3 Ways Kenya Has Worked to Drop Its Poverty RatesMany countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have found the majority of their populations living below the poverty line. With a lot of work being done to eliminate poverty in these countries, there have been dramatic changes in the lifestyle and the overall economies of many regions. The most notable changes have come from Kenya, showing some great economic advances between the years 2005 and 2015. Taking a look at the numbers, in 2005, 43.6% of Kenya’s population was living below the poverty line, earning less than $1.09 per day. Then, 10 years later, in the year 2015, Kenyans saw a dramatic change in their economy, dropping its poverty rate to 35.6%, and proving a continuous downward trend. Kenya’s significant socioeconomic improvement has prompted many to look closely at how Kenya has worked to drop its poverty rates. Here are three ways that Kenya was able to drop its poverty rates.

Education

By improving the education system and focusing on its younger population, Kenya is creating opportunities for the youth, and as a result the country, to prosper. Through the use of newer classroom technology and better resources, it has become evident that Kenyan youth are coming into the world more prepared to work and increase economic growth.

By giving younger people the opportunity to build their knowledge around things they love, Kenya is dropping its poverty rate. Because the economy grows from the increase in educated people, poverty decreases as a result.

Reducing Poverty in Rural Areas

Rural regions in Kenya face the highest poverty rates. As such, in order to address the issue at hand, more economic progress was offered in more rural areas. As written in the World Bank Blog by Utz Pape and Carolina Mejia-mantilla, “this was possible because of the increasing importance of non-agricultural income (particularly commerce) to supplement agricultural income for rural households, which has been aided by the expansion of mobile money and the telecommunication revolution.” This explains one of the ways economic growth was offered in Kenya’s rural areas.

Construction and Infrastructure

Building up communities has become one of Kenya’s main methods of alleviating poverty. Partaking in construction and building infrastructure has become one of the most booming businesses in the country, overall helping the economy and allowing for newer and safer residential areas to be built all around the country. According to the Privacy Shield, the construction industry has helped Kenya tremendously in creating jobs and a safer living environment. Along with that, Kenya has been able to strike up deals with outside countries, including the United States, thanks to the progress made within the construction industry. As a result of the attention on its booming industry, Kenya has been able to drop its poverty rates.

Although Kenya is making great advancements in alleviating poverty, there is still much to be done. To completely eradicate poverty in Kenya and support the country’s efforts to drop its poverty rates, the international community and humanitarian organizations must continue to donate and support Kenya’s poverty alleviation efforts. One of the ways the international community can help is by volunteering. Through the Overseas Program, one can volunteer and take a trip to Kenya to help push forward more advancements toward a less impoverished future for the country.

Sophia Cloonan 
Photo: Flickr

Raspberry Pi“Ciudad de Ariel” is an elementary school in the rural town of Duran, Ecuador. In this small school, people are studying a computer substitute that could change the world called Raspberry Pi. This life changing computer is a small chip that can fit in a hand.

The Technological Gap

For many developing countries, technology is out of the picture. The general growth in technology proficiency has evaded developing countries. They often cannot afford internet access and computers in all schools, so children and young adults suffer in technological skills. Furthermore, other challenges of poverty, like food insecurity and lack of water, take priority to learning how to use a computer.

The problem is that technology can actually provide large benefits for developing countries. The internet offers vast amounts of information and programming to serve any need. If developing countries have access to computers, the ability to decrease poverty levels can be more feasible. Unfortunately, most computers are specialized, expensive and hard to produce. Previously, developing countries lacked the budget for technology advancement and access. But now, the Raspberry Pi offers tech opportunities to people all over the world.

The Device

There are many unique aspects of the Raspberry Pi that separate it from normal computers. First, its price is affordable; it has a base cost of $35. This is significantly cheaper than any other computer chip on the market. As such, some schools in areas of poverty are using Raspberry Pis in their computer labs.

Another unique aspect of the Raspberry Pi is it’s small form. The Raspberry Pi 4, the most recent model, is only 3.37 inches high and 2.22 inches wide. An entire computer lab of Raspberry Pis can fit in a suitcase. Not only is the computer chip small, it is also incredibly light, weighing only 46 grams. Therefore, the Raspberry Pi is easily portable. This is an important factor as many schools in developing countries are in rural, hard-to-reach areas.

Finally, the Raspberry Pi is famous for its versatility. Most computers are made to do specific tasks. Whether it is running a server, rendering 3D graphics, or browsing the internet, each computer has distinct hardware for its purpose. The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is capable of handling almost any task. For example, it can be used as a traditional desktop computer, a server or as a basic computer chip to automate mechanical devices. This allows people to use the device for any function they need.

Due to the Raspberry Pi’s unique capabilities, it has the capability to be highly successful in advancing technology for developing countries.

Real-World Examples

A recent study found that the Raspberry Pi provides a cost-effective approach in building computer labs for schools in developing countries. The success of the pilot project conducted in the elementary school in Duran, Ecuador corroborated this finding. Computer labs have also been built in Cameroon and West Africa. It’s not an entire lab, but a project called Malinux Télé donated Raspberry Pis to children in Mali.

The computer has impacts beyond education. An automated loom was developed using a Raspberry Pi. The designers of this loom found it to be cheaper than traditional automated looms. Another project found a cheap way to purify water using a Raspberry Pi.

The little computer has been able to accomplish tremendous things. From computer labs in Ecuador and West Africa to automated looms and water purifiers, the Raspberry Pi has proven to be a force for good and can change how developing countries access technology.

Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

Landmines in Tajikistan
Tajikistan, a Central-Asian country bordered by Afghanistan to the south and China to the east, has been fighting poverty and food insecurity for years. As of 2018, 27.4% of the country’s 9.1 million population live in poverty. The landscape is particularly rural, with a majority of the population relying on the agricultural industry for both food and employment. However, the lack of fertilizers and proper machinery makes it difficult for people to care for agricultural land in Tajikistan. In order to help remove farmland overgrowth and landmines in Tajikistan, the U.S. Department of State and Defense intervened.

Landmines in Tajikistan

Currently, Tajikistan possesses a number of landmines on its border with Afghanistan. Russia, which partnered with Tajikistan in defense efforts against Afghanistan about 20 years ago, placed these landmines. Landmines continue to pose a threat to Tajikistan civilians who wish to utilize this land for farming and crops. In addition to the landmines, this land has become overgrown with vegetation and would cost a great sum to restore to its original state. The amount of physical labor would be extensive, and the presence of landmines makes the task prohibitively risky.

To assist with the efforts to clear this land, the U.S. Department of State and Defense used a $1.2 million Foreign Military Financing grant to supply the Tajikistan National Mine Center with a mini-Mine Wolf, a machine that remotely removes a number of explosive devices. In addition to the machine itself, the grant covered the deployment and the training of members of the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense to learn how to properly use the machine. The machine simultaneously cuts down overgrown vegetation and removes landmines from the surface, solving the two major problems with this land at the same time.

Since the machine’s deployment, six acres of land have recovered and irrigation channels have reopened to supply towns near this land with clean water. As poverty and food insecurity exists at higher rates in rural areas, access to clean water and this land for farming will provide food for thousands of families, as well as employment for jobless citizens living along the border.

Global Landmine Removal

While the United States has provided assistance in the removal of explosives and harmful landmines in Tajikistan, it has provided aid to other countries as well. In 2019, the United States Department of State and Defense funded conventional weapon destruction in 18 African countries, and during its active years, the department has funded more than $845 million toward weapon destruction in the Middle East. By freeing these lands of explosives and weapons that pose danger, the U.S. has helped support the economies of numerous countries by giving them access to land to farm and battle food insecurity. Food insecurity and poverty go hand in hand, and by enabling countries to cultivate the land they were able to in the past, these countries will be able to battle the hardships of poverty in years to come.

Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Solutions
The United Nations recognizes the success of The Millennium Development Goals in decreasing the world’s extreme poverty in half. With the intention of contributing to that success, the UN has developed a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to ensure the prosperity of poor countries and secure environmental protection in these regions through the implementation of sustainable solutions.The SDGs were scheduled to begin being implemented on January 1, 2016, and continue over the next 15 years.

The first item on the list is ending poverty. The UN points out that accomplishing such a challenging goal requires strategies that foster economic growth as well as address core issues such as health, social protection and employment.

What is Biomimicry?

Biomimicry is a way of looking at design through engineering that occurs in nature. The idea is to mimic the way organisms have been adapting and surviving on this earth. These natural adaptations provide a guide to life on earth in the long haul.

Biomimicry can be used in favor of disenfranchised populations living in harsh climates. Finding water in deserts, for example, can be quite a difficult task. Biomimicry might be used to disclose a solution to this problem through observation of a Namibian Beetle which lives in the desert of southern Africa and collects water from fogs. This particular beetle has special structures on its wings scales that condense water out of the air. This beetle’s wing design is ten times more efficient at collecting eater than the fog-catching nets humans have used in the past.

New technologies developed out of Biomimicry provide more opportunities for green economies to flourish. Green economies are those in which all economic activities, such as exporting goods and services, occur with little environmental impacts. This would provide more opportunities for developing countries and improve global trade which, in turn, allows developing countries to acquire more technology.

The Global Design Challenge

The Biomimicry Institue inspired innovators from all over the globe to use biomimicry and apply nature-inspired designs as sustainable solutions to urgent global issues. The groups who made it to the final round presented their projects at the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge in 2015.

  1. Hexagro (Milan, Italy): The Hexagro team designed a “groundless” growing system made of recycled and biodegradable materials. The hexagon-shaped structure mimics the geometric pattern found in nature produces 342 lettuce plants per two square meters whereas ground farming produces only 80 lettuce plants in the same conditions. The project includes an automatic irrigation system that prevents plants from being dried out or overfed. The system will soon be connected to a digital application.
  2. Holonic Integrated Produce Swarm (South Africa): HIPS is a peer to peer networking app. It mimics the way flocks of birds and other well-coordinated groups of animals function. The app facilitates small scale intensive food production to be coordinated. A swarm of food producers allows people to share resources and conduct local transactions. The app connects these local swarms to create regional ones in order to establish a produce hub. It also records surplus produce for sale and helps members do the distribution logistics. Finally, the app provides a medium fair exchange value and provides incentives to food producers to employ the best practices.
  3. Biopatch  (Valparaiso, Chile): This project won first place in the design challenge for their soil restoration solution. Its design mimics the Yareta plant. This plant is known as a “nurse” plant that thrives in cold and windy conditions and provides shelter and nutrients to other species. Biopatch mimics the plant’s protective mechanisms to shield seedlings from the wind and ultraviolet radiation while enhancing the soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients. This design is biodegradable and low cost. After a year’s operation, the plants that have grown under its protection become independent and capable of maintaining the restored soil on its own.

The three aforementioned designs offer agricultural development and greater access to food. Other designs included devices that provide freshwater resources and nutrient sources that come from insects. All of these designs not only increase the amount of food available to those in need but guaranteed the freshness and nutritious qualities of the food offered.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a “call for action.” In order to fulfill the UN’s goal of eradicating poverty by 2020, it is necessary to help poor countries develop resilience and adopt sustainable strategies as they move out of poverty. With such solutions, the environment is protected and is sure to provide for future generations. Sustainable solutions offer an entirely new outlook on designs that could eradicate poverty. As new editions of the Global Design Challenge, more environmentally-friendly solutions for global poverty are developed each year.

– Zoe Schlagel
Photo: Pixabay

projects-in-tajikistan
In Tajikistan, irrigation of agriculture is not only vital for food security, but also for economic development. With agriculture contributing to almost 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the livelihood of half of the workforce, water resource management is important in maintaining food security, employment and economic development. However, more than half the country lives on $3.10 per day, and the value of output produced per cubic meter of irrigation remains very low, leading to stressed water resources and food insecurity. Assitance for agriculture projects in Tajikistan is critical to strengthen the economy and livelihoods of its citizens.

The World Bank PAMP II Project

The World Bank has implemented agriculture projects in Tajikistan, such as the Second Public Employment for Sustainable Agriculture and Water Resources Management Project (PAMP II), working closely with the Tajikistan government to support water resource management and increase crop yields.

The objectives of PAMP II are the following:

  • Give people experiencing food insecurity employment through the building of drainage and irrigation infrastructure.
  • Scale up the production of crops as a result of improved drainage and irrigation systems.
  • Provide support for the creation of better institutions and policies for water resource management.
  • Improve the availability of food and accessibility for people in rural areas with low incomes.

The project’s components include public works and rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage infrastructure, assistance in water resource management and project management.

Daler Abdurazoqzoda with the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources stated that “The World Bank’s support allowed us to advance all aspects of water sector reform – infrastructure, institutions and legislation.”

Additionally, in 2020, the Tajikistan government implemented a new law for Water Users Associations, establishing community-based organizations as part of irrigation governance and empowering them to provide better service to farmers. With this, more than 130 Water Users Associations strengthened to improve the management of on-farm irrigation and drainage infrastructure.

USAID Support

Additionally, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also recently implemented agriculture projects in Tajikistan. In Khatlon, nearly 83% of the population works in agriculture. However, households remain poor, food-insecure and malnourished. Over the last four years, the USAID’s Feed the Future Tajikistan Agriculture and Water Activity has provided support to more than 140,000 households. According to the USAID, the program has provided “short-term agricultural sector productivity and food security training, support with improved technologies and management practices for 127,250 women across the Khatlon Province.”

Other benefits of this support include the introduction of new crops, installation of irrigation water measuring devices and enhanced livestock genetics. For smallholder farmers, gross margins increased by 194% and sales reached $3 million. By implementing projects in Tajikistan, the USAID largely contributed to poverty reduction and increased education and nutrition in the country.

Other Support Projects in Tajikistan

In addition, the World Bank continues to provide support for other projects in Tajikistan as well, such as the CASA1000 Project, Social Safety Net Strengthening Project and 14 other projects with commitments of $625 million. These projects provide other services and infrastructure that are also critical to the country. The CASA1000 project in Tajikistan, for example, will invest in improving local infrastructure and public services by financing the rehabilitation and upgrade of village-level electricity infrastructure and equipment to increase the reliability and quality of electricity services.

As projects like these continue throughout Tajikistan, they will contribute to the livelihood of citizens across the entire country, reducing poverty levels and providing necessary knowledge and support for long-term infrastructure.

– Tiffany Hill
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction Strategy of Tanzania
Recently, the World Bank released its list of nations that most successfully reduced domestic poverty from 2000-2015. The top five countries reduced poverty between 3.2 percent and 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2015, with Tanzania reducing the highest percentage. The top fifteen countries lifted 802.1 million individuals out of poverty. This article outlines the successful poverty reduction strategy of Tanzania and international support that caused the most drastic reductions in poverty around the world.

History of Tanzanian Poverty

Historically, Tanzania has been one of the most impoverished countries in the world. In 2000, 86 percent of Tanzanians were impoverished, but this number dropped to 28 percent in 2018.

Tanzania reduced poverty by 3.2 percent in 11 years, making it the country that reduced poverty the most in the last 15 years. The poverty reduction strategy of Tanzania is due to three elements: reducing income poverty, increasing access to basic necessities and improving government infrastructure.

Economic Growth

The first strategy focuses on sustainable economic growth, which includes decreasing inflation and focusing on growing parts of the economy that have the largest poor population. The employment and empowerment programs utilized in these strategies focus on agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism in addition to macroeconomic growth in exports and imports. Between 2000 and 2015, Tanzania’s export volume grew from 120 to 272, making it the world’s 130th largest exporter. This successfully increased Tanzania’s GDP from $13.3 billion to $47.3 billion.

Tanzania’s unemployment rate dropped from 12.9 percent in 2001 to 10.3 percent in 2014, because of the liquid capital that injected into Tanzania’s economy, a focus on job creation and an industrial transition that opened new jobs. The economic focus of the Tanzanian government lifted thousands of individuals out of poverty and made it the seventh-largest economy in Africa.

The Impoverished Individual

The second strategy focuses on the personal needs of those in poverty. Poverty reduction efforts seek to increase the quality of life and ensure that those in poverty have access to social welfare. Efforts concentrated on education, clean water, sanitation and health services. Because of these efforts, Tanzania increased the number of individuals who had access to clean water by 9 percent between 1990 and 2009. In the same period of time, Tanzania’s health care became more accessible. As a result, child mortality rates dropped from 162 to 108, infant mortality rates dropped from 99 to 68 and the rate of malaria contraction dropped from 40.9 percent to 40.1 percent.

Another poverty reduction strategy focused on education. Tanzania made education more accessible by increasing funding for education, bettering its transportation mechanisms (including roads) and emphasizing vocational education and education for girls. This focus on education increased school enrollment from 68.8 percent in 2000 to 84.6 percent in 2015.

Tanzania’s Commitment to its People

The third strategy is one of the governmental commitments to the impoverished Tanzanian people. This included ensuring the enforcement of the law, the accountability of the government for its people and the prioritizing of stability in order to avoid poverty. The IMF reported that Tanzania has become more accountable to its people, less corrupt and has increased citizen participation in governance, thus ensuring an effective political framework.

International Participation in Tanzania’s Poverty Reduction Strategies

The international community was critical to Tanzania’s successful poverty reduction. The United States, Tanzania’s largest source of aid, began giving Tanzania foreign aid in 2006. In that year, the U.S. gave $151.29 million. This number increased every year, with the U.S. giving Tanzania $633.5 million in aid in 2015. This aid has consistently gone towards the very areas in which Tanzania has seen the most improvement: humanitarian aid, governance, education, economic development and health.

While Tanzania still has a long way to go until it completely eliminates poverty, it has made significant progress since the beginning of the millennium. The poverty reduction strategies of Tanzania, including economic growth, investment in individuals and infrastructure and governance development, have been successful to a great extent. International aid has consistently been a contributing factor to Tanzania’s ability to reduce poverty and has successfully targeted the areas in which Tanzania required the most improvement.

–  Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

Economic and Scientific Development in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a country plagued by violence and poverty. There is little opportunity for work in Burkina Faso outside of agriculture. The country also has recently become the victim of Jihadist attacks. Jihadists exploit the country’s impoverished citizens to gain recruits. Violence and climate change contribute to the country’s poverty. Despite this, the government aims to prioritize economic and scientific development in Burkina Faso. The country adopted a National Policy for Scientific and Technical Research in 2012. The goal of the project was to improve research and development. Additionally, the project hopes to improve the country’s agricultural output to improve food security.

Burkina Faso’s Economic and Scientific Development

The country’s objective is to promote an effective and accessible health system. This implementation yielded some positive results in economic and scientific development in Burkina Faso. Fortunately, there is a growing number of doctoral candidates in medicine and other similar fields. However, most of the researchers working in Burkina Faso are from European nations, such as France.

The country passed the National Policy for Food and Nutrition Security in 2014 and the National Program for the Rural Sector in 2011.  The country also passed the Science, Technology and Innovation Act in 2013. The act established three mechanisms for financial innovation: the National Fund for Education and Research, the National Fund for Research and Innovation Development and the Forum for Scientific Research and Technological Innovation.

To attract researchers and developers in an effort to improve economic and scientific development in Burkina Faso, the country held a major event in 2017. Burkina Faso’s National Center for Scientific and Technological Research organized the event. The event hosted investors, innovators, researchers and other players in the technology field to suggest and showcase their ideas on how to improve technological research. As a result, Burkina Faso has received funding from organizations, including the World Bank.

Development Challenges

Much of the funding Burkina Faso and other Sub-Saharan African countries receive comes with expectations. As with many African countries, there is often a condition requiring the country to bring a portion of its own money to be eligible for grants for research projects. Many funding agencies expect contributions of 20 to 50 percent of the project’s cost, according to the Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. Donors often ask for this contribution as a method to ensure the country’s commitment to a project.

Burkina Faso cannot obtain the necessary funding due to these restrictions. As a result, there are a number of problems facing Burkina Faso’s research and development programs. The country has a small pool of researchers, a lack of research funding and outdated research facilities.

Success Stories

Despite the lack of funding, there have been small success stories of economic and scientific development in Burkina Faso. Aminata Sinka, the founder of Linea’s Ideas, embroiders gadgets, baby gift sets, sheets, t-shirts and blouses for businesses or individuals. She takes inspiration from designs she sees on the internet and tries to ensure her designs are unique. As of now, she is the only reference for digital embroidery in Burkina Faso.

Another success story is Sotria-B, an industrial nut processing company in the city of Banfora. Sotria-B nut processing is uplifting the lives of women in Burkina Faso. More than 300 people have employment, 90 percent of whom are women. Most of these women come from impoverished backgrounds. Since 2006, the company has processed 3,000 pounds of cashew nuts. The company sells its nuts in both Europe and America and obtained investors through the European Union. The owner’s goal to improve the lives of women is slowly coming to fruition as the company flourishes.

It is probable that more success stories will come out of Burkina Faso. A higher chance for success requires additional funding and understanding concerning Burkina Faso’s inability to bring forth its own funding. With more grants and other funds, Burkina Faso can implement more economic and scientific developments.

Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan to Mobilize African Development
According to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa’s population will more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion people to 2.5 billion. Africa already suffers from food, energy and job shortages, and its current population makes up about 17 percent of the world’s population. However, with this current growth, its population would balloon to an estimated 20 percent. As a result, Europe realizes that African development is going to have a large impact on the 21st century and that action is necessary. This action includes the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development.

The Solution

Although Africa struggles with the aforementioned shortages, it withholds 15 percent of global oil reserves. In addition, 40 percent of gold reserves and 80 percent of platinum reserves are located there. The largest expanse of agricultural land in the world is also in Africa. Based on this, Germany is spearheading the Marshall Plan initiative to mobilize African development and promote private investment on the continent. This is part of the G20 (EU in conjunction with 19 other countries). Africa currently relies on donors and other countries for support, but this new initiative will help Africa become more self-sufficient.

With the predicted population explosion, Africa must create more jobs and opportunities. To do so, the G20 needs private investment to make Africa appealing to potential investors. Other changes that will support this initiative include protecting human rights, strengthening the economy and implementing good governance. Through this, the G20 also needs to address and solve problems in Africa. These problematic elements consist of trade, arms sales to crisis areas and illicit financial flows. This will require strong international cooperation and partnerships between developed and developing countries.

The Marshall Plan includes ensuring food and water security, bolstering infrastructure, embracing digitalization, increasing access to energy, health care and education in Africa. To accomplish this, the G20 also plans to give Africa a seat on the U.N. Security Council. This will provide the country with heightened authority in international organizations and negotiations.

G20 Partnership Pillars

Partnership pillars that the Marshall Plan is prioritizing are promoting private investment, developing infrastructure and improving economic growth. Analyzing pre-existing initiatives will promote private investment. Promotion will also include tailoring country-specific measures to improve the framework, involving business and financing. Africa will develop infrastructure by expanding on pre-existing initiatives and sharing any knowledge on infrastructure investment and how to manage it and natural resources. Finally, the creation of an initiative to promote employment via skills development and training (Initiative for Rural Youth Employment) will improve economic growth.

Related Initiatives

Related initiatives include AU’s Agenda 2063, the Addis Tax Initiative, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Sustainability, Security and Stability in Africa Initiative and the EU’s European External Investment Plan (EIP). For the Marshall Plan to succeed, it must fit in with the other initiatives and fill in gaps to promote change in Africa. Supporting organizations of the Marshall Plan include the African Union, the EU and the NEPAD Agency.

The Future

As of 2018, the cabinet has already passed the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development; however, it has not taken any further action yet. Experts worry that the plan could become obsolete if people have unrealistic expectations of what it will cover. A common misconception is that the plan will automatically secure peace and create jobs and growth for Africa. It is working towards that, but there is no guarantee. If action follows soon and private investment grows, Africa will be well on its way to self-sustainability.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Dharavi slum redevelopmentThe Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project was approved by the state government of Maharashtra on October 16, 2018. The new proposal plans to renovate the entire slum as a whole while previous failed attempts planned to divide the slum into 12 parts. The new plan must take into account the previous failures in order to succeed in the redevelopment of such a populated area.

About Dharavi

Dharavi is considered Asia’s largest slum, spanning almost 600 acres of land. Located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, it is a long stretch of shanty houses, dirt roads and open sewage. It is estimated that the percentage of people in Greater Mumbai living in slums may be as high as 41.3 percent. Dharavi has a population of around one million people. Because Mumbai has some of the highest rental prices in the world, Dharavi has become a more affordable option for those moving to the city.

The slum was founded in 1882 during the time of British rule during the country’s urbanization. When the plague spread through India, the British government transferred much of its industry to Dharavi. What began as a fishing village has since grown into a densely populated, culturally rich and diverse area. It has an active informal economy where businesses will employ many slum residents for leather, textiles and pottery products.

About the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project

Redevelopment plans for Dharavi have been on hold for the past 15 years, beginning in February 2004. There is hope now that the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project will follow through after a Dubai-based firm called Sec-Link Technology Corporation (STC) won the global tender to renovate Dharavi for good.

Sec-Link Group is a special purpose organization working to redevelop slum around the world. This project is largely backed by the UAE. The Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project will cost around Rs 22,000 crore, which is over $3 billion. However, if the project continues to be delayed, the cost could grow to Rs 40,000 crore. STC proposed that slum residents will have larger, carpeted homes with 350 square feet as a minimum. Those above 300 square feet will get 400 square feet, and those over 500 will get an additional area of 35 percent.

The Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project includes using 200 acres to rehabilitate residents and build commercial units, 100 acres for a community garden and the remaining 300 acres will be for sale and commercial complexes. This also means that new infrastructures will be implemented, such as water systems and container housing.

Previous Issues

The reason that past redevelopment projects have failed is largely due to resistance from slum residents who felt the plans were not in their interest. Because Dharavi is so condensed, it has grown into its own ecosystem. Residents rely on the micro-enterprises in the slum, some of which take part in homes and outdoor spaces being used for places of work and social interaction. It is important to residents that the economy of Dharavi and their own livelihoods are supported during this change.

In order for a housing upgrade to work for all residents, it’s important the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project allows for the economic and social activities that thrive in slums. By converting slum buildings into industrial centers, Dharavi can grow from deprivation into a magnet of commerce. STC will begin working on the project in 2019 and plan to finish it in nine years.

Isadora Savage
Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Lebanon
According to the 2018 Lebanon Economic Vision report, Lebanon’s economy has been stuck in a vicious cycle. Despite periods of prosperity, the economy has been highly unpredictable. Any substantial monetary influx is mostly channeled into less productive sectors and into financing a fiscally irresponsible administration. Combined with high levels of corruption and minimal legislative productivity, the resulting unhealthy business environment, second-rate infrastructure and poor development of Lebanon come as no surprise. Job creation and productivity are limited, hurting employment rates and continuing an economic cycle where no incremental wealth is generated. But can things change? 

Power and Electricity

Lebanon has consistently ranked in the top four worst world nations in terms of quality of electricity supply. The country even ranked as the last in the world in this segment from 2012 to 2014. The main electricity producer, Electricité du Liban, is so inconsistent that citizens are forced to purchase a private generator or subscribe to a different network. This means paying the double cost for electricity, and those who cannot afford this are sometimes forced to go without it for hours. However, the Ministry of Economy has presented a plan called the National Economic Vision 2025 to reform this sector and other sectors once and for all. The country aims to shrink non-technical losses by 2025 and to become more reliant on sustainable and renewable resources which would seriously impact the development of Lebanon.

Health Care

The Lebanese health care system is considered to be the best in the region and on-par with European quality standards, a good indicator of the development of Lebanon. Citizens boast a high average life expectancy and low neonatal mortality rates, as around 7.5 percent of GDP is allocated to health care expenditures. Nonetheless, a significant portion of the Lebanese population remains uninsured because of low wages and high insurance rates.

This commonly forces citizens to pay out-of-pocket fees for medical services. Despite these factors, Lebanon is on track to improve coverage and performance under new governance by the Ministry of Public Health. Under this new leadership, the sector will be driven by evidence-based decisions for monetary compensation, meaning more fiscal support goes to hospitals and patients who need it.

Education in Lebanon

Lebanon continues to invest 7.6 percent of GDP on education, a sector that is growing faster than the base economy itself. The country has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. Academia is the sixth largest employer in the country, with about 161,000 employees. Nonetheless, while Lebanese universities continue to hold a strong reputation, the performance of the primary and secondary education system is declining. To combat this, the National Economic Vision plan proposes updates and enforcement of curriculum standards at the primary and tertiary level. Promoting Lebanese universities to attract international students, and increasing technological investments into this sector are also key factors for this plan.

Agriculture

Lebanon has approximately 658,000 hectares of biodiverse agricultural land that ensures the production of more than 60 types of crops and over 10 livestock products. In 2016, the agricultural sector contributed about 3 percent to GDP, or about $1.5 billion. However, over the past decade, growth has been particularly stagnant. The use of land for low-value crops, competition from imports, poor infrastructure and development of Lebanon and limited support for good farming practices are all contributing factors. Nonetheless, a plan to prioritize crops with high export growth potential and to finance technology to modernize farming would offer this sector the stability it is lacking. A focus on sustainable water practices is also a key concern.

Industry

Industry is a top contributor to the Lebanese economy, accounting for 10 percent of GDP and employing around 194,000 people. However, between 2010 and 2016, the sector had a steep decline in productivity, reducing its contribution to GDP by about 2 percent every year. This devastating decline can be attributed mainly to the poor quality and consistency of power supply and an unhealthy business climate.

To combat this decline, plans to expand the international market by adopting and enforcing compliance with industry quality standards has been detailed by the National Economic Vision plan. In addition, investing in specific subsectors that play on the country’s strengths, like jewelry or pharmaceuticals, would help grow the sector as a whole and ensure redevelopment.

Lebanon has distinct economic and social characteristics that could successfully be harnessed for positive change. The National Economic Vision 2025 proposes not only tools for rectification, but also hope for a better future. Investing in infrastructure in Lebanon, enforcing new fiscal rules and increasing revenue would generate job opportunities and stabilize a once volatile economy. A proposed strategy and plan would offer Lebanon a chance to become the prosperous nation it once was and improve quality of life for all of its citizens.

Natalie Abdou
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