Geospatial Mapping
Without the help of development agencies, peacekeepers may always have to participate in the never-ending cycle of peacekeeping. With 50% of the world’s poor projected to live in counties where violence casts its constant shadow, peacekeeping efforts can only stand to scale, but at what cost, and to what end? Fortunately, technological advancements, such as geospatial mapping, can allow peacekeepers to help expand options for development agencies that danger constantly repels.

Accessibility to Hostile Territory

Lack of security defines development agencies’ diminishing hopes of lasting presence, demanding the perpetual presence of peacekeepers. Development projects thus deal with constant mission suspensions, limits on the number of authorized personnel and the inability to conduct crucial work. A review of relief operations in Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria have recorded a multitude of resources in safer areas that are not in need due to reluctance to transgress into “red zones.”

Access limitations are not a characteristic of peacekeeping efforts for obvious reasons. Without development agencies in the arena of conflict, peacekeepers merely provide greater tolerance for conflict since development is not within their capacity, serving to encourage scaling conflict which exposes more poor people to violence.

The World Bank’s Geo-Enabling for Monitoring and Supervision Initiative (GEMS)

The World Bank’s Geo-Enabling for Monitoring and Supervision initiative (GEMS) facilitates for government agencies the ability to use tech innovations such as KoBoToolbox, an open-source data collection software that the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative developed, to amass data and analysis in states defined, at least in part, by conflict to improve monitoring and evaluation. Government representatives and partner organizations receive training to develop and mete out a platform for data collection that usually takes place during field visits and undergoes acquisition with the assistance of mobile devices and can cover any topic relevant to the goals of a project. Such a process helps developers monitor a project’s progress while maintaining safety.

How Geospatial Mapping Tools for Peacekeepers Works

Geospatial mapping tools for peacekeepers serve the relevant function of sharing categorized data regarding violence and insecurity to apprise development experts. These sorts of data collection efforts include identifying the number, type and intensity of violent occurrences in conflicted areas where peacekeepers often work.

Security maps in conjunction with poverty can provide development agencies the ability to develop access strategies for projects that specialize in the delivery of commodities to the poor who are in conflict. Because security administration is a public service, data that peacekeepers amass can help governments measure the degree of necessity regarding providing accountable and effective security services. Allowing peacekeepers of the U.N. the capability of strengthening their data-gathering capabilities aid the U.N. in determining its efficacy regarding deployments.

U.N. peacekeepers have made progress regarding the protection of civilians policy (POC) in recent years. Notwithstanding, peacekeepers will linger in a state of perpetual peacekeeping if systems that can monitor and evaluate progress fail to undergo initiation. These maps, which initiatives like GEMS are implementing, provide an advantage for peacemaking and development efforts.

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Rawpixel

Universal Poverty in Afghanistan
According to the UNDP, 97% of Afghanistan could be in poverty by 2022. This would be a quick plummet considering current UNDP data shows that only 54.5% of Afghans live below the poverty line. This is not particularly good either but is significantly better than the predicted more than doubled rate. This drastic predicted change is a result of a combination of things. Food prices and food insecurity are skyrocketing while economic and essential services experiencing interruption. COVID-19 is still prevalent and presents an active struggle. Those in rural communities and poor urban areas are feeling these problems quickest and hardest. If drastic change does not occur soon, there will undoubtedly be universal poverty in Afghanistan.

UNDP Predictions

The political turmoil of the Taliban resuming power, paired with economic and humanitarian issues, is creating a “full-on development collapse,” according to UNDP regional director Kanni Wagnaria. The UNDP’s 97% prediction is a worst-case scenario.

The prediction is based on 2018 estimates of the country’s GDP declining between 3.6% and 13.2% in the 2022 fiscal year. This depends on how the crisis continues and how other economies interact with the new Taliban leadership. This is a huge contrast to the previously predicted 4% GDP growth under the previous Afghan government.

Local Area-Based Programme

In response to these predictions, the UNDP has created a proposal of strategies to intervene and improve the current living conditions for those in poverty in Afghanistan. The “Local Area-Based Programme,” has four core elements: “provision of essential services, community-based livelihoods and local economies, disaster and climate-resilient response and social cohesion and inclusion participatory processes.”

The major goal of the program is to support approximately 9 million impoverished people over the course of 24 months. Another goal is to ensure the prediction of universal poverty in Afghanistan does not occur.

Local community groups, NGOs and small businesses will lead and implement this program. Within the plan, the most vulnerable would benefit significantly from cash-for-work grants for small and medium businesses and specifically within women-owned businesses. Households including children, the elderly and those with disabilities would receive a temporary basic income as well. There will also be assistance for natural disaster mitigation such as flood protection for farmlands.

ABADEI

The UNDP officially launched the program called ABADEI in October 2021. The primary goal is providing “immediate humanitarian assistance” while keeping the local economies moving. The first priority of the program is to help the people of Afghanistan meet their basic needs, with a focus on health and food security. As it raises more funds and receives more donations, ABADEI will be able to move into other priorities outlined in UNDP’s intervention strategies.

A significant indicator of outcome in the coming months and into 2022 will be how Afghanistan will do in the coming months and how the Taliban chooses to lead the country. The Taliban should be able to avoid the possible universal poverty in Afghanistan but it must make the decision to do so.

As of early September 2021, the Taliban had not reopened government offices. This is leading to many other industries such as banks and universities remaining closed as well, according to the UNDP. This has led to unstable employment and grave uncertainty among most of the country.

Additionally, expectations have determined that the Taliban could restrict capital, likely leading to inflation. This would reduce purchasing power and cause food prices to rise. The number of people below the poverty line would be even higher.

Much of what will happen to Afghanistan is relatively uncertain, yet rather imminent. Nevertheless, there are organizations such as UNDP that are being proactive and involved before universal poverty in Afghanistan becomes reality.

– Alex Mauthe
Photo: Unsplash

Expo 2020 Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai is a gathering of 192 countries each presenting and offering an opportunity to experience their culture, food and innovations. It is the latest of a World Expo tradition that began in London in 1851 as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. Expo 2020 is taking place from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, showcasing and promoting different solutions and opportunities that may improve the lives of people around the world. Projects aim to accomplish this by “promoting alternative employment and income opportunities, women in the workplace, competitive products and services and improved market access.”

Overview

Expo 2020 Dubai is the latest of the world’s fairs with the official theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” plus different sub-theming of sustainability, mobility and opportunity. The Expo 2020 is taking place in the Middle East for the first time. Until construction began at the site of the expo, the Expo occurred in an area of empty desert. The layout of the Expo is a vast 1,000-acre site comprising different zones in the shape of petals focusing on the sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, individuals must comply with strict precautions, including mask and vaccination requirements and occupancy limitations on the number of people present at the Expo. One of the other crucial aspects of the Expo 2020 Dubai is that there is a record 191 countries participating and each nation has its own area or pavilion. The Expo is partnering with the United Nations, which has its own pavilion that focuses on its future goals, including sustainability. Once the expo ends at the close of March 2022, “around 80% of the built Expo will transition into residential, business and commercial developments.”

Expo 2020 Dubai Addresses Global Poverty

At the Kenya pavilion, some innovators show their solutions to the country’s problems of “unemployment, poverty and food shortages” through “home farming” using basic hydroponic systems. Dr. Peter Chege Gichuku established Hydroponics Africa Limited in Kenya in 2015 with the purpose and goals of eliminating “the root cause of poverty and food insecurity.” The company is hoping to “provide cost-effective sustainable farming methods without the use of soil and an 80% reduction in water.”

WaterAid provides an example of social development commitments. In Nepal, WaterAid promotes good hygiene practices by using Nepal’s routine immunization program as a “point of contact” to reach mothers and children. The Nepal Ministry of Health and Population leads the initiative with the “financial and technical support” of WaterAid. The project has a dual purpose of “[strengthening] Nepal’s routine immunization system by improving immunization coverage and people’s trust in immunization services” while simultaneously improving hygiene practices to prevent diseases stemming from poor hygiene practices.

Looking Ahead

Many more organizations are participating in Expo 2020 Dubai. They are promoting their solutions and putting forward ideas to address issues of global poverty. The Expo presents an ideal opportunity to present these new innovations to governments of all nations and their citizens. Global events such as Expo 2020 Dubai unite nations across the world with the understanding that global collaboration is necessary to address concerns of a global scale.

– Julian Smith
Photo: Flickr

Ghana Tech Lab
The Ghana Tech Lab, a collaborative tech-centric company, has now connected 7,000 youths with digital and technical education as part of its Ghana Startup Ecosystem program. The goal is to build the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in Africa.

About the Ghana Tech Lab

The Ghana Tech lab is a company building a launch platform for young tech talent in Ghana. Headquartered in Accra, the lab takes a multi-stage approach to launch startups. First, trainees complete a three-month intensive training program to develop technical and digital skills. The top talents from this program then move to the incubation program, where trainees build a business model and receive mentorship.

Finally, the company connects the new startups with seed funding through grants and a network of venture capitalists. By supporting entrepreneurs, the company hopes to fight poverty through innovation, economic development and job creation. Since its founding in 2018, the base program alone has trained 3,933 Ghanaians and incubated 68 startups.

Once a founder begins a startup, it joins the Ghana Startup Ecosystem, a program and database run by The Ghana Tech Lab. Its goal is to act as a central hub for tracking and supporting Ghanian startup ventures. The Ecosystem tracks human capital, market and financial data across Ghana. The database serves to contextualize ventures and produce market trends to substantiate ventures. This system legitimizes startups and encourages global investment.  

In fact, 50% of the startups within the system secure funding. The adjunct of the Startup Ecosystem has led to the launch and funding of 100 startups in Ghana, according to AllAfrica. Data-driven innovation has become a central tenant of the Ghana Tech Lab, as a way to promote long-term success. Rather than focus on the symptoms of poverty in Ghana, the company hopes to use economic revitalization as a way to target poverty at the source.

About the State of Poverty in Ghana

In order to understand why tech plays a role in poverty reduction, it is important to contextualize poverty in Ghana. As of 2021, Ghana has a poverty rate of 11.3%. It means that 3.57 million people live on or under $1.90 a day. The country experienced a decrease in poverty from 52.6% to 21.4% between 1991 and 2012. However, the rate of decline has become stagnant over recent years. At the same time, economic development has steadily improved over the last decade. The combination of economic growth and poverty maintenance has led to an increasing rate of economic inequality.

Because of these conditions, the World Bank in Ghana has determined that developing human capital, growing the job market and improving economic resiliency are the best strategies for decreasing poverty and economic inequality. The Ghana Tech Lab has created a business model that targets all three strategies.

The Way Building Tech Startups Fights Poverty

By directly increasing access to education and skill development, the Ghana Tech Lab removes barriers of entry for skilled work. Sourcing funding for startups benefits job production and improves long-term job security. The innovations that startups spur on also improve economic resilience. Often, the startups that come out of the Ghana Tech Lab target poverty directly. For example, Farminista Africa is a woman-led company that helps smallscale female farmers grow their businesses. By 2030, the Ghana Tech Lab expects to produce 30 million new jobs through technical education and economic development, according to AllAfrica.

By increasing accessibility to digital skills, the Ghana Tech Lab is building a new path forward. The company shows that poverty reduction is a natural byproduct of community empowerment.

– Aiden Smith
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in Egypt 
Egypt is a place that inspires the imagination of many around the world. Located in northeastern Africa with a population of about 100 million people, Egypt was home to one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies and continues to be an important political and economic power today. Furthermore, in recent years, Egypt has made a lot of progress in addressing poverty. Here are four facts about poverty in Egypt.

4 Facts About Poverty in Egypt

  1. Egypt’s Poverty Rate. Egypt’s poverty rate decreased in 2021. In 2015, the Egyptian government implemented a series of macroeconomic and social reforms. These measures were meant to stabilize the economy and promote sustainable growth. As a result of an increase in private sector participation in the economy, Egypt’s GDP growth reached 5.6% in 2019, up from 5.3% in 2018. Additionally, real estate, wholesale and retail trade, tourism, gas extraction and construction have all been significant factors in the growth of wealth. The change also positively impacted the unemployment rate, which decreased from 9.9% in 2017-18 to 7.5% in 2018-19. With a decrease in unemployment comes a decrease in poverty, except for the 2020 economic downfall due to coronavirus. The 2021 poverty level is 29.7%, while it was at 32.5% in 2018.
  2. Workers in Egypt. Despite positive trends in GDP growth and unemployment rates, Egypt’s poverty rate increased in 2017 and 2018. The majority of workers in Egypt were wage workers before and in 2018. Most of them had limited skills and therefore limited opportunities. Almost 60% of wage workers have informal employment, as is the case for 77% of poor wage workers. Apart from that, about one-fourth of the employed work temporary jobs. Without benefits of social insurance, inflation and other economic changes are likely to affect them.
  3. New Social Protection Programs. Egypt has struggled to meet the basic medical needs of its people in past years, but the country has had success with other social protection programs. The country transitioned from a traditional social care system to a more comprehensive social protection program. The new programs have provided housing units, implemented cash support and provided water and sewage support. The country has also worked with relevant authorities to secure health insurance and subsidized products for its people. This has allowed many individuals and families to rise out of the poverty line. The program has allowed more people to benefit from it because it aids those wanting to get out from below the poverty line, and it has worked. There has also been a 22% increase in loans and a 50% increase in pensions.
  4. Haya Karima National Project. In direct response to the high rate of extreme poverty in Egypt in 2018, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) initiated the Haya Karima Project in early 2019. The project was to help decentralize and provide the people with more resources while expanding from urban areas to the countryside. According to the Haya Karima Project’s website, “The initiative’s role includes closing the developmental gaps among centers and villages and their dependencies, investing in human development, and enhancing the value of the Egyptian personality.” This program is designed to unify the people in an economic sense and their country while keeping in mind all those on the outside borders. The program is ultimately about empowering the people and improving the quality of life for Egyptians.

Looking Ahead

These facts about poverty in Egypt show that while it has had several challenges, it is also showing great progress in the fight against poverty. With the series of new reforms, the Egyptian government has implemented new policies to lift people out of poverty. Decreasing the poverty rate can bring improvements in various sectors such as education and health care. If the country continues to improve its social protection programs, then it can set an example for the countries in the region.

– Veronica Rosas
Photo: Unsplash

Reduce Poverty in India
In August 2021, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will spend $1.35 trillion to improve the country’s infrastructure. The infrastructure plan called “Gati Shakti” will create jobs that can potentially reduce poverty in India by increasing household income across the nation and improving the economy at large. The plan also intends to expand the “use of cleaner fuels to achieve the country’s climate goals.”

The Gati Shakti Plan

The specifics of India’s Gati Shakti plan were not immediately announced, but amid the country’s economic decline and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi claims the plan will increase India’s economic output, which decreased by more than 7% in 2020. Specifically, “the plan will help local manufacturers compete globally and create new avenues of future economic growth.” In addition, Gati Shakti will help India “become energy independent by 2047,” by transitioning to “a gas-based economy” and developing India into “a hub for hydrogen production.”

How Better Infrastructure Can Reduce Poverty in India

Studies show a clear link between improved infrastructure and poverty reduction. Better infrastructure may help reduce poverty in India in a variety of ways. Improved infrastructure has the ability to increase economic activity in the country by minimizing “production and transaction costs” and increasing “agricultural and industrial productivity.”

Infrastructure leads to job creation due to the demand for labor in both the development process and the ongoing management and maintenance of the infrastructure. Therefore, impoverished and disadvantaged people can participate in an economy that they once had no place in.

Even though income-related aspects of poverty are at the forefront of the issues better infrastructure addresses, better infrastructure also has non-income advantages, including “health, nutrition, education and social cohesion.” These aspects improve the quality of life for people across the nation. Overall, better infrastructure has the potential to contribute to reaching the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How Infrastructure Improvements Contribute to SDGs

  1. SDG 2: Zero Hunger. Malnutrition and food insecurity are significant problems in India, with more than 200 million citizens lacking “sufficient access to food.” Modern infrastructure can help improve people’s access to food by promoting better productivity (particularly among farmers) and by helping to decrease production costs. Decreased production costs can drive prices of food products down, making them more accessible to the impoverished.
  2. SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being. Adequate health infrastructure means more people will have access to health care services, especially impoverished people in remote locations. Better health infrastructure will increase the number of in-hospital births, which will reduce both the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate. This reduction will come as a result of the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to hospital equipment in case of emergencies. India’s current infant mortality rate stands at a staggering 28.771 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  3. SDG 4: Quality Education. Road infrastructure influences the attendance and enrollment of students in schools. This also affects the quality of teachers attracted to a school. More school facilities mean education is more accessible to children in remote locations. More than 27% of Indian youth find themselves “excluded from education, employment or training.” Education infrastructure is essential because education helps people acquire the skills and knowledge to obtain higher-paying, skilled jobs that can help them rise out of poverty.
  4. SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, according to The Indian Express, almost 200 million more Indian people could face poverty by the close of 2021. Ultimately, this means that more than 50% of the Indian population may live in poverty. Under SDG 8 is target 8.7, eliminating child labor in its entirety by 2025. Families tend to resort to child labor when they need extra income to meet their basic needs. India’s infrastructure plan can potentially help reduce poverty in India by providing adults with more job opportunities and by increasing household income, negating the need for child labor. Similarly, parents marry off their young girls to take the economic burden off the household, hoping that the girls’ husbands will economically provide for the girls. However, with increased household income and more employment opportunities, families can bear the costs of taking care of all their children. Then, marriage will be an option and not an economic necessity.

For all these reasons and more, better infrastructure can reduce poverty in India, improving lives throughout the nation.

– Jared Faircloth
Photo: Flickr

Pearls Africa Foundation
Nigerian female programmer Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s love for computers led her to a life’s mission to help lift girls out of poverty through science, technology, engineering and math by teaching them how to code. Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation, which provides more than technological skills, giving girls tools to become financially independent.

About Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin

After graduating from the University of Lagos, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation in 2012, leaving her job to dedicate all her time to the Foundation. a statistic indicating that less than 8% of Nigerian women had professional, managerial or technological jobs, a staggeringly low number, drove her to establish the Foundation. She wanted to give women and girls the opportunity to acquire the skills to change that statistic and lift themselves out of poverty. In 2018, she earned the title of CNN Hero of the Year in acknowledgment of her efforts.

The Girls and Women of Makoko

Lagos, Nigeria, has a thriving economy of oil, finance and manufacturing, however, the world’s largest “floating slum,” Makoko, is on a lagoon in the city within which 250,000 people live. The slum city rests on stilts and its residents use canoes for transport. Gentrification led to the displacement of some members of the slum community until many deemed it unconstitutional. Most people in Makoko, including women and girls, do not have access to regular food, water, electricity or education. Drawing inspiration from the aim of helping the girls of Makoko, Ajayi-Akinfolarin began the Pearls Africa Foundation.

Pearls Africa Foundation Programs

The Pearls Africa Foundation has 10 different programs to help girls learn to code, keep them safe and secure and prepare them for educational and career-oriented opportunities. The flagship program of the Pearls Africa Foundation is Girls Coding, which provides underserved girls with an education in computer programming and coding, including courses such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python. This training prepares the girls to compete for STEM jobs and achieve financial independence.

Similar programs are Lady Labs, which teaches basic IT and technology skills and provides IT experience. Empowered Hands provides vocational training such as bead-making, fashion designing, hair styling, Aso-oke weaving and more. Pearls Africa actively searches for internship placements for its students and provides scholarship opportunities through its EducateHer program.

Its mentoring activity, Safe Space, gives girls a place to cope with and address psychological trauma from their daily environments. Mentors answer questions and guide young girls in areas such as sexual health and dealing with abuse as well as cultural practices. This allows girls to understand and address their mental health issues, heal from the impacts of abuse, receive career guidance and more. Safe Space holds workshops every month to help girls build life skills and become successful in their careers.

The Foundation also has three different outreach programs: Community Outreach, Medical Outreach and School Outreach. Respectively, these efforts involve a feeding program and donations, providing free healthcare assistance in Lagos and mentoring girls in secondary schools.

Each of the programs of the Pearls Africa Foundation provides young girls in Nigeria with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty and lead successful, fulfilling lives.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Egyptian EconomyEconomies worldwide have been hit hard by the pandemic. However, few have been able to come out positively. The Egyptian economy has been able to make meaningful economic progress, such as through GDP growth, throughout 2020 and 2021. As it is working toward poverty reduction, Egypt is an example of how to keep an economy steady. Egypt has been fighting poverty for more than a decade now – a third of Egyptians live in poverty and half of the population is either in or near poverty.

Egypt’s Economic Steps

The Egyptian economy has taken economic hits in the past several years. However, that does not mean recent steps are not worth mentioning. Egypt has recently seen poverty reduction for the first time in 20 years due to the reforms taken by the government. At the end of 2016, several economic reforms started a turning point for Egypt. The Economic Reform Program is made up of currency policies, decreasing dependence on fuel and electricity, increasing job opportunities (particularly for women), implementing structural business reforms, and endorsing economic acts to further progress. Certain moves also attracted many investors to Egypt, boosting the economy. Social programs targeted at more individual and community levels have also lifted 1,000 villages out of poverty. These broad economic reforms have also strengthened Egypt for the pandemic.

COVID’s Impact, and Fighting Through It

The past few years have had a monumental impact worldwide. Nearly every economic power has suffered a decline or a recession. One worry within Egypt is that the recent growth would collapse on itself. The pandemic did impact job creation and the private sector, but not enough to make a dent in progress. Previous actions have cushioned Egypt, such as the poverty rate going down from 32.5% to 29.7% in the fiscal year 2019-2020. This monumental victory for Egypt and for poverty worldwide took place over two years.

The Future of Egypt

Egypt Vision 2030 is the long-term future that is planned out for Egypt. As Salah Hashim, advisor for the Ministry of Social Solidarity for Political Policies, put it, “Egypt Vision 2030 has focused on promoting social justice, not only helping the poor and low-income people like before.” This shows that Egypt is willing to tackle injustice in multiple systems. The Egyptian economy should be an example for other countries struggling to build economic growth sustainably. While poverty is still abundant, this growth shows a bright future for Egypt’s economy and its future.

– Audrey Burran
Photo: Flickr

Engineers Against Poverty
Engineers Against Poverty mobilizes engineers around the globe to fight poverty through more effective, transparent and equitable infrastructure development. Founded with an engineering focus, the U.K.-based group has expanded its work to improve ways of life in low- and middle-income countries by advocating for ethical working conditions, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing poverty worldwide. As a massive infrastructure funding gap stands in the way of global poverty relief, Engineers Against Poverty works to empower a multi-sector network to improve infrastructure policy and practices.

Infrastructure and Global Poverty

Engineers and infrastructure development play a vital role in the fight against global poverty. According to the Asian Development Bank, poverty reduction requires not only well-governed economic development, but also improved infrastructure for irrigation, electricity, water and sanitation and other basic needs. In 2016, Our World in Data reported that 40% of the globe experienced water scarcity and 13% of the world did not have electricity. In 2015 and 2016, one-third of the global population did not have access to an all-weather road. Engineers Against Poverty explains that infrastructure will play a vital role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were released in 2015 to be achieved by 2030.

“For EAP, its goal is to scale up influence on global infrastructure policy and practice to promote sustainable social, climate and economic impacts that contribute toward the elimination of poverty,” Engineers Against Policy Senior Communications Manager Charlotte Broyd said.

The Infrastructure Funding Gap

One of the greatest barriers to global poverty reduction is a massive infrastructure funding gap. At the 2015 release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Economic Forum reported the infrastructure funding gap would prove the biggest challenge to meet the SDGs. The World Economic Forum explained that there exists a $15 trillion investment gap between the money needed and the existing funding to reach “adequate global infrastructure by 2040.” This gap, Engineers Against Poverty explains, must be tackled as a “governance challenge.” Up to one-third of global investment in infrastructure is lost to mismanagement in governance, particularly in low-income countries.

Broyd commented, “There is a role for many stakeholders in addressing the infrastructure investment gap (governments, international organizations as well as donors). For donors specifically, they can help by recognising the importance of transparency and accountability in the infrastructure sector and the need for support to initiatives and others promoting these principles. This is particularly important in the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis where any economic loss must be minimized.”

The World Bank has identified collaboration between the private and public sectors as a key approach to closing the infrastructure funding gap. The former managing director of the World Bank explained at the release of the SDGs that to help mitigate these investment hazards, investors and donors must make more comprehensive investments in policy, insurance, regulation and more to make their investments effective.

Engineers Against Poverty’s Infrastructure Transparency Initiative

Engineers Against Poverty’s global Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) is key to closing this infrastructure funding gap. CoST, which currently works in 19 countries, encourages collaboration between civilians, engineers and policy-makers to work toward “improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure” to reduce investment losses to mismanagement and corruption.

CoST has already seen success in many countries, including Thailand, where transparency, competitive bidding, decreasing contract prices and more efficient fund management have saved the country $360 million in infrastructure spending since 2015. In Afghanistan, CoST-prompted contract reviews saved the country $8.3 million in just one year for road-network maintenance.

The initiative focuses on increasing infrastructure project transparency by improving data disclosure, ensuring data is accessible to the public, creating social accountability for decision-makers and empowering civilians and communities to advocate for better infrastructure governance and delivery. By 2018, CoST had helped disclose data on around 11,000 projects through accessible platforms. CoST has also established legal mandates and disclosure commitments with governments in many countries.

“Our experience indicates that informed citizens and responsive public institutions help drive reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor quality infrastructure,” the CoST website explains.

A key feature of CoST is citizen engagement and media attention, which enables civilians to hold their policy-makers accountable and make the infrastructure funding gap a priority for civil society. “CoST has enabled citizens to advocate for quality infrastructure through community events in several of its countries including Uganda, Ghana, Malawi and Thailand,” Broyd said. “Simply by raising the issues affecting them, citizens give the media powerful stories to report, which has generated much good publicity.”

CoST therefore illustrates the importance of involving citizens in solving poverty locally, nationally and globally. The combined efforts of engaged civilians and Engineers Against Poverty stand to make important headway in the fight against global poverty.

Emily Rahhal
Photo: Pixabay

Development AssistanceThe Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is a division of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It facilitates economic development worldwide, partly by providing financial assistance to developing countries. The DAC currently has 30 members, including the U.S., Japan and the European Union. According to analysis organization DevelopmentAid, 155 countries received development assistance from these members and of other non-member donors in 2018.

Development Assistance Programs

Official Development Assistance (ODA) distributes financial assistance annually to low-income, lower-middle- and upper-middle-income status countries. Eligibility is based on national per capita income. Countries transcend eligibility once they exceed the high-income threshold set by the World Bank for three consecutive years.  The highest Gross National Income (GNI) was $12,376 as of 2018.

Many countries have graduated from being ODA recipients to become donors themselves. Researchers from the Overseas Development Institute found countries become donors when possible both out of morality and the recognition that aid can “lubricate commercial, trade and investment opportunities” for a donor country. But, it’s not just high-income countries that recognize this. Some nations have become development donors even while still being ODA recipients. Below are five such countries that are both aid donors and recipients simultaneously, proving foreign aid is often a two-way street.

Five Countries That Prove Foreign Aid is a Two-Way Street

  1. Brazil. With a 2019 GNI of $9,130 dollars, Brazil is an upper-middle-income country. It is an ODA recipient, receiving about $430 million in net ODA and official aid in 2018. According to the data organization Development Initiatives, Brazil’s biggest donors are Japan, Norway and Germany. Most of its ODA capital is directed to improving water and sanitation, agriculture and food security and infrastructure. However, Brazil has long been a donor nation, too. In 2010, the Brazilian government found that from 2005-2009 the country invested “more than $1.8 billion dollars into international development” efforts. In 2010 alone, Brazil disbursed $1 billion in aid abroad. One year later, it received that same amount itself in ODA financing. Brazil’s donations largely go to Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for peacekeeping and humanitarian purposes.
  2. South Africa. South Africa is an upper-middle-income ODA recipient with a 2018 GNI of $5,750. It received about $915 million in net ODA and official aid in 2018. In 2011, it received $1.5 billion, but it disbursed $209 million, according to Development Initiatives. Accurate assessments of total contributions and contribution breakdowns are hard to acquire because South Africa’s foreign aid programs are managed by various government organizations. Nevertheless, the country has several successful programs like the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund, which have steadily increased contributions since launching in 2001. South Africa’s foreign aid primarily fosters development across Africa. Conversely, as an ODA recipient, the country gets most of its ODA aid from the U.S., EU Institutions and Germany. It is directed primarily toward health issues.
  3. India. As of 2018 data, India is considered a lower-middle-income country. Its GNI for 2019 was $2,130, an all-time high for the country. However, as a nation far from the high-income threshold, it still receives substantial foreign aid. In 2018, it received $2.45 billion in ODA and official aid. The biggest ODA donors to India are the International Development Association, Japan and Germany. These funds are primarily spent on improvements in infrastructure, health and education. However, in 2011, while India took the third-largest share of ODA aid with $5.4 billion received, it also became the sixth-largest non-DAC member donor country. It disbursed $787 million toward international development cooperation. India’s contributions primarily support technical and economic development in Africa. 
  4. Chile. Chile was removed from the ODA eligibility list in 2018, having reached high-income status. It remained at $14,670. However, before achieving this status, Chile’s international development cooperation had been bilateral. The country was helping other nations throughout the world. Though its main beneficiaries are in Latin America and the Caribbean, Chile disburses money to a variety of areas for various purposes as needed. For example, it contributed $100,000 toward the crisis in Syria. The OECD estimated that in 2010, Chile’s overall contributions reached $42 million. However, it still received ODA at that time. In 2012, Chile was an upper-middle-income country and received $126 million in net ODA, largely from France and European Union institutions.
  5. Indonesia. With a 2018 GNI of $3,840, Indonesia is a lower-middle-income country that received just under $950 million in ODA and official aid in 2018. In 2011, Indonesia received $3.7 billion, making it the tenth-largest recipient of ODA. Japan is its largest donor. Almost 25% of all aid goes toward improving the country’s infrastructure. Despite still receiving such a large amount of foreign aid, Indonesia is seeing some growth. ODA’s share of national GNI has steadily decreased while government spending has increased. Moreover, in 2019, Indonesia created the Indonesian Agency for International Development to ramp up the country’s own participation in foreign aid. The agency will manage a $283 million endowment fund the government has set aside for development cooperation.

Development assistance benefits both national and global economies because it allows countries that don’t have sufficient funds internally to build domestically as well as participate in trade with other nations. This supports the logic in development aid flowing both ways in several countries. Brazil, South Africa, India, Chile and Indonesia are just five countries that exemplify such a circumstance.

– Amanda Ostuni
Photo: Wikimedia