USAID Programs in Nigeria
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a government agency that provides aid and development assistance to countries around the world. In Nigeria, USAID has implemented several programs that aim to address key development challenges and promote inclusive economic growth, improve health and education outcomes and support democratic governance and civil society.

Power Africa: Expanding Electricity Access in Nigeria

USAID’s Power Africa program is focused on increasing access to electricity in Nigeria. The program works in collaboration with the government, private sector and civil society to accelerate the development of new power projects and improve the performance of existing ones. Through this program, USAID has helped introduce 3,043 megawatts of electricity production projects in Nigeria, bringing reliable power to more communities across the country.

Feed the Future: Reducing Poverty and Hunger in Nigeria

Another one of the USAID programs in Nigeria is Feed the Future, which aims to reduce poverty and hunger in the country. The program works with smallholder farmers and agribusinesses to increase productivity and access to markets, while also supporting the development of value chains for key commodities such as cassava, maize and rice. USAID’s efforts through Feed the Future have helped to increase agricultural production and incomes for thousands of farmers in Nigeria and have contributed to a reduction in malnutrition rates in targeted areas.

Feed the Future’s investments in 2019 led to the adoption of new farming technologies and improved management practices by 400,000 farmers, resulting in a significant increase in staple crop yields by 155% compared to 2018. Specifically, maize yields rose by 75% and rice yields increased by 37%. The program also resulted in greater participation of women and youth in agricultural markets and food systems, with 25% of participants being women and 28% being youth who received training and access to agricultural technology that led to increased crop yields.

Health Partnerships for Outcomes: Boosting Primary Health Care

USAID recently announced new partnerships in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria to accelerate primary health care in these countries. The partnership will leverage these countries’ global health footprint, which USAID has supported with an average of $415 million per year. This will improve coordination, synchronize investment initiatives and showcase significant improvement in primary health care.

The goal is to boost life expectancy, increase health equity and respond to disease outbreaks and arising health threats head-on. This action comes on the heels of USAID’s recent launch of the Accelerating Primary Health Care Collaborative, which intends to establish a unified primary health care approach while enhancing the exchange of information, technical integration and coordination.

Education: Increasing Access to Quality Education in Nigeria

USAID’s Education program focuses on increasing access to and improving the quality of education in Nigeria, with a particular emphasis on basic education and literacy. To achieve this, USAID works with the government and civil society to increase enrolment and retention in schools, particularly for girls and children in conflict-affected areas, and to improve the skills and knowledge of teachers and other education personnel. USAID’s efforts through this program have helped increase the number of children attending school in Nigeria and have contributed to a rise in literacy rates and improved educational outcomes.

Approximately 10 million primary school-aged children in the country do not enroll in formal education, according to estimates. USAID has targeted this issue through its Addressing Education in the Northeast (AENN) program in Borno and Yobe states. The program has successfully reached more than 20,000 out-of-school children in both formal and informal settings in Northeast Nigeria.

Combating Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria: USAID’s MOMENTUM Program

“In Nigeria, one in three women and girls aged 15 to 24 have experienced gender-based violence,” which often comes from close friends and family. By disguising it as tradition, culture and religion, this type of violence is normalized. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.

USAID has partnered with the Nigerian government to launch a four-year program in Sokoto state which is in Northern Nigeria and Ebonyi state in the Southeast, to combat this near epidemic. A $5 million budget will help with the implementation of the MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership in Nigeria (MCGL) program. It seeks to reduce maternal and child mortality by expanding access to high-quality health care. It also seeks to address the causes of child, early and forced marriage, as well as to prevent and lessen the impact of violence against women and girls.

These USAID programs in Nigeria are making a significant impact on the country’s development and the well-being of its citizens. The programs cover a range of areas, from expanding electricity access and reducing poverty and hunger to improving health care and education. Overall, USAID’s programs in Nigeria are helping drive progress and sustainable development in the country.

– Nkechi First
Photo: Unsplash

OPAD ProjectsOPAD is an international non-governmental organization based in Sweden that works to create an “equitable society free from human suffering” by improving people’s standard of living and empowering people to fight against poverty. OPAD works with governments, local NGOs and donors throughout Europe, South America, Africa and Asia to address gender inequality, localization, human rights abuses and other pressing global development issues. All OPAD projects help to alleviate global poverty by addressing the specific needs of a community.

Kenya: Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Parenting Tips

In some regions of Kenya, there are insufficient resources and education for men and women in regard to drugs and alcohol usage, responsible parenting, preventing teenage pregnancy and promoting literacy. To address this, the European Union funded work in the Kisii, Kakamega, Isumu, Bungoma and Migori counties of Kenya from June 2019 to 2020. The project also aimed to increase community knowledge about violence against women and create accessible resources for men and women in the targeted counties. Overall, the project enforces goals four and five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs outline the importance of implementing equitable, inclusive, quality education and promoting lifelong learning as well as empowering all women and achieving gender equality.

Sweden: Integration Pathway for New Adult Migrants and Refugees

In Sweden, specifically Stockholm, the donor Erasmus+ funded a project for new adult migrants and refugees entering Sweden. The project involves improving adult education by improving and creating education opportunities for adults, focusing on migrant citizenship issues and encouraging adults to learn high-quality skills to bring to the workplace.

France: Y+E3: Youth Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship Education

Funded by Erasmus+ from June 2019 to 2020, this project empowers youth through education in entrepreneurship and assists them with the development of innovative products and services that increase their productivity in their trade, OPAD reported on its website.

Turkey: Youth Unemployment and Psychological Well-Being

This OPAD project alleviates global poverty by providing opportunities in training and education and social services to youth experiencing unemployment in Turkey. The project, funded by Erasmus+ from June 2019 to 2020, promotes SDGs four and five. These two SDGs are central to this project as unemployed or underemployed youth face financial insecurity and psychological health damage.

Upcoming Events

Throughout 2019 and 2020, OPAD alleviated global poverty through its projects implemented in countries around the world that face issues like food insecurity, unemployment, lack of education and lack of opportunity, all of which contribute to global poverty when left unaddressed. Moving forward, OPAD continues to plan events in a variety of countries including hosting conferences like the International Youths Exchange Conference, which provides leadership and skills training for youth. These conferences, along with other events, all reflect the core mission of OPAD, which is to alleviate global poverty, aid in the development and create a society free of human suffering.

– Arden Schraff
Photo: Flickr

MinecraftWhen thinking of Minecraft most people will associate it with kids playing something akin to digital Legos, building worlds and if everything goes according to plan, defeating the Ender Dragon. At its core, this view effectively captures the game at the surface level. Partnering with U.N.-Habitat, Minecraft developer Mojang has harnessed the game concept and applied it to sustainable solutions for developing public space and addressing global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2012, the aim has been to integrate Minecraft into urban planning on a local level, prioritizing the involvement of community members, particularly those that lack a voice in public development initiatives such as women, children, refugees and the elderly. The space they are working with is for the people and designed by the people. Behind the success of the Block by Block methodology lies the simplicity of Minecraft, providing an exceptionally effective lens for visualizing a three-dimensional environment that an untrained eye can make sense of, and propter hoc contribute to.

Block By Block

Pilot ventures in Nairobi and Mumbai in 2013 evolved the methodology into what it is today, built on the central tenet of collaboration. Block by Block provides community residents with the training, tools and platforms to develop and share their ideas on how best to transform public space. The exchange of ideas broadens the considerations of all those involved in the collaborative planning process.

Co-created public spaces come into existence, designed by different people and as such take into consideration the needs and concerns of all those involved in the process, resulting in a ubiquitously accommodating locality. Furthermore, what develops as a by-product is a shared sense of ownership and responsibility for the area, increasing the likelihood of maintenance and endurance, whilst simultaneously strengthening the bonds of the community.

Block by Block selects projects based on financial sustainability, accessibility and potential impact. They tend to target youth empowerment, refugee rights, climate change, accessibility, cultural heritage, social inclusion and human rights involving health and safety.

Kosovo

Following the success of a 2015 project in Pristina, Kosovo, that saw the transformation of an abandoned marketplace into a vibrant public space with a range of facilities including children’s playgrounds and Kosovo’s first skatepark, the Block by Block methodology was implemented once more in Mitrovica, some 40 km north of Pristina.

Located on the banks of the Iber river and divided by The New Bridge, the administrative center of the district is burdened by the ethnic divisions between the Serbian and Albanian communities on either side of the river. A symbol of division, the bridge separates the 80,000 Kosovo Albanians living in the north and the community of 20,000 Serbians in the south. In 2016, Block by Block hosted a workshop bringing together residents of both communities to explore ways how to transform the area and collaboratively design their ideas using Minecraft. The approach aimed to negate the divisions between the communities, changing social attitudes towards the city’s unity through democratizing urban planning’s development process. Construction began in 2017, focused on community interaction and urban redevelopment and has had knock-on effects on intercity cooperation to bring about enduring changes across Kosovo’s socio economic landscape.

Nepal

Dey Pukhu, literally translated to “state pond,” as found in the Kirtipur settlement of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, is as one would expect, a pond, typically used for daily gathering and steeped in tradition, having been designed for socio-religious functions. Rapid urbanization across the area threatened the water systems and affected the use of Dey Pukhu for social and traditional gatherings, with other public spaces similarly experiencing some form of deterioration as well. In 2013 Block by Block selected it for restoration with the aim to sustainably revitalize the area and for the methodology to gain traction and lead to further development initiatives across Nepal.

Gathering local stakeholders to propose ideas for restoration and development, the initiative noted the rise in youth engagement with the project and the notion of public space. As Pontus Westberg of U.N.-Habitat outlined, the young people’s confidence, effort and pride in their work was perhaps the most rewarding outcome from the project. The positive response led to further development programs put in place across the Kathmandu metropolitan area.

Noteworthy is the 2015 Kirtipur project that proposed the development of a site with a school, temple and a water system amidst large open areas of green and vegetation. Following designs and finalized models of the site, the earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, delaying implementation. U.N.-Habitat allocated $50,000 in emergency response, repairing a damaged local school and providing essentials for survival including water tanks and emergency shelter. By June 2016 the project was running again, with a trash-covered hillside converted into an open park with recreational space and access to clean water as well as a Public Space Revitalisation Plan put in place for the entire municipality of Kirtipur.

Successful Stories

The Block by Block applied its methodology to other cities across the Kathmandu Valley and is active in over 35 countries. The examples above have set off a chain reaction in the areas of implementation. More recent projects include the likes of public gardens as safe spaces for women and children in Beit Lahia. The successes are a momentous use of technology for the public good and make one wonder what other global concerns can have a solution in something as simple and commonplace as video games.

– Bojan Ivancic
Photo: Unsplash

Statistics on Poverty
Statistics is an essential piece of the policy-making puzzle. From polls to censuses to studies, data is one of politics’ few truths, an impartial measure of the approval or success of any action. In the fight against poverty, the positive results of a policy are often used to justify its implementation in another country, often with mixed results. Although statistics can be incredibly useful for suggesting and tracking anti-poverty efforts, these numbers on poverty carry a series of caveats and assumptions that one cannot overlook.

The Difficulties Behind Statistics

A clear example of this is an experiment run in 1987 by Sally Grantham-McGregor in Jamaica. Looking for a correlation between malnutrition, cognitive development and income, she found that supplementing the meals of malnourished children raised their income over 20 years by 25% compared to the average. Although seemingly indisputable from her evidence from Jamaica, her experiments saw dramatically less success when implemented on a larger scale in Colombia and Peru, with Grantham-McGregor saying that “there is no way to know what caused the impact.”

Much of this uncertainty has to do with the way researchers define terms and the way seemingly unimportant assumptions end up affecting results. A study from 1970 to 2000 focusing on the connection between economic growth and inequality across 26 U.S. states found no correlation, but the correlation between economic growth and inequality of opportunity was extremely strong. Another study by Patrizio Piraino in 2015 found that race-based inequality accounted for around 70% of inequality in South Africa, a figure that is not visible when using the traditional measure of income, GDP per capita, as representative of individuals in a society with a high degree of race-based inequality.

This problem is particularly prevalent in studies on low-income populations. Because questions regarding salary and living situation are sensitive, asking about these topics in questionnaires often yields incorrect data. Low-income groups tend to face underrepresentation in studies, meaning policies meant to alleviate poverty often work with a flawed understanding of the overall improvement objective.

Researchers also present another key difficulty in using statistics in the study of poverty. A study by Lyberg and Kasprzyk in 1991 found that interviewers stood as a large source of error when conducting studies. Language barriers as well as “socioeconomic and demographic characteristics” inhibit accurate responses and interpretations, increasing the margin of error in those studies.

The Benefits of Randomized Studies

However, data science is improving and researchers are beginning to apply the lessons of these studies to improve the accuracy of statistics on poverty. Randomization, or randomly choosing a group as a test for a particular policy, has become an increasingly popular method of policy analysis. A successful example of this process occurred in Indonesia where researchers wanted to test whether identification documents (IDs) carrying information on “program eligibility and entitlements” improved access to a social assistance program. Indeed, researchers found that these social assistance ID cards increased access to Raskin, Indonesia’s rice subsidy initiative that began in 2012. Leaning on the results of this research, the government of Indonesia decided to scale up the distribution of these IDs, reaching more than 15 million poor households in 2013.

Many academics in the field of poverty research remain opposed to randomized studies, but there is an increasingly vocal group advocating gradual implementation based on the past successes of randomization. Particularly in education research, experts have criticized the high costs, overly general results and unorthodoxy of randomization, but policy research has shown it can be effective on a large scale.

The PROGRESA Pilot Program

In Mexico, the social conditional cash transfer program PROGRESA, launched in 1997, is an example of a successful randomized evaluation that informed future policy. PROGRESA first began as a pilot program tested across 506 communities in Mexico. The evaluation showed promising outcomes for children from households receiving conditional cash transfers. As such, the Mexican government decided to implement PROGRESA on a wider scale. Other countries conducted similar randomized studies to evaluate the benefit of “PROGRESA-like programs on their populations before scaling up.” Poverty Action Lab indicates that by the year 2014, 52 nations “had implemented PROGRESA-like programs.”

Each statistical method comes with its own advantages and drawbacks, but researchers are increasingly aware of how to balance the usefulness of statistics with its limitations. By improving the quality of these statistics on poverty, statistics can become an essential part of the reduction in global poverty.

– Samuel Bowles
Photo: Flickr

Three Seas Initiative
The Three Seas Initiative, which Polish President Andrzej Duda and former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitrovic founded in 2015, is an economic forum of 12 Eastern and Central European nations created as a means for Eastern Europe to boost economic development, expand infrastructure and promote cooperation in the energy sector. The Three Seas Initiative works by securing investment for infrastructure, energy and digitization projects to rectify the gap between East-West and North-South infrastructure in Europe. As more investments continue to support digital infrastructure, energy and transportation projects, people in poverty in Eastern Europe are likely to experience greater economic prosperity through the increasing trade opportunities and greater access to markets through economic investment.

Three Seas Initiative Projects

As of July 2021, the Three Seas Initiative has 90 interconnection projects with a total estimated investment value of €180.9 billion. Registered in 2018, the Rail-2-Sea project is a Three Seas Initiative plan to build a railway connecting the port of Gdansk and the port of Constanta across Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. This plan will further link the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea over four different branches of a railway, each with its local plans for modernization.

Another Three Seas Initiative infrastructure plan is the Rail Baltica plan. This plan aims to increase infrastructural integration between Baltic Sea nations. More specifically, in a partnership with Finland, Rail Baltica is creating infrastructure to construct “missing cross-border connections” and “integrate the Baltic States in the European rail network” while dissolving “transport infrastructure bottlenecks.”

These plans are all, in one way or another, increasing economic interconnection and mobility between Eastern European nations. These infrastructural developments will provide more opportunities for people living in Eastern Europe by providing greater access to European markets and more efficient supply chains. The cheapening of consumer goods through trade is especially beneficial to low-income Eastern European citizens who could potentially afford better and more daily necessities.

Impact of the Three Seas Initiative

Nations within the Three Seas Initiative saw greater economic growth and faced less economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other European Union (EU) nations. According to a July 2021 speech by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, “During 2015-2019 they [Three Seas Initiative nations] averaged 3.8% GDP growth a year, nearly double the rate of EU-15.” Furthermore, the economies of Three Seas nations only contracted by approximately 4% whereas Western European economies shrunk by approximately double that.

Throughout the initiative, the poverty rates of many nations, especially in Southeast Europe, have declined. For example, Romania had a poverty rate of 25.4% in 2015, the founding year of the Three Seas Initiative. Right before the pandemic in 2019, Romania’s poverty rate declined to 23.8%.

The Three Seas Initiative similarly oversaw a decrease in the risk of poverty in Hungary with 28.2% of people facing the risk of poverty in 2015 in comparison to 17.8% in 2019. Slovenia saw a decrease in poverty as well, albeit relatively minor from 13.9% in 2015 to 12% in 2018, and it only rose .4% in 2019.

The Three Seas Initiative has vast potential to deepen economic ties within Europe, foster sustainable European energy and reduce poverty. As it carries out more projects, the U.S. and the EU can continue to encourage economic investment and development of the Three Seas Initiative countries. Such economic investment and capital inflow have the potential to make Eastern Europe more prosperous while lifting people out of poverty.

– Alexander Richter
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Food Systems in Afghanistan
In the wake of Afghanistan’s government collapse in August 2021, the nation’s humanitarian crisis has plunged to new depths and will continue on this path if Afghanistan does not receive the necessary aid. Of the total population, 41.7 million, about 23 million Afghans, are experiencing food insecurity due to the failure of food systems in Afghanistan. However, organizations are making efforts to combat the hunger crisis and strengthen food systems in the nation.

The State of Food Systems in Afghanistan

About 8.7 million Afghans currently endure “emergency levels of food insecurity,” and according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), without urgent action, Afghanistan could see a 97% universal poverty rate by mid-2022. The loss of more than 500,00 Afghan jobs since August 2021 and the steep incline of food prices leave Afghan families depleted of food with no income to purchase more. The Afghan people have no way of obtaining a sufficient supply of food nor can they harvest sufficient crops due to the harsh winter and severe drought.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

Since the start of 2021, the World Food Programme has assisted “15 million Afghans with food and nutrition support” while prioritizing the most vulnerable population segments such as young children and pregnant/breastfeeding women. The WFP’s “targeted supplementary feeding [program]” has addressed the nutritional needs of more than “500,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women” and more than 1 million malnourished children younger than 5. The WFP aims to “reach 23 million Afghans in 2022,” including 1 million children through its school feeding program.

The organization works with the Afghan government and commercial partners to strengthen the food systems in Afghanistan by supporting local small-scale farmers  as well as “building local milling and fortification capacity and strengthening value chains and food safety measures.” The WFP assists the Afghan government and humanitarian organizations “in beneficiary management, supply chain, information and communication technology and facilities and information management” to ensure a targeted response to citizens’ needs.

USAID Assists Afghanistan

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been taking measures to improve food systems in Afghanistan for the last two decades and has vastly strengthened Afghanistan’s agricultural sector. This is crucial work because about 80% of all Afghans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. USAID’s efforts intend to scale up Afghanistan’s agricultural exports, expand “the reach of Afghan agricultural goods to bolster job creation” and distribute more agricultural goods throughout the country.

In 2010, USAID created a $100 million Agricultural Development Fund to supply credit to Afghan farmers and small-scale agricultural businesses to help them accumulate resources such as seeds, fertilizer and equipment. As of 2021, this fund has distributed “$132.7 million in loans to more than 43,600 Afghan farmers.” USAID has also assisted in creating more than 657,000 full-time agricultural-related employment opportunities, which has contributed to reducing poverty in the nation and strengthening food systems in Afghanistan.

Programs that are geared toward improving food systems in Afghanistan are essential in fighting the nation’s hunger crisis. Implementing these programs will increase food distribution throughout the country and strengthen Afghanistan’s agricultural sector.

– Isabella Elmasry
Photo: Max Pixel

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
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