Information and stories about developing countries.

Countries being helped by the UNDPThe United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is a U.N. network that aims to eliminate poverty, increase resilience in poor communities, improve access to education and develop policies in struggling countries. One of the UNDP’s major projects is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This project focuses on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, clean water and sanitation and climate action.

The UNDP works with multiple struggling countries around the globe to meet these goals. Out of the 170 countries and territories being aided, below is a list of eight countries being helped by the UNDP.

8 Developing Countries Being Helped by the UNDP

  1. Nigeria: Nigeria is home to the highest number of people in poverty in the world, making it one of the poorest countries being helped by the UNDP. Due to this, the UNDP’s main focus in Nigeria is eradicating poverty. Since a large percentage of the poor population are farmers, the UNDP is working to make agricultural progress in communities and addressing challenges faced in terms of sustainability. In addition, the UNDP is working to create more jobs and improve access to sustainable energy sources.
  2. Afghanistan: A large part of Afghanistan’s population faces issues with the quality of life. The UNDP in Afghanistan aims to fight extreme poverty and inequality for the most vulnerable. Significant progress has already been made in terms of education. In 2001, only 70,000 school-aged children in Afghanistan were attending school. Currently, eight million children are attending school. The UNDP worked with the Ministry of Economy in Afghanistan in 2015 to spread the importance of Sustainable Development Goals for the country.
  3. Nepal: Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Due in part to the UNDP’s efforts in Nepal, major progress has been made in terms of eliminating poverty. Within four years, the country has reduced the poverty rate from 25.2 percent in 2011 to 21.6 percent in 2015. Specific goals the UNDP has for Nepal include building resilience against natural disasters, improving education access and improving access to basic resources such as electricity and clean water.
  4. Côte d’Ivoire: Through the anti-poverty program that was established by the UNDP, more than a quarter of a million people’s lives have significantly improved in Côte d’Ivoire. Through this initiative, 62 community organizations received monetary donations, project funding and vocational training to help them progress and reach their goals. In terms of agricultural issues, due to this program, fishing equipment has become more easily available and affordable. In addition, crop diversity has increased, providing more income and food options.
  5. Syria: Syria is a war-torn, impoverished country. As a result, Syrian people face issues with access to basic needs. This includes housing, access to necessary services and basic needs for women and the disabled. In 2018, the UNDP introduced the UNDP-Syria Resilience Programme, that focuses on improving the livelihood of such vulnerable groups. Through this project, more than 2.8 million Syrians were able to receive aid and benefits. These interventions have also produced benefits on a larger scale, including the creation of jobs, productive assets distribution and vocational training.
  6. Thailand: A large percentage of Thailand’s population lives in rural areas. Major problems for the rural poor include human rights issues, considerable economic inequality and weak rule of law. In Thailand, the UNDP is supporting and providing aid to ongoing projects and operations dedicated to problems being faced by its citizens. A major program the UNDP is supporting is the Thailand Country Program which focuses on environmental regulation and economic development. The UNDP is also working with the Thai Royal Government.
  7. Bangladesh: One of the biggest problems faced by Bangladesh is natural disaster risk. The UNDP started a project in January 2017 which is an ongoing collaboration with the National Resilience Program, the government, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and U.N. Women. It aims to develop strategies to create lasting resilience against unpredictable natural disasters, shocks, and crisis, that strongly impact the poor community. Specific aims of the project include strengthening communities, improving recovery and response to disasters and local disaster management.
  8. The Philippines: Approximately 25 percent of the Philippines lives in poverty. The UNDP’s projects in the Philippines include development planning, policymaking and implementing sustainable practices. One of the main aims of the UNDP is to localize poverty reduction and increase community involvement. The UNDP is also going about development planning in a way that will include increasing the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner while reducing poverty.

– Nupur Vachharajani
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in TajikistanTajikistan, a country of 9 million people in Central Asia, recently created a new educational approach that will help address its ongoing struggles. The number of females enrolled in primary and secondary schools is significantly lower than males, and keeping children in school during economic or political crises is difficult for many families who rely on them for immediate financial returns. Despite gender and financial inequalities that still exist in educational institutions, however, many projects and investments are underway that will undoubtedly help reduce these discrepancies.

8 Facts About Education in Tajikistan

  1. Children are required to attend school between the ages of 7 to 15. Nonetheless, the number of out-of-school children in 2017 was 11,435, with girls accounting for more than 70 percent of this figure.
  2. Armed conflict during the 1990s meant that females in the region were 7.3 percent less likely to complete their education than females in non-affected areas. In the long-term, they also returned to school at a lower rate than males.
  3. The Global Partnership for Education, a funding platform that helps increase the attendance in schools in developing countries, works in conjunction with the Tajikistan government to increase access and quality of early childhood education. In fact, more than 18,000 children have benefitted from improved schooling conditions in 400-500 education centers.
  4. As of 2017, 5,400 primary teachers were trained and two million new learning materials were distributed to schools.
  5. Along with the addition of new materials, an enhanced curriculum that teaches practical applications and an interactive atmosphere are being used by 160,000 primary students.
  6. Location, gender and finances are the main obstacles to completing higher education. The proportion of students who complete higher education from the most well-off households is eight times higher than from the poorest families.
  7. Girls make up less than 30 percent of the overall number of students enrolled in universities. In fact, one in three women stops their education before completing secondary school.
  8. According to 19 percent of parents and out-of-school youth, the main reason for high dropout levels in females is marriage and avoiding “a bad reputation.”

As of 2017, the poverty rate in Tajikistan is 29 percent down from 37 percent in 2012 and education is one of the main factors that helped to reduce these levels. As described in these eight facts about education in Tajikistan, many new educational reforms are underway in Tajikistan that seek to alleviate the gender gap and create a system that benefits the community directly. Access to education will allow individuals to help lift themselves from poverty and contribute to the economy, which in turn will positively affect the global economy by reducing trade barriers and creating a more competitive global market. Investments in education have long-term payoffs that can make a tangible difference in the lives of people who live below the poverty line and create a more accessible and powerful global trade market.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Pixabay

Water Quality in Myanmar
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a nation with 32.1 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to 2015 data.

Accessing water in Myanmar has always been difficult, despite the country’s natural resources. It once was recognized to have the fourth-richest supply of groundwater in the world, holding more than 19,000 square meters per capita. This is 16 times the available levels of Myanmar’s neighboring country, Bangladesh.

A typical summer season in the last few years would introduce water shortages in only central Myanmar, but now, deforestation – as a result of urbanization – and hot temperatures contribute to water shortages in other additional areas of the country, leaving hundreds of thousands in danger.

However, recent changes to the water system have significantly improved water quality in Myanmar:

Fixing the Irrigation Systems

Myanmar’s agriculture industry provides jobs for 60 percent of workers, so it is crucial that irrigation systems are functional. In the past, Myanmar struggled with irrigation upkeep and water distribution, so The Pyawt Ywar Pump Irrigation Project stepped in to improve irrigation infrastructure, reform water management and provide education to farmers. Since its implementation, farmers and the government have worked together to make sure water distribution is fair and regulated, and farmers have learned how to use land efficiently to increase crop growth. The agriculture industry has improved as a result: the gross domestic product for agriculture increased from 12,316,081.8 MMK mn to 13,964,771.2 MMK mn in just five years.

Purifying Wastewater has Increased Access to Water

Proctor & Gamble’s Children Safe Drinking Water program and World Vision teamed up to give Myanmar residents a tool to clean non-potable water: a powder mixture invented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The powder transforms 10 liters of contaminated water into clean, drinkable water in just half an hour, providing a day’s worth of resources for a five-member family. This means that poor families living in Myanmar can purify water from rivers and streams instead of spending a lot of money on bottled water. P&G has helped with improving Myanmar’s water since 2008, and the water purification tool has helped 200,000 people gain access to safer water.

Decreasing Illness

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, is a common occurrence in Myanmar because of people’s tendency to collect water in their homes. Stored water attracts mosquitoes and creates a large breeding ground for the disease. Myanmar is labeled as a high burden dengue country, and citizens take preventative measures by learning how to protect their water against mosquitoes and to keep their spaces dry and clean. In 2015, there were 42,913 cases of dengue, but after a year of water education and awareness, the number dropped to 10,770.

Looking Ahead

Access to clean water has increased in the last 15 years, but there is still more to be done. In 2000, 47.31 percent of citizens in rural areas had access to potable water, and that number has increased to 59.85 percent as of 2015, but it is still low. The Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene plans for universal access to water by 2030, and improving water quality in Myanmar may be achieved with increased awareness and action.

Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

 

connect people5G is a new telecommunication technology that allows cell phones and other smart devices to communicate with one another much more efficiently. It will replace the highly successful 4G LTE network, which provides millions of people around the world with access to high-speed internet. Not only will 5G networks bring faster internet speeds and clearer voice calls to customers, but the new technology will connect people in a much more sophisticated way, especially in rural and developing areas.

5G Devices

While major telecommunication companies are investing in 5G and doing their part to make a new service available, technology companies will be responsible for designing devices that are compatible
with the new networks. Samsung, Apple, LG, and other large technology companies will need to make sure that their smartphones and tablets support 5G. It will be essentially useless to build a 5G network if devices cannot utilize the new network.

Smart Devices Becoming a Reality

5G networks will lay the groundwork for smart devices to better “talk” with one another. 5G will support significantly higher bandwidth rates than 4G networks, which will make it possible for cars and other devices to communicate with one another, meaning that these technologies may become available within the next decade. Tesla, Ford and Google have already begun developing self-driving smart cars, and it is rumored that Apple is also developing its own smart car.

Connecting Residents in Rural and Developing Communities

4G LTE has significantly increased internet speed and has allowed millions of people to access smartphone technology. In 2015, Ethiopia launched its 4G network around the capital city of Addis Ababa, which provided high-speed cellular service to over 400,000 people. Nearly 650 million people have been connected to 4G in Africa, which has increased economic and educational opportunities.

Unfortunately, some rural communities and developing countries throughout Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia have been left out of 4G LTE. These areas are still relying on 2G and 3G networks, which are
significantly slower and much less reliable. The older cellular technologies also make it impossible for these communities to use new smart devices. Experts hope that 5G networks will be available to these communities and will allow access to new technologies.

Investments in rural and developing areas will also benefit businesses and global economies. The new technologies will help people gain access to new markets for buying products and services. 5G rollout will be particularly important in Kenya, as the country anticipates that greater access to the internet will help grow the economy and expand access to global markets. 5G can also help rural and developing areas grow businesses, further helping economies by connecting people to high speed internet.

5G Companies

Ericsson, a cellular provider that serves the Middle East and Africa expects its 5G network to be widely deployed in 2020 and 2021. Vodacom, the African-based section of Vodafone, began deploying 5G technology in August 2018. The South-African based cellular provider, Rain, announced Africa’s first commercial 5G network, which is being developed in partnership with Huawei.

Elsewhere, major telecommunication companies have already begun a 5G rollout in major cities. American cellular providers such as T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T have all pledged to bring
5G technology to New York City and Washington D.C, with significantly expanded access in the coming years. Other telecommunication companies such as Deutsche, Telekom and Orange are doing the same in Europe, and Rakuten in Japan as well. It is also possible that American companies may collaborate with African-based carriers in the future to best serve customers on both continents.

T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere discussed 5G coverage in a recent blog:

“Let me be clear. These aren’t just words… they’re verifiable, enforceable and specific commitments that bring to life how the New T-Mobile will deliver a world-leading nationwide 5G network – truly 5G for all, create more competition in broadband, and continue to give customers more choices, better value and better service.”

Looking Ahead

5G is a revolutionary technology that will connect millions of people to smart technologies such as smartphones, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence devices. While the 5G rollout will not be completed until at least 2025, new technologies will emerge before then that will significantly change the ways in which we interact with the world. In essence, 5G networks will connect people, accelerate the adoption and access to high-speed networks, which will open up endless possibilities for millions of existing cellular customers.

– Kyle Arendas
Photo: Flickr

FreesetAt the age of 13, Kondola became the tenth wife to an older man and a servant in her in-laws’ house. Shortly after, she was tricked, sold and forced into prostitution in Sonagachi, Kolkata. She was forced to work in order to send money back to her family, who lived in Murshidabad, a high-risk district of West Bengal for human trafficking. Her future looked incredibly bleak. That was until she started a conversation with Annie and Kerry Hilton on the street. Along with twenty other brave women, she took the step to leave the sex trade business that she was unjustly forced into and began a sewing job with Freeset.

How Did This Organization Begin?

In 1999, Kerry and Annie Hilton left New Zealand and moved to Kolkata, signing for an apartment in the middle of the day. To their surprise, by nightfall, they discovered they had moved into one of Asia’s largest red-light areas, Sonagachi, and their neighbors were women who were forced into prostitution. They began building relationships with the women around them, including Mina, a woman who shared a similar past to many others, was advocating for new employment opportunities to help. Head of In-Country Communications, Sophie Bond, told The Borgen Project, despite the fact that “the Hiltons had no experience in manufacturing or business”, they were determined to be compassionate and trustworthy employers who could offer training and a secure job to these women, “to bring real change and freedom”.

Human Trafficking in India

Human trafficking in India is still a prevalent issue that the government must tackle. Two-thirds of the population live in poverty, with 68.8 percent living on less than two dollars per day. A small percentage of the population has benefited from the recent economic boom, in which 133 million Indians rose out of poverty between 1994 and 2012, yet there has been a steady increase in trafficking and violence, with almost 20,000 women and children trafficked in 2016. Victims usually belong to poor families in rural areas, with 70 percent of trafficking victims being members of the Dalit class of the caste system, among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India. Members are prone to vulnerabilities and the pressures of survival make them easy targets to trick with false promises of repaid debts and money for their families. Women are the most vulnerable as social pressures have confined them to the domestic sphere, resulting in having a lack of education and literacy. They are also prevented from any justice or equality, further subjecting them to human rights abuses.

Freeset Today

Today, Freeset makes about 50,000 t-shirts and 240,000 bags per year. All staff members earn wages, with entry-level staff earning slightly more than the average garment maker in West Bengal. The designs are made by the women themselves, as well as by those who have volunteered at the organization. The organization typically sells in bulk orders to larger businesses looking to add their own logos to the merchandise. Bond shared that currently, about 200 women are employed and 30 men. In most cases, each woman supports at least three other family members and share eerily similar, yet simultaneously unique stories of being forced into prostitution by trafficking and poverty.

Freeset Offers Counseling

Tamar, an organization funded by the Freeset Trust, is a means of holistic care in each community. Bond told The Borgen Project, “Tamar is there to help with life skills and supporting women in their new path”. Several of the Tamar staff members are trained in Trauma-informed care, which is a huge part of the lives of the women working at Freeset. “For many of them, traumatic experiences–in the sex trade, as victims of trafficking, in domestic violence–have left deep mental and emotional (not to mention physical) scars. Counselling can help a woman to understand her own behaviors and reactions, as a result of the trauma she has experienced, and give her the tools to integrate into the workplace, and ‘normal’ society”. Additionally, as of 2016, Freeset has been awarded Fair Trade Guaranteed status by the World Fair Trade Organization (WTFO).

What is the World Trade Organization?

Home of Fair Trade Enterprises, this organization recognizes those who are empowering their staff to alleviate poverty. The goal of the WTFO is to transform communities by empowering women, practicing sustainable methods, and applying a community concept to trade those who are typically exploited by larger corporations.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade has become an increasingly integral part of poverty alleviation, as it now impacts about one million livelihoods, with 74 percent of those being women. In fact, 54 percent of senior roles in fair trade organizations are held by women. Fair Trade policies aim to help empower people to combat poverty, strengthen, and take control of their own lives.

What Is The Government Doing To Help?

In India today, women constitute about 14 percent of the total entrepreneurship. However, the lack of equal access to education, employment, labor, and sexual violence hinders further advancements. The government has struggled to combat the issue of human trafficking, as it has been so widespread. Currently, it is looking toward crime prevention and harsher penalties for child prostitution and forced marriage, as well as improvements to protect victims. However, India’s vast landscape and corruption of officials still pose as obstacles that the government must overcome to further the progress throughout the country.

Check this out to see how you can get involved with Freeset: https://freesetglobal.com/volunteer/

– Adya Khosla
Photo: Flickr

Alternative to Third WorldThe term “third world” has a deep history, dating back to the Cold War when the world was divided between Western capitalism and Soviet communism. In 1952, French demographer Alfred Sauvy wrote “Three World’s, One Planet,” an article that divided countries into the three different groups we know today.

Three Worlds

Nations such as the United States and Western Europe were designated as the first world. The Soviet Union and its allies became the second world. Finally, all the other nations became known as third world countries. Over the years, the term “third world” began to gather a negative connotation of being less developed and economically sound than the first and second world.

Furthermore, what counts as the third world is not so easy to define. B.R. Tomlinson expressed in his article, “What was the Third World?” that the term is a “convenient and rather vague label for an imprecise collection of states.”

Peter Worsely, a proponent of introducing the term into academia, confessed that “the nature of the Third World seemed so self-evident in the 1960s that in a book on The Third World I published in 1964, I saw no need to define it any more precisely than that it was the world made up of the ex-colonial, newly-independent, non-aligned countries.”

This way of defining nations has long since been outdated. The Soviet Union isn’t even a nation anymore. So, if these nations aren’t the third world, what are they? Is there a more appropriate alternative to third world?

5 Phrases to Use as an Alternative to Third World

  1. Developing Nations – Many argue that the term “developing nations” is a better choice. Vaibhav Bojh, a credit manager at Punjab National Bank in India says, “Being called a developing country gives me a chance to improve.” However, this term comes with its problems too. While the term developing brings about a connotation of improving conditions, it also encourages the misconception that countries with big economies such as the U.S. are not still developing themselves. In 2016, the World Bank announced, “there is no longer a distinction between developing countries…and developed countries.”
  2. LICs and MICs – The World Bank is now encouraging a new classification based on income data. LICs and MICs, pronounced “licks and micks,” defines nations as low-income countries and middle-income countries. For nations that don’t fit either of these definitions, there is LMIC or lower-middle-income countries.
  3. Majority World – The term “Majority World” is often used to remind the West that these countries outnumber them. Majority World refers to countries where most of the population resides. On the other hand, the Minority World are the nations more commonly considered “developed” where a small percentage of the earth’s population lives.
  4. Fat and Lean – Describing a nation as either Fat or Lean, as proposed by Dayo Olopade in his Op-Ed, looks at the value in the operations of each country. Lean nations are resource-scarce so they use what is available more efficiently. As Olopade explains, in Fat nations “plenty is normal.” Olopade illustrates the positive connotation with the term lean, stating, “Individual Africans waste less food and water, owe less money and maintain a regional carbon footprint that is the lowest in the world.”
  5. Global South/North – This is a term that focuses on geographical locations. The term does not perfectly group all nations together. For example, Haiti is in the global north and Australia is in the global south. However, the term avoids any negative connotation.

“Third World” is an old and demeaning term that does not truly describe nations in the modern era. In truth, trying to categorize nations will never be entirely accurate. Every nation has its own culture and way of life. However, if we must refer to them using categories, there are plenty of alternatives to use that should become a part of our vernacular. Using an appropriate alternative to “third world” can help change the way that the world views its nations.

– Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

People Living in LandfillsIn the outskirts of Jakarta, a city home to 10 million people, sits the largest uncovered landfill in Southeast Asia, Bantar Gebang. In Bantar Gebang, mounds of trash sit 10 stories high. Shockingly, Bantar Gebang is also home to approximately 18,000 people, people who are living in landfills and who make a living collecting plastics and valuables to sell for their day’s wages.

The situation in Jakarta is sadly common. In the developing world, open dumps are the most common way to dispose of waste that accompanies economic growth. Additionally, developing countries account for roughly 80 to 90 percent of the world’s mismanaged waste. It is therefore difficult to visualize those living in landfills amid this mismanaged waste. However, this reality is important to confront because the lives of those living in landfills depict the complications of poverty in the developing world.

Living in Landfills

For many, living in landfills is the only option. Those who uncover valuable rubbish or recyclables can earn up to $2 a day. Unfortunately, this is considered a modest earning, as 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Recycling companies also rely on landfill workers, sometimes called ragpickers. Subsequently, there remains a strong economic incentive for these workers and their families. In fact, these landfill workers are technically the only means of waste management in many cities.

The living conditions of the landfills have damaging effects on workers’ health. Near the Ghazipur landfill in Delhi, a local doctor says she sees nearly 70 people a day with diseases linked to the toxic pollutants in landfills. Most families, sadly, cannot afford to relocate, because they are paying for medical aid and food.

Managing Landfills

As for the existence of the landfills, there seems to be no end in sight. For most of the developing world, exponential growth in urban populations has directly lead to increased production of waste. For example, Delhi’s population in India has risen from 12 to 19 million in the past 20 years. Over that same period, daily waste has increased from 8 to 20 million pounds of trash in the city dumps. The sheer growth in waste has inundated residents, local leaders and politicians alike on regarding what to do with these landfills.

Many politicians lack the power and popular support to battle the mismanagement of landfills. Some politicians and supervisors of landfills fear closing down landfills will result in violent protests from ragpickers who have lost their jobs. Moreover, creating sanitary landfills would cost Delhi $75 million alone. Turning to “greener” alternatives, such as waste-to-energy treatment, are inaccessible due to a lack of funding, regulatory protection, technical skills and infrastructure.

Regulating Future Waste

The complex issues that surround the landfills speak to the many different ways to approach solutions to the problem.

  • Political: In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition launched the Municipal Solid Waste Initiative in 2015. This initiative aims to help city government draft plans outlining projects, such as introducing organic material waste diversion and education programs for citizen awareness. The CCAC has completed 30 city baseline waste assessments and 16 city waste management work plans worldwide.
  • Medical: Because of the toxic waste and pollutants in open landfills, UNICEF has begun working with primary schools to educate children on the importance of hygiene and sanitation. UNICEF seeks to do this through WASH (water supply, sanitation, hygiene) policies set out by the Indonesian government.
  • Economic: The World Bank works in a variety of countries seeking to bolster sanitation infrastructure through economic investment and funding. In 2012, the World Bank loans funded the rehabilitation of the main landfill site in Azerbijan, increasing the population the landfill serves from 53 percent, in 2008, to 74 percent. The World Bank also invests in building infrastructure in other countries, including Indonesia, Argentina and Morocco.
  • Sociopolitical: Buenos Aires, Argentina established a policy to be a zero-waste city by 2020. Like “ragpickers” in Bantar Gebang, 5,000 cartoneros in Argentina work in city-built warehouses, sorting and collecting trash each night. This allows them to work in better living conditions and negotiate prices with recycling companies as a collective entity. Buenos Aires shows the success of grassroots and people-first solutions that improve landfill workers’ economic, social, medical and political poverty.

Understanding the despair and dignity that “ragpickers” live with is important in understanding the developing world and building effective solutions, because the plight of landfill workers is not only monetary or political.

– Luke Kwong
Photo: Pixabay

Mobile Software Platforms in Developing Countries  The creation of mobile phones is not only beneficial for everyday usage but also for the livelihood of communities in developing countries. As mobile phones continue to advance, the creation of software applications that are easily accessible can make a difference in the developing world. Whether it be a mobile banking platform, a market information system or an EMS service for desolate regions in developing countries, these types of mobile software are undoubtedly effective in helping those they serve.

3 Mobile Software Platforms in Developing Countries

  1. M-Pesa: In 2007, Kenya launched the mobile banking platform, M-Pesa, with the help of a one million pound grant from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. M-Pesa is a money transfer service dedicated to allowing its users to transfer money to relatives in other locations through text, pay for everyday necessities and take out and repay loans. This software plays a significant role in reducing poverty. Studies show that there was a “6 percent increase in per capita consumption, enough to push 64 (or roughly 4 percent) of the sampled households above poverty levels.” Often referred to mobile money, this software gives the opportunity to separate cash and manage a source of income, especially for women. Considering most of the households are male-headed, women who are secondary income earners are unable to save adequately since most of the cash is used by the house. But M-Pesa creates financial independence and allows women to start their own businesses, bringing more money into families.
  2. MISTOWA: Market Information Systems and Traders Organizations in West Africa, MISTOWA for short, is an application created to provide statistics on agriculture to connect small farmers in remote areas with potential buyers at a fair market price. Created by the United States Agency for International Development and launched in March 2005, MISTOWA uses a web platform called TradeNet where buyers and sellers can upload and send agriculture information through text and SMS subscriptions. MISTOWA is partnered with a company named Esko in Nairobi, Ghana where rural farmers are sent price information, weather alerts and crop advice. After launching this mobile software, there was a 9 percent increase in profit for the farmers who used the software.
  3. Beacon: In rural areas, such as the countryside of the Dominican Republic, many citizens are unable to dial 9-1-1 for a medical emergency due to emergency services being too far away. Trek Medics International, in partnership with Google and Cardinal Health, created a lifesaving software program called Beacon. Through this mobile software, residents in the Dominican Republic can contact the nearest firehouse station where an alert will be sent via Beacon to a volunteer dispatcher who is first-aid trained. This volunteer travels to these regions on inexpensive motorcycles and transports the injured person to the nearest hospital.

Thanks to the masterminds behind mobile software, communities in developing countries are beginning to make use of the technology that is available to them through their mobile phones. Although these mobile software platforms in developing countries don’t tackle every issue, it is just the beginning of how advanced technology can make an impact.

– Jessica Curney
Photo: Flickr

Ways to Combat Iron Deficiency in Developing CountriesAnemia is most prevalent in developing countries. Pregnant women and young children are the most likely to contract anemia. A person with anemia can suffer from fatigue, increased risk of mortality and irreversible cognitive damage. As of now, iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. The following list offers five ways to combat iron deficiency in developing countries.

5 Ways to Combat Iron Deficiency in Developing Countries

  1. Giving Pregnant Women Iron: Studies have shown that giving pregnant women iron increases healthy child outcomes and reduces the risk of anemia in their children. Pregnant women in Indonesia who took iron during their pregnancy reduced their children’s risk of mortality by 40 percent. Similarly, Chinese women who took iron supplements throughout their pregnancy found that child mortality rates decreased throughout the first seven years of life.
  2. Cooking with Iron: A major problem in developing countries is the lack of nutrition in their diets. A staple food in many developing countries is rice, which offers little to no nutritional value. The need for developing countries to include iron in their daily diets is evident. One way to accomplish this is through the usage of a recent technological innovation: the iron fish. The iron fish is an invention that when boiled, releases the recommended daily amount of iron.
  3. Biofortification: Iron deficiency is largely caused by malnutrition. Many people in developing countries have little access to nutritious food sources such as vegetables, dairy and fruit, as these items tend to be costly. To combat this problem, scientists have tried to find ways to infuse the starchy staples of developing countries with iron.  Geneticist Alex Johnson has led the charge in biofortification. He has sought to create a genetically modified rice that will produce more iron. The field tests of Johnson’s rice have been promising. These results suggest that through genetically modified food, people in developing countries can have healthier diets.
  4. Iron Supplements and Powders: Researchers believe that it would be possible to rid the world of iron deficiency through the usage of iron supplements. Iron supplements are cost-effective and can cost as little as 15 cents. The World Health Organization suggests that women and children who inhabit areas where the anemia level exceeds 20 percent to take daily iron supplements. For infant children who do not have access to healthy foods, the World Health Organization prefers to recommend micronutrient powders. Micronutrient powders have reduced anemia by 31 percent and iron deficiency by 51 percent. Micronutrient powders and iron supplements have both had enormous success in decreasing iron deficiency, but it has yet to be determined which approach is more effective.
  5. Deworming: Intestinal worms are cited as the most common intestinal disease in the developing world. The Copenhagen Consensus has suggested deworming as a way to decrease malnutrition and iron deficiencies.  Recent studies have shown an increased correlation between the number of individuals who suffer from hookworm infections to those who suffer from anemia. Hookworms drain necessary nutrients from the body and hinder the body’s ability to hold iron, and as a result, a person can become anemic. By eradicating these worms before they have a chance to do permanent damage, developing countries can take a proactive approach to their anemia problem.

Iron deficiency continues to be the leading cause of anemia in the world. While this threat remains imminent, the good news is that the world has equipped itself to fight this epidemic.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
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