'Developed' and 'Developing'While the categories of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ to describe countries may have been useful in the 1960s, Bill Gates and Hans Rosling—author of the book “Factfulness”—have begun using a new categorical system; four distinct income levels are now recognized as a more accurate way to describe countries and the range between them.

‘Developed’ and ‘Developing’ Countries

The terms ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ have become almost universal terms to describe the economy or wealth of countries. However, there is not one specific definition for these terms. Organizations such as the United Nations use the terms colloquially. However, they never introduced a specific, measurable definition for what actually classifies whether a country is developed or still developing.

In the 1960s, the terms were mostly based on infant mortality and birth rates. Developed countries had lower mortality and birth rates while developing countries had higher infant mortality and birth rates.

But ‘developed’ and “developing” have become outdated in this way, as just about every country in the world has improved infant mortality rates since the 1960s. In fact, some ‘developing’ countries of today have lower infant mortality rates than ‘developed’ countries in 1960.

Overall, the two terms are incapable of separating countries beyond ‘rich’ and ‘poor.’ This is a problem because the majority of people in most countries live somewhere in the middle. In fact, one can label 85% of countries as ‘developed.’ Meanwhile, 15% are in between and one can consider only 6% as “developing” in terms of fertility and mortality rates. That is why Hans Rosling uses four income levels to describe all countries instead.

The Four Income Levels

  • Level One: The majority of people live in extreme poverty on a daily income of $2 or less per day. Countries such as Lesotho and Madagascar are currently level one countries. For many people in level one, the main mode of transportation is walking. Some may not even have their own pair of shoes to travel in. In these countries, infant mortality, hunger and preventable disease prevalence are high. Approximately 1 billion people live at this level.
  • Level Two: People in countries such as China, Nigeria and Bangladesh generally live on $2 to $8 per day. They may ride a bicycle instead of walking, and they have their own pair of shoes. An estimated 2 billion people live at level two, which is more than any other level.
  • Level Three: In countries such as Egypt, Rwanda and the Philippines, about 2 billion people live on $8 to $32 per day. Transportation may include electric bikes, scooters, public transportation and cars. About 2 billion people live at level three.
  • Level Four: The wealthiest countries make up level four. The average person having an income of more than $32 per day. There is a large market for nice cars and houses. Simple necessities like clean water and nutritional food are widely available. The United States, Mexico, much of Europe and South Africa are some examples of countries at this income level.

This four-tiered system does not completely account for the variations within countries, but it provides more information than the previous terms. For example, some people living in level one countries are significantly richer than the $2 per day average, and many people living in level four countries experience poverty.

However, organizing countries in this way allows for a more accurate measure of progress. Bill Gates has argued that “It’s hard to pick up on progress if you divide the world into rich countries and poor countries. When those are the only two options, you’re more likely to think anyone who doesn’t have a certain quality of life is ‘poor.’” It is important to properly track global progress and development. We can then use the information to understand where further action must be taken.

A New Official Classification

It is difficult to distinguish between various countries with only two terms. The World Economic Forum stopped using the terms ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ in official reports. Instead, it has used a similar four-tiered categorization since 2016. The World Economic Forum states that it will now collect data “for the whole world, for regions, and for income groups – but not for the ‘developing world’ (or the sum of low and middle income).” Similarly, in 2016, the World Bank released a working paper looking into classifying countries by income as well.

According to Bill Gates, “Any categorization that lumps together China and the Democratic Republic of Congo is too broad to be useful.” Using these levels in data analysis creates a better understanding of variations between countries and their incomes.

Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in Finland
Despite enjoying one of the world’s most advanced social-democratic welfare systems and the lowest human insecurity rates, there are still major struggles with poverty and hunger in Finland.

First Signs

The first signs of hunger in Finland emerged following a financial crisis in the 1990s which resulted in roughly 100,000 Finnish people reportedly hungry during the years 1992 and 1993. As a result, the foundation for a network of charity-based food aid provisions proliferated in Finland during the 1990s. Several spikes occurred in CFA rates in the late 1990s, with the largest increase at the turn of the century.

