure “Making Work Pay” works to address inequalities through the introduction of a guaranteed minimum pension, reduced income tax and introduction and extension of in-work benefits. The success of these measures is evident through the country’s low unemployment rate and rising GDP. Additionally, gender inequalities continue to persist in terms of employment. However, the rate of women in employment has seen a considerable increase in recent years. The fact that the gender employment gap has reduced by 4.6% from 2015 to 2018 demonstrates this.

Despite the fact that progress addressing climate change in Malta has stalled, when compared to other countries within the E.U., Malta is among the countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Malta’s Sustainable Development Vision for 2050 addresses the lack of progress in regard to climate change, as well as envisions the eradication of poverty and social exclusion.

Tourism in Malta

The Maltese government is also using tourism, a major contributor to their economic development, as a means of pushing forward the green economic transition and progress towards sustainable consumption and production and climate change. The restoration of historical and cultural sites in the country is making this progress possible. One such example is the restoration of the Grand Master’s Palace in Malta. Tourism contributes to the alleviation of poverty in Malta by increasing economic opportunities and generating taxable economic growth which can be used towards poverty alleviation.

While work is still needed in Malta in areas such as climate change and the gender employment gap, poverty in Malta is well on its way to meeting its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuyanaGuyana is a country located on the northeast corner of South America. Due to economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, hunger in Guyana has dropped by almost 50%. Though food availability is not a problem, making food accessible to the rural and remote populations remains a challenge. Here are five facts about hunger in Guyana.

5 Facts About Hunger in Guyana

  1. Between 50,000 and 60,000 Guyanese suffer from undernourishment. Though about 21% of the Guyanese population suffered from malnourishment in previous decades, that number was reduced to less than 10% in 2015. The Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that by 2050 Guyana’s agricultural sector would need to produce 50% more food than in 2012 to counter this. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to increase investments to help improve Guyana’s agricultural capacity.
  2. Guyana met an internationally established target in the fight against hunger. Guyana halved the number of malnourished people between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, being one of 38 countries to do so. In 2008, around 6% of children under the age of 5 suffered from mild to moderate malnutrition. This was down from 11.8% in 1997. In June 2013, Guyana was honored at an award ceremony in Rome held by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for reducing the number of people facing hunger in the country.
  3. Raising agricultural productivity helps counter hunger. Over 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This means that if agricultural productivity increases, access to food may improve. Campaigns such as the Grow More Food Campaign, the Basic Nutrition Programme and the National School Feeding Programme assist in increasing access to food in Guyana.
  4. Climate change exacerbates hunger in Guyana. Higher temperatures cause a decline in crop yields, which threatens food security and contributes to malnutrition. Since much of Guyana’s population depends on increased agricultural productivity, this is a serious risk for the Guyanese. Guyana’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2002 projected an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. They are projected to double between 2020 and 2040 and triple between 2080 and 2100. Temperature is also projected to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1995 levels during the first half of the 21st century.
  5. The U.N. is attempting to counter the harm posed to hunger due to changing weather patterns. The FAO has assisted the Guyanese government in developing a plan for risk management in the agricultural sector. Similarly, the Guyanese government plans to create opportunities for carbon mitigation through carbon sequestration and biofuel production. This will aim to lessen the effects of climate change and expand agricultural production.

Though Guyana is not devoid of malnutrition, hunger has been and can be reduced. Ensuring that the Guyanese population has ample access to food, as well as increasing agricultural productivity, can help lessen the number of people who suffer from malnutrition. The U.N. is working to assist Guyana and their support can be a good first step to help lessen hunger in Guyana.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in ChadLocated in Central Africa, the country of Chad is the fifth largest landlocked state and has a poverty rate of 66.2%. With a total population of approximately 15.5 million, a lack of modern medicine, dramatic weather changes and poor education have riddled the country with deadly diseases and resulted in severe poverty in Chad.

Poor Health Conditions in Chad Lead to Disease

The most common types of disease and the primary causes of death include malaria, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Malaria, usually spread through mosquito bites, is a potentially fatal disease and is quite common in the country of Chad. Due to poor sanitation, Chadians are more susceptible to malaria; the most recently estimated number of cases was 500,000 per year.

Along with malaria, lower respiratory diseases contribute to Chad’s high mortality rate – the most common and deadliest of those being meningitis.  Lower respiratory tract infections occur in the lungs and can sometimes affect the brain and spinal cord. A lack of available vaccinations in the country has increased susceptibility to meningitis. Meningitis is most deadly in those under the age of 20, and with a countrywide median age of 16.6 years old, Chad has seen a rise in total meningitis cases and overall deaths.

As of 2015, there were an estimated 210,000 Chadians living with HIV. According to UNAIDS, there were 12,000 AIDS-related deaths just last year, along with 14,000 new cases. Those living with HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of death with their compromised immune systems. They are unable to fight off diseases and, with the preexisting severe risk of malaria and meningitis, they are more susceptible to death.

Harsh Weather and Its Role in Food Insecurity and Disease

Due to its geography, Chad is one of the countries most severely affected by climate change. Approximately 40% of Chadians live at or below the poverty line, with the majority relying heavily on agricultural production and fishing. The drastic change in rain patterns and the consequent frequency of droughts have placed a significant strain on their food supply. Fishing in particular has been sparse. Lake Chad, the country’s largest lake, has diminished by 90% in the past 50 years. The rising temperatures in Chad have caused a decrease in both crop yields and good pasture conditions, placing more strain on those who depend on Lake Chad for food and the nutrients it adds to farming.

In addition to affecting poverty in Chad, intense weather patterns have also increased the number of infectious diseases. The infrastructure of the country has not been able to keep up with the rapidly growing population in urban areas. This results in poor sanitation. The sanitation services are overwhelmed during floods: which contaminates the water supply.

Lack of Education Affects Poverty in Chad

Despite the relatively large population, less than half of school-aged children are enrolled in school. With attendance rates so low, the literacy rates in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 fall; currently, they only reach 31%.  According to UNICEF, attendance rates are astonishingly low; 8% for children in upper secondary school and 13% for lower secondary school. With education rates so low, income inequality, infant and maternal deaths and stunting in children continue to rise; as a result, the overall economic growth of the country declines.

Enrollment is low in Chad due to the lack of resources in schools. With the country in severe poverty, schools remain under-resourced, both in access and infrastructure. Some schools have no classrooms and no teaching materials. Furthermore, teachers are often outnumbered 100:1. As a result, the quality of learning decreases, as does the overall attendance rate.

As of now, only 27% of primary-school-age children complete their schooling. According to UNESCO, if adults in low-income countries completed their secondary education, the global poverty rate would be cut in half. Even learning basic reading skills could spare approximately 171 million people from living in extreme poverty. Educated individuals are more likely to develop important skills and abilities needed to help them overcome poverty. Education also decreases an individual’s risk of vulnerability to disease, natural disasters and conflict.

Poverty in Chad is widespread, and the rate of impoverished people will continue to grow if it is not addressed. Poor health conditions and a lack of education are just a few of the many problems people face; while the living conditions may seem dire in Chad, a gradual decrease in overall poverty rates proves that there is hope.

Jacey Reece
Photo: Flickr

The country of Jordan is the fifth most water-scarce country in the world, following Iran, and is labeled at an “extremely high” risk level. With water scarcity comes multiple risk factors, including water-borne illnesses caused by unsafe drinking water, diseases from a lack of sanitation and death by dehydration. In addition, water scarcity contributes to an increase in sexual exploitation and rape, as children, especially young girls, need to physically travel miles every day through deserts and dangerous terrain to retrieve water for their families. This then contributes to a decrease in education among girls and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in areas in Jordan and globally. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Jordan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Jordan

  1. Climate change affects sanitation in Jordan. In most areas of the country, populations are not located near major water sources and water must be transported from distances up to 325 kilometers away. With the rise of climate change causing flash floods, unpredictable and extreme weather patterns and increased temperatures, Jordan faces difficulties accessing necessary sanitation services.
  2. Jordan faces severe water scarcity. According to UNICEF, “Jordan’s annual renewable water resources are less than 100m3 [meters cubed] per person.” This is 400 meters cubed below the threshold of 500 meters cubed, which defines water scarcity.

  3. As a result of an increase in population and industrial and agricultural capacity, Jordan is dealing with severe aquifer depletion. All 12 of Jordan’s main aquifers are declining at rates exceeding 20 meters per year, well beyond their rechargeable volumes. This is especially alarming as 60% of Jordan’s water comes from the ground.

  4. Those in vulnerable and rural areas lack sanitation resources. Proper hygiene norms, such as handwashing and showering, are taught and practiced in households. However, those in more vulnerable and rural areas often lack soap and body wash to stay clean and healthy.

  5. A large percentage of the population in Jordan don’t have access to water. Only 58% of households have direct access to a sewer connection. In comparison to the nearly half of the population in Jordan, only 0.46% of the United States population does not have access to proper plumbing services. This is an especially prevalent issue in rural areas in Jordan, where only 6% of households have a sewer connection.

  6. The Syrian refugee crisis has greatly increased the population in Jordan. As Jordan borders Syria, it has become a safe haven for more than 670,000 refugees of the Syrian civil war. Having accepted the second-highest amount of refugees in the world compared to its population in 2018, this sudden increase in population means added pressure on resources and infrastructure, as well as an increase in air pollution and waste production.

  7. The water network in Jordan has inadequate infrastructure, needing major rehabilitation. Pumps and sewer lines are old and aging. Unfortunately, Jordan’s already scarce water supply is paying the price, with up to 70% of water transported from aquifers through old pumps being lost in the northern areas of Jordan due to water leakage.
  8. The increase in population, agriculture and industry in Jordan has led to an increase in pollution and toxicity in Jordan’s water supply. Upstream abstractions of groundwater have led to an increase in salinity. Unregulated pesticides and fertilizers used for farming have exposed the water supply to dangerous nitrates and phosphorus through runoff. In addition, it is reported that about 70% of Jordan’s spring water is biologically contaminated.

  9. Foreign aid plays a positive role in improving sanitation in Jordan. To mitigate the aforementioned effects threatening Jordan’s water supply and working towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, USAID works in conjunction with the government of Jordan to build sustainable water and wastewater infrastructure, train hundreds of water experts in Jordan, promote water conservation and strengthen water governance.

  10. Profound progress is seen in the increase in access to water, hygiene services and sanitation in Jordan. From 2000 to 2015, 2,595,670 people gained access to safely managed water services and 2,212,419 people gained access to safely managed sanitation services. In addition, homelessness in Jordan is very rare, meaning open defecation and the illnesses associated with homelessness are less prevalent.

Despite Jordan’s desert climate, clean water and efficient sanitation are achievable and make up the groundwork of global prosperity. Sanitation in Jordan is of the utmost priority in ensuring that Jordan can become a durable consumer and competitor of leading nations.

 Sharon Shenderovskiy
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Fiji
The island of Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean and has a population of more than 895,000. A vibrant native population traverses the tropical climate of Fiji. The economy is dependent on agricultural products and tourism. Farmers cultivate bananas, cocoa, pineapple and taro root to supplement trade between nations, and commercial fishing and sugarcane are similarly important exports. Despite the high amount of trade between bordering islands and nations, 28% of native Fijians live below the national poverty line.

Relocation on Limited Land 

Many citizens of Fiji make a living in the boat-making or fishing industry; as a result, relocation threatens the livelihood of a small business economy. Rising water levels often force villages to move. Changing weather patterns have caused widening rivers and altered seasons, contributing to the issue. “Where there was rain, there is now sun,” reports a native islander who recently relocated because his village was flooded.

In the next ten years, an estimated 676 villages will be forced to move, which will increase the number of unemployed islanders. As unemployment increases, those who live above the poverty line are at risk of falling below the global margin of $1.90 per day. The relocation of one village costs an estimated $445,000.

Education and Health Care

Fiji consists of 100 inhabited islands, a number that is drastically decreasing due to the rising water levels. Implementation of primary healthcare practices and basic amenity improvements in villages provide locals with clean water and permanent housing. The adoption of these principles by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund sought to improve Fiji’s situation between 1970 and 2000. In the past 20 years, though, the flow of central health support from the capital city of Suva into villages has slowed due to a limited number of health professionals.

Previous Health Minister Jona Senilagakali states, “…the government did not schedule workers to go to all communities in all the islands to monitor the project. And health workers were not encouraged to work more with the communities to improve their health standards.”  The slow progress of Fiji’s modern health initiative is also a direct impact of “brain drain.” This occurs when educated individuals emigrate for higher-paid positions. Proper education in Fiji is also progressing rather slowly. Though secondary enrollment and literacy rates are high, the university system in Fiji lacks resources and government funding. Improving higher education largely depends on the willingness of the government to provide more aid to the people.

Prospects of Hope

Last year Fiji saw high prospects in the global market of reduced unemployment and the lowest amount of extreme poverty in the country’s history. The percentage of those living below the global poverty line, currently 0.5%, continues to fall as a result of incentives by the United Nations. In 2013, Fiji received honors from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization for a substantial decline in poverty and hunger among the population.

– Natalie Williams
Photo: Pixabay

 

Science-Based TargetsThe Science-Based Targets initiative is a coalition of 885 companies to date that have set goals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The overarching goal of the initiative is to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement’s established standard of limiting temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The initiative lays out guidelines and strategies for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can accomplish this while producing transparent reports on their current emission levels. The purpose of this is to increase the companies’ credibility and public reputation. A team of experts reviews and approves each company’s proposed strategy to ensure that the strategy is effective and efficient. The initiative is led by a group of NGOs who work to reduce emissions: the CPD, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. Some notable American companies taking part in the initiative include Walmart, Unilever and Coca-Cola. However, companies from countries across the globe are taking part.

Setting Science-Based Targets not only benefits the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but it also benefits each company internally. The initiative conducted a series of polls of company executives to quantify how setting a Science-Based Target benefits their companies. The poll found that 63% of the executives said that Science-Based Targets drive innovation. This is because companies must find greener, more eco-friendly ways to conduct business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, 52% of the executives found that establishing Science-Based Targets has improved investor confidence. Many investors choose to assess a company based on its environmental friendliness. Therefore, partnering with the Science-Based Targets initiative gives companies credibility and a good reputation in these terms.

How Will the Science-Based Targets Initiative Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

The Science-Based Targets initiative describes three approaches companies can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. A Sector-based Approach: Every sector in the economy receives a carbon emissions budget. If the companies are in excess of the budget, then they are tasked to find a way to reduce their emissions.
  2. An Absolute-based Approach: The initiative sets a blanket percent reduction in carbon emissions for all companies globally. Those companies would have to reduce their emissions by that specified amount.
  3. An Economic-based Approach: Each company’s gross profit is a share of global gross domestic product. Each company must reduce its carbon emissions proportional to the size of its share.

No matter the approach, the goal of each method is to reduce a company’s carbon emissions, with the overarching goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the increase in the Earth’s global temperature caused by greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane) trapping solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere. Some solar radiation is reflected back into space, but other radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gases and reradiated back to Earth. In 2018, carbon dioxide accounted for 81% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing carbon emissions reduces the greenhouse effect, preventing Earth’s temperature from sharply increasing.

How Does Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Help the World’s Poor?

Natural disasters, such as flooding and drought, disproportionately affect the world’s poor. Millions living in poverty are farmers, and weather changes easily affect agriculture. The livelihood of these farmers depends on predictable weather patterns, so natural disasters could be devastating to them. They could also devastate the world’s food supply. If farmers are unable to produce crops at the same rates due to changing weather patterns, food prices could rise. As a result, this could leave the world’s poor at risk of not being able to afford sufficient food.

Climate gentrification has disproportionate impacts on the world’s poor. Climate gentrification is the notion that the wealthy have the means to escape natural disasters, whereas the poor do not. Rising sea levels and increased temperatures may cause many to have to relocate. However, the poor may not have the resources to relocate. This puts them in grave danger and exposes them to the devastation caused by natural disasters.

By reducing carbon emissions in the private sector, the Science-Based Targets initiative hopes to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These actions could save millions who could be subject to natural disasters. Reducing carbon emissions slows the greenhouse effect, preventing the global temperature from reaching unlivable levels. Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions could prevent the millions already in poverty from being subject to natural disasters. The Science-Based Targets initiative is quickly gaining traction worldwide. One would hope that the private sector continues to do its part to reduce global carbon emissions.

Harry Yeung
Photo: Flickr

9 Facts About Sanitation in Eritrea
The land that encompasses the modern-day state of Eritrea is vast and old. The country itself, however, is one of the youngest countries on the African continent. After winning its independence from neighboring Ethiopia in a 30-year-long war of liberation, Eritrea emerged on the world stage as an underdeveloped and rural nation. While Eritrea has dealt with more than its fair share of struggles in its first 30 years of independence, sanitation and water usage continue to challenge communities. Many consider sanitation to be a gateway to development and modernization, and subsequently, Eritrea is taking steps to address this rising national issue. Here are nine facts about sanitation in Eritrea.

9 Facts About Sanitation in Eritrea

  1. As of June 2019, Eritreans have received encouragement to ration water, reduce flushing and prepare for more drastic water limitations. This reactionary measure was in response to the nationwide water shortages that mismanagement and intense drought caused. Most Eritreans live in rural or semi-rural areas where seasonal rivers run dry for most of the summer. They rely on wells and government-supplied tankers for their daily water. As these water supplies dwindle, the rural inhabitants often do not have a reliable water source. Some people have even begun to migrate to different areas of the country in search of new water sources.
  2. Community-led endeavors make up most of the efforts currently combating a lack of sanitation in Eritrea. In late 2007, the Eritrean government adopted a new initiative called Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Through this program, villages appointed hygiene promoters to assess the sanitation needs of approximately 20 homes and advocate for new community measures. One significant breakthrough came when the 2008 pilot village of Adi Habteslus achieved 100% of households having and using a toilet, after the implementation of CLTS in 2007. A conference on community-led sanitation in December 2018 established an initiative to end open defecation by 2022. Thus far, the results have been promising, with a total of 163 villages declared open-defecation-free. This translates to around 135,109 people across Eritrea gaining access to established latrines. This progress is due in part to the widespread initiative of the Ministry of Health to establish CLTS in communities across Eritrea, not just in villages in close proximity to the capital.
  3. Community-implemented fines have had a positive impact on community health. For example, in late 2019 the U.N. volunteers reported that after implementing a penalty of 100 Nfk (equivalent to $7) for open defecation, a village in Anseba is now reporting “a significant decrease in the diarrheal diseases.” Today, Eritrea is still on track to meet the goal of declaring an open-defecation-free state by 2022, thanks in part to the continued success of CLTS.
  4. Community activists are also organizing the construction of latrines at their own cost to promote cleaner sanitation habits. In a program meant to reduce and even eliminate open defecation, many rural Eritreans are constructing communal latrines without any subsidies and using locally available materials. One woman, Amna Abdela Mussa, age 45 from the Emberemi Village, benefited greatly after constructing her own latrine, saying that it was empowering to give back to her community and improve her own sanitation.
  5. Poor sanitation in Eritrea disproportionately impacts women and girls. It is a long-standing cultural expectation that women and girls in rural and urban Eritrea are responsible for overseeing the water collection and usage in each household. As the main users of water, women have also been playing a decisive role in the planning, implementation and operation of sanitation projects. Yirgalem Solomon is one of these women. She is currently spearheading a project to introduce an open dialogue in Eritrean middle schools about menstruation and sanitation to “break the taboo and help the girls address the many challenges they face.”
  6. Waste disposal still proves to be a difficult issue to manage, as many rural areas have no sanitary facilities. Open defecation is not the only cause of this. Additionally, latrines without proper sewage allow human waste to go back into the soil. This, combined with flash flooding that deforestation and mismanaged agricultural practices intensified, increases the chance of water pollution and eutrophication. Unfortunately, there are no large-scale projects yet to oversee the development of sanitation facilities.
  7. Consistent infrastructure, like the Khashm el-Girba Dam, is in jeopardy in response to water shortages. Many rivers in Eritrea are seasonal, however, the Setit River flows all year and forms a small reservoir at the base of the Khashm el-Girba Dam. Through proper irrigation, the dam allowed for steady water supply until recently. Due to the prolonged drought, there are more than 500,000 people seeking shelter in refugee camps neighboring the dam. This influx of improper usage is making it difficult to keep the water clean.
  8. Japan is collaborating with the Eritrean government to lessen the effects of the drought. The small town of Dbarwa proved to be a valuable example of this outreach. The drought heavily impacted this rural community and caused it to lose all assurance of well- and tanker- supplied water. However, the Japan International Cooperation Agency assisted in drilling five boreholes for the town, providing water to almost 30,000 inhabitants.
  9. The most effective way to ensure a path towards equal sanitation is to promote sustainable habits that keep water clean and available. Current projections estimate a temperature increase of 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) by 2050 and increasing variability in rainfall, making clean water more difficult to obtain. Eritrea is trying to combat this through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This program has already led to advancements in irrigation and soil erosion reduction through an emphasis on the adaptive capacity to climate change.

These nine facts about sanitation in Eritrea provide a glimpse into the current modernization techniques that the country is pursuing. While Eritrea still has plenty of work to do, thanks to the participation of rural and urban communities alike, sanitation across the country is increasing both in quality and reach.

Elizabeth Price
Photo: Flickr

Climate Change Causes Plagues of Locusts in KenyaKenya and other nations in East Africa are under siege from a plague of billions and billions of locusts “in numbers not seen in generations,” according to the Washington Post. The locusts are from Somalia and Yemen, where conflict inhibits governments from stopping the locusts’ breeding. Meanwhile, climate change has caused unseasonable rains in East Africa, which is in the locusts’ migration path, the destination of which is lush feeding grounds further inland. Here is more information about the plagues of locusts in Kenya.

Climate Change Causes Plagues of Locusts in Kenya

The desert locusts have been a problem for East Africa since the beginning of 2020 if not sooner. The U.N. anticipates that the problem will worsen by the summer. Specifically, some project the number of locusts to multiply 500 times by June 2020. This is the greatest locust threat that Kenya has experienced in the last 70 years, and the U.N. fears that more countries are at risk too.

The Causes of the Plagues of Locusts in Kenya

The plague of locusts is due to a confluence of factors, namely climate-change-related events and armed-conflict, which exacerbated the issue. The locusts, which first ravaged the arid counties of Mandera and Wajir in north-eastern Kenya, came from Ethiopia and Somalia.

The weather in Kenya and elsewhere in the region has been unseasonably wet and hot due to climate-change-related cyclones in the Arabian Peninsula in May and October 2018. These conditions are perfect for generations of locust eggs to breed and hatch.

Climate change has worsened the locust problem because it has caused the warming of the Indian Ocean. This is responsible for increased and more severe tropical cyclones in the area. Furthermore, the warm temperatures aid the locust eggs in hatching and the winds help the locusts to spread. In addition, people cannot spray insecticide to control the locusts while it rains.

The Plague’s Effects

The most devastating effect of the plague of locusts is that it threatens the food security of the Kenyan people and the surrounding sub-region of Africa. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) considers desert locusts to be one of the most dangerous flying pests because they can fly long distances and thus migrate in a short period of time.

Each locust can eat its own weight in food every day, so when a swarm the size of Luxembourg descends upon Kenya, that is a huge problem. In fact, that number of locusts can eat the same amount of food as 10s of millions of people. The plague of locusts is a threat to the Kenyan economy, which is dependent on its agricultural exports. In 2019, the agricultural sector made up 26 percent of the country’s GDP. Due to these economic problems, Kenya’s currency could depreciate, which would be catastrophic.

International Response

The U.N.’s FAO has called on the international community to provide aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition” from the unprecedented and devastating swarms of locusts. According to the FAO, aerial control, meaning insecticide that an aircraft sprays, is the only way to deal with the locusts, which local and national authorities have not been able to adequately deal with.

Kenya and other nations in East Africa are facing a perfect storm of climate-change-related weather events and conflicts in surrounding countries that have led to an unprecedented plague of locusts with the potential to cause famine. This locust plague is evidence of how climate change causes real damage to humans, most frequently from developing countries. Thus, the world must address the root cause of climate change to prevent catastrophic events like this from happening in the future.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr