Information and stories about developing countries.

forest-bathing
For the first time in human history, humans are increasingly turning away from wild spaces. By the year 2050, expectations have determined that nearly 7 billion people or two-thirds of the human population will live in urban areas. Meanwhile, half of the world’s poor already live in Earth’s most populous areas where access to natural space is dwindling. Re-imagining the value of nature is alleviating symptoms of urbanization that disproportionately impact the world’s poor. In Japan, the practice of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) serves as a functional detox from the unnatural environment. The practice presents a fresh perspective on humanity’s relationship with nature and provides insight into the importance of nature in sustainable development.

The Environment and Health

Throughout human history, the natural world guided people in their daily lives. However, urbanization is reducing human exposure to nature and increasingly introducing citizens to harmful pollution that exacerbates illnesses that disproportionately affect the poor.

In developing nations, illnesses are most associated with hazards of the urban environment carries. In Dharavi, India’s most densely populated and poorest community, a lack of clean water and sanitation or trash disposal systems are among the issues contributing to a lower quality of living. Despite this one square mile area housing close to 1 million people, there are no parks, trees or wildlife besides disease-carrying rodents and stray pets. In addition, summer temperatures soar and monsoonal rainstorms find just enough room for flooding to spawn mosquito-borne illnesses. Neighborhoods such as Dharavi depict a negative relationship between the urban environment and health.

Health and Forest-Bathing

Poverty often has links to mental illness. This means many of the symptoms of a polluted urban environment contribute to a higher likelihood of stress. Socio-environmental factors as a whole play a large role in determining the health of individuals. However, studies often overlook the tangible effect that the physical environment plays in development. Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for forest-bathing, provides insight into what humans are missing in an absence of nature.

Japanese health officials examined the relationship that exposure to natural places has on human health. While studying the practice of forest-bathing and bodily responses to nature, scientists discovered a direct correlation between health and exposure to nature. For example, studies determined that exposure to nature promotes health benefits, including “lower levels of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure,” more than urban exposure. Responses often lead to a lower likelihood of developing serious illnesses that are too expensive for poor nations to address. This begs the question: Do the environments citizens live in hold them back?

The Economics of the Wild

Nature adds a quantifiable impact on economies across the globe. This is especially important for poorer communities that experience direct impacts from the environments they exist in. Singapore, one of the most urbanized nations in the world and previously home to poor communities comparable to Dharavi, is integrating various forms of nature into urban design through the Singapore Green Plan. Sustainable developments feature the city’s main attractions and are helping to alleviate poverty. This means more revenue for the local economy and higher incomes, coupled with an improved quality of life. Comparably, a modern appreciation of nature is proving rewarding across the globe in alleviating symptoms of urbanization. In terms of health, Singapore’s increased greenery also improves the quality of living by negating the urban heat effect and air quality.

For similar reasons, outdoor recreation constitutes one of the most rapidly growing industries worldwide. Japan’s forest bathing is a cultural phenomenon in which citizens escape to natural space. For the United States, hiking and action sports such as mountain biking and skiing are becoming increasingly popular. A whole economy centers around this type of recreation. According to the Outdoor Recreation Association, recreation centered around the U.S. outdoors generates $887 billion annually. The wild is a source of wellbeing, economic development and cultural significance for millions. However, for the developing world, nature is still largely inaccessible, especially for impoverished citizens in urban areas.

Sustainable Development

Uncontrolled development is not the only cause of the environment in poor nations. Rather, the environment in poor urban areas is often responsible for the area’s poverty in the first place. Unsustainable development exacerbates symptoms of poverty. The absence of nature in urban areas holds poor communities down.

Singapore is not the only one incorporating sustainable development into its future planning. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) describes environmental aid as “necessary for improving economic, social and political conditions in developing countries.” Sustainable development and wellbeing increasingly look to nature as a fundamental aspect of development.

Increasing Access to Natural Spaces

Historically, access to nature by means of escape is recreational freedom for privileged, fully-developed nations. In developing nations, the environment is a determiner of the quality of life. Unfortunately, urban areas including Dharavi and Singapore do not have the same access to nature as Japan’s forests. This means that forest bathing is a distant dream for millions living in the most densely populated areas of the globe. Increasing accessible natural spaces and integrating nature into an urban design is fundamental to increasing the quality of life for developing nations.

Investing in poor communities is not separate from investing in the environment. The health, wealth and development of communities remain largely dependent on natural space. Regardless of status, forest-bathing in Japan presents an often overlooked benefit of nature that surrounds all of human life. Poverty and the environment are two heavily interconnected issues that can be and currently are receiving attention.

– Harrison Vogt
Photo: Flickr

Rural-urban migrationWhen thinking of rural-urban migration, experts tend to focus on the positive aspects for migrants. New economic opportunities, access to public services and greater social tolerance define the experience of newly-urban migrants in the conversation around rural-urban migration. When discussing flaws, the conversation gravitates toward the slum conditions and informal labor in large developing-world cities. However, the developing world’s rapid amount of rural to urban migration leaves many villages with less human capital and resources. What does this rural-urban migration mean for the rural developing world?

Urban Transition

Rural-urban migration has swept the developing world since the late 20th century. This transformation, known as “urban transition,” brings the economies of countries from rural-driven to urban-driven. Seeing this trend, many countries have supported larger development projects in urban areas, looking to get ahead of the curb. While an admirable strategy, it leaves out the rural populations who tend to be more isolated. This creates a vicious cycle, where people move where the government invests, and the government invests where people move.

This lack of investment creates a problem for rural areas. Unable to increase productivity and suffering from a lack of investment, impoverished rural areas are stuck in a loop, using the same basic techniques for subsistence farming utilized in the 20th century. Rural families have many children, hoping some will move to the city to send back money and some will work on their local subsistence farm. By sending the educated children to the city, families create a gap in living standards, with those with opportunity leaving while those without stay behind.

Migration in Trade for Remittances

However, this rural-urban migration also brings benefits to the rural areas. Many families send their young adult children into the cities, investing in their future in the city. Remittances, money sent back by those moving to urban areas, keep rural finances diverse and pay for many essential services for rural people. Without this income source, rural families would be completely dependent on the whims of nature, with no sense of security that a separate income gives. Studies show that these remittances increase life expectancy and happiness, two factors increased with security.

How to Help Rural Areas

One of the rural areas’ biggest difficulties is low productivity which hinders economic growth. Many Africans living in rural areas are subsistence farmers, meeting their own food needs but creating little surplus which drives economic growth. For this reason, young people commonly move to higher productivity urban areas. To prime rural areas for development, scholars have identified several factors which developing-world governments should attack. For instance, poor rural infrastructure, illiteracy and low social interaction all hinder rural growth, which drives rural-urban migration.

By attacking these problems, governments can increase rural development, attack poverty at its heart and protect rural communities in the long run. Severe “brain drain,” where educated people move to more productive areas, especially impacts rural communities. Lowering populations will lead to less monetary and representative allotments, decreasing the voice of rural residents. Additionally, men make up the majority of rural-urban migrants, leaving women in a vulnerable position both in caring for children and running subsistence farms.

Rural development projects which take into account community leaders at all levels of planning and execution can greatly increase their effectiveness. Improving the governance of these projects, especially reducing corruption, is essential in assuring rural development. The integration of system-wide rural development projects serves as an opportunity to increase rural development. Currently, thousands of NGOs operate rurally around Africa, with many separate governmental programs overlapping. By increasing cooperation, systematic development of rural areas can occur rather than a patchwork of unrelated development projects.

– Justin Morgan
Photo: Flickr

<span class="imagecredit">On April 12, 2013, the World Bank approved funding for the National Horticulture and Livestock Productivity Project (NHLP) in Afghanistan. Under this governmental program, greenhouses are distributed to families across Afghanistan’s provinces. More than 300 Afghan women in the province of Kapisa alone are able to grow food year-round for their families with some women even becoming the sole breadwinners of their family due to farming made possible through the NHLP’s distributed greenhouses. The United Nations implemented the Community-Based Agriculture and Rural Development project (CBARD) in Afghanistan in 2018, a program that involves similar creations of greenhouses in Afghanistan. CBARD has led to the construction of 70 greenhouses in the Ghormach district alone. As the success of micro and commercial greenhouse distribution through both the World Bank and U.N.-initiated projects has grown, the importance of long-term and community-based anti-poverty solutions has become clear internationally.

Greenhouse Distribution

The NHLP has reached 291 districts across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan, covering more than 500,000 citizens, half of whom are women. Each greenhouse costs 25,000 afghani (or around $320) to build, with recipients selected “based on financial need and access to at least 250 square meters of land.” After distributing these greenhouses, the NHLP also provides classes for participants on how to cultivate vegetables and apply fertilizer made from organic waste.

With the goal of tailoring the CBARD project to Afghanistan’s agriculture, the U.N. aims to benefit an estimated 46,000 households across the nation. As part of this general agricultural program, greenhouses are implemented as “key infrastructure” across the region. The U.N. explains that due to cultural and security concerns throughout many provinces, it has also focused on the implementation of micro greenhouses so that women can grow crops inside their homes. With the CBARD program currently active in the Badghis, Farah and Nangarhar provinces, the program has built hundreds of micro and commercial greenhouses for farmers.

The Need for Year-Round Food

Greenhouses in Afghanistan have provided access to produce during winter months while also providing a general improvement in food quality. This is especially beneficial for children and pregnant women who are vulnerable to malnutrition. Saima Sahar Saeedi, NHLP social affairs officer, explains to the World Bank that these greenhouses aim to reduce childhood malnutrition with children able to “eat the vegetables grown in their own family greenhouses.”

Due to Kapisa province’s especially cold winter climate, many families are unable to grow produce such as wheat, potatoes and vegetables throughout the year without the help of greenhouses and are unable to afford produce at a local bazaar. Some greenhouses in Afghanistan even help families sell crops. One recipient, Roh Afza, tells the World Bank that the money she made from selling her greenhouse produce is used to buy “clothes, school uniforms, notebooks and books for [her] children.”

The U.N.’s CBARD program has focused on the Badghis region specifically, where citizens depend on agriculture as their primary occupation. With an increase of droughts, however, much of the population has turned to poppy cultivation, which requires less water than other crops. Poppy cultivation not only requires an entire family to work but results in minimal profits and reduces the fertility of the soil. The CBARD program aims to reduce the dependence on poppy cultivation in the region by implementing greenhouses for the production of crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

The Global Success of Greenhouses

The success of both the U.N.’s CBARD program and the World Bank’s NHLP initiative include achievements in combating malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity through both micro and commercial greenhouses. Greenhouses have also furthered agricultural progress and livelihoods in rural Jamaica as well as Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan. The U.N. and World Bank’s greenhouse implementation programs create long-term, community-based solutions in combating food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition.

– Lillian Ellis
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

About Poverty in NigeriaThe wealthiest and most populous African country, Nigeria plays a substantial role in global poverty alleviation. Its success or failure has wider implications for the rest of the developing world. The history of Nigeria is a storied one, its chiefdoms and local tribes tracing their origins to the ancient kingdoms of sub-Saharan Africa. But, only in 1914 did Nigeria emerge in its present form under British colonial rule, followed by independence in 1960. Even then, the country suffered from the debilitation of military rule. It was not until the turn of the century that Nigeria blossomed as a full and free democracy.

Most recently, COVID-19 has dented the economy as global supply chains were sent into prolonged shock. But, a young Nigerian population meant that the human impact was minimized to a greater extent than in some Western countries. Furthermore, Nigeria is also expected to register positive economic growth in 2021. By 2100, Nigeria is slated to have the second-largest population in the world, surpassing China and trailing India. . Understanding the complexities of poverty in this highly crucial corner of the globe grows more imperative by the day.

5 Facts About Poverty in Nigeria

  1. Poverty in Nigeria is widespread. To date, around 40% of Nigerians live in poverty. The economy is dependent on oil, creating inherent vulnerabilities for supply chain disruptions. Depending on the stability of the wider world, millions of additional Nigerians could fall into poverty within a relatively short span of time.
  2. Inequality is similarly high. By the common method of international measurement, Nigeria actually has less inequality than the United States. But, this overshadows the vast challenges facing the country. Unemployment is high at 33%. Women are disproportionately impacted because of gender inequality and discrimination. Nigerian women own less property than men and a significant contingent of the female population is illiterate.
  3. The wealth gap has created the political conditions for terrorism to flourish. Boko Haram, one of the leading terrorist groups in the world, has headquartered itself on the outskirts of Nigeria. The organization is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions.
  4. Progress is possible. Over the years, life expectancy has risen. In 1960, life expectancy was 37. By 2019, that figure was 55.
  5. Nigeria is also a fast-growing economy. A recession in 2016 led to an economic contraction and the COVID-19 pandemic had a similar effect. But, these are exceptions. The economy otherwise grows quite fast. One example lies in 2014 when the economy expanded by 6.3%.

Doctors Without Borders

Times are changing. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders are taking the lead in tackling some of Nigeria’s biggest challenges. In many countries, poverty and health form a vicious cycle, with one reinforcing the other. Without adequate medical treatments, millions fall victim to poverty and lack the resources to access opportunities. Doctors Without Borders cuts the problem at its source.

Drawing on donations from across the world, the group treats more than 50,000 Nigerians for malaria, a disease mostly eliminated in the Western world but greatly affecting developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa where hundreds of thousands died in 2019 alone. At the same time, Doctors Without Borders has taken a multipronged approach by increasing hospital admission rates, allowing more than 60,000 Nigerians to receive necessary medical treatment in a hospital facility.

These facts paint an optimistic picture of Nigerian development. Increases in life expectancy and strong economic growth can also make substantive impacts on poverty alleviation. In the coming years, better resource allocation on the part of the Nigerian government can allow more flexible responses to the challenges facing the nation.

– Zachary Lee
Photo: Flickr

Super 30In India, the state of Bihar has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the country. For many impoverished children in India, quality education is out of reach. For this reason, many children are unable to rise out of poverty and pursue higher-paying jobs. Anand Kumar, a famous mathematician in India, set his mind to solve this issue through the Super 30 program.

Background of Anand Kumar

Anand Kumar grew up living near the railway tracks in a town in India called Patna located in the state of Bihar. His family was not financially stable yet his parents were very supportive of his education. Over time, Kumar discovered a passion for mathematics, which his parents encouraged him to pursue. While studying toward his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he produced theoretical papers that “were published in foreign journals.” Kumar seemed certain of a bright future in mathematics.

His next step was to study toward a master’s degree in mathematics at Cambridge University. However, his father’s death in 1994 left his family financially unstable, leaving him unable to pursue this plan. In order to support his family, Kumar assisted his mother in selling “papad and wafers” on the streets of Patna. According to the Times of India, in order to continue studying mathematics, Kumar traveled to Varanasi to study at the Banaras Hindu University (NHU) library and access foreign mathematical journals. Not long after, in 1992, Kumar decided to open his own mathematical school, the Ramanujan School of Mathematics.

Creation of Super 30

In 2002, an impoverished student of Kumar’s came to him seeking coaching for the entrance exam for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). However, the student was unable to afford the exam registration fee. At this very moment, Kumar came up with the idea for the Super 30 program. Each year, the Super 30 program selects 30 high-achieving academic students from impoverished families to receive “free lodging, boarding and coaching” in preparation for the IIT exam. After much coaching, many of these students are able to successfully pass the IIT exam.

The Importance of Super 30

Kumar’s Super 30 program operates on the premise that all children deserve an equal chance at success in education, regardless of their financial background. Some of the most intelligent children can be found in India’s most impoverished areas, yet they are at an immediate disadvantage because they cannot afford the private exam coaching and tutoring that children from wealthier families can afford.

Kumar’s students have a high success rate. In 2017, all 30 of his students passed the IIT exam. Since the beginning of the Super 30 program, Kumar’s coaching has benefited more than 500 students who are now qualified engineers.

These children, who were once unable to receive a quality education, are able to pursue their dreams of attending the most prestigious schools in India. Furthermore, with their final qualifications, these disadvantaged children can secure high-paying jobs that will enable them to break cycles of poverty. Programs such as Super 30 emphasize education as a proven tool for empowering children to rise out of poverty.

Inspiring Others

Super 30 has also inspired others to create similar programs. The Maharashtra Government was inspired to create its own Super 50 program to not only prepare underserved children for IIT exams but for other medical and engineering programs as well.

Programs such as Super 30 serve as a stepping stone to success. By inspiring more institutions to start similar programs, Kumar hopes for the world to come together to reduce global poverty through the power of education.

– Saanvi Mevada
Photo: Unsplash

The Samburu ProjectThe Samburu are indigenous peoples located in Kenya and East Africa. The Samburu tribe is historically nomadic, traveling throughout the region to provide for its members. With close relations to the Maasai tribe, the Samburu tribe shares a similar language, both derived from the mother language Maa. The Samburu Project aims to provide clean water access to the Samburu people.

“Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

Kristen Kosinski founded The Samburu Project after a trip to Kenya in 2005. While meeting with female leaders in the region, Kosinski met Mariama Lekwale, known as “Mama Mussa,” a remarkable women’s rights activist and member of the Samburu tribe. Mama Mussa introduced Kosinski to many Samburu women, all of whom brought up the issue of water during shared conversations. Kosinski learned that water was the focal point of many of these women’s lives. It was the women’s responsibility to procure drinking water for the family, an extremely complicated task.

Safe drinking water was severely lacking in the region, with few available wells. The existing hand-dug wells faced contamination from waste products. Waterborne disease was rampant, causing illness and death across the region. As it is the women’s job to search for water, parents often pull daughters out of school to help with this arduous task, depriving young girls of their education. According to Water.org, globally, women and children “spend a collective 200 million hours collecting water.” This time could go toward more productive activities such as education and paid employment.

Impact in Numbers

Seeing how a lack of access to water disproportionately affects girls and women, Kosinski was inspired to work together with Mama Mussa to drill four new wells in the region before the year 2007. In 2007, Mama Mussa, unfortunately, passed away, however, her son Lucas Lekwale took over this incredible mission. Together, Lekwale and Kosinski committed to drilling an additional 75 wells in the region before the close of 2015. Since its start in 2005, The Samburu Project has built 126 wells in the region, providing more than 100,000 Kenyans with clean and safe drinking water. Over time, The Samburu Project gained many well-known partners such as Whole Foods, OPI, Chobani, Wells Fargo Advisors, Rotary International, Lyft and Forever 21, to name just a few.

The Far-reaching Impacts of Access to Water

According to the United Nations, water forms “the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself.” Furthermore, water is essential for eliminating diseases and “improving the health, welfare and productivity of populations.” As such, The Samburu Project’s mission is an important one.

The Samburu Project’s mission is “to provide access to clean water and continue to support well communities with initiatives that promote health, education, women’s empowerment and general well-being.” Safe water has also played a significant part in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the area. Reducing contamination and increasing access to hygiene practices like handwashing through “tippy tap” handwashing stations has dramatically reduced potential instances of infection and transmission in the region.

Eliminating the search for water gives women time to earn an income, lifting many out of poverty. It also gives young Kenyan girls time to focus on their education, with more than double the number of girls enrolled in school as a result of acquiring access to clean water. With accessible clean drinking water, health, hygiene and wellness improve and young girls can attend school instead of shouldering the burden of collecting water with their mothers. Furthermore, women can focus their energy on activities that empower them to rise out of poverty.

The Samburu Project has done incredible work in Kenya, ensuring that the fundamental right to water is upheld for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Michelle M. Schwab
Photo: Flickr

Every Last One CampaignWorld Vision is a humanitarian organization established in 1950 to help vulnerable people “reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” Since its start, World Vision has assisted in several crises throughout the world such as the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa in the 1990s. In 2015, World Vision launched a campaign known as Every Last One. The campaign spans eight years and amounts to $1 billion. Overall, its goal is to provide relief, assistance and opportunities to approximately 60 million vulnerable people worldwide by 2023. The aid seeks to empower people “to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Campaign Context and Details

World Vision notes that around 689 million people all over the world live in extreme poverty. This specifically translates into subsisting on less than $1.90 a day. The COVID-19 epidemic has introduced additional challenges to vulnerable people across the globe. According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially thrust 150 million people into extreme poverty by the close of 2021. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse decades of poverty reduction progress globally as well as strides made in education and health.

For this reason, the humanitarian organization has framed its Every Last One campaign in terms of “life, hope and a future.” The life aspect involves providing people with “access to clean water and essential healthcare” services. Hope refers to training and equipping teachers, parents and pastors with the skills and resources needed to “protect children from violence” and supply emergency relief aid to people facing natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

Finally, the concept of a future focuses on economically empowering people to create “improved and resilient livelihoods” through education initiatives, books and training as well as recovery loans for those affected by the pandemic. In all its work, World Vision strives for gender equality, acknowledging that empowering girls and women is essential for reducing global poverty. To date, the call for donations and investments continues.

Financial Transparency and Accountability

World Vision has provided evidence that the Every Last One campaign is economically viable. On its website, the humanitarian organization has posted its financial reports and financial highlights of 2020 as a gesture of accountability. These highlights indicate that the organization has dedicated 88% of its operating expenses toward initiatives that help “children, families and communities in need,” with the remaining 12% set aside for management and fundraising efforts.

Moreover, the organization’s financial reports indicate that it received a grand total of $1,233 million in revenue in 2020, the majority of which came in through “private cash contributions.” It has also worked on decreasing overhead expenses by 3% from 2019 through improved stewardship practices. These figures indicate that World Vision has a sustainable system in place to make the most impact and ensure that disadvantaged people receive the most benefit.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals

World’s Vision’s Every Last One campaign may prove instrumental in assisting the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The U.N.’s target to end global poverty by 2030 is the first among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicated in the United Nations’ Agenda. The Agenda itself recognizes that meeting such a goal within the given time frame would require massive global mobilization and collaboration among various groups and organizations. Therefore, World Vision’s own initiative may play a significant role in realizing the U.N. SDGs.

– Jared Faircloth
Photo: Flickr

Resource rushes impact global povertyIn June 2021, impoverished South Africans in the province of KwaZulu-Natal flocked to the town of KwaHlathi after reports of diamonds in the area, the most modern example of a resource rush. Many people hoped this could be their key out of poverty in a country with a 32.6% unemployment rate and a stagnating GDP per capita. Unfortunately, the gems were actually quartz, a common crystal found across the globe, dashing the hopes of these amateur miners. In the developed world, the resource rushes once common in the 19th century have now largely faded away, replaced by institutionalized mining companies. However, the developing world still struggles with informal mining and its environmental, economic and political consequences. Because of this, resource rushes impact global poverty both directly and indirectly.

What is a Resource Rush?

Resource rushes occur when a natural resource is discovered and many people move to participate in its extraction. In the 19th and 20th centuries, resource rushes for gold and diamonds led to the colonization and settlement of many parts of South Africa, Australia and the Western United States. Modern-day resource rushes do not drive the same levels of migration. However, they still carry large impacts on the economies of developing countries.

Why is it Important?

In the 21st century, resource rushes create both opportunities and conflicts. Currently, more than 15 million small-scale “artisanal” miners operate in resource-rich areas, many times informally. Nearly 100 million people rely on the income that artisanal mining brings. Artisanal miners usually have to sell their goods below market price as there is usually only one large local buyer. While an important source of income, the extraction process is largely inefficient due to the small scale of these artisanal mining operations. This creates an opportunity to develop single or multi-person mining operations by increasing the efficiency of artisanal miners and connecting them to global markets.

On the other hand, resource discoveries commonly drive violent conflicts and human rights abuses. Large resource discoveries, combined with access to arms from previous conflicts, have driven wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. Many times, the armed groups extracting these resources use them to fund their operations, drawing the label of “conflict minerals.”

Resource rushes also lead to migration. Mineral deposits, largely in rural or environmentally preserved areas, attract large numbers of settlers who heighten the human impact on these areas. These impacts create environmental strain, leading to deforestation, lower standards of temporary informal housing and chemical pollution.

Building a Better Mining Industry

Artisanal and small-scale mining ventures offer many opportunities for growth around the world. While problems of health hazards and political conflicts exist, many actions by national, international and NGO stakeholders are working to overcome these challenges.

One project involving the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) partnered with the Peruvian government to improve the environmental impacts and working conditions of small-scale mining. This project utilized technical assistance, working with national governments to create system-wide change. This resulted in the implementation of mercury-reducing technologies in Peruvian mines. Other initiatives in the continent have sought to organize small-scale mines to sell their products on the international market, avoiding price-setting middlemen.

Another project in Central Africa by PACT, an NGO that focuses on mining issues, works to create a verification system so that consumers can choose responsibly sourced raw materials. This verification system includes 54,836 miners spread across 727 mines with 672 government officials tasked with implementing the system. By verifying raw materials and helping consumers gain access to raw material markets, PACT has made a large impact on raw material extraction in Central Africa.

These projects aim to reduce the impacts of informal mining at the local level, but national governments of importing countries can also implement policies toward the same goal. In 2012, the U.S. launched the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Mineral Trade, a multi-sector task force aimed at implementing measures to stop imports of conflict minerals.

Looking to the Future

Resource rushes impact global poverty by fueling conflicts, migration and creating substandard mining industries that further contribute to deforestation and various forms of pollution. However, through projects such as PACT’s, organizations are working to improve the conditions of small-scale ventures so that workers and their dependents can sell their products on the international market. In this way, impoverished people have the opportunity to improve their lives and rise out of poverty.

– Justin Morgan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

crowdfunding is reducing povertyIn 1997, modern-day crowdfunding gained global traction as British rock band Marillion funded their U.S. tour entirely through fan donations. Since then, crowdfunding has transformed into a global market. It is capable of financing aid projects, resource distribution and business ventures. Thus, crowdfunding is reducing poverty in developing countries, as proven around the world.

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a fundraising method performed on the internet. Investors contribute small amounts of capital to finance an idea or aid individuals. Using social media networks, crowdfunding works to draw people’s attention to situations of need. Moreover, it creates an opportunity within which anyone with money can invest.

Crowdfunding is typically performed through loans and donations. The loan system helps businesses that are developing a product or resolving a conflict. In this regard, crowdfunding is reducing poverty by giving investors an incentive to have a stake in a business’s success. Additionally, donations are a way for individuals to raise money after being impacted by natural disasters or medical expenses. In both ways, crowdfunding improves fundraising accessibility on a global scale.

Crowdfunding’s Growing Popularity

Crowdfunding became a popular option for entrepreneurs at the turn of the 21st century. Sites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe have expanded globally. Revenue increased “from $530 million in 2009 to $1.5 billion in 2011,” contributing to economic growth. Not only does crowdfunding allow individuals to invest in campaigns directly but it also brings attention to causes around the world as a catalyst for poverty reduction.

Market Potential

According to the World Bank, crowdfunding’s popularity is spreading from developed to developing countries. In order to boost profitability, global poverty reduction legislation has created an opportunity for crowdfunding to thrive. Due to advancements in income equality and job growth, there are up to 344 million households that can contribute small investments to crowdfunding platforms. This means that by 2025, nearly $96 billion can be raised just through crowdfunding alone.

Thus, crowdfunding is reducing poverty through its ability to connect people around the world. When observing diaspora remittances, education and housing funding, crowdfunding has the potential to increase capital by 25% more in developing countries. As such, in emerging economies that struggle to provide adequate healthcare, crowdfunding can alleviate some of that pressure.

Crowdfunding and Health

A 2018 study by the British Medical Journal studied poverty in India. The Journal found that 38 million people went into poverty as a result of self-financing healthcare bills. The second wave of COVID-19 hit India hard, and as such, many citizens relied on crowdfunding instead of insurance coverage. Through crowdfunding, nearly $1.6 billion was raised from more than 2.7 million donors. Thus, while developed countries have adopted crowdfunding as a method to support innovative business ideas, the developing world is seeing money channeled into small projects or helping others afford medical bills.

Leading by Example

As crowdfunding has gained popularity, several platforms are working to help those in need. Kiva is a loan-based platform that started in 2005. This website allows people to crowdfund loans that support more than 1.7 billion people who are unable to access essential financial services. Kiva’s work spans 77 countries, funding female-led businesses, youth education and medical expenses. In total, Kiva has supported $1.63 billion worth of loans.

A forerunner for crowdfunding sites in India, Milaap, offers investors the opportunity to contribute donations for causes they are passionate about without incurring any fees. Started in 2010, Milaap’s team has been a pioneer in providing funding to rural areas and small businesses. Now, crowdfunding is reducing poverty in healthcare, making Milaap the go-to platform to raise money for treatments and operations.

Similarly, Transparent Hands is the largest crowdfunding platform in Pakistan, which also assists the health sector. Those who are in extreme poverty can rely on donations made by people around the world to help cover the costs of surgery.

Overall, crowdfunding is an emerging resource that is positively affecting the scope of global poverty. Its potential to provide funding to low-income groups is an important step toward solving inequality.

– Nicole Yaroslavsky
Photo: Flickr

;The Potential of Africa
Throughout its history, Africa has faced innumerable challenges. War and conflict have taken a massive toll on the people who call Africa home, and instability is often the norm. Most recently, the rise of Islamic terrorist groups has contributed to growing unrest and instability. Nearly 350,000 people died from a recent Nigerian conflict alone and many governments in Africa are experiencing political turmoil. Overall, Africa has averaged four coup attempts per year in recent decades. On top of instability and violence, Africa’s citizens face frequent environmental challenges. From the 1960s on, millions have died from a lack of food security due to famine and drought. Poverty has a grip on 36% of the African population. Despite all the forces going against the largest continent on Earth, there is a silver lining. Although it has a challenging road to the future, the potential of Africa to be a wealthy, stable player on the world stage is significant.

Considering Africa’s Resources

Africa is extremely resource-rich. Many African countries sit on top of massive amounts of gold, platinum, natural gas or other rare earth minerals. This puts them in an exceptional position relative to other countries when it comes to sheer resources. One pound of gold is worth about $22,000 as of February 2021. In 2020 alone, Africa produced 663 metric tons of gold. It is also responsible for being home to 40% of the world’s gold. In addition, it is home to a massive quantity of the world’s liquid wealth – crude oil, 12% of it. On top of sitting upon massive heaps of gold and oil, the continent is host to some of the largest quantities of diamonds on earth.

Silver Linings Are Not Just Underground

The potential of Africa appears more promising as the continent makes forward progress on many fronts. Population expansion, modernization, increased access to tech, poverty rates and life expectancy have all seen positive statistical changes. About 45% of Africans live in poverty as of 2012, about a 5% drop from 1981. Further, Africa’s population has increased exponentially in recent years and is on track to keep increasing with a larger and larger percentage of this population moving to cities.

In due time, projections have determined that Africa will have some of the largest megacities on the planet. Traditionally a continent without much internet access, recent years have seen remarkable breakthroughs in online connection. As time goes on, Africans are adopting more cellular tech. Those with high-speed internet connections or broadband have reached 16% as of 2012 and could reach 99% by 2060. Lastly, life expectancy has gone up dramatically.

As Africa continues to make positive changes, its future looks brighter and brighter and inches ever closer to a new era for the continent. The potential of Africa is on the rise.

– Cole Izquierdo
Photo: Unsplash