What is interesting about this particular response to food insecurity in Finland is that, in principle, the Nordic welfare state “is assumed to provide universal social security against social risks, such as poverty, for all its citizens.” However, at-risk people in Finland have received support largely through charity-based food aid, indicating that the current welfare state falls short of feeding everyone.

Giving Back

In 2013, EVIRA, the Finish Food Safety Authority, improved food safety regulations by allowing food and retail industries to donate food to charity with greater ease. This new food waste redistribution project was part of a new wave of social innovations in the greater E.U. which operated in efforts to reduce food insecurity and ecological waste.

As of 2014, the CFA in Finland had 400 distributors “including parishes, FBOs, unemployment organizations and other NGOs.” It reached roughly 22,000 Finnish people every week.

At-Risk Populations

Statistics Finland’s research shows that the number of people at risk for severe poverty and homelessness was 890,000 in 2017, which is roughly 16.4% of the population. Findings from the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) Poverty in Finland Report from 2019 show that the number of people living on minimum income benefits and experiencing livelihood problems such as food shortages continues to be a growing problem. The share of Finns turning to food banks every week was roughly 20,000 in 2019. The risk of poverty and malnutrition is highest amongst single mothers and older women living alone, according to the National Council of Women in Finland. Finland is also among one of the most racist countries in the E.U., making it even harder for migrants, especially women, to achieve success in the current economic climate. As a result, many migrants in Finland are poor and at risk of food insecurity.

A Hopeful Horizon

Progressive social reform strategies such as Finland’s Housing First strategy with the extensive food aid provision network in the country have the power to eradicate hunger in Finland. In fact, Finland’s Housing First strategy already accomplished a lot in regard to shelter insecurity in the country. Perhaps a stronger state role in providing food aid could be the extra push necessary to completely tackle the stagnating food insecurity problem.

Jasmeen Bassi
Photo: Unsplash

How Developed Countries Can Help Reduce Inequality
Developed nations can contribute to a large percentage of world problems, such as pollution, and these issues tend to impact the developing world the most. Recently, issues that developing nations have been dealing with for a long time have begun to encroach on developed nations. The lack of poverty aid, climate policies and failure to protect the innocent have created a global hostile environment that has encouraged developed nations to divide from developing nations despite sharing the same world. However, developed countries can have an impact on inequality in the world. One way that developed countries can reduce inequality is by providing aid to impoverished nations. One of these areas is Haiti, which has experienced significant damage due to natural disasters in the past.

Demand to Raise Issues of Inequality

There has been an incredible demand to address issues that affect the world in an unequal way, such as climate change. One area that developed countries can reduce inequality is in the country of Haiti where there is a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line and the poorest of the population is the most vulnerable. Those in poverty often do not have a place to safely shelter during, or after, natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Launching a market to help and develop the developing world is a way to unify countries and respond to the issues of poverty and climate change.

Veerhouse Voda

One company dedicated to addressing the issue of shelter is Veerhouse Voda, which has developed a building method to efficiently strengthen inadequate infrastructures, like some of the ones in Haiti. Veerhouse Voda’s infrastructure development is just one of many ways that the expertise and experience of the developed world can go towards improving the infrastructure of the entire planet.

The existing infrastructure of Haiti is currently underdeveloped and is often a problem during natural disasters. For example, in 2016, Hurricane Matthew destroyed many shelters in Haiti and damaged others. Much of the population was not able to find shelter. Veerhouse Voda’s building method can create a much safer, more resistant infrastructure to withstand natural disasters. In addition, it can implement emergency buildings to mitigate the loss of life after disaster events.

Companies, such as Veerhouse Voda, have collaborated together to form the Unreasonable Group to invest in developing infrastructure. As a result, this can protect people and set a foundation for places like Haiti. Veerhouse Voda can create disaster-resilient shelters that are locally built. It uses local employment to construct its shelters and can later transition them to more permanent structures. The positive impact that Veerhouse Voda can have in Haiti and on the developing world is the motivation behind the Unreasonable Group and other companies.

Developed countries can reduce inequality globally in order to create more of a unified world. As the infrastructure of the world begins to equalize, there will be opportunities for each unique cultural perspective to contribute to the progress of civilization. The alternative to investing in developing countries now is to continue to combat the symptoms of inequality.

Brian King
Photo: Flickr

Poverty In Australia
When looking at poverty around the world, people often overlook the developed nations. These countries are much better off than many others, but that does not mean that their impoverished people are any less poor. Many consider Australia to be one of the leading developed nations, but one in eight Australians and one in six Australian children live in poverty. Here is some information about the issue of poverty in Australia.

How to Measure Poverty

The definition of poverty is different worldwide. One component that the world generally agrees upon, however, is that it is utterly unacceptable for people to live in extreme poverty. In addition, there is the understanding that every human should be born with fundamental rights such as housing, food, clothes and health care.

In Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) set a more Australia-specific way to measure poverty. It does this by comparing what people make to the median income. As a result, Australia considers people who fall below the median impoverished. However, the organization Compassion has reported more specific information for measuring poverty. For example, it stated that the poverty line for single adults is $433 per week before housing costs. Meanwhile, the poverty line for a couple with two children is $909 before housing costs.

The Numbers

Approximately 3 million Australians are suffering from poverty. Additionally, every one in eight people or 13 percent of the country suffers from poverty. Of the 3 million people, 739,000 are children living below poverty.

Who Hurts the Most?

While there is the blanket term “impoverished,” some suffer more than others. For example, those who hurt the most are often unemployed. This includes people over the age of 65, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and single parents. Among those above, poverty in Australia routinely consists of those who fall lower in the chain of importance. Hence, people like minorities and foreigners are much more susceptible to falling into poverty. According to Compassion, 30 percent of single, elderly women live in poverty. This means that poverty impacts single, elderly women at a disproportionate rate.

According to the Child Fund, children who come from low-income backgrounds are likely to have lower test scores than children above the poverty line. From an early age, children living below the poverty line are already at a disadvantage, but the problems do not often stop in grade school. Low test scores frequently result in low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth, both of which potentially lead to ongoing mental health issues. Among impoverished people, the rates of finishing high school are significantly lower than their counterparts. In addition, the rates of going to college are much lower than even the odds of finishing high school. These low rates of higher education lead to lower-paying jobs, thus creating a cycle of poverty.

Disproportionate Health Issues

Those who fall below the poverty line often experience increased rates of health issues. Millions of impoverished people are more susceptible to health issues because their lack of money sometimes prevents a hygienic lifestyle. After falling ill or experiencing infection, impoverished people are often last on the priority list of Australia’s universal health care system. Obesity is a big issue among impoverished people similar to other developed nations around the world. Furthermore, fast food restaurants can often be much cheaper than healthier options in grocery stores.

Cheaply priced menus are commonplace in the modern world and they pose a drastic threat because people below the poverty line must make a tough decision. As such, they can either spend more money on healthier items and get less or spend less money on unhealthy food and get more. Consequently, this decision might be why the issue of poverty in Australia typically leads to increased rates of obesity among impoverished people.

Solutions

Fortunately, some are recognizing that poverty in Australia is an issue that requires solving. For example, Save the Children is an organization working towards eradicating poverty. The charity’s fight consists of improving access to education for underprivileged children. When the charity receives donations, 73 percent of the funds go towards programs benefitting children and 10 percent go towards fundraising. Additionally, 9 percent goes to administration and 8 percent goes to commercial activity.

Care is another nonprofit organization that is similarly fighting the issue of poverty in Australia. The organization’s efforts consist of programs that empower poverty-ridden women, improving access to education for impoverished children and promoting healthier lives among underprivileged families. Care assisted 2.7 million people throughout 25 countries as of 2019. For every dollar it fundraised and received as donations, 90 cents went to humanitarian programs.

While poverty in Australia remains an issue, there are some attempting to correct the problem. Hopefully, the continued support of organizations like Save the Children and Care will make impoverishment a thing of the past in the country.

Cleveland Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Haiti's Earthquake 10 Years Later
January 12, 2020, marked the 10th anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of the small Caribbean nation of Haiti. People have taken time to remember what happened a decade ago, with one Haitian-American residing in Boston commenting, “I’m in pain. I’m in pain inside of me. Even my bones hurt me because of what’s happening in my country. We are human beings like everybody else, we have to live a life like everybody else.” Haiti has undeniably suffered greatly, but there is hope after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later.

The Devastating Aftermath of the Disaster

The quake also impacted Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic. Two aftershocks followed with a magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5., making it the worst natural disaster the country has seen in modern times. Haiti is located above two of the earth’s tectonic plates, the North American and the Caribbean plates, making it prone to large earthquakes. At the beginning of 2010, many news outlets covered the aftermath of the disaster, leaving much of the world shocked.

Between 220,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives in the 2010 quake, 122 of them American citizens, leaving 300,000 more injured and 1.5 million displaced from their homes. Nearly 4,000 schools suffered damage or complete eradication. This resulted in an estimated $7.8 to $8.5 billion in damage.

The disaster left many people with families living in Haiti anxious, wondering if their loved ones had survived the catastrophe. Others fled the country in search of a better life elsewhere. Jean-Max Bellerive, the Prime Minister of Haiti at the time of the earthquake called it “the worst catastrophe that has occurred in Haiti in two centuries.”

Foreign Aid Comes to the Rescue

In the midst of what seemed like the absence of hope, many Haitians prayed for help. Within a few days, foreign powers from all over the world responded, willing to aid the survivors with their needs. Within a day, President Obama stated that the United States would provide their “unwavering support” for the people of Haiti pledging $100 million in financial support.

Members of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy arrived in the country to assist the survivors of the earthquake with their medical needs. Outside of the United States, the European Commission promised $4.37 million in aid. In Asia, the South Korean and Indian governments provided $1 million in aid, and the Japanese government granted $5 million. Japan also donated a total of $330,000 value in tents and blankets for those without shelter.

Doctors and aircrafts supplied with food and water swarmed in quickly from countries such as Sweden, Brazil, Israel and Venezuela. It seemed as if the entire world had its eyes on Haiti. People all across the globe prayed for the relief Haitians needed to rebuild their lives and recover from such a traumatic event.

Haiti 10 Years Later

Despite the overwhelming efforts from foreign powers across the world in the aftermath of the earthquake, the earthquake has impacted Haiti even 10 years later. While the world has still not forgotten the 2010 earthquake, relief efforts often diminish because there are more recent natural disasters that require attention. When remembering the anniversary of such events, especially ones that occurred in impoverished nations, it is important to remember that relief efforts should not cease once mass media outlets elect to move on to new events.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with about eight out of every 10 citizens living in poverty. Six years after the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew affected Haiti in early October 2016, the most powerful storm to affect the country in decades and resulting in almost $2 billion in damage.

In the 2000s, hurricanes like but not exclusive to Hurricanes Ike and Hanna, also affected Haiti resulting in flooding and hundreds of lives lost. Haiti’s economy is highly susceptible as a result of its location and the possibility of earthquakes and hurricanes. Because each disaster results in such high costs in damage when a majority of its people already live on only $2 a day, this poses a significant problem in providing a long-term solution for Haitians in need.

As of January 2020, many Haitian children face malnutrition due to high levels of food insecurity and infections, resulting in the deaths of infants, ages 2 and under. Many mothers also still face complications in childbirth resulting in death.

Much of these statistics do not appear to be promising on the surface, appearing as it virtually nothing has changed in a decade despite support from foreign powers during the country’s time of need. However, Haitians still refuse to discard their efforts for a better and more prosperous Haiti. In 2019, many Haitians protested the government and President Jovenel Moise. Haitians say that while citizens are “used to political and economic crises,” the cost of necessities such as food, gas and education has gone up significantly. These protests have continued into January 2020.

Reach Our World and the World Bank

Others around the world have also not given up on their efforts to create a stronger Haiti, even after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later. Reach Our World is one of the missionary groups that visited Port Au Prince shortly after the 10th anniversary of the quake from January 17 to 22, 2020. As of January 8, 2020, ongoing contributions from the World Bank, consisting of 20 projects, have grossed $866.46 million.

Therefore, while the mass media outlets do not commonly cover the continuing political and economic tensions existing after Haiti’s earthquake 10 years later, many advocacy groups and world powers have not forgotten about the work that the world still needs to accomplish to help further the nation and its people. In order to become more successful in such efforts, it is imperative to be consistent and not wait until another natural disaster strikes to contribute to relief efforts so that the people of Haiti can achieve a stronger and brighter future.

A. O’Shea
Photo: Flickr

What is a Developing Country
When addressing global poverty, a term that people often reference is “developing country.” But what is a developing country? In general, developing countries are typically battling poverty, but there is a lot more to these countries. A broad definition for this referred term would be a country seeking to advance its economic performance amongst other global economies. A more specific description for developing countries is complex to derive since various factors and indicators apply when examining world economies. Plus, the world does not have universal interpretations of these aspects.

What the Numbers Say

A useful indicator to help identify what is a developing country would be the gross domestic product (GDP) of purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita. This numerical value entails all the goods and services produced in a country within one year, standardized to U.S. prices, then divided out amongst its population. In other words, GDP PPP per capita describes the average economic wealth of each individual in a state. Thus, this establishes thresholds to determine a developing country. According to Investopedia, “As a rule of thumb, countries with developed economies have GDP per capita of at least $12,000(USD), although some economists believe that $25,000 (USD) is a more realistic measurement threshold.”

GDP PPP per capita can give a quick snapshot of the modern world economy by classifying developing countries as a value of less than 25,000 USD. It is a more relevant index than other economic comparing tools, such as nominal/real GDP, which does not account for consumer price variants among regions or the population of a country. Without considering the population, skewed data emerges within the actuality of global economies. For example, this article will compare China and Switzerland.

China has a GDP PPP of $23.21 trillion USD and Switzerland only $523.1 billion USD. Looking at these two numbers alone, it seems as though China is leaps and bounds more wealthy than Switzerland, but China’s population is more than 16 times Switzerland’s. Observing GDP PPP per capita, China values at $16,700 USD and Switzerland $62,100 USD. These numbers show that the average person in Switzerland is $45,400 USD more wealthy than those in China. In conclusion, the developing country is China, while the developed one is Switzerland. GDP PPP per capita is an economic calculation that can help answer the question, what is a developing country?

Human Development Index

There is more to consider than financial measurements when classifying what is a developing country. Just because a country exceeds the $25,000 USD threshold does not necessarily define it as developed. Another helpful indicator is the Human Development Index (HDI), a metric that the United Nations (UN) developed. The UN defines the index as “a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.”

A scale from zero to one defines the numerical values of the three components, then the geometric mean of those numbers is composited. “The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth, the education dimension is measured by means of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita.” If the result of the calculations equal to 0.8 or higher then HDI standards considers the state developed.

Using the previous example countries, China and Switzerland, the HDI is 0.758 and 0.946, respectively. This ratio supports an identical conclusion in regard to categorizing states. China again falls into the developing spectrum.

Critics

GDP PPP per capita and HDI have limitations in determining what is a developing country. While GDP PPP per capita measures wealth and HDI quantifies basic achievement levels in human development, neither account for other quality of life factors such as empowerment movements or security. Also, some economists believe HDI has too high of a correlation with GDP PPP per capita that it is not necessary due to redundant results.

BRICS

The top five developing countries today are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICs). Why are these five important countries to note? Predictions show they will be future dominant suppliers of manufactured goods, services and raw materials. Accreditation for the growth within these regions goes to low labor and production costs. The BRICS countries currently fall into GDP PPP per capita and HDI developing country thresholds and are seeking to advance their economic performance among the global economies.

Ariana Kiessling
Photo: Flickr

India’s Digital Transformation
Over the last decade, India has tackled barriers like undocumented citizen identities and minimal access to formal banking and new technologies with a series of innovative programs and digital services. This article will explore India’s digital transformation.

Digital Identification and Financial Inclusion

Efforts to digitize India first took off in 2009 with the launch of a digital identity system called Aadhaar. Aadhaar aimed to provide every citizen with a digital identity. Aadhaar obtained IDs through a biometric-authenticated 12 digit number that created them according to applicant’s iris and fingerprint scans. Aadhaar has provided over 600 million voluntary applicants with UID’s (unique identifications) since its launch. The success of Aadhaar gave even the most rural populations the ability to identify themselves and avoid the hassle of ineffective systems.

Although the majority of citizens obtained digital IDs, a portion of the population still lacked access to digital banking services. Limited access excluded citizens from participating in formal banking that could improve their lives. With the demand for digital banking services increasing, India embarked on its next phase of digital innovation.

In 2014, with added backing from the Modi government, India created the Jan Dhan financial inclusion program. Jhan Dhan sought to get as many Aadhaar identity holders to participate in digital banking as possible. Within the first day of the program’s launch, Aadhaar identifications set up 10 million paperless bank accounts. The program also promised account holders accident insurance for up to 100,000 rupees (or $1,500) and an overdraft capacity of 5,000 rupees ($80).

Empowered with digital identification and banking, citizens could digitally access government services with more ease. The increase in mobile banking also created new layers for India’s digital transformation.

Demonetization and BHIM

By 2017, Aadhaar identification had become a required function for formal banking, SIM connections and income tax returns. With the majority of the population using digital services, the need for India to demonetize became more apparent. India’s total demonetization seemed daunting, but it appears to have worked well for the country. India’s decision to demonetize was so abrupt, the demand for services like Aadhaar and Jan Dhan, among others, increased rapidly. With the replacement of its old currency and the demand for digital services rising so quickly, India’s digital transformation took its next steps.

To help with the transition of demonetization, India’s Prime Minister launched BHIM (Baharat Interface For Money) in 2016. The app serves as a digital payment platform in tandem with the country’s UPI interface. BHIM also works with a 2G network, meaning that people even the most rural parts of India can access this service. This network allows UPI account holders to send and receive instant payments from non-UPI holders, which cushioned the shock of demonetization for more of the population.

The app also offers a wealth of diverse services for users and businesses. Currently, it allows users to shop/pay for services online, transfer money to family and friends, receive customer payments with no additional cost and check transaction history and account balance at any time.

Three years after its launch, BHIM collaborated with over 100 banks nationwide and in early 2018 people downloaded the app 21.65 million times for Android phones and over a million for Apple. Data that RBI and the National Corporation of India collected also demonstrated that out of 145 million UPI transactions that year, BHIM carried out 9.1 million of them.

Although India requires more work, it has dedicated itself to improvements through innovative technology and creative solutions over the last decade. As it continues its efforts, the country’s citizens should have increased access to banking services.

Ashlyn Jensen
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Level
The word poverty is common in discussions of politics, global issues, health and education around the world. Although many organizations are working to put an end to poverty, the general public often has many questions surrounding this prevalent topic. What does it mean to be in poverty and what is the poverty level?

The most recent poverty level set in 2015 stated that an adult making less than $1.90 a day is in poverty. People could questions surrounding the poverty level from a variety of perspectives. Politicians often use it around the globe to allot aid and develop economic policy, but mathematicians can also use it to compare the rates of poverty among countries and solution-oriented NGOs can use it to understand the root causes of poverty. In today’s era, one hefty debate revolves around the impacts of globalization on poverty-ridden countries. This is just one context in which the poverty level is a useful tool in decision making and analysis.

Who Determines the Poverty Level?

The World Bank sets the international poverty line and it fluctuates over time based on how the cost of living changes around the world. To calculate a shared poverty level internationally, the World Bank takes the poverty threshold from each country and converts it into a common currency. It does this using Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which creates equilibrium among currencies so that the same basket of goods in two different countries will receive the same pricing in each country. PPP is an economic theory that allows the World Bank to put each country’s income and consumption data in globally-comparable terms to ensure that the same quantity of goods and services receive equitable pricing across countries.

Why is it Important to Measure Poverty Levels?

Developed nations, such as the U.K., debate the costs of living and raises in income. In low-income countries, analyzing poverty levels is important for targeting development initiatives and evaluating economic progress over time. For instance, The Rural Support Programmes in Pakistan work to identify needs in rural communities and improve the delivery of basic goods and services in these areas. These programs use poverty levels to evaluate their work and support development initiatives in the area.

Who Lives in Poverty?

The U.N. estimates more than 700 million people live in extreme poverty around the world, struggling to fulfill the basic necessities of life. About 70 percent of these people live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, however, these issues affect developed countries as well. Estimates determine that there are 30 million children growing up near or below the poverty line in the world’s richest countries.

What are the Causes of Poverty?

The causes of poverty are diverse and far-reaching, but they often include unemployment, social exclusion, conflict, natural disasters, disease and other phenomena that prevent them from accessing the resources they need to be productive and make a living.

With an estimated four million people living in extreme poverty, the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Although the country has access to many natural resources, political unrest has plagued it in recent years. The Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered through continual corruption of political officials that has stifled development so that it remains nearly impossible to easily access or extract any of the country’s natural resources. Therefore, it remains difficult to make a living, or even have access to the basic necessities of food and water.

Despite the dismal numbers, some organizations are making huge strides in overcoming global poverty. Organizations like Oxfam International have made it their objective to reduce worldwide poverty. Working in over 90 countries and directly reaching millions of people each year, Oxfam primarily tackles issues of inequality and discrimination. It also provides direct aid in times of crisis and educates the world’s poor in an effort to impact the root causes of poverty at the political level.

Groups like Oxfam often utilize the international poverty level to assess and direct their efforts. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to such a widespread problem. In order to solve the issue, though, everyone must first understand its causes. By implementing the poverty level system, the world should be on the right track to eradicate extreme poverty.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

Coding in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is primarily an agricultural country, with more than 80 percent of its citizens living in rural areas. More than 108.4 million people call Ethiopia home, making it Africa’s second-largest nation in terms of population. However, other production areas have become major players in Ethiopia’s economy. As of 2017, Ethiopia had an estimated gross domestic product of $200.6 billion with the main product coming from other sources than agriculture.

Today, 1.2 million Ethiopians have access to fixed telephone lines, while 62.6 million own cell phones. The country broadcasts six public TV stations and 10 public radio shows nationally. 2016 data showed that over 15 million Ethiopians have internet access. While 15 percent of the population may not seem significant, it is a sharp increase in comparison to the mere one percent of the population with Internet access just two years prior.

Coding in Ethiopia: One Girl’s Success Story

Despite its technologically-limited environment, young tech-savvy Ethiopians are beginning to forge their own destiny and pave the way for further technological improvements. One such pioneer is teenager Betelhem Dessie. At only 19, Dessie has spent the last three years traveling Ethiopia and teaching more than 20,000 young people how to code and patenting a few new software programs along the way.

On her website, Dessie recounts some of the major milestones she’s achieved as it relates to coding in Ethiopia:

  • 2006 – she got her first computer
  • 2011- she presented her projects to government officials at age 11
  • 2013-she co-founded a company, EBAGD, whose goals were to modernize Ethiopia’s education sector by converting Ethiopian textbooks into audio and visual materials for the students.
  • 2014-Dessie started the “codeacademy” of Bahir Dar University and taught in the STEM center at the university.

United States Collaboration

Her impressive accomplishments continue today. More recently, Dessie has teamed up with the “Girls Can Code” initiative—a U.S. Embassy implemented a project that focuses on encouraging girls to study STEM. According to Dessie, “Girls Can Code” will “empower and inspire young girls to increase their performance and pursue STEM education.”

In 2016, Dessie helped train 40 girls from public and governmental schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia how to code over the course of nine months. During those nine months, Dessie helped her students develop a number of programs and projects. One major project was a website where students can, according to Dessie, “practice the previous National examinations like SAT prep sites would do.” This allows students to take practice tests “anywhere, anytime.” In 2018, UNESCO expanded a similar project by the same name to include all 10 regions in Ghana, helping to make technology accessible to more Africans than ever before.

With the continuation of programs like “Girls Can Code” and the ambition of young coders everywhere, access to technology will give girls opportunities to participate in STEM, thereby closing the technology gender gap in developing countries. Increased STEM participation will only serve to aid struggling nations in becoming globally competitive by boosting their education systems and helping them become more connected to the world in the 21st century.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

How Improving Governance Helps Growth in Developing Countries
It’s all too true that in most developing or vulnerable countries, local or national governments are tyrannical and corrupt. These governments have a propensity to abuse power, favor the rich and ignore the oppressed. However, by improving governance in the developing world, there is hope that unethical practices will be removed and replaced with unprejudiced laws that will fairly benefit everyone.

Problems Surrounding Corrupt Government

Numerous problems surrounding nefarious practices in underdeveloped countries stem from a lack of morality, discriminatory systems and misuse of power. The World Bank reports that in vulnerable countries, a disparate sharing of authority is a common problem that causes countries to stay in a state of impoverishment rather than move toward more progressive procedures that would allow for quicker growth and sustainability.

Unfortunately, it’s easier for the already-powerful leaders to resist change rather than consider the development of new policies for improving governance to benefit the whole society, regardless of economic class.

Additionally, there are many other factors that contribute to shady practices in the governments of developing countries. One of these practices is patrimonialism, which is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “political organization in which authority is based primarily on the personal power exercised by a ruler, either directly or indirectly.” This means that too much power can easily be granted to one person or group of persons (oligarchy), rather than having different governmental branches to limit what can and cannot be done.

What Steps Can be Taken Towards Improving Governance?

In a patrimonialistic society, the land or state is “owned” by a leader, granting that person the freedom to do as he, she, or they please. This power structure contributes to the cycle of poverty — wealthy land is distributed to the other wealthy people, allowing those choice few to access the best schools, homes and healthcare; on the other hand, the slums are given to the lower class, eliminating chances to thrive in a fair economy. Ultimately, this system halts economic growth for all the citizens.

The OECD Observer gives two good examples of a patrimonialistic society; the first being Morocco, where admittance to bureaucracy protects access to economic benefits, and the next being in the Philippines, where political sovereignty can be bought and sold.

Citizen-Based Elections

A great way to combat corruption, poverty and improve economic growth is by initializing citizen-based elections. According to USAID, more than half of the world’s populace live under only partly free governments, which limits their civil liberties, causing the inability to freely engage in politics. In democratic elections, the people are granted a voice in choosing who they wish to run their government.

USAID easily lays out the course for democratic elections. The steps include freedom of speech, association and assembly; elections as an essential tool to bolster political openings and cooperation; assembling advocates and describing different political platforms to the public and encouraging political debate.

Education

Another step toward improving governance is creating equal educational opportunities for all people. A large problem in the political sphere of third-world countries is the lack of education that causes many citizens who live in poverty to not fully understand politics; in turn they lack the skills to actively participate in events such as elections or assemblies.

Not only will education improve political understandings, but it will create jobs and give students the skills needed to be seen as valuable by future employers, improving economic growth and sustainability. With higher education comes higher knowledge and realization, skills that permit citizens to see and understand what areas in their countries need change.

Public Policy and Building Democracy

One of the best ways to promote better government is through improving public policy and actively working on building a democracy. In the developing world, the people and citizens are often ignored, and their opinions are thought to be arbitrary and unimportant to those high on the political spectrum.

However, in a democratic society, the people get to vote in elections for issues such as industrial projects and new laws. To help aid in understanding public policy and democracy, The World Bank created the Governance Global Practice, which aims to initiate trust between the government and the people.

Despite all of the concerns facing governments in third-world countries, these nation-states are not hopeless. Many countries work towards improving governance and government practices. In fact, organizations such as The World Bank, USAID and the United Nations provide hope for those searching for a better quality of life, and thereby foster countries to work towards a brighter future.  

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr