Beauty brands making a differenceMakeup brands are generally known for their aesthetically pleasing cosmetics and the confidence they provide their consumers. However, what is less well known is that many makeup brands are actively creating initiatives to help those in need. Most recently, many of these companies have spearheaded relief efforts to ease the impacts of the global pandemic. Here are five popular beauty brands making a difference amidst COVID-19.

5 Beauty Brands Making a Difference during COVID-19

  1. Milk Makeup. Milk Makeup is one of the beauty brands making a difference during this time. It is a popular brand best known for its minimalist makeup products. However, the company has gained recent attention for its assistance with COVID-19 in New York. On April 10, the brand partnered with the Wu-Tang Clan to donate 100 % of its proceeds from that day to the New York City COVID-19 relief effort: the event raised a total of $106,000 in just 24 hours. Additionally, the brand donated $250,000 in beauty products to frontline workers.
  2. L’Oreal. In response to COVID-19, this international drugstore brand has implemented a new initiative called “L’Oreal for the Future.” The program plans to donate 100 million euros to help combat global climate change. L’Oreal will also donate 50 million euros to support vulnerable women living in societies severely impacted by economic deficiencies. Further, the brand donated 400,000 hygiene products and 400,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to frontline hospital and retail staff in Great Britain and Ireland.
  3. MAC. MAC is another one of the beauty brands making a difference during these difficult times. Since 1994, MAC Cosmetics has held an annual “Viva Glam Campaign.” In previous years, the money from this campaign was dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS; however, in light of 2020’s recent events, the campaign has shifted to target COVID-19. Through this campaign, the beauty company has committed to donating $10 million to 250 U.S. and international organizations working to help those impacted by COVID-19.
  4. Avon. This cosmetics brand has partnered with Feed the Children for the past 16 years. However, in response to COVID-19, Avon has significantly strengthened its support of this nonprofit organization. The company has donated more than $2 million in personal care products and over $40 million in necessities to impacted families across the country.
  5. Thrive Causemetics. Thrive Causemetics is another one of the beauty brands making a difference. It has created a $1 million initiative to aid COVID-19 relief efforts. As part of this commitment, the company donated $10,000 to the University of Washington Virology Lab to help expand access to COVID-19 testing. Additionally, Thrive Causemetics gave $350,000 to various other United States organizations diligently working to fight COVID-19 such as Meals on Wheels, Baby2Baby and Feeding America.

These beauty brands are prime examples of companies utilizing their influences and platforms to impact their communities for good. In the future, cosmetics companies will hopefully continue working beyond their products to improve the lives of their consumers.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Honduras
“Shelter in place,” “stay at home” and “safer at home,” are just a few of the phrases the world has repeatedly heard over the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. These phrases act as a form of protection during this unprecedented time. However, around the world, not everyone can follow these guidelines because they may not have four walls to call home. During the first month of the virus’ presence in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, at least “three dozen informal economy workers” lost their homes. Men, women and children who once had an apartment now sleep in an underpass. In 2018, 48.3% of Honduras lived in poverty.

Background

Unfortunately, an underpass doesn’t shield those living in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world.” Kids, old people, women sleep here where it’s dangerous…the people on the streets are not animals,” reports an MSN article. San Pedro Sula ranks higher than Tegucigalpa in terms of murders per capita with 47 murders per 100,000 citizens. A large percentage of this violence is a result of gang-related activity. In March of this year, the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory ranked Honduras at Level 3, warning American citizens to reconsider travel plans to the country due to the high rate of crime. Since the country has a substantially high murder rate, homelessness in Honduras poses a number of threats.

In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Honduras’ government has taken steps to aid the country’s citizens. Food and personal-protection equipment has been delivered to around 3.2 million Hondurans. The homeless, however, cannot receive these door-to-door staples because they do not have doors to knock upon. Therefore, the homeless population is swept under the rug, forgotten.

Lack of Resources

Another issue weighs heavily upon the homeless population: a lack of resources. One U.S.-based NGO that is working to abet the homeless situation for the next generation of Hondurans is El Rancho Ebenezer. This Christian-based organization serves as a home for orphaned and homeless children between the ages of birth to 18 who cannot be adopted due to a lack of proper documentation. During the day, the younger children attend a bilingual school onsite while the older children venture out to the neighboring public school. In the afternoon, they return to their home on the ranch where they live with in-house counselors and two mentor parents.

Kimberly Solórzano of El Rancho Ebenezer spoke with The Borgen Project about homelessness in Honduras. In regard to homeless care centers, she said, “Most of the NGOs here are directed towards education, children’s centers, things like that…So as far as homeless adults, there is definitely, absolutely nothing done by the government.” Therefore, the cyclical nature of poverty remains unabated.

Corruption

Within this cycle lies corruption. Across the country, Hondurans find shelter on property that is not their own. These so-called “squatters” build shacks or homes out of anything they can find. Discarded metal, wooden planks and weathered mattresses become a safe haven to squatters. According to Solórzano, urban slum areas are often controlled by gangs or slum lords who have no actual legal authority over the land where squatters reside but charge the squatters a monetary fee in order to reap a substantial profit. With a fragile police force, this type of gang activity often goes unnoticed. If it happens to come across the hands of an officer, the overburdened judicial system most likely will not be able to bring the case to court. As of April 2020, Honduras’ judicial system had 180,000 cases that have yet to be processed, resulting in new cases being virtually impossible to resolve. Sadly, there is little being done to control gang violence, further increasing homelessness in Honduras.

This issue takes its toll in different ways. For mothers who beg and carry their babies on their hips all day, their children do not learn to walk or develop properly. Older kids and teenagers often turn to glue to soothe hunger pains. Young men can find financial stability and familial security in a life of crime. Although homelessness in Honduras looks substantially different for each person, there is one certainty — the United States can help make a difference. This has been made evident through the work of El Rancho Ebenezer and countless NGOs in Honduras with American ties. The stars and stripes continue to show that their resources stretch beyond the American border.

–  Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr


United Parcel Service (UPS) is the world’s largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain innovation. The company’s extensive worldwide network makes it a critical link in everyday commerce while providing the necessary infrastructure and expertise to continue operations during crises. Since its establishment, UPS has leveraged its sub-sectors, global partnerships and supply chain intelligence to provide relief for communities across the world in times of need.

The UPS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UPS, leads the company’s response efforts. The organization donated over $6 million this year to United Nations agencies, humanitarian relief partners, non-profit and international non-governmental organizations.

UPS History of Crisis Prevention

In 2014, an outbreak of the Ebola Virus spread across West Africa, killing 11,325 people. As the second-largest outbreak in history, it highlighted the importance of assembling an efficient system for distributing medical equipment. Later that year, the UPS Foundation joined with Henry Schein, Johnson & Johnson, The World Trade Organization, World Food Program and World Economic Forum to start the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, with the goal of increasing supply chain efficiency. The partnership is a collaboration between public and private sectors that tracks global demand for medical supplies in order to coordinate the allocation and distribution of equipment during large scale public health emergencies.

In 2016, the UPS Foundation partnered with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and Zipline, a drone delivery service providing access to vital medical supplies, to establish the Rwanda Drone Delivery Network. The network is the world’s first drone delivery service whose mission is to provide medicine, vaccines and supplies to remote regions in Rwanda and Ghana. Making basic treatment more accessible is a crucial step toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal healthcare coverage, particularly in isolated and underdeveloped areas.

Previously, UPS also joined with the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction to provide tools and educational resources to healthcare workers about influenza vaccine administration. The organization works with low-income countries to build yearly influenza vaccination programs. These programs provide a strong existing infrastructure for vaccine distribution that can hold up during a pandemic. Through a $50,000 grant, The UPS Foundation funded the vaccination of more than 17,000 individuals in Armenia, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, as well as 130,000 health workers in Vietnam.

COVID-19 Response

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UPS has taken an active role in supporting international recovery efforts. Through various grants and funding, The UPS Foundation has contributed a total of nearly $21 million toward humanitarian causes in 2020. The company hopes to increase the involvement of private-sector companies in relief efforts through partnerships. These partnerships would provide medical equipment, treatment, food and other basic necessities to vulnerable regions.

UPS joined Project Airbridge, a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and private-sector companies in numerous countries, to expedite the delivery of medical supplies to remote or vulnerable areas. With the help of its existing global supply chain, UPS is operating additional flights between several countries in Asia, Europe and the U.S. to aid in the distribution of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, surgical materials, thermometers and test kits.

UPS is also currently working with three COVID-19 vaccine developers and preparing to facilitate an eventual distribution and rollout. Its subsidiaries Polar Speed and Marken are using their storage facilities, designed to handle fragile and temperature-sensitive materials, to assist with holding and logistics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation and adaptation are critical skills in developing solutions. UPS has been a leader in supply chain logistics and is now using its expertise to provide global relief. The company’s ability to modify its operations to meet the world’s needs has been tested in the past and continues to show as UPS creates innovative solutions to humanitarian issues, both alone and through partnerships.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Ukraine
Ukraine has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and poverty rates will likely increase dramatically. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine released an official prediction on the absolute poverty implications of the pandemic. The analysis indicates that the impacts on child poverty in Ukraine will be the most severe.

Ukraine is Europe’s second-biggest and second-poorest country, just behind Moldova. The country has more than 46,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 3 July, 2020. Many of the restrictions imposed on the country have been lifted as the country enters its adaptive quarantine stage, though social distancing and mask-wearing requirements remain in place.

Ominous Predictions

According to the World Bank, the negative economic impact of the pandemic will show through several courses. These include a decrease in disposable incomes and consumption, lower remittances caused by decreased economic activity throughout the E.U. and lower commodity prices that impact Ukrainian exports.

UNICEF is particularly concerned that the economic collapse will have the most adverse impacts on vulnerable groups such as single parents, multiple-children households, households with children younger than 3 and single pensioners over the age of 65. UNICEF also predicts that the absolute poverty rate in Ukraine will rise from 27% to 44%, and the child poverty rate will rise from 33% to 51%. Under the less severe prediction, that would mean 6.3 million more people will be living in poverty than before, of whom 1.4 million will be children. The more severe prediction shows 9 million more people will be living in poverty, 1.8 million of them children. To put this in perspective, in 2019 50% of the population was financially unprotected. That will likely increase as poverty levels go up.

Government Action

To mitigate these stark numbers, the Ukrianian Government has taken action on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. These actions include one-time payments for low-income pensioners and child disability payment beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, these payments are insufficient to combat increasing absolute poverty and child poverty in Ukraine. UNICEF says that children who live in poverty are more likely to be poor as adults, an issue that actually goes deeper than poverty itself, as the most disadvantaged children usually have disabilities, are girls or belong to minorities. For the potential 1.4 to 1.8 million children that will live in poverty due to the pandemic, this poses an immense threat to their economic mobility in adulthood.

Social Policy Programme

A solution to combat the inevitable increase in child poverty in Ukraine due to this crisis is UNICEF’s Social Policy Programme.  Through advocacy and technical support to the Government of Ukraine, this program promotes equity for children and improved social welfare. It expands across four main areas.

  1. Poverty Reduction and Macro Policies for Children: To address the drivers of poverty and social exclusion, there is a focus on improved measuring of the multidimensional aspects of child poverty. To promote child-centered family policies, issues of child poverty will be in a leading position of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy.

  2. Social Protection with a Focus on Integrated Modalities: This will improve cash transfer performance in poverty reduction for vulnerable children and/or displaced children and their families. Social protection programs will expand with a strengthened, locally driven intersectoral approach. This goes beyond cash transfers and includes case management and local social service provision.

  3. Public Finance for Children: For maximum impact of public expenditure on children, UNICEF works with line ministries and the Ministry of Finance. Children’s rights are prioritized.

  4. Local Governance and Accountability with focus on Child-Friendly Cities: UNICEF Ukraine works with local partners to fully realize children’s rights. The Child Friendly Cities initiative is a global movement that strengthens social inclusion, promotes child and youth participation and incentivizes local authorities to invest in the overall well-being of children.

While the full impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are still unknown, and with the devastating impact it has on poverty, continuing to combat child poverty in Ukraine is vital. Social welfare programs like UNICEF’s Social Policy Programme are essential to mitigate the effects of poverty, strengthen child care and enhance access to basic services. Investing in children will have a substantial impact on the future, and it is a necessary measure to combat poverty in Ukraine and around the world.

Rochelle Gluzma
Photo: Flickr

Malaria is a leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, among 228 million cases of malaria globally, there were 405,000 deaths, 94% of which were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although treatment has gotten much better in recent years and deaths due to malaria have begun to decline globally, in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic worries have arisen that those who receive treatment for malaria will be unable to continue to do so. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/maintain-essential-services-malaria.html)Recent results from the Global Fund’s biweekly survey of HIV, TB, and malaria treatment programs found that 73% of malaria programs reported disruption to service delivery, with 19% reporting high and very high disruptions. Activities within the programs are being canceled due to lockdowns, restrictions on the size of gatherings, transport stoppages, COVID-related stigma, and clients not seeking health services as usual. With these disruptions to important malaria treatment services, such as insecticide-treated net campaigns and antimalarial medicine administration, the World Health Organization predicts that deaths from malaria in Sub-saharan Africa could double. (https://www.theglobalfight.org/covid-aids-tb-malaria/) These deaths would return countries' malaria mortality levels from the year 2000, regressing on the progress that malaria treatment has reached in the past 18 years. It has never been more vital than now that countries continue to mitigate malaria treatment in their communities and sustain essential services that have helped save so many lives of those affected by malaria. (https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-04-2020-who-urges-countries-to-move-quickly-to-save-lives-from-malaria-in-sub-saharan-africa) The Global Fund is a partnership designed to help eradicate HIV, TB, and malaria epidemics. It raises and invests more than $4 billion a year to support local programs for these epidemics. They partner with local experts in countries, as well as governments, faith-based organizations, technical agencies, the private sector, and those affected by these diseases to raise money, invest it, and implement strategies to give aid. (https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/overview/) The Global Fund has created an urgent mitigation plan to curb the effect of COVID-19 on delivering essential health services, such as malaria relief, as well as making $1 billion available to other countries as part of their response. They plan to adapt malaria programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, protect frontline workers with protective equipment and training, reinforce supply chains, laboratory networks, and community-led response systems, and fight COVID-19 by supporting testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment. The Global Fund is seeking an additional $5 billion to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on countries receiving treatment for malaria, TB, and HIV. (https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/covid-19-plan/) Along with the Global Fund and the WHO, the CDC has also created a set of key considerations for continuing essential malaria prevention, while safeguarding against the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to recommending that a representative from the National Malaria Control Program should be considered for membership on the country’s National COVID-19 Incident Management Team, the CDC recommends continued access to Insecticide-Treated Nets for populations at risk, physical distancing during spray treatments, and the continuance of essential routine entomological monitoring activities while abiding by social distancing and wearing protective gear. The CDC also recommends that countries monitor their supply chain and adapt their malaria treatment programs if needed, due to higher costs or less resources. Countries should continue to collect data on COVID-19 and malaria illness in the population. It is important that countries communicate their continuation of malaria treatment to their citizens and educate them on how to seek treatment while also protecting themselves from COVID. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/maintain-essential-services-malaria.html)
The leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa is malaria. There were 228 million cases of malaria globally in 2018. Additionally, there were 405,000 deaths, 94% of which were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The treatment improves in recent years and malaria has begun to decline globally. However, concerns about receiving treatment for malaria occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent results from the Global Fund’s biweekly survey of HIV, TB and malaria treatment programs found that 73% of malaria programs reported disruption to service delivery. Around 19% reports high and very high disruptions.

Lockdowns canceled activities within the programs. There are restrictions on the size of gatherings, transport stoppages, COVID-related stigma and patients are not seeking health services as usual. The World Health Organization predicts that deaths from malaria in Sub-saharan Africa could double due to disruptions to important malaria treatment services. For example, insecticide-treated net campaigns and antimalarial medicine administration. It is extremely vital that countries continue to mitigate malaria treatment in their communities. Additionally, the countries should sustain essential services that have helped save many lives affected by malaria.

The Global Fund

The Global Fund is a partnership that helps eradicate HIV, TB and malaria epidemics. It raises and invests more than $4 billion a year to support local programs for these epidemics. The organization partner with local experts in countries, governments, organizations, the private sector and those affected by these diseases. The aim of the partnership is to raise and invest money and implement strategies to give aid.

Furthermore, The Global Fund created an urgent mitigation plan to curb the effect of COVID-19 on delivering essential health services. The plan includes making $1 billion malaria relief available to other countries as part of their response. In addition, The Global Fund plans to adapt malaria programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect frontline workers with protective equipment and training. It also reinforce supply chains, laboratory networks and community-led response systems. The Global Fund fights COVID-19 by supporting testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment. It seeks an additional $5 billion to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on countries receiving treatment for malaria, TB and HIV.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC created a set of key considerations for continuing essential malaria prevention while safeguarding against the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC gives four recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, a representative from the National Malaria Control Program should be considered for membership on the country’s National COVID-19 Incident Management Team. Second, continued access for Insecticide-Treated Nets for populations at risk should be put in place. Third, physical distancing during spray treatments should be imposed. Lastly, the continuance of essential routine entomological monitoring activities while abiding by social distancing and wearing protective gear.

For countries that impacted by malaria, the CDC advises the countries to monitor their supply chain and adapt their malaria treatment programs. Countries should continue to collect data on COVID-19 and malaria illness in the population. It is important that countries communicate their continuation of malaria treatment to their citizens and educate them on how to seek treatment while also protecting themselves from COVID-19.

Giulia Silver
Photo: Flickr

Nigeria's Economy
Nigeria, home to Africa’s largest economy, is facing consequences from the surge of COVID-19. After experiencing a recession in 2014, the country was finally seeing progress in its oil exports, resulting in overall financial recovery. That is until the pandemic hit. Nigeria is struggling to reignite its economy as the damages of the novel coronavirus persist. The country’s dependency on oil exports, along with the inevitable effects of a country-wide lockdown, are two reasons for Nigeria’s economic downturn. However, steps are being taken to boost Nigeria’s economy. This article articulates both the economic impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria and recent motions toward recovery.

COVID-19: The Numbers in Nigeria

According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria has seen over 38,000 cases of the coronavirus and over 800 deaths. In a country of around 214 million, the fatality rate is about 2% or 418,000 Nigerians. What does this mean for their economy?

Despite a recession from 2014 to 2016, The World Bank asserts that Nigeria’s economy may be headed toward the worst financial state the country has seen in four decades. Nigeria is extremely dependent on oil, which represents more than 80% of the country’s exports. With international travel halted due to COVID-19, the country has recorded an 18-year low on fuel prices, at $22 per barrel. According to economics experts, the Nigerian revenue flow will decrease to 1.1 trillion Naira (about $3 billion). That is about a 4.4 trillion Naira decline from the beginning of 2020.

The National Bureau of Statistics states that 42% of almost 2,000 citizens interviewed were out of work as a result of the pandemic. Out of all households interviewed, the poorest households saw the highest share of unemployment, at a jarring 45%. Moreover, 79% of reported households saw a decrease in their income as of March 2020.

Oil exports are not the only thing hurting Nigeria’s economy. Prices of common goods, like bread and water, increased shortly after a lockdown was enforced on March 30. A single loaf of bread increased from N350 to N450 (around ¢90 to $1.16). Pure, clean household water in Nigeria normally costs about N100, but since the pandemic, the price has doubled. As the consumption of goods, investments and net exports decrease, Nigeria’s economy is facing a harmful downturn.

The Good News

There remain reasons to be hopeful for Nigeria’s economy. Early in the pandemic, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) performed contact tracing calls to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These calls were made to people deemed “passengers of interest,” or those who had been traveling in recent weeks. Not only did these calls help slow the spread of the virus by enforcing self-isolation, but they also created a sense of comfort. The calls aided monitoring symptoms and provided psychological encouragement during an unprecedented time.

Nigeria’s government has also worked to help people financially impacted by COVID-19. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) set out a 50 billion Naira ($139 million) stimulus package for Nigerian households and small to medium-sized businesses. Moreover, interest rates on CBN interventions decreased from 9% to 5% in an effort to aid Nigeria’s Economy.

UNICEF has also contributed to helping Nigeria throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), UNICEF is ensuring that all mothers with children under the age of two are able to safely breastfeed their babies, making sure they follow health guidelines.

With children out of school due to the pandemic, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has provided training to mothers to screen their children for malnutrition. Many students depend on school lunches and considering the rate of job loss in Nigeria, this is a necessary step to ensure that all children are taken care of.

The pandemic has affected Nigeria’s economy and citizens to a grave extent. With oil exports reported at an 18-year low and job losses mounting, COVID-19 has destroyed whatever sense of progress Nigeria experienced since its last recession. With the support of the U.S International Affairs Budget, and with further foreign aid, Nigeria can hope for drastic changes in their job rates and oil exports.

Anna Hoban
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Guam
Guam is a U.S. island territory in the Western Pacific with a population of slightly less than 170,000 people. There are multiple U.S. military bases on the island, which many consider critically important bases for U.S. strategic interests in the Pacific. The bases also provide the island with its principal source of income. Aside from being one of the military’s crown jewels, Guam has a rich indigenous (Chamorro) culture and beautiful coral reefs surround it. While not as beautiful but still impressive, Guam has a relatively robust system of sanitation. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Guam.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Guam

  1. Widespread Access to Safe Drinking Water: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 100% of people in Guam have access to a safe source of drinkable tap water. However, international travelers have only scored Guam’s drinking water as “moderate” in the categories of quality, pollution and accessibility.
  2. The EPA Funding Water Projects: In 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committing more than $10 million to improve Guam’s drinking water. This money is going toward upgrading infrastructure, treatment systems and distribution facilities. Plans are also in place to promote water re-use and to develop methods of recycling the large amounts of stormwater that Guam receives.
  3. Improved Sanitation Facilities: Nine out of 10 people in Guam have access to an improved sanitation facility. This is a good sign for Guam’s population and its efforts to promote a sanitary society.
  4. Trash Collection: Guam Solid Waste Authority (GSWA) provides a trash collection service essentially identical to the service found in the vast majority of continental United States cities. Paying customers (~16,000) receive rollable trash bins which they place outside their homes on a specified day. Trucks collect this garbage and then dump it in a landfill. Non-paying customers can also bring their trash to a local servicing station.
  5. Recycling: Customers of GSWA also receive recycling carts for paper products, aluminum/metal cans and certain plastics. GSWA collects recycling twice a month. Similar to trash collection, non-paying customers can recycle at local “residential transfer stations.” These stations also have facilities for recycling glass and cardboard.
  6. Coastal Cleanup: Guam holds an annual coastal cleanup day every September. Thousands of volunteers partner with NGOs and governmental organizations to keep Guam’s beaches clean. This is one way that local people prioritize their island’s sanitation.
  7. COVID-19 Risk Due to Bases: One might consider that Guam should be able to combat COVID-19 easily because of its remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, however, the presence of two major military bases heightens the risk of disease spread on the island. In fact, U.S. military bases are often COVID-19 hotspots. With 35 airmen testing positive for the disease at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam is no exception.
  8. COVID-19 Measures: Guam has declared a state of emergency due to the global pandemic. The government requires that citizens wear a face mask when using public transportation, and they strongly recommend that people wear a mask whenever in public. Stores are taking extra precautions through increased sanitation, and most restaurants have closed for dine-in services, but many are preparing to re-open.
  9. Grocery Delivery: A village mayor in Guam has partnered with a local Pay-Less supermarket to provide a grocery delivery service to all village residents. The service is called Grocery to Go and provides a safe way for citizens to obtain food during the global health emergency.
  10. Mask Donations: GTA Teleguam, the largest telecommunications company in Guam, is donating 10,000 masks to healthcare clinics and nonprofits on the island. This is a massive boon for families struggling financially, as they will not have to worry about purchasing these critical sanitation items.

As these 10 facts about sanitation in Guam show, the island has a solid foundation of water, sanitation and trash systems. The massive coastal cleanup and the community-driven efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 clearly demonstrate the commitment of the islanders to their home. Although the pandemic is putting Guam’s sanitation and health facilities to the test, individual citizens and organizations are rising to the challenge.

Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Department of Defense

COVID-19 in ChileChile is a small, narrow country in South America blessed with magnificent mountains and gorgeous Pacific Ocean views that attract tourists from all over the world. The World Bank estimates that Chile has a higher life expectancy than the United States and classifies it as a high-income country despite its many impoverished regions. Like many other countries, however, Chile has experienced substantial economic distress in the wake of COVID-19 due to the high infection rates. In fact, Chile has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the world with more than 364,000 confirmed cases as of 5 August 2020 in a population of only 18.7 million. Fortunately, in an effort to quickly recover from the crisis, the National Police formulated an unconventional, yet clever plan to combat COVID-19 in Chile.

Poverty & COVID-19 in Chile

Confirmed cases in Chile have steadily risen since May, beginning in high-income neighborhoods and slowly infiltrating low-income communities where the virus has caused the most damage.  The country has remained under a national state of emergency since mid-March and is now experiencing Phase 4 of the outbreak, which includes “uncontrolled and widespread community transmission,” forced quarantine in some areas and even a nationwide curfew. The Chilean government closed the country’s borders on 18 March 2020 to all tourists, cruise ships and other unnecessary traffic, excluding citizens and permanent residents who must be quarantined for 14 days upon re-entrance.

Tourism prevention has been particularly harmful to Chile’s economy since the country shut down in March. The country was named the 2017 Best Destination for Adventure Tourism in the World with more than 5.6 million people visiting each year, a group that has consistently stimulated the economy by nearly 13% annually. Jorge Rodriguez, Chile’s Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism stresses that tourism “is strategic for the growth of Chile,”  but COVID-19 is decelerating the progress tourism has made in the last decade.

The World Bank identifies Chile as one of Latin America’s “most unequal countries” because there are two socioeconomic extremes: incredibly impoverished or wonderfully wealthy. There is no middle class, forcing socioeconomic status to determine whether a person hopelessly struggles under government dependence or flourishes in their own monetary independence. Because people living in poverty must rely on assistance from the government, poor Chileans are suffering now more than ever as COVID-19 devastates the economy.

Retrievers to the Rescue

Luckily, the Chilean government, in partnership with the Catholic University of Chile, has constructed a strategic recovery plan that relies on retrievers. Chile’s National Police has embarked on a journey to teach K-9s to find COVID-19 in crowds. Three highly trained pups, with experience in drug and bomb detection, are learning to sniff out human odors specifically emitted by prospective patients.  COVID-19 itself does not have an odor, but minor metabolic changes can be detected as well as “volatile organic compounds” according to Fernando Mardones, professor and epidemiologist at the Catholic University of Chile. Those distinct markers enable the K-9s to intelligently track and discover people who are either asymptomatic or just entering the earliest stages of infection. Once a target is located, the “bio-detector dogs” do not scratch or use their killer bites. They simply sit by the COVID-19 carrier for discrete identification that prevents panic.

K-9s to Conquer COVID-19

The program currently remains in pilot stages but should be fully implemented by mid-September where the K-9s will be immediately deployed to high population centers. By the end of the training, one K-9 will be able to search more than 250 people in one hour with more than 95% accuracy. After the K-9s successfully memorize how to detect the virus in humans and remove COVID-19 patients from densely populated areas, confirmed case numbers in Chile should steadily decline. The country will then be able to reopen its ports and borders. Reestablishing its rightful place as one of the world’s most sought after tourism destinations will allow the economy to heal as travelers renew their plans to enjoy Chile’s beautiful scenery and exhilarating adventure sites.

Economic stability boosted by tourism revitalization will ease the concerns of people in poverty because the government will return to adequately assisting low-income regions as it did before COVID-19. Hopefully, extinguishing the virus in Chile will begin to bridge the gap between the country’s seemingly untouchable upper class and its disadvantaged lower class, giving impoverished people a chance to thrive.

-Natalie Clark
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in CroatiaHunger in Croatia has been a historical plague starting in 1917 when World War I set the country to a two-year famine. The struggle continued through the 2008 recession that increased poverty and unemployment rates by 8%. As in many contexts, Croatia’s economic hardship left many families with insecure food sources, with children being the most vulnerable to malnutrition and stunting. Consequently, in UNICEF’s 2014 report “Children of Recession,” the number of Croatian children living in poverty or at the brink of poverty was at an alarming level.

Fighting Hunger in Croatia by Addressing Poverty

Due to the correlation between poverty and hunger, the Minister of Social Welfare Milanka Opacic launched an initiative in 2015 to combat issues of hunger in Croatia. Part of this initiative included providing free school lunches to all children. As a result of this initiative, the Global Hunger Index in 2015 reported that Croatia, alongside 17 other countries, had reduced the number of people with insecure food sources by half. Furthermore, in 2016, the Global Hunger Index ranked Croatia as being of low concern for hunger.

The Link Between Hunger in Croatia and Agriculture

However, the problem of hunger in Croatia is not solely caused by poverty. Croatia is a country heavily dependent on food imports. Despite the fact that Croatia has quality agricultural land, plenty of water as well and a diverse climate and landscape, it is unable to produce enough food for the consumption needs of citizens. Based on its resources, Croatia should be a major exporter of agricultural goods; instead, Croatia imports 3.5 billion euros worth of food. One main cause of insufficient agriculture production in Croatia is inadequate and ineffective management of land. Due to this mismanagement, Croatian agricultural estates remain small, fragmented, underdeveloped and ultimately unproductive. Croatia suffers from agricultural stunting as a result of depopulated rural areas, a poor market value chain and outdated technology.

These issues will perpetually tie Croatia to food imports and fundamentally prevent the nation from being agriculturally independent. From an economic or trade perspective, this import dependence is not a problem. Every country in the world imports goods that it cannot produce domestically. However, in the era of COVID-19, heavy reliance on imports raises concerns; especially when the import is something as important and life-sustaining as food.

Steps Towards a Secure Croatia

While initiatives combating hunger in Croatia have made great domestic progress through increasing access to impoverished communities, there is still work to do. Experts call on Croatia to extend their hunger policies and focus on investing in domestic agricultural production. Croatia has already proven to be a country prone to hunger and it simply cannot afford to be self-sufficient in the provision of food in order to survive potential events like security threats, natural disasters or resource depletion.

Croatia has indisputably improved remarkably in regards to hunger since the 2008 recession. However, there is still a long way to go. This work requires funding, research and dedication; if successful, these efforts will result in an agriculturally independent and secure Croatia.

Lily Jones
Photo: Flickr