Information and stories on development news.

Europe 2020 strategy on povertyEach decade the European Union (EU) establishes an agenda to achieve goals for growth and social well-being. For the previous decade, the EU strategy focused on “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” led by advancements in five main areas: employment, R&D and innovation, climate change and energy, education, poverty and exclusion. These five factors were essential in strengthening the EU economy. It also prepared the EU’s economic structure for the challenges of the next decade.

The Europe 2020 strategy set the target of lifting “at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty.” To achieve this, the EU’s agenda included actions in stimulating education programs and employment opportunities. These actions aim to help Europeans at risk of poverty develop new skillsets. They also help Europeans find jobs that position them better in society.

For the last 10 years, poverty reduction has been a key policy component of the EU. In 2008, Europe had 116.1 million people at risk of poverty. As a result, EU members sought to reduce the number of poor Europeans to less than 96.1 million by 2020. Yet, as of 2017, the number of people at risk of poverty had only decreased to 113 million. So, what were the challenges that kept the EU from achieving its goal?

Employment in Rural Areas

The main tools the Europe 2020 strategy relied on greater access to education. Eurostat research shows that employment is crucial for ensuring adequate living standards. Furthermore, it provides the necessary base for people to live a better life. Although the EU labor market has consistently shown positive dynamics, the rates didn’t meet the Europe 2020 strategy target employment rate of 75 percent, especially in the rural areas. Jobless young people in rural Europe make up more than 30 percent of people at risk of poverty. As a result, the lack of new job openings and career paths in rural areas hindered individuals from escaping poverty and social exclusion.

Local Governance and Application of EU Strategic Policies

According to reports from 2014, the EU’s anti-poverty strategy was interpreted differently in every country. There is no common definition of poverty across all 27 member states. Therefore, the number of people at risk and their demographics vary. Moreover, EU policies were not implemented in all countries equally. Regional administrations and rural mayors are responsible for implementing EU anti-poverty policies. This localized approach resulted in a lack of coordination that was needed to correctly and efficiently realize the EU’s tools and strategies.

Education: The Winning Strategy Against Poverty

Despite these challenges, the EU showed that poverty can be addressed through education. Seen as key drivers for prosperity and welfare, education and training lie at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy. Since higher educational attainment improves employability, which in turn reduces poverty, the EU interlinked educational targets with all other Europe 2020 goals. The Europe 2020 strategy did in fact achieve its goal of reducing the rates of people leaving education early to less than 10 percent in several EU countries. It also increased the number of workers having completed tertiary education to at least 40 percent. Both of these goals provide reasonable evidence of downsizing the risk of poverty by providing access to education.

Today, upper secondary education is the minimum desired educational attainment level for EU citizens. A lack of secondary education presents a severe obstacle to economic growth and employment in an era of rapid technological progress, intense global competition and specialized labor markets. Europeans at risk of poverty profit the most when given access to secondary education because it provides a path to staying active in society and learning marketable skills. The longer young people from rural areas pursue academic goals, the higher the chances of employment.

Moving Forward

As the Europe 2020 strategy showed, universal access to education has the potential to impact poverty across the European Union. Gaining new skillsets is one of the best ways to provide Europeans at risk of poverty and social exclusion with more opportunities for development and prospects for a better life.

– Olga Uzunova 
Photo: Flickr

housing conditions in India
Good quality, secure housing is one of the major end goals for many societies aiming to ease global poverty and ensure the provision of basic needs amongst economically backward groups. Out of the 7.8 billion of the world’s population, 150 million people are homeless and 1.6 billion lack adequate housing. In fact, India alone accounts for 1.8 million people of the world’s homeless. Data shows that 78 million people in the country do not meet their needs for decent housing. Furthermore, 52% of the country’s homeless live in urban areas, which emphasizes the severity of the problem. With 17% of the world’s slum dwellers living in India, the government revealed that the country’s slum population now exceeds the entire population of Britain. Here is some information about housing conditions in India.

Problems with Housing Conditions in India

For ages, the poorer communities in India heavily depended on mud or unburnt walls with bamboo or grass roof housing. However, these elements are not the most stable or safe building materials. According to the Population Research Bureau, nearly 110 million Indian households live in houses with mud floors and walls. This accounts for 72% of rural households. Mud walls are not the safest option in a tropical country like India, with monsoons stretching on for months. Bamboo and dried grass roofs pose a potential fire hazard, especially since most rural households depend on fire lanterns as a source of light and open fire stoves for cooking.

The Rise of Pucca Houses

Improving housing conditions of India’s economically backward citizens has long been high on the Indian Government’s priority list. Over the years, several governments, both state and central, have produced various housing schemes. These housing schemes aim to provide pucca houses for the poor. Pucca houses are stable houses comprising of materials such as burnt brick or cement.

Indira Awas Yojana began in 1996 and was one of the first major housing schemes with large-scale goals. The scheme aimed to provide pucca houses for people from lower castes like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also non-SC/STs below the poverty line. Renamed as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin, the scheme works on the objective of housing for all by 2022. The scheme provides a 25 square meter pucca house with basic amenities to all its beneficiaries. As of March 2020, the scheme sanctioned 14,159,830 houses to the country’s poor.

Private Organizations

Additionally, many private organizations play a major role in alleviating poor housing conditions of the economically backward sections in India. Habitat for Humanity’s ShelterTech Accelerator program is one such program that is providing aid to for-profit business model startups. It is also giving aid to entrepreneurs focusing on developing solutions that aid low-cost housing. The year-long program supports the selected startups by giving them access to a network of over 300 startup founders, equity-free grants and seed funds up to 7.5 million INR. Another company investing in low-cost homes for low-income households, Brick Eagle, detects the limits of how much government schemes can provide. The company aims to build houses that are priced at 5-10 lakh INR. This price makes the houses more accessible for the economically weaker sections of India.

A Better Future on the Horizon

Housing conditions in India are improving slowly, but surely. The percentage of pucca houses has risen from 55% in 2011 to 71% in 2016. Ultimately, it is safe to say that the efforts of the government and private organizations are paying off as the housing conditions slowly change for the better in India.

– Reshma Beesetty 
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Slovenia Slovenia is a small, coastal country in Southeastern Europe. It is an average country in the E.U. by many measures; however, the average life expectancy is higher than many of its neighbors despite commonly held unhealthy habits. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Slovenia

  1. Life expectancy and Healthcare: The life expectancy is higher than in the U.S. despite the fact that the U.S. spends markedly more on diagnostic medical equipment and screenings. The highest health care expenditure per capita is held by the U.S. By contrast, Slovenia ranks number 24 in the world and has a socialized health care system
  2. Life expectancy Average: The average life expectancy at birth is 82 years. This is significantly higher than its neighbors Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia and that of the E.U. as a whole. A rapid increase in life expectancy at birth in recent years is likely the cause.
  3. High Mortality Rate with Cancer: Mortality from Cancer is higher than the OECD average of 201. About 243 people per 100 million die from cancer. It ranks third-highest for all OECD countries, and the most common cause of death from cancer is lung cancer. However, the cancer mortality rate has been falling in recent decades.
  4. Increased Life expectancy at Birth: Life expectancy increased drastically from 1997-2014. One study largely attributed the rise to a proportional decline in deaths from circulatory diseases and cancer during that time. There were greater gains for older adults than for adults of working age. Like many countries in the world, Slovenia might face new socioeconomic challenges due to an aging population.
  5. Rise in the Average Age of Death: The average age of death rose 10 percent between 1987 and 2017In 1987, it was 68.8% and rose to 77.7% in 2017, according to the Statistics Office of Slovenia. People lived longer in southwestern Slovenia than in northeastern Slovenia. The Mediterranean lifestyle in the south is thought to account for some of the difference. 
  6. Support System: Around “92% of people believe they know someone they can rely in a time of need.” This fact might be one of the biggest reasons behind the relatively high life expectancy in Slovenia. A 1995 study that followed adults from 18-95 showed that those that had adult children or living parents saw an increase in life expectancy. However, the study did not see an increase in adults that had children living at home.
  7. The Suicide Rate Is Declining. The suicide rate still remains high in Slovenia, but it is at a much lower level than it was 15 years ago when the number of deaths attributed to suicide was 529 people. In 2015, 388 people committed suicide. That is the first time that the number of deaths fell below 400 in four decades. NGOs have aided in suicide prevention by offering psychological assistance and creating suicide helplines.
  8. Lower Life Satisfaction: Slovenians are less satisfied with life compared to the OECD average. Despite having a high life expectancy, Slovenians are not particularly satisfied with their lives on average. Wealth inequality is high with the top 20% earning four times as much as the bottom 20%.
  9. Slovenians Smoke and Drink More than Average. Around 19% of Slovenians smoke every day. It has the fifth-highest alcoholism rate both of which may contribute to the country’s high, though falling, rate of cardiovascular disease. 
  10. Slovenians Exercise More than the OECD Average. Universities promote exercise in Slovenia. They also eat more fruits and vegetables than average. Both of these habits might be helping to balance out the deleterious effects of some of the bad habits of Slovenians. 

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia show that the country has a number of issues to address in the area of health. However, life expectancy in this country is relatively high. Good social support as shown by the fact that 92% of people feel they have someone they can turn to in need may be one of the reasons. With increased awareness of the mental and physical health challenges the country faces, Slovenia’s life expectancy will most likely continue to increase.

Caleb Steven Carr
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Development in Mali
Mali is a subsistence farming-based economy in West Africa. Approximately 80 percent of the population works in the agriculture industry, yet low productivity, natural disasters and poor crop yields prevent many Malians from rising out of poverty. The 40 percent poverty rate includes farmers that rely on outdated farming techniques for their livelihoods while also depending on favorable crop prices that fluctuate based on Mali’s fragile economy. Since agriculture is the main industry, USAID and the World Bank are working towards agricultural development in Mali.

Importance of Crops

The main crops in Mali are cotton, corn, cereal, peanuts and tobacco. It exports cotton to neighboring countries like Senegal on the Ivory Coast, and various types of cereal remain important due to their ability to withstand droughts. Since the Sahara Desert covers the northern portion of Mali, it is difficult to find suitable land for farming and livestock. Most farmers rely on the Niger River and its surrounding area for fertile land, as about 65 percent of the country is desert or semi-desert.

Mali cultivates less than 5 percent of its land, yet almost half of its GDP is from agriculture. Most of the cultivated land involves various types of cereals, such as sorghum and millet. One issue that affects the agriculture sector in Mali is desertification, which overgrazing livestock, droughts and deforestation can cause. Farmers rely on rainfall, yet rainfall in Mali is rare and droughts are common. Since the agriculture sector in Mali remains the most important industry for the majority of Malians with more than 40 percent of its GDP comprising of the agriculture sector, further agricultural development in Mali could benefit its people and economy by increasing income and reducing poverty.

USAID Projects

As part of its strategy to end world hunger, the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative in Mali focuses on cereal for food security and poverty reduction, as well as rice production to improve income and livestock for food security and another source of income. To date, the Feed the Future initiative has benefitted approximately 500,000 Malians. In 2019, USAID used two methods as part of its Fertilizer Deep-Placement Micro-Dosing. This project aims to improve crop production through fertilizer deep placement and micro-dosing technology. More than 453 jobs emerged in rural areas due to the success of the two productivity methods.

Another project in the Mopti region helped increase farming productivity by 60 percent. The goal of the Large Scale Diffusion of Technologies for Sorghum and Millet Systems project was to increase sorghum and millet income. Seed treatment, hybrids of sorghum and millet and soil fertility improvement were among the reasons for the high productivity. Sorghum and millet were the focus crops due to their climate resilience and drought tolerance.

Nah Drame benefitted from the project in the Mopti region after receiving training on fertilizer, irrigation, sowing, land preparation and harvesting. She replicated what she learned on her own five-acre farm. Production and income increased so much that she expanded her farm to 12 acres and hired three employees to help with her expansion. Drame used some of the money she earned to buy clothes and school kits for her grandchildren. She also used the money to help her daughter start a business of her own, and it was all thanks to USAID’s involvement in the agriculture sector in Mali.

The World Bank’s Involvement

The World Bank’s $150 million Fostering Agricultural Productivity Project for Mali began in 2010 with the goal of improving productivity and crop yields. The project proved successful as crop yields increased from 27 million pounds in 2016 to 34 million pounds in 2018. The project also benefitted 668 farms and 4,300 producers in Sabalibougou, and it developed more than 6,600 acres of land for agriculture in M’Bewani and Sabalibougou.

USAID, the World Bank and various other organizations are continually working towards agricultural development in Mali. Economic development is slow, yet improving income for millions of farmers in Mali could help reduce poverty and develop the economy. If more Malians like Nah Drame obtained training on improved farming techniques, an even greater impact could take place, as increased income would help millions afford better education, health care, necessities and many other things that those in developed countries often take for granted.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Wikipedia

eLearning Can Help Developing Countries
Education is a human right and a basic need that children and adults alike do not always receive in developing countries. In 1820, only 12 percent of the people in the world could read. By 2016, the percentages reversed and only 14 percent of the world population was illiterate. However, in countries like Niger, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, the rate of literacy is below 30 percent. With eLearning or electronic learning, these countries might be able to hope for a better future and potentially change their country’s path into a better economy and education system. Here is some information about how eLearning can help developing countries.

eLearning and its Benefits

eLearning is a form of learning through electronic devices like computers, tablets or any other electronic device that one can connect to the internet. Essentially, it is education online. 

eLearning can help developing countries because it is not only incredibly adaptable but also cost-effective as it removes the need for buying printed course materials. It also helps improve performance and productivity as it gives the user flexibility to learn at their own pace as they can repeat lectures as many times as they desire. It also facilitates students by cutting the transport factor when countries struggle with public transport and other logistics.

The Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa said that it has committed itself to “an expansion of online resources” for more colleges and universities to adapt to and reach rural communities so students study and learn at a time and place convenient for them. There are 14.8 million people without access to transport in rural areas.

eLearning is also environmentally friendly. In fact, it consumes 90 percent less power and has generated 85 percent less CO2 emissions compared to onsite education.

Costs of eLearning

However, while eLearning has many benefits for developing countries, it also comes at a cost. The biggest setback is that some developing countries cannot adapt to eLearning due to the lack of access to high-speed internet, trained IT personnel or access to electrical power.

Another setback is that governments need to approve and adapt their education system to deploy eLearning, which relies heavily on investing. According to Market Research, some states in Africa have been investing heavily in eLearning, growing at a rate of 15 percent per year.

South Africa has the largest open distance eLearning institution, The University of South Africa, with a student headcount of over 300,000. In 2011, 91 percent of its students were from South Africa.

UNESCO and other GNO’s initiatives have been aiding countries to obtain access to the internet to be able to utilize eLearning. Senegal and Zambia should grow up to 30 percent in the developing and deployment of eLearning. 

India and Latin America are Catching Up

With a population of over 1.2 billion in India, the customer size should grow from 370 million to 500 in 2020.  Another factor of this growth is that eLearning has also reached rural areas, promoting India’s economical and educational growth, booming the market.

One can greatly attribute much of this to India’s government work on promoting online sources and eLearning. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that eLearning is one of the “key tools for imparting education.”

According to Business Wire, Latin America is expecting to create revenues of $3 billion by 2023, a growth of more than 4 percent in the use of eLearning.

Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina have adopted eLearning and overall, revenues should reach $2.2 billion and are growing at an annual rate of 14.6 percent. The increase in these percentages of eLearning use has also been possible with the help of the increasing rise in the use of smartphones and the exchange of audio and text-based applications.

From this revenue, Brazil has been investing in eLearning to adapt it into the educational curriculum, and now 51 percent of institutions utilize eLearning. Overall, technology and innovation are at the forefront of investments in Brazilian schools.

 With the help of governments and NGOs, eLearning can help developing countries by helping education reach children and adults alike. Subsequently, this could aid the growth of country’s economies and education systems with eLearning as a key tool as more and more countries adapt to online resources, adding themselves to the eLearning market.

– Merlina San Nicolás Leyva
Photo: Flickr

E-commerce in AfricaAfrica’s recent growth in online technology has allowed the continent to join in on a new, digital economy. There are an estimated 264 start-ups in Africa as of January 2020. Currently, these e-commerce startups in Africa are active in at least 23 countries and are projected to expand into the rest of Africa.

The Importance of E-Commerce

The growth of e-commerce in Africa opens the door to new jobs. By 2025, Africa could see as many as three million jobs emerge from digital markets. These jobs would focus directly on online marketplaces, online services and other byproducts of economic activity.

Moreover, this new market will allow rural communities access goods that were previously inaccessible, helping establish the continent’s growing consumer class. According to the UNCTAD, Africa’s number of online shoppers has increased by 18 percent every year since 2014, six percent higher than the world average.

While e-commerce in Africa generates greater consumer gains, the young entrepreneur also benefits from this emerging market. Particularly, it opens the door to new revenue-generating jobs.

Challenges Facing E-Commerce in Africa

Although the future of e-commerce in Africa is bright, there are challenges blocking this booming market. Most of these are logistical. For instance, many countries in Africa lack proper national address systems. This complicates the delivery of purchased goods. Additionally, road conditions are less than ideal for deliveries. Deliveries are often delayed or canceled due to traffic jams, resulting in a loss of revenue.

Another significant challenge comes in the form of weak internet connections and an overall lack of trust in internet payment. Africa’s internet penetration rate falls at a median of 41 percent, meaning that less than half of the continent has internet access. For those who do, the absence of consumer protection makes it difficult for consumers to pay in any way besides ‘cash on delivery.’ Additionally, only 10 to 15 percent of those living in Africa have a bank account. As a result, 90 percent of online purchases are paid in cash. This, coupled with a lack of trust due to a history of scammers, complicates the success of e-commerce in Africa.

Solutions to E-Commerce Issues in Africa

Some large e-commerce players are taking steps to improve the road networks and overall infrastructure in Africa. Companies, like Jumia and Zipline, are implementing techniques in drone delivery to combat these logistical challenges. Further, Safe.Shop South Africa, a new trustmark, has worked to increase trust between consumers and online stores. Safe.Shop allows e-merchants to be verified by lawyers against South African laws and the standards of the trustmark. Once verified, the e-merchants carry the trustmark as a guarantee that their business is legitimate.

The Future of Africa’s E-Commerce

Although Africa still faces logistical challenges, the future looks bright for the continent’s role in e-commerce. The World Economic Forum supports the UN’s statistics regarding the increase of jobs by 2025. As of September 2019, the WEF created an agenda for the future of e-commerce in Africa.

This agenda highlights that seven growing internet populations are found in Africa, giving e-commerce the support it needs to grow throughout the continent. With this in mind, the WEF calls for entrepreneurs, negotiators and regulators to work together to build e-commerce in Africa. By joining forces, these actors are aiming to create jobs across the continent and to increase Africa’s presence in the global economy.

Overall, e-commerce is positively impacting Africa’s economy and infrastructure. The work being done to help standardize addresses, increase internet access and create better road networks is helping increase the continent’s standard of living. In turn, these changes are creating new opportunities for those living in Africa.

– Ariana Davarpanah

Photo: Pixabay

Illiteracy in Nepal
Nepal is a country of Asia that lies along the southern side of the Himalayas. It is a landlocked nation with a territory of just 500 miles east to west. Nepal has long experienced isolation under a series of rulers who favored isolationist policies and remained closed off to the rest of the world up until the year 1905. Today, Nepal is a country between two superpowers, India and China. As a result of this extreme isolation, it has become one of the least developed nations in the world. This underdevelopment has also led to a heavily illiterate population. Here are seven interesting facts about illiteracy in Nepal.

7 Facts About Illiteracy in Nepal

  1. Illiteracy in Nepal: As recently as 2015, Nepal had an illiterate population of 6,784,566 people. Luckily this statistic has been on a steady decline of about 2 percent every year since 1991.
  2. Literacy in Nepal: Nepal’s literate population in 2015 was at 55 percent. Although this means that just under half the population is illiterate, it is still an extremely large increase from the 1950s, during which only 5 percent of the population was literate.
  3. Women: Only 49 percent of women in Nepal are literate. The average literacy rate for women in Nepal is 20 percent lower than men. This may be a result of fewer women completing a full education than men, a statistic that is slowly becoming more equal and challenging illiteracy in Nepal.
  4. World Vision: Thankfully, literacy rates in Nepal are rising. An organization called World Vision has been working to eliminate illiteracy in Nepal. World Vision has been training teachers in Nepal to use more engaging methods to get their students more interested in reading.
  5. Reading Camps: World Vision has also created reading camps outside of school, in addition to encouraging parents to nurture a reading friendly environment in their homes so students are more willing to read. In just two years, the children involved in the program were one and a half times better at reading than children who did not attend the program.
  6. Room to Read: Another organization, Room to Read, has created a Girls’ Education Program that has helped nearly 5,000 girls in Nepal since 2001 to read and write. Children in Nepali schools with Room to Read libraries have checked out, on average, more than 16 books per student. Room to Read has been a catalyst in helping many children to appreciate reading.
  7. Five-Year Initiative: In 2016, Room to Read launched a five year initiative with the government of Nepal, USAID and the research group RTI International to improve the country’s primary grade literacy programs greatly. This initiative has the goal of changing the lives of 1 million students in grades one to three in order to combat illiteracy in Nepal.

Illiteracy in Nepal is an issue that has significantly decreased due to the actions of these, and many other programs and initiatives, all with the goal of improving literacy rates in Nepal. If it were not for groups like Room to Read and World Vision, the people, and especially the children, would still be stuck in the darkness of illiteracy.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Food Aid in Fighting World Hunger
Fighting world hunger is one of the most prominent issues activists tackle in the fight against global poverty. While famine and food shortages are a major contributor to hunger in impoverished places, they are not the only contributors. In working to lift themselves out of poverty, nations do not only lack funding, but also resources and opportunities.

If an impoverished nation has a limited set of food, it often has the dilemma of choosing between using its limited amount of food to guarantee its population meals or to export it in the hopes of generating capital and improving the country’s overall situation longterm. On the other hand, it is often difficult for a nation to maintain a healthy economy when the workers are too busy focusing on meeting their necessities.

Malnourishment in Eastern Africa

While the number of starving people decreased in the world overall in the past few years, eastern Sub-Saharan Africa still holds most of the world’s undernourished population. In this region, 30.8 percent of the population still suffers from a food shortage.

Eastern African countries like Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sedan and Tanzania have a primarily agriculture driven economy with coffee, cut flowers, tea, tobacco, fish and vegetables being its main exports.

In the East African Community (EAC), up to 44 percent of the GDP comes from agriculture, with 80 percent of the region’s population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Producing food is not the problem itself, as having an agriculture-centered economy means that there is enough food to sustain an economy. However, when a bad season destroys a harvest, food prices suddenly soar as a result. This happened to Kenya in 1984 when a drought caused a food shortage. It previously grew food both for consumption and export, keeping pace with a growing population. When this happens, the people who are more reliant on this harvest as an accessible food source cannot afford it. Developed countries can afford to purchase these exports at inflated prices, though they are not reliant on them as their main food source.

The Weight of the Developed World

The developed countries are not ignorant of developing country’s food stability or quality of life and will often try to send direct food aid to assist hungry nations. When wealthier countries do try to help in the form of sending food aid, though, sometimes they wind up unintentionally causing more damage in the longterm.

Sending food aid to malnourished countries to help with fighting world hunger might help the starving population in the short term, but it does nothing to triage the bleeding infrastructure that exacerbated the food shortage to begin with. Reliance on food aid can depress the prices at which farmers sell locally grown crops, hampering production if no one buys what they are producing, which can further cripple the local economy in the long run.

World Vision

While there are some drawbacks with direct food aid, there are other means of aid that developed countries can send in addition to food. Investing in the country’s infrastructure so that farmers know how to grow more food more effectively can help protect them from food shortages if a poor growing season hits. Providing resources for impoverished countries to set up schools can allow the population to move away from a purely agricultural economy, and allow it to cultivate a more diverse one. This can, in turn, create more jobs for the people to earn an income with.

World Vision works to end global poverty and improve the welfare of families, women and children through long term programs and education. In Burundi and Rwanda, World Vision has been fighting world hunger by providing improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers, while also connecting them with markets to encourage turning a surplus of food into an income.

In providing individuals with access to credit and loans via Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), the community can meet day-to-day needs while also supplementing other income-generating projects.

World Vision institutes and trains savings groups, who strive to help families within the community save money. World Vision also creates non-agricultural job opportunities.

Successes

As of 2017, more than 1,600 VSLAs’ stabilized the lives of 100,000 children. This means that 7,385 hungry children gained more than 400 grams due to health programs. Around 4,560 farmers trained in agricultural sustainability in Burundi whereas 20,244 did in Rwanda in both 2016 and 2017. In 2017, 22,522 farmers had the resources they needed to grow their crops while 14,611 farmers did in 2016 and 2017. The number of World Vision-created savings groups grew to 6,831 with 107,159 members, while the organization created 2,230 non-agricultural jobs.

As a result of World Vision’s work in Rwanda, families went from making $15.01 per month to $42.20 from non-agricultural endeavors. Around 73.5 percent of adolescents reported having sufficient food, which was a 32 percent increase from 55.5 percent in 2014.

In Kenya, World Vision works closely with the government, abiding by the Kenya Health Policy and the National Food and Nutritional Security Policy to encourage maternal, infant and young child nutrition, agricultural and livestock nutrition and education in nutrition.

A focus on productivity, sustainability and education can help a lucrative economy take root, and the proper guidance on how to maintain it can create a solid foothold for the nation to maneuver out of starvation and poverty.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Treat Cattle with Diseases
More than 500 million Africans gain money to support their families through the practice of small scale farming. As a result, healthy cattle are crucial because they offer meat, milk and labor. Keeping cattle healthy is critical to farmers who are trying to earn a living. However, many farm animals die every year in Africa from preventable diseases, especially in Ethiopia, which has the largest population of livestock in Africa. VetAfrica, a mobile app that first debuted in 2014, provides tips to farmers on how to diagnose and treat cattle with diseases.

Who Does it Reach?

VetAfrica tackles diseases in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda because more than 80 percent of people in those countries work in farming. Some diseases that the app included are anaplasmosis (a disease that tick bites cause) and fasciolosis (a parasitic worm infection).

How Does it Work?

There are three main parts to the app: VetAfrica Mobile, VetAfrica Hub and VetAfrica Expert. VetAfrica Mobile gives information about disease symptoms to farms in order to educate them about how to identify them in their cattle. It also allows farmers to share data with other farmers to spread awareness and possible paths to treat cattle with diseases. VetAfrica Hub is an online website to sort and evaluate data that farmers upload to the app. Through VetAfrica Hub, farmers and health care specialists can learn about cases of cattle diseases and be aware of possible disease outbreaks. VetAfrica Expert lets medical professionals add information to the app about possible diseases.

Criticisms

One of the main criticisms of VetAfrica is that many Africans cannot use it because they may not have access to a smartphone or WiFi. To address the problem, VetAfrica creators designed the app to work offline. Proponents for VetAfrica also explain that purchasing a smartphone to use will provide various benefits to farmers outside of just saving their cattle, such as educational tools for their children.

Successes

The VetAfrica app has diagnosed more than 2,000 cases so far and 80 percent of the app’s diagnoses matched those of professional veterinarians. The app also helped farmers find quick diagnoses and treatments for their cattle, improving the quality of life and overall lifespan and productivity of their cattle. Data that uploaded to the VetAfrica database also helped spread the word about possible disease outbreaks to health care officials.

Overall, the implementation of VetAfrica to treat cattle with diseases has drastically changed the lives of East African farmers. The app provides a new perspective to farmers about cattle diseases, allowing them to be more knowledgeable and active in keeping their cattle healthy. VetAfrica, an app that is saving cattle from diseases every day has brought a newfound sense of economic prosperity to East African farmers.

Shveta Shah
Photo: Flickr