Information and stories about developing countries.

COPE NepalCOPE Nepal is a youth-led organization that collects and analyzes information about COVID-19 in Nepal to help coordinate efforts to send resources to Nepalese communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

COVID-19 in Nepal

There is no country that has not felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal included. The first case of COVID-19 in Nepal was detected on January 23, 2020, and the first case of COVID-19 that was locally transmitted was detected nearly two months later on April 4, 2020. On March 9, 2021, the country’s total COVID-19 case count reached 274,869 and total deaths reached 3,012.

Due to an inadequate healthcare system, COVID-19 is particularly concerning in a developing country such as Nepal. After the detection of the first local transmission, Nepal took significant steps to limit COVID-19 transmission. However, difficulties arose due to cases with unknown origins and overwhelmed quarantine centers. Self-isolation became the only option, which is harder for the Nepalese government to regulate.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a negative effect on Nepal’s economy. In the last fiscal year, Nepal’s economy contracted for the first time in 40 years. Tourists were not allowed to climb the country’s famous peaks due to COVID-19 restrictions, hurting an economy that is highly dependent on tourism. Furthermore, as a result of school closures and other factors, child marriage is on the rise in Nepal, threatening to reverse progress made toward keeping girls in school.

COPE Nepal

As Nepalese colleges and universities transitioned to remote learning and many young adults found themselves in a state of uncertainty, they embraced creativity and innovation. COPE Nepal is an organization that formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of university students from data analytics, branding and communications backgrounds created COPE Nepal with the goal of collecting, presenting and disseminating data about COVID-19 in visual formats. According to the co-founder of COPE Nepal, Anup Satyal, the COVID-19 lockdown opened up more opportunities to make a meaningful impact in Nepal.

COPE Nepal’s Strategy

COPE Nepal’s strategy consists of four parts which are outlined in the acronym COPE:

  • Coordinate efforts and responses with local government and NGOs
  • Operationalize and allocate resources
  • Personalize the COVID-19 response to each location
  • Evaluate strategies and results on a daily basis

COPE Nepal has published a total of four reports showing the progression of COVID-19 in Nepal in a way that is easily understood by policymakers and average people. These reports are also easily accessible on the humanitarian information portal ReliefWeb.

On Instagram, COPE Nepal posted calls for individuals to share their accounts of the conditions in government quarantine facilities. Its Instagram also includes graphics and data from the four published reports and information about COVID-19 safety such as how to properly dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE).

A group of talented Nepalese university students started COPE Nepal out of a desire to help their country better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Nepal transitions out of lockdown, COPE Nepal’s data collection and dissemination is important to ensure vulnerable populations are sufficiently protected from COVID-19.

Sydney Thiroux
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in SenegalHIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is most prevalent in Africa. Many countries across the continent are acutely affected or struggle to control the disease. One country that has handled the crisis expertly is Senegal. A low-income country in West Africa, Senegal would look to be a prime candidate for a difficult path regarding HIV/AIDS. However, HIV/AIDS in Senegal is relatively low in cases and in damage.

HIV/AIDS in Senegal

Senegal has become a model for controlling HIV/AIDS across the developing world. The country of 16 million people manages to keep the prevalence and spread of HIV/AIDS low while providing many methods to increase knowledge of the disease. There are only 41,000 people in Senegal living with HIV/AIDS as of 2019.

The prevalence rate of people living with HIV/AIDS stands at 0.4 among adults between 15 and 49, with men having a 0.3 prevalence rate and women having a 0.4 prevalence rate. There were only around 1,400 new cases of HIV/AIDS in Senegal in 2019 and 1,200 deaths. There has been a 37% decrease in HIV/AIDS cases since 2010 and a 26% decrease in deaths. Roughly 70% of people with HIV/AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment. Senegal was the first sub-Saharan country to establish an antiretroviral treatment program in 1998 and is one of the few countries in Africa that provides such treatment for free.

Smart Senegalese Strategies

Senegal’s success is due to several methods of raising awareness about HIV and increasing treatment and prevention plans. Senegal took HIV/AIDS very seriously even in the earliest days of the spread. In 1986, Senegal was one of the first African nations to develop a National Council Against AIDS, which has remained effective and stable. The country was also one of the first to focus on securing antiretroviral drugs and negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies in order to provide them for free or at a low cost.

The Senegalese government has continued to make HIV/AIDS a priority. In 1992, Senegalese president, Abdou Diouf, showed leadership by asking other leaders to make a commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS at a summit for the Organization of African Unity. This attitude has led to sustained success. Since 1997, Senegal’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has remained below 1%, a remarkable achievement as prevalence rates across Africa have frequently soared above 10%.

Senegal’s basic strategy has remained consistent. The country emphasizes awareness, provides medical resources and works with the powerful local regional communities to stop the spread. Public health initiatives including blood screenings, education programs in schools and condom distribution are common. NGOs also provide a lot of help in health initiatives and raising awareness.

Crucial in the success of preventing HIV/AIDS in Senegal is the support of religious leaders and the role of religion. Senegal is a 95% Muslim-based country, and generally, strict adherence to the religion leads to fewer incidents of casual sex and infidelity. In a largely religious country, the words of religious leaders are very important, especially as conspiracy theories around HIV/AIDS are common. Many religious figures talk openly about HIV/AIDS and promote solutions, which lends credibility to the danger of the disease and the government’s efforts to combat the disease.

A Role Model

HIV/AIDS in Senegal is well under control, which should be a great source of pride for the country. Senegal has taken HIV/AIDS seriously since the beginning and has a consistent and effective strategy that keeps the disease largely at bay.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

University of CalgaryThe University of Calgary (UCalgary), one of the premier research universities in Canada, has been establishing meaningful global partnerships which have produced tangible results. While the university has multiple international campuses and partnerships, the successes of a few have particularly stood out. UCalgary’s global health partnerships with the Mbarara University of Science and Technology and other global health organizations are working to improve health in Uganda and Tanzania.

Healthy Child Uganda

UCalgary’s global health partnerships work with the Cumming School of Medicine. This allows medical students to gain experience and provide much-needed help in health outcomes and projects in Uganda and Tanzania.

One of UCalgary’s most important partnerships is Healthy Child Uganda. Healthy Child Uganda is a partnership between Mbarara University, UCalgary and the Canadian Paediatric Society, with some funding from other universities and associations. It “works with national and district health planners, leaders and communities themselves to develop, implement and evaluate initiatives that strengthen health systems and improve health for mothers, babies and children.” It is based adjacent to Mbarara University’s campus in Mbarara town, Uganda. The Healthy Child Uganda partnership operates in the districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Ntungamo and Rubirizi in Uganda as well as two districts of the Mwanza Region in Tanzania.

Healthy Child Uganda was established in 2002. Its multitude of efforts aims to improve health services in Uganda, especially in maternal and pediatric care.

The Impact of Healthy Child Uganda

Since its establishment, Healthy Child Uganda has partnered with local health authorities to train more than 5,000 community health workers for service in almost 1,000 villages in Uganda. Community health workers promote health in their villages, take part in development activities, spread awareness and monitor sick children and pregnant women to see if they need treatment. Healthy Child Uganda shares its training curriculum for community health workers online, providing valuable information to other medical providers. It is also a leader in maternal and child health research, having developed many different practice approaches that have provided models for many other organizations.

Healthy Child Uganda has also worked to combat COVID-19 in Uganda, with funding largely provided by the UCalgary. In the early stages of the pandemic, it was able to provide cleaning products, PPE, handwashing stations, fuel, hand sanitizer and hygiene soap. This was crucial in providing protection in Uganda before provisions came in from Uganda’s Ministry of Health. Healthy Child Uganda also worked to train frontline health workers in fighting COVID-19.

Mama Na Mtoto

The University of Calgary is also a valuable partner in Mama na Mtoto, a partnership that seeks to improve women and child health in rural Tanzania. Mama na Mtoto does its work in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania.

Mama na Mtoto performs many of the same functions as Healthy Child Uganda, just in a different location. It works with the government and existing health facilities to “support communities to adapt and lead activities and innovations that address their own health challenges.”

Mama na Mtoto plans activities that emphasize information and teachings about women and child care, from adolescence to pregnancy. This, therefore, helps to take the burden off of government health services and equip mothers with the best tools to succeed in places where there is little access to health information.

UCalgary’s Successes

UCalgary’s work in Uganda has had tangible results. In 2020, Bushenyi District was recognized as the best performing district for healthcare in Uganda. UCalgary helped this district under Healthy Child Uganda. UCalgary is also working with Mbarara University on another initiative known as HAY! (Healthy Adolescents and Young People in Uganda), which will educate youth on family planning, sexual health, menstrual hygiene and gender-based violence. The University of Calgary is showing how universities can be proactive and provide support that improves health in vulnerable areas.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Water Supply in the PhilippinesReliable water resources are an important issue within the Philippines. Currently, five million Filipino citizens do not have access to safe sources of water. This is especially concerning considering the rate the country is growing economically. Urbanization in the country is expected to increase exponentially in the future. Cities will become strained with the increasing population, which will make it more difficult for the citizens in those cities to have access to reliable water resources. Despite the dire circumstances, efforts are being made to improve the water supply in the Philippines. Many of these efforts are being led by organizations that specialize in helping communities access water resources.

Water.org’s Contributions

Water.org is an organization that is working to improve the water supply in the Philippines. The organization devotes its efforts to providing reliable access to water resources to populations around the world. Water.org carries out this goal through the use of financing solutions for households that require a reliable water supply. By providing, small affordable loans, Water.org has been able to provide 4.3 million people in the Philippines with reliable water resources since 2014. Water.org will continue to work with utility providers in the Philippines so that it can continue to provide water resources to people that need them.

The Efforts of Water Governance Facility

Water Governance Facility (WFG) is another organization that is trying to improve the water supply in the Philippines. The WFG has similar goals to that of Water.org. It seeks to ensure that people around the world have affordable and reliable access to water supplies.

The WGF has been able to help the people of the Philippines using the GoAL WaSH program. The purpose of this program is to provide clean drinking water and proper sanitation. WGF achieves this goal by not only drilling wells and building toilets but also by engaging the local governance of the area it operates in for sustainable and impactful change. In the Philippines, the WFG has been able to provide 7,169 households with reliable sources of water. The WFG is also able to monitor the quality of drinking water. The WFG can then promptly stop the use of any contaminated water sources detected.

The Manila Water Foundation

Another organization that is trying to help provide citizens of the Philippines with reliable water resources is the Manila Water Foundation. The organization runs a multitude of programs that help achieve this goal. The Lingap program focuses on providing schools and other locations like health institutions and city centers with a reliable water supply. The program started in 2010. In 2019, Lingap helped a total of 46 schools, city halls and health centers. This equates to more than 149,000 beneficiaries across these 46 different locations. The water supply that Lingap provides for these students and staff can be used for drinking, handwashing and toothbrushing. Through its many programs, the Manila Water Foundation is working to improve the water supply in the Philippines.

The Philippines has made notable efforts to improve water resources for its people. With more efforts, even greater strides can be made in the water and sanitation sector.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

better Education in IndiaEducation is vitally important to every country, especially impoverished ones. Education itself can help families break cycles of poverty and it allows people an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills in a way that helps their nation. Education can allow people to learn better farming techniques so that they can produce more food for themselves. Literate and educated people often have a better opportunity to have a healthier lifestyle because they can understand medical information. India is one nation that is trying to improve its education system. Better education in India can help people rise out of poverty.

Advantages of India’s Education System

Despite its learning system needing improvements, India’s learning system does already have some substantial positive aspects to it. One benefit of India’s education system is that it correlates to a decrease in unemployment. School also helps people become self-employed. India’s schools also helped to greatly reduce the amount of child labor taking place in the nation.

India’s educational system also provides a degree of support for people who are especially disadvantaged and impoverished. There are programs in India called reservation systems that help these groups. Reservation systems mean a set percentage of seats will be reserved in all universities and colleges for students who belong to socially and educationally backward categories or castes. Certain scheduled tribes have 7.5% reserved seats, scheduled castes have 15% and “other backward classes” have 27%. However, each state within India can have varying percentages.

The Draft National Education Policy

In 2019, India released its Draft National Education Policy (DNEP). The DNEP is India’s first attempt to reform its education system since the 1986 National Policy on Education. The DNEP outlines some important improvements that India wants to make.

For example, the document suggests an increase in spending for public education in India. The current percentage of India’s GDP that goes to education is 3%. Under the DNEP, that percentage would go up to 6%. Under this policy, Indian school children would start learning at the age of three, which allows more time for children to grow and learn.

Another improvement that India’s education system requires is better training for its teachers. The DNEP will address this challenge by having teachers complete their training at universities. Currently, teachers train at specialist colleges that provide less beneficial teacher training.

Lastly, the DNEP wants to develop around 10,000 to 15,000 multidisciplinary universities. The reason for this is that currently 20% of 40,000 colleges in India only offer one field of study and another 20% of those colleges have less than 100 students on their rosters. Multidisciplinary universities will allow Indians to have more opportunities and educational routes.

A Concerned Citizenry

While the government of India is taking steps to better-learning systems in India, Indian citizens are more than aware that their educational system could use some much-needed change. This has led news outlets such as India Today to publicize their desires for the future of India’s education system. One suggestion that the outlet posed is the removal of lengthy tests that evaluate the knowledge and skills of students. Due to their length and importance, these tests can cause students to become stressed, resulting in underperformance.

India Today suggests that evaluation indicators should include class participation, projects and other key indicators of learning. The equal treatment of all learning subjects is also imperative. Teachers should encourage their students to pursue not just the subjects they need to learn but also the ones that they have a great interest in.

India’s education system still needs improvement but the country has taken significant first steps toward quality education in India. Since education is a key to poverty alleviation, reform is vitally important.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Awareness About Honor KillingsHonor killings and honor violence are still common practices in patriarchal societies. The practice involves an act of violence, usually murder, perpetrated against a woman by a male family member as punishment for bringing “dishonor” to the family. Behaviors that bring dishonor almost always relate to the woman’s sexual activity or relationship: sex outside of marriage, seeking a divorce, refusing an arranged marriage and being a victim of rape. These are all actions that supposedly justify honor killings because of the shame they bring to the family. Though archaic and cruel, honor killings happen all the time. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that, in 2017, intimate partners or family members killed roughly 50,000 women, many of them victims of honor killings. Several books hope to raise awareness about honor killings in order to reduce the occurrence and bring about change.

“I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan”

This memoir by Khalida Brohi reflects on honor violence and related systems Brohi witnessed growing up in Pakistan. Her mother was an arranged marriage child bride. Brohi was nearly subject to a similar fate. Brohi was part of an arranged marriage before she was even born. Her father refused to let her become a child bride because he believed in education. The honor killing of her cousin by her uncle prompted her journey to helping women become empowered. Brohi’s uncle murdered her cousin for being in love with a man she was not married to. Brohi tells this story in her memoir and the story of her subsequent activism: empowering women and educating men on how and why these systems must undergo dismantling.

“Honor and Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan”

Unlike Brohi’s deeply personal memoir, this book by Minoo Alinia focuses on applying an intersectional perspective to research concerning honor violence in Kurdistan. Alinia analyzes cultural notions of masculinity and the individual actions that stem from it. This text offers a socio-political perspective and participates in a larger conversation about global gender studies and how colonial history, religion and poverty have an influence. Though less personal, the researched approach to a subject as urgent as honor violence is vital to change advocacy. Alinia attempts to understand the origin of the practice in this region in order to create a cultural conversation about eliminating the practice.

“Inside an Honor Killing: A Father and a Daughter Tell Their Story”

In this book, Lene Wold brings a journalist’s perspective to the subject of honor killings, particularly in Jordan. Wold chose to immerse herself: she spent years in Jordan documenting as many stories as she could. While she witnessed the gender and socioeconomic dynamics of daily life firsthand, she interviewed young women, village elders and men who had murdered a female family member in the name of honor. This book uniquely presents not only the victim’s perspective but the perpetrator’s. It is central to the advocacy surrounding honor violence because it tries to share every side of the story, allowing for the most holistic education and understanding.

“Bliss”

This novel by O.Z. Livaneli is unique because, unlike the others, it is fictional. Livaneli tells the story of a character who experiences rape by her uncle before his son arranges for her death as her rape has dishonored the family. The fictional story set in Turkey hopes to reflect the experiences of Turkish women and families. The most important aspect of this story is the overwhelming hopefulness it conveys. Education and understanding are essential to advocacy but so is hope. Livaneli’s novel brings hope as well as awareness to the issue of honor killings.

By bringing awareness to the issue of honor killings, these writers hope to reduce its occurrence and inspire advocacy and change.

Samantha Silveira
Photo: Flickr

Global Polio Eradication InitiativeMost think of polio as a disease of the past, eliminated from the world through scientific advancement. However, the disease remains present in some countries and runs the risk of spreading again if it is not contained. In the words of Ban Ki-moon in 2012, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Wild viruses and wildfires have two things in common. If neglected, they can spread out of control. If handled properly, they can be stamped out for good. Today, the flame of polio is near extinction — but sparks in three countries threaten to ignite a global blaze.” The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) seeks to finally eradicate polio throughout the world.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative

It is a truly global project, led by a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Furthermore, the Initiative involves 200 countries around the world. The Initiative started “in 1988 after the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eliminate polio.” Over 33 years, the Initiative has secured more than $17 million worth of contributions from donors and financing.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has a well-developed and comprehensive plan which has produced numerous successes and lays out a roadmap to completely eradicate polio. One goal is integration. The GPEI seeks to integrate national governments’ vaccination plans with the polio vaccine, allowing children to get the polio vaccine as part of national immunization schedules. Enhanced integration also includes joint delivery of the polio vaccine with other vaccines, integration of polio surveillance with surveillance of other diseases and harmonizing data systems.

Routine vaccination of children is the crucial part of the plan, along with supplementary vaccination when needed. Areas that are most susceptible to an outbreak often receive supplementary vaccinations in targeted campaigns or through National Immunization Days.

Polio Success Stories

The success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since its founding is undeniable. The GPEI estimates that the global incidence of polio has decreased 99.9% since its inception. Polio efforts saved more than 1.5 million lives and prevented 16 million people from polio-induced paralysis. In addition to this, the GPEI administered more than 2.5 billion polio vaccines to children across the world.

Africa is a shining example of the GPEI’s success in eradicating polio. Even after the development of the polio vaccine in 1954, the disease remained endemic for decades and the continent struggled to track cases and vaccinate children. Around 1996, wild polio paralyzed 75,000 African children a year. The GPEI helped to coordinate cooperation between African national leaders and multinational NGOs, leading to greater tracking and quick responses to outbreaks.

As part of the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign, the GPEI and other contributors provided nine billion doses of the oral polio vaccine and vaccinated 220 million children every year. Thanks to this work, Nigeria became the only country where polio was still endemic by 2016. In 2020, after four years without a polio case, the GPEI declared Africa polio-free. The elimination of a highly contagious and dangerous disease is a remarkable success story.

Remaining Countries and At-Risk Countries

While it is near eradication, polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While concerning, there were less than 30 reported cases of the disease in these countries in 2018. Children miss out on coverage for polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan for various reasons, including a lack of infrastructure and an unstable political situation. Still, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative continues to vaccinate children, provide surveillance of the disease and work to develop new vaccines, diagnostic tools and antiviral drugs.

The failure to eliminate or contain polio completely could lead to a resurgence. If not contained, this could lead to 200,000 or more global cases a year within 10 years. The GPEI, in support of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, works extensively with leaders in the countries to vaccinate children and provide teams of volunteers.

Children need multiple doses of the vaccine for effective prevention and vaccinations must be widespread in order to prevent any community transmission. For this reason, the GPEI has identified five main at-risk countries that are vulnerable to outbreaks and require greater surveillance:

  1. China
  2. Indonesia
  3. Mozambique
  4. Myanmar
  5. Papua New Guinea

Approaching the Finish Line

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has had major successes so far and is nearly at the finish line of eradicating polio from all nations of the world. Unprecedented global cooperation and collaboration have been the driving forces behind its achievements. Global collaboration is integral for addressing all aspects of global poverty.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Novissi GiveDirectly Togo, a West African country home to 8 million people, wants to put money into the pockets of its most vulnerable citizens in order to alleviate some of the economic burdens of COVID-19. The most impoverished Togolese people, however, are often the most difficult to locate as they tend to live in remote areas and have little or no record of income. To address this issue, the government of Togo partnered with researchers at the University of California and the U.S. charity called GiveDirectly. The team is using artificial intelligence to identify pockets of extreme poverty within its borders. The program called Novissi GiveDirectly intends to stabilize the economy by uplifting those most in need.

The Initial Novissi Program

“Novissi” translates to “solidarity” in one of the local languages of Ewe. The initial Novissi program already distributed $22 million via mobile money payments to 600,000 citizens who live in urban areas. Voting registration provided the state with information about a citizen’s financial status and the state used this information to determine eligibility. Then, payment was sent via mobile devices. However, this same methodology could not be applied to the many Togolese who live outside the cities and identify as informal workers. The government wanted to target people in rural areas living on less than $1.25 per day without the means to put themselves on the government’s radar. Presented with this challenge, a second phase of the program emerged: Novissi GiveDirectly.

Novissi GiveDirectly

In Togo, Novissi GiveDirectly utilizes satellite imagery, mobile data and artificial intelligence as a poverty solution. Satellites capture photos from every square kilometer of the country, giving insight into villages’ local infrastructure, the housing materials used and even the size of land plots.

Mobile data also provides researchers with a major clue in the search for those carrying the biggest financial burdens. In general, impoverished people use cellphones less often, receive more calls than they make and have lower mobile money balances. Artificial intelligence then analyzes the mountains of data to identify who is eligible to receive aid from the program by estimating an individual’s wealth. Registration is as simple as a Togolese citizen dialing #855 to register for the program.

The Impact on Locals

Eric Dossekpli is a 49-year-old farmer whose livelihood has experienced a direct impact from COVID-19. His market goods were not selling because people were not buying due to the financial distress of the pandemic. This left him without an income and unable to afford fertilizer to continue growing crops.

When Dossekpli heard about Novissi GiveDirectly, he immediately registered. Once Novissi GiveDirectly confirmed his eligibility, he received an instant mobile payment of $13. Novissi GiveDirectly gives $13 to men and $15 to women every month for five months. Women receive more money due to their roles as caregivers. The money received meant he could pay for his children’s tuition and afford food. “I can’t imagine how I was going to live if not for this money. All I can say is thanks,” said Dossekpli.

The Road Ahead

What makes the program unique is that it operates using data that is already available. This makes it quick and comprehensive, two characteristics that are critical during a crisis. The program aims to distribute $10 million to 114,000 Togolese people over a period of a few months. The Novissi GiveDirectly model is currently being considered for Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Though Novissi GiveDirectly has emerged in response to a crisis, one cannot help but consider the potential benefits of such targeted investments long-term. If $13 can pay for the education of four Togolese children during a global pandemic, a sustained investment of this nature could boost an entire economy, allowing everybody to reap the rewards.

Greg Fortier
Photo: Flickr

Energy Vault
“Energy poverty” is a term that describes the lack of reliable, affordable sources of energy. More than one-seventh of the world’s population still lacks electricity, and in countries where it is available, it is often very expensive or unreliable. Access to energy is essential to people’s health and wellbeing, and it is instrumental in reducing poverty. Countries will not be able to engage in economic activities without modern, efficient energy. This in turn slows economic growth, which is a necessity for countries to pull themselves out of poverty. The poor will remain outcast and unprosperous, shut out from the high technology world if energy poverty persists. Here is some information about renewable energy and the Swiss startup Energy Vault that is providing low-cost energy to developing countries.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has the potential to help the developing countries that are struggling to provide power. It is sustainable and efficient, and the more efficient the energy technologies are, the more energy a country can save to use elsewhere. Renewable energy may seem like the perfect solution to energy poverty. In practice, however, the familiar forms of renewable energy like wind and hydropower pose various challenges.

Barriers to Renewable Energy Use

First, renewable energy has a high initial cost. In order to harness renewable energy, countries must build specific structures to capture it and convert it into electrical power. If using hydropower, a country must build a hydropower plant; in the case of wind energy, a country must build wind turbines. Furthermore, energy generation is dependent on the climate and geography of the area and it may be unstable. Wind does not blow incessantly, and the turbines will not generate any energy when there is no breeze.

In the example of hydropower, areas may not have water to spare to power hydroelectric plants. More than 40% of the world’s people still do not have access to clean water, and it would be unwise for countries to use the little they do have on hydropower when their own people are still struggling. While renewable energy seems like the best option for developing countries, it presents several challenges when implemented.

Energy Vault

In response to this issue, Energy Vault, a Swiss startup, developed a method to provide reliable energy by utilizing the force of gravity. It operates by lifting composite bricks, then lowering them back to the ground. The brick has kinetic energy as it goes down, which the structure converts into electricity. It uses similar principles to hydropower but replaces the water with a system of bricks. This makes the system more implementable than hydropower since it does not divert water away from the population, who need it for drinking. Any area can implement Energy Vault easily because it does not depend on geographical or climatic factors. Unlike hydropower, wind power or solar power, it can generate electricity under any conditions. Energy Vault is extremely low cost and affordable to developing countries that need it.

In addition to its reliability, Energy Vault is sustainable. It can last for more than 30 years, and its performance will not degrade at all throughout its life. Recycled waste and landfill materials make up the bricks that Energy Vault uses, and as such, they are readily available anywhere.

The affordability and sustainability of Energy Vault make it a good energy source for struggling countries. Though energy poverty is still a major issue in many areas of the world, startups like Energy Vault offer innovative solutions to combat it.

Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

CARE’s Aid to EgyptDespite the richness of Egypt’s history, the country faces several issues that affect the nation’s people. Among them are education, women’s rights, agricultural development and governance. However, the organization called CARE is working extensively to help resolve these pressing issues in Egypt. CARE’s aid to Egypt provides the necessary support to a struggling population.

Current Issues in Egypt

Egypt’s education system has made a number of improvements. As of 2017, the literacy rate in Egypt among youths was at 94%. Furthermore, the amount of elementary-aged children in Egypt not attending school has decreased to 50%. One particular concern regarding the Egyptian education system, however, is the increasing population in Egypt. The population increase puts strain on the educational system because it leads to overcrowded classrooms, capacity shortages and a greater need for educational funding to support this.

Women’s rights in Egypt is another issue of concern for the country. In 2015, the Global Gender Index gave Egypt a rank of 136 out of 145 countries regarding inequities between men and women of Egypt. This low ranking is evidenced by the fact that women’s participation in the labor force is only 26% in comparison to 79% for men. Furthermore, women’s literacy stands at 65% in comparison to 82% for men.

Agriculture is vitally important to the Egyptian economy. About 11.3% of Egypt’s GDP comes from this sector. Of the entire Egyptian workforce, around 28% of it is employed in the agricultural sector. Upper Egypt relies heavily on agriculture with 55% of the population employed in the sector. The Egyptian agricultural sector struggles due to the use of traditional farming methods that hinder productivity and do not align with international standards.

CARE Addresses Egyptian Education

One of CARE’s focuses regarding Egyptian education is children who live in poverty. CARE works to ensure that children still have access to education despite the economic situation they find themselves in. CARE works to improve education in Egypt by assisting the Egyptian Ministry of Education (MOE). The MOE has what is called Readability Units to help improve literacy among students. CARE works directly with these Readability Units to better improve teaching methods and monitor the progress of both students and teachers.

CARE Supports Women’s Rights

CARE helps to support women’s rights by fighting gender-based violence (GBV) in Egypt. CARE’s women’s rights program helps support efforts to raise awareness about GBV and provide assistance to survivors.

The Safe Cities Free of Violence project has been protecting Egyptian women and girls since 2012 by ensuring GBV-free, safe neighborhoods in specific areas. Through field activities, people are educated on gender-based violence matters. Furthermore, survivors are provided help through four pillars: health access and medical care, safety, legal and psychosocial. During the 2016-2017 period, the GBV program directly benefited more than 16,000 women and girls.

CARE’s aid to Egypt also helps women economically by using the village savings and loan associations (VSLA) strategy. The purpose of the VSLA is to give lower-income people the opportunity to save money and access loans to improve economic stability. This also contributes to ensuring financial inclusion for impoverished people. Since 2009, the VSLA has helped more than 54,000 people, 95% of whom were women.

CARE Helps Agriculture and Governance

CARE recognizes that the traditional agricultural practices in Egypt are not the most beneficial or productive. CARE reaches out to small-scale farmers to teach them more efficient farming techniques to better improve their productivity. Our Children’s Wheat program has provided agricultural training to 172 farmers growing maize. An additional 2039 farmers were trained on growing wheat crops productively.

Furthermore, CARE has long been working toward improving governance in Egypt. Focusing on regional level governance, CARE wants to better improve the way regional governments provide for citizens. CARE also wants these regional governments to be more accountable when it comes to addressing the needs of citizens. It has established governance and social accountability initiatives and practices to ensure improvement in this area.

The Road Ahead

Despite the hardships Egypt faces, the country is receiving significant support from CARE. This support is especially significant in areas where the government lacks the resources to fulfill the needs of its citizens. CARE’s aid in Egypt provides hope to a struggling population for a future that goes beyond simply surviving to fully thriving.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr