Poverty in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is one of the poorest nations in the continental Americas. With a population of 6.5 million, the country’s chronic cycle of poverty is linked to consistent political instability and conflict, high inequality between urban and rural populations, dependency on agricultural exports and natural disasters. Nicaragua’s unusual response to COVID-19 — which has entailed no formal quarantine measures and an underreporting of infections — will surely impact its level of poverty as well. Here are five causes of poverty in Nicaragua.

5 Causes of Poverty in Nicaragua

  1. Political Instability and Conflict: Since the turn of the 20th century, Nicaragua has experienced three authoritarian dictatorships, a period of U.S. occupation, a revolution and civil war. The Somoza family dictatorship — which lasted for 43 years, from 1936 to 1979 — created extreme economic inequality. The 1979 Sandinista revolution usurped power from the Somoza family; however, the revolution was short-lived, as a counter-revolution began shortly afterward. That counter-revolution lasted until 1990 and severely ravaged the country. Nowadays, Nicaragua is again experiencing authoritarian rule and state violence under President Daniel Ortega. Initially, Ortega’s government implemented social welfare programs that greatly reduced poverty. The government also created a fruitful business environment that led to high economic growth. However, protests in 2018 prompted a violent response from the government, leading to continued political unrest and economic recession. Nicaragua’s economy shrunk by 4% and 3.9% in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, experts believe that the economy could contract by 4.3%.
  2. Urban vs. Rural Divide: There is a significant difference between life in Nicaragua’s cities and in rural areas. Overall, 30% of Nicaraguans live in poverty and 8% live in extreme poverty. However, 50% of the population in rural areas live below the poverty line, and 11.5% live in extreme poverty. This inequality manifests not only in GDP per capita but also in access to resources such as water, electricity, telephone, mobile phone service and paved roads.
  3. Dependency on Agricultural Exports: Historically, many economies in Latin America and the global south have geared toward exporting agricultural goods to industrialized countries. Such economies tend to be entirely dependent on one or two crops. Nicaragua is no exception — coffee and cotton have been the country’s principal cash crops. Today, 70% of the Nicaraguan population still works in agriculture. Although agriculture accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP, food insecurity is high, which signals that the country still exports a large proportion of crops. Certain NGOs, such as EcoAgriculture Partners and Self-Help International, work to help alleviate food insecurity and other problems that result from the agricultural system in Nicaragua.
  4. Natural Disasters: Nicaragua’s topography includes many lakes and volcanoes. Situated along the Caribbean Sea, the country is highly susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and drought. In April 2014, Nicaragua suffered from two earthquakes in two days, hitting Managua and Granada and measuring 6.1 and 6.6 in magnitude, respectively. Natural disasters have repeatedly infringed on the development and maintenance of the country’s infrastructure.
  5. COVID-19 and Future Predictions: As in other countries, experts expect that the COVID-19 pandemic could increase poverty levels in Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s government has not implemented any social distancing measures. In fact, it has done the opposite, keeping schools open and promoting social gatherings like sporting events and beach activities. The pandemic has already reduced remittances, trade and tourism. On top of Nicaragua’s political situation, the pandemic also greatly increases the risk for investment in the country.

While these five causes of poverty in Nicaragua determine that poverty and inequality could increase in upcoming years due to COVID-19 and political turmoil, the people of Nicaragua should still have hope. The country experienced great success in slashing poverty from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s. In 2005, 48.3% of the population lived below the poverty line, with 17.2% living in extreme poverty. Those percentages have since decreased by 18 and nine points, respectively, thanks to the current government’s investment in social welfare programs. These programs include Hambre Cero, which offers plants and animals to women heads-of-household; Usura Cero, which provides women micro-loans; Plan Techo, which provides roofing materials for families in need; and Agua Segura, which provides clean water. In addition, NGOs such as Self-Help International are working to advance agriculture, feed children, empower women and provide community nutrition for the people of Nicaragua.

Tirza Morales
Photo: Flickr

Poverty In SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities globally. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself but also from indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs. Now, men and women are facing numerous difficulties while trying to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries, such as the United States, the U.K. or Japan, have been able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. Poverty in Spain was among some of Europe’s highest rates even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the citizens of Spain, who had already suffered from poverty, are now met with another obstacle. However, those experiencing poverty in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, facemasks or other necessities to those in need. 

Growing Poverty Rates

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Spain, 26.1% of people were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” and 5.4% of people experienced “severe material deprivation” in 2018. The National Institute of Statistics also reported that 55.2% of people faced varying degrees of difficulty making ends meet that same year. Although these figures only include adults, children are not excluded from poverty’s reach.

Children in Spain seem to be more vulnerable to poverty than adults. A 2017 report from the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) found that the child population in Spain has unacceptably high rates in the indicators of poverty. One of the report’s most jarring statistics concerning the child population in Spain is that 31.3% of children were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion.” However, these children all experience poverty differently.

Among the children facing poverty in Spain, the 2016 EAPN report identified that 10.8% experienced severe poverty and 6.5% endure severe material deprivation. In 2018, poverty rates for children in Spain hardly budged. The National Institute of Statistics reported that 29.5% of children were still at risk in 2018, and 6.5% were still experiencing severe material deprivation. 

Unemployment Factors In

Although numerous factors are involved with these statistics, the country’s unemployment rate definitely contributes to poverty’s overwhelming presence in Spain. The Center for Sociological Research (CIS) conducted a study in Jan. of 2020 that showed most Spanish citizens consider unemployment and economic problems as the most critical issues in their country. 

The people’s concern about Spain’s economy is legitimate, considering what the statistical analysis shows. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate in Spain was 13.78%. This was two times the rate of the EU. In particular, young people in Spain showed notable unemployment rates. The National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in that same quarter.

Charities and Social Organizations Step in Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected virtually every person in the world in its wake. However, those in poverty have been suffering prior to the virus; in fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made survival in poverty more challenging. As such, charities and social organizations in Spain have been rallying behind those in need to soften the pandemic’s effects. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis:

  1. Cáritas: The Spanish Episcopal Conference instituted Cáritas in 1947. Cáritas Española’s objective is to carry out the charitable and social action of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19. It includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided during the pandemic include facemask-making workshops, granting hotel rooms for the homeless and providing disinfection services for assisted living homes. 
  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) was founded in 1996 to combat hunger and poverty by reducing food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families in Spain who cannot easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.
  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The Alberto y Elena Cortina Foundation is a Spanish non-profit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute a large portion of fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets after Spain announced a state of emergency.

Looking Ahead

Travel Restrictions have stymied most volunteering and social work interventions, but there are many ways to fight against poverty from home. People who have access to the Internet and a few dollars to spare can significantly contribute to organizations in Spain. Quarantine orders and social distancing have separated people physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. Although thousands of miles might separate countries, people can still reach out to those in need by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that are working on the front lines toward a better future.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in RwandaRwanda is now using five anti-epidemic robots to help combat COVID-19. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), an organization working to end global poverty using sustainable practices, donated the robots. The robots’ names are Akazuba, Ikizere, Mwiza, Ngabo and Urumuri. The country received the robots on May 19, 2020, at its Kanyinya Treatment Centre located in the capital city of Kigali, which has taken the brunt of cases of COVID-19 in Rwanda.

About Anti-Epidemic Robots

The robots have the capacity to take temperatures of patients and screen up to 150 people every minute for symptoms. They can also store medical records and capture visual and auditory data for later use by medical personnel. According to Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije, the robots can detect when someone is not wearing a mask. They can then notify staff so the issue can be swiftly and safely resolved. Additionally, the robots can deliver food and medicine to both COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers. They are also able to communicate accurate information about the virus.

Since the outbreak, more than 90,000 healthcare workers around the world have contracted COVID-19 as a result of contact with patients. By utilizing anti-epidemic robots, the Rwandan Ministry of Health hopes to keep medical personnel safe by reducing contact with patients. The robots can also get people the help they need faster and can partially make up for low physician density. As of 2017, Rwanda has only 0.13 physicians per 1,000 people. According to the World Health Organization, anything less than 2.3 physicians per 1,000 of the population is insufficient.

Impact of COVID-19 Globally

COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the globe in a matter of months. Although the outbreak impacts many lives, the lives and futures of vulnerable populations have been particularly affected. The UNDP predicts human development—health, education and standard of living—will decline in all regions of the world. This would be the first decrease in the 30 years the measure has been in use. The World Bank says people living in extreme poverty could increase by 40 to 60 million this year. At this rate, up to 50% of people could lose their jobs and the economy could potentially lose $10 trillion. In addition, more than 250 million people worldwide could face hunger. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are projected to take the biggest blows.

Rwanda, in particular, is quite vulnerable in these aspects. As of 2015, 39.1% of the population lives below the poverty line. In addition, 23.9% do not have access to an improved water source and 38.4% of the population does not have access to improved sanitation facilities. These issues, on top of the high population density, mean COVID-19 has the potential to spread faster and more easily. COVID-19 in Rwanda has the potential to push these vulnerable populations deeper into poverty.

Despite these issues, Rwanda’s introduction of anti-epidemic robots is a step in the right direction. The country has the potential of both slowing the spread of COVID-19 and improving the quality of medical care. Reducing poverty in Rwanda will take time and a coordinated effort. As of right now, battling the effects of COVID-19 is of the utmost importance.

– Elizabeth Davis
Photo: Flickr

While it may have been one of the first nations in the Americas to take significant preventative actions against the coronavirus, Peru is still reporting over 208,000 COVID-19 cases, and is now ranked as the second most impacted South American country behind Brazil. After the implementation of stay-at-home orders, curfews and boarder closings, it is strange to see both the number of cases and deaths continuing to rise. One explanation as to why Peru is continuing to deal with more cases is that Peru’s poor do not have the luxury to stay at home and Peruvian food markets can be a hub for spreading coronavirus.

The Necessity of Food Markets

Why venture out? Work, food and banking transactions are all done on the streets of Peru and not in the comfort of one’s home. Only 49% of Peruvian households have access to a refrigerator or freezer, meaning that daily excursions to Peruvian food markets are necessary in order to keep food on the table.

Furthermore, the Peruvian food markets provide another challenge, maintaining social distancing. On April 14, CNN affiliate TV Peru captured images of a Lima food market where shoppers waited for hours in lines or in masses while wearing masks but not practicing social distancing. This scene was then replicated outside of banks as people queued up in an attempt to access coronavirus relief funds. Peruvian food markets have quickly become hot spots for contagion, not just for shoppers but also for vendors.

Proving to be an Issue

In a local market, just outside the San Martín de Porres district, “163 merchants tested positive for the virus, after 842 rapid tests.” In response to the rising cases, the Peruvian government implemented more bans and lockdowns to try and stop the sudden influx of cases and extended the state of emergency until June 30. This solution, however, does not address all circumstances across Peru. The fact still remains that the nation’s poor often have no choice but to venture out daily to access the resources they need.

Entrepreneurs feel Economic Strain

Despite the dangers surrounding vendors and shoppers, Peruvian food markets are only half of the equation. The global pandemic has also wreaked havoc on small producers and entrepreneurs.

People who work in small scale production don’t always have easy access to local markets which can lead to two things:

  1. The producers are unable to sell their products in the cities and thus receive less income than they normally would.
  2. Markets will begin to see a decline in produce and goods, which will result in crowded markets and higher prices.

Although Peru is starting to grant transit permits to these small producers, the process has been slowed down due to the coronavirus. While numerous solutions have been proposed by the Peruvian government, only a few actions are igniting real change in providing help for citizens living below the poverty line.

One such solution is being enacted through the German partnership program: Welthungerhilfe. The international relief program focuses on ending food insecurity across the globe. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it has dedicated relief efforts to communities most heavily impacted. In Peru, this can be seen in the community of Húanuco. Working with the Peruvian Institute of Development and Environment (Instituto de Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente), Welthungerhilfe implemented a delivery service, to connect local farmers and producers with markets and consumers in more urban areas. This effort will keep locally owned farms employed during the crisis and fight the food scarcity affecting local markets.

For the Peruvian people living in poverty, COVID-19 has uncovered many of the nation’s shortcomings including food insecurity. Producers, vendors and shoppers alike are struggling to operate within new health regulations and provide for their families in the crowded streets of Peruvian food markets. As a result, international relief agencies, like Welthungerhilfe, have been emerging to help those in need.

– Elizabeth Price
Photo: Pixabay
Burden of COVIDThe most recent pandemic has wreaked havoc on countries all over the world and has stagnated, or even reversed progress in many developing communities. While officials have been trying to reduce the number of cases worldwide, there have also been many tech developments that help alleviate the burden of COVID-19. Various apps and websites allow us to spread information, contact-trace and even enforce quarantine.

6 Ways Technology Helps Alleviate the Burden of COVID-19

  1. Afghanistan- Without proper guidance, misinformation can spread like wildfire and can be deadly. For this reason, the Ministry of Public Health joined forces with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology to create software that provides health information to Afghani citizens. Corona.asan.gov.af translates virus updates and information into three different languages, making it easily accessible for all people.
  2. Bulgaria- Local IT developers created a free app that connects citizens to health authorities to help ease the burden of COVID-19. Users verify their identity and can input various symptoms they are experiencing. A doctor will then review their symptoms and decide whether or not to send the patient to the closest medical facility for treatment. In addition to this, the app also can predict the future growth and spread of the virus. The developers are also willing to sell the software to other countries for a symbolic one euro.
  3. Germany- A Berlin-based tech startup created an initiative that would work on Android devices in developing countries throughout South America and North Africa. The project, called #AppsFightCovid would display health information on popup ads that already exist on different apps. The ads take info from the WHO website and advocate for frequent hand washing and wearing a mask in public. Because of these efforts, underdeveloped communities now have access to important COVID-19 information.
  4. Mexico- The Mexico City government created a screening service that determines how likely a user is to contract the coronavirus. The website also features a map that displays the closest hospitals and how much space is available in each of them. People can also filter the map based on whether they need a general care bed or a ventilator bed. In addition, users can input their symptoms and determine whether or not they require hospitalization. This helps alleviate the burden of COVID by reducing the number of unnecessary hospital patients during a global pandemic.
  5. United Nations- It is extremely difficult to get access to personal protective equipment and accurate information, especially for developing countries. Because of this, the U.N. partnered with the WHO and launched the Tech Access Partnership or TAP. This initiative helps reduce the burden of COVID by connecting expert manufacturers with developing manufacturers in poorer countries all over the world to share resources, knowledge and technical expertise. TAP will also aid countries in creating affordable and safe technology.
  6. Argentina- In hopes of reducing the number of coronavirus cases, a company is looking into enforcing quarantining and social distancing through a tracking app, though it is not yet operational. This would be a way to prevent the spread of COVID since the app would send an alert each time a person leaves their home. In addition, the Argentinian Ministry of Health created an application that allows people to evaluate their symptoms and see whether or not they require hospitalization.

 

Though the novel coronavirus has thrown us all for a whirlwind, many countries are doing their part to alleviate the burden of COVID by using technology. Whether it is through self-assessing symptoms, tracking hospitals or enforcing quarantine, government officials everywhere are trying to flatten the curve through the use of technology.

– Karin Filipova
Photo: Unsplash


As a global pandemic continues to impact the lives and safety of millions, many nations are working to prevent the spread of the virus. However, available resources differ across countries and regions. On March 12, Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency, mandating an island curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This curfew was lifted on June 11 and shifted to 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for two additional weeks. As of June 2020, there are approximately 6,500 cases in Puerto Rico, with the number of deaths resting at 149. Besides the imposed curfew, here are six ways Puerto Rico has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

6 Ways Puerto Rico Implemented COVID-19 Prevention Measures:

  1. On March 12, the Puerto Rican government banned social gatherings until further notice. Incoming travelers were immediately screened upon arrival. The first cases of COVID-19 were reported the day following the enforcement of these restrictions.
  2. Before social distancing guidelines were even established, Puerto Rico completely shut down everything except essential businesses. Additionally, even amid the gradual reopening strategies for businesses, the curfew remained. Travel to Puerto Rico was limited, and cruises were suspended. The territory was even granted permission to close airports and block flights.
  3. Through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, Puerto Rico received approximately $2 billion. It was granted these payments for various anti-coronavirus purposes, including purchasing testing kits and sending stimulus checks to unemployed citizens during the lockdown.
  4. On April 30, a slow and gradual reopening procedure began. Face masks were required at any public location, regardless if it was outside or inside. On May 11, construction and public workers were able to return to work after being educated on safety protocols.
  5. On May 26, restaurants were able to open at 25% capacity. Salons and barbers were able to work by appointment only with strict safety guidelines. Retail stores were also able to open with strict guidelines such as restricting customers from trying on clothes. On June 8, malls were granted access to open at limited capacity.
  6. Also beginning May 26, beaches were permitted to open between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. with social distancing guidelines. Shortly afterward, on June 16, movie theaters and bars could open as well. Additionally, businesses were allowed to shift to 50% capacity. On June 15, flights to Puerto Rico opened back up while screening anyone who flies in.

Puerto Rico showed its strength as a nation by locking down earlier than other countries worldwide. Puerto Rico actively took preventative measures to provide its citizens with quick and efficient procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing panic. Because of state officials’ valiant efforts, the territory was able to reopen at an earlier date. The manner in which Puerto Rico handled the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies how to implement COVID-19 prevention measures and reduce cases worldwide. With continued efforts such as these, Puerto Rico may be one of the leading nations in administrating anti-coronavirus steps.

Kimberly Elsey
Photo: Flickr


Amid the widespread pandemic, nations worldwide have been operating under similar prevention measures to combat COVID-19. Yet, some are more effective than others, and the results are clear. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana showed how it is collectivistic and holds personal responsibility for its citizens. On March 16, Ghana began to lockdown non-essential businesses and schools to prevent an outbreak as COVID-19 reached the nation.  As of June 4, 2020, Ghana confirmed 8,297 cases and 38 deaths. In the process of easing restrictions, Ghana allowed communities to reopen schools and universities on June 5 with social distancing guidelines. Here are seven ways Ghana is minimizing COVID-19 cases and is rearing up reopen.

7 Ways Ghana is Minimizing COVID-19 Cases

  1. On March 16, Ghana banned public gatherings altogether. The government also implemented travel restrictions to prevent any further spread of COVID-19. Ghanaian residents who traveled outside the country were required to quarantine for 14 days. All schools and universities were also closed indefinitely.
  2. On March 23, Ghana shut down all borders to travelers. This measure kept tourists from other countries from bringing the virus into the nation and allowed Ghana to focus on the infected citizens at hand. The border closures also assured COVID-19 did not spread from Ghana to other countries. By closing its borders, Ghana was able to determine diagnosed cases and isolate them from other populations.
  3. On April 2, Ghana received a donation from the World Bank to support its short-term and long-term responses to COVID-19. The overall contribution amounted to $100 million. Of this donation, $35 million was used for emergency improvements to the nation’s healthcare systems that they have in place for pandemics.
  4. The Ghana Emergency Preparedness and Response Project (EPRP)  launched through the World Bank’s provisions. The EPRP will be the blueprint for developing technologies that detect and survey COVID-19. Additionally, EPRP will cover outbreak reports to keep essential information streamlined. The initiative provides free support for COVID-19 patients who cannot afford medical or social care. The project will work to raise awareness on COVID-19 prevention measures and safety guidelines for any future outbreaks.
  5. As of April 13, Ghana administered approximately 44,000 tests for the COVID-19 virus. The comprehensive testing put Ghana significantly ahead of the curve. Making sure the majority of citizens tested for the coronavirus was how Ghana was able to obtain an accurate number of COVID-19 cases and quarantined as needed.
  6. In early April, the president announced a 50% salary increase for any healthcare workers on the front line. Nana Akufo-Addo, the present of Ghana, also told the public early on in the pandemic that Ghana would be tax-free for at least three months. Free water was also promised and supplied to anyone in need of it while on lockdown.
  7. Urban areas within metropolitan cities like Accra shut down late March to prevent any further spread of the virus through public transit. The Ghanian government kickstarted an awareness campaign to encourage social distancing and constant sanitation, such as washing your hands, to prevent viral transmissions. Wearing masks when going out for essential supplies was also highly emphasized in the campaign.

While countries worldwide are following similar prevention measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ghana, among other nations, was able to reopen earlier than expected. Ghana is minimizing COVID-19 cases and can reopen because of citizens’ and health workers’ commitment to implemented prevention measures. The Ghanaian government has also worked diligently to raise awareness and create proper prevention measures for rural and metropolitan areas alike. Ghanian citizens are provided with clean water, medical treatment and free counseling services to ensure social distancing measures are followed, and citizens remain healthy amid the unexpended circumstances. Due to its early lockdown and comprehensive testing, Ghana continues to lessen its COVID-19 cases and is heading toward a promising future.

Kim Elsey
Photo: Flickr


During the 2008 financial crisis, more than 20 million people in China were laid off, with the official unemployment rate reaching a peak of 4.7% in 2009. Since then, official unemployment in China has remained steady, hovering around 4.6% until 2015 and reaching a decade low of nearly 4.2% in 2018.

China has been able to maintain relatively low numbers in unemployment through an increase in investment in its social policies. Since the 2008 financial crisis, its jobless claims program funding nearly tripled to $82.37 billion. In 2016, China also signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization through the Decent Work Country Program, pledging to focus on generating a better social protection system and increasing the “quantity and quality of employment,” among other objectives, through the end of 2020. However, COVID-19 has interfered with these plans.

Impact of COVID-19 on Unemployment

China has over 84,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 4,600 reported deaths as of May 14, 2020. Since its first case in December of 2019, China has taken drastic measures to reduce the spread of the virus. This lead to a 6.8% drop in its GDP from January to March. Many business were also forced to close. While some industries have now reopened, China’s economy is still far from operating at full capacity and has been left with a grudging consumer base.

There was an estimated increase in unemployment in China by three million people as the rate increased from 5.2% in December 2019 to 5.9% in March 2020. However, there was no increase in the number of unemployed receiving benefits. To make matters worse, this is only what has been officially reported and does not include rural migrant workers. Including migrant workers would change the recent peak in unemployment from roughly 6% to nearly 20%.

Additionally, millions have been working without a contract, working without paying into their unemployment insurance or have not worked long enough to collect, leaving them without access to unemployment insurance. Those who do receive an unemployment check are being sent less than minimum wage each month, leaving many unable to pay rent.

Responses to Unemployment in China

The Chinese government recognizes the extreme troubles millions of its citizens are experiencing. They have mandated government officials to “prioritize job security and social stability above anything else.” Already China has been supporting small businesses through an increase in lending, as well as providing subsidies and tax breaks. Additionally, the government has given 67,000 jobless migrants a one-time payment with an additional 2.8 million more people receiving unemployment benefits (averaging $571 per person) and another 5.78 million people receiving subsidies to combat inflation. Those unable to receive unemployment insurance do have the opportunity to apply for financial assistance depending on their income.

As of early May, close to nine million college and university graduates are expected to enter the workforce, further adding to the workforce competition. In response, the Ministry of Education in China has announced plans to help alleviate the additional pressure from graduates entering the workforce. Over the summer, the Ministry of Education looks to create more opportunities for graduate education and teacher positions, as well as to encourage “small, medium-sized and micro enterprises to recruit more college graduates.”

As COVID-19 continues to be a significant problem around the world, it is essential that countries address the poverty and unemployment that the pandemic exacerbates. Moving forward, China and other nations must continue to create policies and programs designed to protect the impoverished.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: Unsplash

Global Food Security
The Borgen Project has published this article and podcast episode, “COVID-19 and the 5 Major Threats it Poses to Global Food Security,” with permission from The World Food Program (WFP) USA. “Hacking Hunger” is the organization’s podcast that features stories of people around the world who are struggling with hunger and thought-provoking conversations with humanitarians who are working to solve it.

 

Entering 2020, the number of hungry and malnourished people around the world was already on the rise due to an increase in violent conflict and climate change impacts. Today, over 800 million people face chronic undernourishment and over 100 million people are in need of lifesaving food assistance. The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, risks undermining the efforts of humanitarian and food security organizations seeking to reverse these trends.

As former International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director General Shenggan Fan, writes, “COVID-19 is a health crisis. But it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken.”

Every major outbreak in recent memory—Ebola, SARS, MERS—has had both direct and indirect negative impacts on food security. On this episode of Hacking Hunger, Dr. Chase Sova, WFP USA senior director of public policy and research, tells us what the experts are saying about the likelihood and nature of such impacts from COVID-19.

Click below to listen to what Dr. Chase Sova has to say about the threat COVID-19 poses to global food security.

 

 

Photo: Flickr

 

 

Jobs in PakistanDue to the coronavirus pandemic, many people around the world lost have their jobs and are now facing financial hardship. The economic impact is projected to increase global poverty. This will be the first time since 1998 that the world sees an increase. Luckily, countries have been creating new job markets to aid the unemployed and fight poverty levels. A new market of jobs in Pakistan has been created for those laid off because of the coronavirus: tree planting.

“10 Billion Trees Tsunami”

In 2018, Pakistan started a campaign called the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” program. The project goal: to plant more trees and fight against deforestation. Additionally, this program will help the environment. Jobs in Pakistan have already been affected by the pandemic, and it is projected that as many as 19 million people will be laid off due to COVID-19. To combat this, Pakistan started employing those who lost their jobs because of the virus to plant trees as a part of their “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” program. Though this program was not specifically created for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it is greatly helping those who did. These new laborers have been dubbed “jungle workers.” This program aims at creating more than 60,000 jobs as a way to help citizens and the economy and fight against climate change. In order to help as many citizens as possible during this devastating time, the program has tripled the number of workers hired.

These jungle workers are mostly seen in rural areas. Hiring is aimed primarily at women, unemployed daily workers and those who are from cities in lockdown. A large portion of the workforce is also made up of young people. As tree planting does not require much past experience, many unskilled workers are still able to be employed during this harsh economic period. There are still strict precautions in place for those working, such as having to wear a mask and continuing to keep a social distance of 6 feet while working.

Relief for the Unemployed

The program’s creation of new jobs in Pakistan allows its citizens to continue making enough money in order to provide for their families. A construction worker named Abdul Rahman lost his job when the coronavirus struck and began to face financial instability. Once employed as a jungle worker for the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami,” he was able to start providing for his family again. In an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Rahman said “Due to coronavirus, all the cities have shut down and there is no work. Most of us daily wagers couldn’t earn a living.” Rahman is now earning around ₹500 a day, which translates to about $3. Though this payment is about half of what he would have made on a good day as a construction worker, he says it is enough “to feed our families.”

Pakistan’s Positive Example

Through this program and its employment of more citizens, Pakistan is taking a step towards rebuilding its economy and aiding poor citizens. The project aims at having planted 50 million trees by the end of this year and, with the addition of more workers, this goal is achievable. The presence of such jobs in Pakistan is an example of hope during this time and, as the economy improves, Pakistani citizens can earn living wages and the environment reaps the benefits.

Erin Henderson
Photo: Flickr