Information and stories about developing countries.

CVD in Sub-Saharan AfricaThe term CVD, or cardiovascular disease, refers to a variety of disorders related to cardiac muscle and the blood vessels that supply “the heart, brain and other vital organs.” CVD is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing more than 18.56 million people in 2019. Although many people tend to associate CVD prevalence with high-income regions, CVD in sub-Saharan Africa is also quite common. In 2016, CVD overtook HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death in this region.

Prevalence of CVD in sub-Saharan Africa

There are nine main risk factors for CVD: “smoking, history of hypertension or diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, raised blood lipids and psychosocial factors.” Psychosocial factors are defined as characteristics that impact an individual on a psychological or social level. Negative psychological factors include stress, anxiety and depression.

Several of these risk factors are common in sub-Saharan Africa and are continuing to increase in prevalence with the rise of urbanization. The region is starting to face high rates of hypertension. In 2016, in the African region, 46% of adults 25 and older had hypertension, a figure that experts expect to climb rapidly. As urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa increases, lifestyle choices diversify — diets change and lifestyles often become more sedentary. These factors all increase the risk of CVD among sub-Saharan Africans, which provides a feasible explanation for the steep increase in this health issue over the past decade.

How Does Poverty Increase the Risk of CVD?

The number of sub-Saharan Africans living in extreme poverty face increased exposure to multiple risk factors for CVD. In 2018, 40% of sub-Saharan Africans endured extreme poverty. Poverty exacerbates negative psychological factors. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that those struggling with poverty have “more stress-related brain activity,” which leads to inflammation that increases the risk of CVD. These stress levels link to job insecurity, living in crowded environments and the difficulties one may face in providing for oneself and one’s family.

In addition, people living in poverty have reduced access to adequate preventative health care services. In addition, when sub-Saharan Africans begin to develop diseases that increase their risk of CVD, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, they often lack the health care resources to promptly and properly treat these issues. As a result, these health problems often spiral into CVD. CVD can also lead to disability and chronic illness, which impacts the human capital of the nation, leading to a loss of productivity that exacerbates negative psychosocial factors and existing economic instability.

ScienceDirect published a research study in 2013 indicating that child poverty may also increase the risk of developing CVD later in life, in part due to the negative psychosocial factors these children face. In 2017, an estimated 64% of children in sub-Saharan Africa lived in multidimensional poverty. Considering the link between child poverty and CVD, the health impacts of impoverished living conditions are of imperative concern.

Preventing CVD

Although CVD in sub-Saharan Africa is highly prevalent, there are solutions to reduce the burden of this disease. One initiative working to reduce CVD is the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) program run by AstraZeneca. The program aims to reduce CVD risk by providing hypertension care. Since its launch in Kenya in 2014, HHA has given training to more than 7,600 health care workers “to provide education and awareness, screening and treatment services for hypertension.” In addition, HHA has supported more than 900 health centers in Africa in supplying “hypertension services” to the public. The program now serves five additional countries — Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire. By 2025, HHA aims to reach 10 million people suffering from high blood pressure across the African continent.

Researchers studying CVD have historically neglected sub-Saharan Africa as an area of interest. Although research in this region is expanding, there is still much to learn about the prevalence and causes of CVD. Increased knowledge of this health issue will aid in developing effective courses of action to reduce the prevalence of CVD in sub-Saharan Africa.

– Aimée Eicher
Photo: Flickr

dental healthThere is a strong association between oral diseases and poverty. According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases impact approximately 3.5 billion people. In addition, it is estimated that 3.9 billion people worldwide suffer from dental decay, which can impact their overall “health and well-being” and increase the burden of health care costs for already impoverished people. Many remote and underserved communities lack access to treatment and preventative services, however, several nonprofits are working to increase access to dental health services globally.

7 NGOs Making Strides in Improving Global Dental Health

  1. Academy of Dentistry International Foundation. The Academy of Dentistry International is an honor society “for dentists dedicated to sharing knowledge… to serve dental health needs and to improve the quality of life throughout the world.” Its Academy of Dentistry International Foundation provides grants for missions and projects that assist disadvantaged communities, supporting dental care for people in Honduras, Columbia, Kenya, Jamaica, the Philippines and Belize since 2010. The Foundation funded Bright Smiles Cameroon in 2018, which offers oral health education to school-aged children. Another grant recipient was the Health and Development Society Nepal, which offers oral health training to primary care workers who can then offer health care services to marginalized communities in Nepal.
  2. Dentaid. This organization began its work in 1996, delivering dental treatment to more than 70 countries since then, including the U.K. Dentaid supplies dental equipment and sends volunteers to impoverished and rural communities. Its “DentaidBox,” an innovative portable bin, includes all the equipment necessary to perform dental surgery even when electricity and running water are unavailable. In 2021, the DentaidBox reached seven African countries. In that same year, Dentaid created eight free clinics for people who are homeless in the U.K. and has plans to launch nine more. It also offered services to refugees and asylum seekers in the U.K.
  3. Global Child Dental Fund. This organization aims to serve every child needing dental health services. Currently, the organization is working with Jordanian dental students to aid Syrian refugees in Jordan. About 1,500 children in Jordan’s refugee camps have received “toothbrushes, toothpaste and oral health education.” One of the fund’s projects, SEAL Cambodia, has treated more than “66,000 children with dental sealants.” Global Child Dental Fund also provides “special care dentistry” in poverty-stricken and remote areas. The fund has trained students in Zambia and offered services to children with special needs in Kenya and Cambodia.
  4. Global Dental Relief. Since 2001, Global Dental Relief has offered free dental care to children across the world, serving close to 200,000 children from 2001 to 2020 with its volunteer work in eight countries. In addition to providing dental care, Global Dental Relief is unique in that, in Guatemala and Nepal, it also provides meals to families suffering from food scarcity.
  5. Open Wide Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is “to bring lasting change to the state of oral health in underserved communities worldwide.” The Foundation targets communities that have the greatest need for dental health care, beginning in 2012 and since serving more than 200,000 people. Open Wide Foundation built its first clinic in the Guatemalan city of Peronia, an impoverished community that had little to no access to dental health services. Since then, the Foundation has opened additional dental clinics in Guatemala. The Open Wide Foundation also works with students, offering “mentoring and practicum opportunities” to first-year dental students.
  6. Smiles for Everyone. Smiles for Everyone offers free dental health services in several countries. Since its inception, more than 27,000 individuals have received free dental care. Smiles for Everyone offers basic dental services as well as root canals, dentures and implants. The organization also provides training to Paraguayan dentists on complex dental procedures. Many of the patients at the free dental clinics have never visited a dentist before.
  7. World Health Dental Organization. This organization offers free dental care and education to marginalized communities, primarily in Kenya. Its flagship clinic provides annual dental treatment to around 4,000 Maasai people who have limited access to dental services. One particular Maasai initiative is the Momma Baby Clinic program that offers “preventative oral health and early intervention strategies… to pregnant mothers and mothers of infants and young children,” educating “hundreds of mothers” a year. Another program, I Am Responsible, has led to the oral health education of more than 700 school children. The organization, through its programs, has also distributed 1,500 bamboo toothbrushes to children living in the Mara.

Looking Ahead

While many oral diseases continue to plague impoverished communities, NGOs are committed to addressing the issue by providing free dental care to previously out-of-reach communities. By volunteering services, supplying resources and carrying out skill-based training, these NGOs aim to create global change. Many also aim to offer education to school-aged children on good oral health and hygiene. As people have better access to essential resources for oral disease prevention, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and running water, the burden to alleviate the public health problem of oral diseases will subside.

– Amy Helmendach
Photo: Flickr

Cooking povertyWhen the United Nations adopted its Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the aim was to address poverty, global inequality and climate change simultaneously through 17 different goals. One of these goals is to achieve access to clean energy for all. However, an often overlooked aspect of energy poverty is cooking poverty — the lack of access to modern cooking methods and technologies. According to the World Bank’s 2020 Energy Progress Report, 2.8 billion people across the globe do not have access to clean cooking and instead rely on solid fuels like wood, kerosene, coal or animal dung. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals clearly outline the importance of clean cooking. However, there remains a lack of awareness about the issue and not much progress has occurred since 2015. The 2020 Energy Progress Report predicts that, by 2030, 2.3 billion people would still lack access to clean cooking technologies.

The Health and Social Impacts of Cooking Poverty

Cooking poverty also impacts other targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, such as good health and gender equality. People enduring cooking poverty depend on pollutant fuels like wood and coal, which result in indoor air pollution. An estimated 4 million people die prematurely every year due to indoor air pollution, which causes respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. The World Bank also finds that non-clean cooking ties to more acute physical ailments, such as burns that occur when cooking with traditional resources.

The financial impact of cooking poverty on public health is significant, costing $1.4 trillion each year, but the social impact is even greater. Cooking poverty disproportionately affects women and girls who serve as the primary cooks in most households. Because the burden of collecting fuel and cooking often falls on women, indoor pollution affects them the most. Furthermore, because outdated methods of cooking are very time-consuming, this often means women and girls cannot spare time to go to work or school — deepening their poverty.

Fortunately, new technologies and initiatives led by national governments, private companies and nonprofit organizations are making clean cooking a reality in low-income countries. There are three main ways that initiatives are targeting cooking poverty.

3 Ways to Address Cooking Poverty

  1. Behavioral Change and Awareness. The simplest step toward clean cooking is increasing awareness of indoor air pollution and promoting change. The World Bank’s Carbon Initiative for Development partnered with the Mind, Behavior and Development Unit in Ghana, Rwanda and Madagascar to identify some behavioral changes that would make clean cooking easier. For example, the initiative found that Rwandans could save time and fuel by soaking beans, a staple food, overnight rather than slow cooking the beans throughout the day. Other simpler practices include leaving the door open while cooking, cooking outdoors and keeping children and other family members away from the kitchen while cooking. While these are important practices to adopt to reduce exposure to air pollutants, most initiatives are going further to introduce new technologies for clean cooking.
  2. Improved Cookstoves. ICS, or improved cookstoves, are more efficient biomass stoves, meaning they rely on wood, coal or other biomaterials like traditional stoves. However, the improved cookstoves burn the fuel more efficiently, which can cut down the time of exposure to pollutants. The World Bank-supported Bangladesh Improved Cookstoves Program helped provide 1.7 million improved cookstoves across Bangladesh by 2019. This resulted in a reduction of 3 million metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gases and cut the use of firewood, the primary fuel source in Bangladesh, by more than half. The ICS program in Bangladesh also had economic impacts, saving each household 375.84 Bangladeshi taka each month, according to the State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services. Currently, improved cookstoves do not meet the World Health Organization’s definition of “clean” cooking methods because the stoves do not reduce emissions sufficiently enough to note meaningful health benefits. However, the improved cookstoves are inexpensive and save time that can go toward income-generating activities or education.
  3. Clean Cooking Technologies. The most advanced step to end cooking poverty is the adoption of clean cooking technologies that reduce emissions to a meaningful degree while also saving time and money. Clean cooking includes the use of stoves powered by electricity, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), solar heat and alcohol, among other sources. Electricity now makes up 10% of cooking fuels globally and LPG makes up 37%. At the same time, the share of kerosene and coal is declining. Gas is also overtaking unprocessed biomass as the most popular cooking fuel in low and middle-income countries, thanks to urbanization and younger generations’ openness to clean cooking solutions, according to the 2020 Energy Progress Report. Despite this, the introduction of clean cooking technologies has not caught up with population growth and faces financial and cultural barriers. NGO work, like that of World Central Kitchen, empowers local communities to transition to clean cooking by converting outdated school and community kitchens to LPG-based kitchens. By targeting larger kitchens, World Central Kitchen positively impacts more people. Innovative business models are also proving successful in making clean cooking technology more reliable and affordable. Lastly, grants provided by the World Bank’s Clean Cooking Fund aim to incentivize the private sector to supply modern energy cooking services.

Ending cooking poverty is dependent on many factors and requires a variety of solutions by many actors, among them national governments, nonprofits and public-private partnerships. Overall, the ongoing efforts to provide access to clean cooking help contribute to global poverty reduction.

– Emma Tkacz
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in South SudanThe North African country of South Sudan is currently facing its worst hunger crisis to date. Estimations indicate that close to 8.5 million people out of the nation’s total population of 12 million people “will face severe hunger” in 2022, marking an 8% spike from 2021. There are several reasons for the worsening levels of food insecurity in South Sudan.

Issues Contributing to Food Insecurity in South Sudan

South Sudan’s most recent civil war, beginning in December 2013 and ending in February 2020, is one of the many reasons for the major food insecurity in South Sudan, among other issues. According to Oxfam International, the war caused an “economic free–fall,” leading to rising food prices and a crumbling economy. Furthermore, food stocks have diminished and harvests are poor due to extreme weather conditions.

The country is facing “the worst floods in 60 years,” affecting close to 1 million people and serving as a significant contributor to food insecurity in South Sudan. In just seven months, from May 2021 to December 2021, about 800,000 South Sudanese people endured the impacts of “record flooding” within the country. The floods have not only destroyed lands where crops were growing but have also led to the loss of a quarter million “livestock in Jonglei state alone.” The floods also swept away vital supplies such as fishing nets, impacting people relying on fishing in waterways as a means of securing food sources.

Along with the devastating floods, in 2021, the United Nations had to cut its food aid by about 50% due to reduced funding and increased costs of food. This reduction in the amount of food aid from the United Nations alone affects more than three million people.

Extreme Measures and Potential Collapse

To prevent starvation, families are resorting to extreme measures such as “ground-up water lilies” as their only meal of the day. Other people living in hunger have attempted to flee to other towns and states in search of food and shelter.

Further compounding the issue of food insecurity in South Sudan is “government deadlock as the country’s two main political parties try to share power.” Resistance among the political groups to work together is a cause of concern for the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, who warns of “a collapse in the country’s peace deal” if parties cannot find common ground in the political arena.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

One of the organizations working to help end food insecurity in South Sudan is the WFP. The WFP is currently employing a variety of methods to get food to the millions of South Sudanese people enduring food insecurity. These methods “include airdrops, all-terrain vehicles, river barges and SCOPE registration.”

The WFP utilizes airdrops as a last resort to deliver food to the most “dangerous and inaccessible” locations in South Sudan where safe road travel is not possible. The WFP also utilizes SHERPs, a type of all-terrain vehicle, to deliver food supplies to isolated areas where travel is challenging but still possible. The SHERPs can traverse the most adverse roads, go over obstacles and “float across water” in flooded areas.

The WFP also uses river barges that run along the Nile River to transport food to families who live in areas where there are no roads. Lastly, the WFP uses SCOPE, which is a blockchain service employed to “register and document people who receive food assistance” from the WFP. SCOPE helps workers to track the individuals receiving assistance and record each person’s “nutrition and health status” and determine full recovery and treatment success.

Looking Ahead

Although the situation in South Sudan is dire and experts predict these circumstances will worsen, many organizations are committing to providing as much aid as possible to South Sudanese people facing the devastating impacts of several disasters. By supporting these organizations, even an ordinary individual can make a difference in reducing food insecurity in South Sudan.

– Julian Smith
Photo: Flickr

Classroom AfricaThe African Wildlife Foundation created a program in 2013 called Classroom Africa “to provide rural communities access to a quality primary school education” along with “a strong incentive to engage in conservation.” The main aim of Classroom Africa is “to foster the link between education and conservation, ensuring a stronger future for Africa’s children and its wildlife.” Operating in several African countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the program empowers underprivileged children by providing them with education and opens opportunities for them to pursue careers as conservationists. Wildlife education programs like Classroom Africa can uplift low-income children while also protecting the environment.

Primary Education in Developing Nations

Children in developing countries often lack access to primary education, especially in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa where Classroom Africa is based, more than 20% of children ages 6 to 11 are not receiving a classroom education, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Extreme gender disparities in school attendance also exist — females are more unlikely to never receive an education in comparison to males.

Wildlife education programs like Classroom Africa provide educational opportunities to children in low-income areas and teach them about their local environment and sustainability. As a result, children are more likely to utilize and protect the natural resources around them, which can improve their quality of life in the long run. According to the World Bank, in 2018, sub-Saharan Africa held 66% of the world’s most extremely impoverished people. Wildlife conservation organizations can alleviate poverty by offering primary education opportunities that teach children practical skills and lessons about their local environment.

Greater Access to Opportunities

Wildlife education programs can set up low-income students for career opportunities later in life. With knowledge about wildlife conservation from a young age, children are more likely to grow up to pursue and succeed in careers as conservationists. In turn, these children serve their local communities and environments by improving sustainability and preserving natural resources. Children may also learn skills involving resource management and conservation, which have a multitude of social and economic benefits for low-income communities.

Additionally, wildlife education programs may provide teacher training programs, which create productive job opportunities for adults in the community. Wildlife education can alleviate poverty by creating job opportunities in developing countries and encouraging members of low-income communities to conserve and utilize valuable natural resources.

Quality of life is closely linked to environmental sustainability. Natural resources can yield an expansive range of socioeconomic benefits when people have the knowledge and power to conserve the environment. Wildlife education programs teach children from a young age how to use natural resources sustainably. One generation of educated conservationists can pave the way for future generations to reap the benefits of a sustainable environment.

Wildlife conservation can provide ample economic advantages that improve quality of life. For example, “safaris in Kenya generate close to $1 billion in annual revenue,” which would simply not be possible with a crumbling ecosystem and diminishing wildlife. A thriving ecotourism sector is able to create jobs for people in surrounding communities, providing an income that helps lift disadvantaged people out of poverty.

Looking Ahead

Wildlife education is particularly valuable in rural, low-income communities that are surrounded by nature but home to few people who have expertise in resource management and conservation. Children who partake in wildlife education programs can spread their knowledge to other community members, leading to a more sustainable community as a whole.

Classroom Africa shows that wildlife education benefits people in all stages of life. It teaches children valuable knowledge about resource conservation and sustainability and it opens career opportunities for young adults, especially in developing countries. Younger generations who partake in wildlife education programs can work alongside older ones to conserve their local environment and reap benefits while still prioritizing sustainability.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Sierra LeoneSierra Leone is a small, tropical country located on the west coast of Africa. Despite its six-month “wet season,” characterized by 90% humidity and torrential rainfall, Sierra Leone struggles to provide quality drinking water to its citizens. As of 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 98% of Sierra Leoneans do not have access to clean drinking water and that “most households lack basic sanitation.” Fortunately, there are many organizations, both internal and external, that are seeking to combat poor water quality in Sierra Leone. These organizations utilize five strategies to broaden access to clean water.

5 Strategies to Broaden Access to Clean Water

  1. Installing Wells. Many of the wells in Sierra Leone are dug by hand and are unable to reach underground aquifers where clean water is stored. For this reason, many nonprofit organizations, such as World Hope, Living Water and Sierra Leone Rising, are prioritizing efforts to install deeper wells in both urban and rural areas of Sierra Leone. Generally, the installation of a quality, long-lasting well costs about $11,000. To minimize the cost of developing these much-needed wells, World Hope and Sierra Leone Rising are teaming up, splitting the cost of building 20 wells. Between 2017 and 2018, World Hope drilled 45 wells in Sierra Leone and its neighboring country, Liberia. When people have local access to clean water wells, they are less prone to diseases and do not have to waste as much productive time seeking out potable water.
  2. Monitoring Local Water Sources. Many of the water sources in Sierra Leone are polluted and spread diseases to the people who drink from them. This is why the CDC is partnering with public health officials in Sierra Leone to better monitor water quality and respond to waterborne disease outbreaks. The CDC began guiding “public health staff” in 2018, successfully training 50 employees “to detect and respond to waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.” Those 50 staff members went on to teach 500 other community members the same methods of water testing. As a result of these training sessions, new job opportunities are arising, the spread of waterborne illness is decreasing and water quality in Sierra Leone is improving nationwide.
  3. Expanding the Sanitation Sector. The Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a foreign aid agency based out of the United States, working in Sierra Leone since 2015 in an effort to improve the country’s poor water quality. The program helped draft the first digital map of the water distribution system in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, which will allow water companies to “better assess the water system’s performance” and “more efficiently address service delivery problems,” ultimately providing more Sierra Leoneans with access to clean, safe water. The nation also recently drafted blueprints to expand all water and sanitation services in urban areas and neighboring towns by 2023, aiming to reach all cities by 2030. With the expansion of the sanitation sector, improved water quality in Sierra Leone is inevitable.
  4. Developing Rainfall Collection Systems. During Sierra Leone’s six-month wet season, the country experiences torrential rains and flooding. However, “from November to April,” the country experiences a harsh dry season during which droughts and water shortages are commonplace. This is why the Freetown city mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, campaigned in 2021 to install “more than 160 rainwater harvesting systems” in rural areas outside of the capital. Each rainwater harvesting system has the capacity to collect between 5,000 and 10,000 liters of water, which means that citizens can harness excess water during the rainy season to use during the dry season droughts.
  5. Installing Public Latrines and Handwashing Stations. In an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr is also working to install easily accessible latrines and handwashing stations throughout the city of Freetown. So far, she has built handwashing kiosks in 23 different marketplaces and has hired citizens to monitor each station and use a megaphone to remind shoppers of the importance of washing their hands. Many of the natural water sources in Sierra Leone are contaminated due to poor waste management and a lack of access to functional latrines. To help improve the water quality in Sierra Leone, the mayor is installing public bathrooms in addition to the handwashing kiosks. These public restrooms will help contain liquid and solid waste so that it does not seep into the nation’s water supply, significantly reducing the spread of disease.

Looking Ahead

Historically, Sierra Leone has faced many obstacles, including civil war, extreme seasonal weather and devastating outbreaks of the Ebola virus and COVID-19. However, the small African nation is taking great measures to improve the water quality in Sierra Leone so that its citizens have access to clean, safe drinking water all year round.

– Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in HondurasIn 2019, almost half of the Honduran population lived on less than $5.50 a day, placing Honduras in the second-highest spot for poverty prevalence among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Poverty in Honduras disproportionately affects women — the female unemployment rate is nearly double that of males. Due to high levels of poverty, many Honduran women and girls struggle with period poverty in Honduras, which stands as an economic and social barrier to accessing feminine hygiene resources.

Period Poverty and Education

Lack of adequate menstrual hygiene products causes girls to miss school. A 2017 study found that 66% of Honduran students dropped out of school between sixth and 10th grades. In Latin America, 43% of students with periods prefer to skip school while menstruating. Another component of period poverty is the lack of menstrual education. A 2015 study found that 48% of mothers and 40% of adolescent girls in Honduras had not received education on why women menstruate. Despite the prevalence of period poverty in Honduras, organizations are working to eradicate this issue. One such organization is Pink Box Purpose.

What is Pink Box Purpose?

Pink Box Purpose is a Christian nonprofit organization, founded by sisters Heather Wittig and Jenni Patnode, that provides hygiene, medical care, food, housing and schooling to Hondurans in need. A significant portion of Pink Box Purpose’s work involves providing free feminine care products and menstrual hygiene education to Honduran women and girls.

Wittig’s first-ever trip to Honduras inspired her to found Pink Box Purpose. While handing out feminine hygiene kits to women in the town of Olanchito, Wittig met a local teacher named Alba Carcamo who wanted to make the kits more accessible to her community. Two months later, Wittig, along with Patnode and three other women, returned to Olanchito to establish a reusable pad workshop, the “Hygiene Headquarters,” in a local community center. The Hygiene Headquarters employed five local women who took on the responsibility of sewing and distributing the pads.

Since the establishment of Pink Box Purpose in 2017, the organization has uplifted women and helped reduce period poverty in Honduras. Pink Box Purpose has distributed more than 8,000 pads to women and girls across the country. The team of local women has expanded from five 12 members, with the organization also employing three in-country liaisons.

How Does Pink Box Purpose Receive Support?

Many Pink Box Purpose supporters host pad-cutting parties during which the host and the host’s guests help cut fabric that will be sent to Hygiene Headquarters for the team to turn into pads. Pink Box Purpose provides a party kit, which includes fabric patterns to follow. The cost of the pad party kit helps support the women working at the Hygiene Headquarters.

Pink Box Purpose accepts donations directly on its website. Additional financial support through its “Gifts2Give” page helps to provide specific resources to the organization, such as sewing machines and feminine hygiene bags.

Although period poverty is still prevalent throughout Honduras, through Pink Box Purpose’s work, fewer women face this barrier. As this organization and other similar initiatives continue to do this important work, period poverty in Honduras may decline in the years to come.

 – Aimée Eicher
Photo: Flickr

Batwa People Facing Extreme Poverty
Being among the poorest populations in one of the poorest nations, Uganda, the Batwa people face extreme poverty in their everyday life. Once known to live in the depths of the African forests as one of the oldest indigenous tribes in the continent, they now reside in town slums. Many have come to wonder how a population that thrived for centuries started resorting to scavenging garbage cans for their next meal.

The Forest: A True Loss For The Batwa

In 1991, the Ugandan government “reclassified lands of the Batwa” to national parks. This move forced many Batwa people to relocate from their homes, sometimes by gunpoint. A 2008 report indicated that 45% of the Batwa people were landless and lived in poverty.

The Batwa people went from a community that once thrived in hunting and gathering to now struggling to find means of survival. The report also highlighted that many Batwa people are seeking work from foreign people under “bonded labor agreements,” resulting in them experiencing discrimination from “their ethnic neighbors.”

In addition, it is important to note that the Batwa people have lost more than their home; the forest was their place of worship and healing. With strong “spiritual and religious ties to the forest,” Batwa people have lost a significant part of their history and livelihood that provided them with herbal remedies when members became sick. The forest was incredibly significant to the lives and culture of the Batwa people.

The Batwa People’s Current Conditions

As aforementioned, some Batwa work for foreign people who are not part of their tribe. Others make a living from performing for tourists who visit the country. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been limited travel of tourists which means that many Batwa people lost their income, resulting in poverty. Due to these circumstances, many Batwa have resorted to “eating from garbage bins” to stay alive.

Solutions

With the massive displacement that took the place of the Batwa, their community is shrinking more and more as time goes by. With little to no resources to stay alive, extinction is knocking on their door. Furthermore, tourism is a key component to the Batwa people’s survival.

To keep the community going, Uganda is encouraging local tourism where the Batwa people are now giving tours of the Ugandan national parks, a place they once called home. With a keen knowledge of this territory, the Batwa people are the perfect tour guides for the forests.

Additionally, Uganda contains an impressive gorilla population that many people travel to see in person. Having shared the forest with them for centuries, the Batwa tour guides introduce visitors to this impressive species with respect and caution. Such tours, which now target even local tourists, offer a memorable experience that is a “culturally sensitive” visit whose proceeds go to people who truly need them.

The Takeaway

It is incredibly important to bring awareness to the Batwa tribe who live in extreme poverty and could disappear after centuries in the forest. With the modernization of their territory, this community has suffered a great loss of their home and livelihood and now faces extreme poverty and famine.

By supporting their efforts to survive through tourism and lobbying the Ugandan government to aid displaced peoples, this community could find hope again.

– Kler Teran
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in DelhiIndia is one of the fastest-growing economies, with a population of more than 1.2 billion people, 30.7 million of whom live in the capital city of Delhi. People frequently view Delhi as an exceptionally wealthy area due to its abundance of posh communities like Vasant Vihar, Jor Bagh and Green Park. However, within India, in its own capital city, people are battling to survive without bare necessities. In Delhi, impoverished people are isolated from the rich. Opulent retail centers and cafés surround slums and some slums are wedged between rich neighborhoods. Poverty in Delhi, concealed in the cracks of luxury, is vastly different from the overall picture of the city as a whole.

Delhi’s Dichotomy

Delhi is one of India’s most economically prosperous cities with an estimated GDP of approximately $293.6 billion. The typical Delhi resident “earns three times more than the average Indian.” Within one of the most affluent communities in Delhi, Vasant Vihar, however, is Kusumpur Pahari, a quagmire of poverty and home to 10,000 slums. Its inhabitants cram themselves into close quarters, deprived of the necessary elements of a stable life. Only miles away is Delhi’s biggest shopping mall and its 102-meter-high civic center. This lopsided situation leaves slum residents working tirelessly to survive as servants to the rich residents of Vasant Vihar. Poverty in Delhi is visible within the city’s slums.

Delhi’s Slums: Kusumpur Pahari and Madanpur Khadar

Kusumpur Pahari is home to mostly migrants from “UP, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.” Slum-dwellers labor as drivers, gardeners and housekeepers for their wealthy neighbors. Kusumpur Pahari residents often live in one-room shacks that have no running water. However, circumstances have substantially advanced in the previous decade as a result of hard work by a women’s association. In 2016, there was no flowing water in Kusumpur Pahari, but owing to the efforts of the women ‘s association, a truck now brings freshwater to the neighborhood every several days.

Madanpur Khadar is another slum in the suburbs of Delhi. With narrow streets and a sewage line that runs right through it, these slums’ residents suffer.  In 2000, the government chose it as the area for relocating vast numbers of slum families from other locations of the city. The bulk of the people that live in Madanpur Khadar collect and sell rags. Inhabitants suffer from polluted drinking water and sanitation issues. Though they experience less than desirable conditions, NGOs have taken notice of this area. Madanpur Khadar’s women and HIV-affected dwellers are receiving help from these organizations, as reported by So City. Additionally, the slum is now on the map after 15 female residents collaborated with local nonprofit organizations in 2018 to help their community benefit from increased internet visibility of their location.

Sangam Vihar, Kathputli Colony and Seemapuri Slum

Sangam Vihar is a slum community that houses people moving from surrounding states, primarily Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, according to So City. It has no freshwater access and a lack of community toilets, which leads to exposed defecation, producing sanitary concerns in the area. Poverty in Delhi and water shortages have transformed Sangam Vihar into a refuge for thieves and brought rise to gangs whose members are willing to murder for water. Fights and killings are commonplace in Sangam Vihar, where water is limited.

Kathputli Colony is the most interesting slum in Delhi with illusionists, puppet masters and many different types of entertainers living in the area, according to So City. People recognize Kathputli Colony for its colorful buildings and roads bustling with street performers. Due to the prevalence of poverty in Delhi, India tries to hide its slums. However, whenever it wants to demonstrate its cultural prowess, India showcases this particular slum. Though a sluggish source of money and transformation, slum walk tours through Kathputli Colony appear to be creating more financial opportunities for the dwellers. Slum walk tours are helping to fund a school and provide the residents with a quality of better life.

Seemapuri slum is home to around “800 of the locality’s 1,700-odd residents.” The slum-dwellers battle to secure basic sanitation, water and electricity because the area is an unofficial community that is cut off from the city’s essential utilities. According to So City, Seemapuri serves as an example of poverty in Delhi with exposed sewers where women fetch contaminated drinking water and reside in mud dwellings where it is normal for seven to eight people to occupy only one small room.

Addressing the Problems of the Slums

Dr. Kiran Martin, the founder of the Asha India organization, is a well-known name in the domain of poverty reduction. Asha’s programs aid more than 700,000 people in more than 91 Delhi slum colonies. Martin’s efforts have earned her the Padma Shri, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. The Asha India organization dedicates its time to reducing poverty in Delhi, particularly within the slums. It aims to empower residents, provide better health care, increase educational opportunities and make environmental improvements. In 2018, the organization celebrated its 30th birthday and continues to push toward its goals today.

With the ongoing efforts of organizations, hope is on the horizon for the divide between the wealthy and the impoverished in Delhi to one day come to a close.

– Tiffany Lewallyn
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty in India
In India, a country with a population of more than 1 billion, almost 700 million people use solid fuels, such as wood and charcoal, as their primary energy source. Solid fuels have health impacts that can lead to adverse respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. The Lancet Global Health report from 2016 on India identified the air pollution from these fuels as the leading cause of chronic respiratory conditions, more than smoking. Squatter settlements are common in major Indian cities and often have informal power lines tapping into larger grids. These serve as an unreliable supply and source of electricity to large portions of the Indian population. Energy poverty in India affects all aspects of people’s quality of life, from health, education, productivity and even income-generating activities.

Renewable Partnerships

Energy poverty in India affects all aspects of people’s quality of life, from health, education, productivity and even income-generating activities. These affected areas strain the already stretched infrastructure in India and work against elevating the 8% in poverty.

In rural areas, dependence on solid fuels for energy requires long trips to forests to fetch these energy sources. According to the Encyclopedia of Social Work, this is a responsibility that women normally have. Because of its time-consuming nature, it prevents women from participating in income-producing activities that may elevate their economic conditions.

In light of the 244 million people experiencing energy poverty in India, Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company and The Rockefeller Foundation have formed a partnership to address the issue. By utilizing Microgrids, this new initiative will be able to provide renewable electricity to nearly 5 million homes in India’s rural areas. Clean energy through these microgrids is set to assist businesses in Indian states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where 40% of enterprises rely on solid fuels such as diesel.

TP Renewable Microgrid Ltd. will run until 2026 and will deliver clean and cheap energy to rural households and businesses. Its unique microgrid design also aims to create 10,000 job opportunities in the green sector and assist the local farming irrigation systems. It could also make Tata Power the largest microgrid developer in the world.

Conclusion

Addressing energy poverty not only provides people with reliable energy sources but also connects them to the wider world. It backs the running of local infrastructures such as hospitals and schools, advances sanitation programs as well as farming and business techniques making them less costly and more efficient.

With the financial resources of The Rockefeller Foundation and Tata Powers’ ideas, this joint venture is a solid example of how innovation can enhance one’s impact when fighting poverty. Innovative microgrid design creatively uses already available resources and scales them for maximum impact.

– Owen Mutiganda
Photo: Flickr