Information and stories on development news.

Water Quality in Myanmar
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a nation with 32.1 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to 2015 data.

Accessing water in Myanmar has always been difficult, despite the country’s natural resources. It once was recognized to have the fourth-richest supply of groundwater in the world, holding more than 19,000 square meters per capita. This is 16 times the available levels of Myanmar’s neighboring country, Bangladesh.

A typical summer season in the last few years would introduce water shortages in only central Myanmar, but now, deforestation – as a result of urbanization – and hot temperatures contribute to water shortages in other additional areas of the country, leaving hundreds of thousands in danger.

However, recent changes to the water system have significantly improved water quality in Myanmar:

Fixing the Irrigation Systems

Myanmar’s agriculture industry provides jobs for 60 percent of workers, so it is crucial that irrigation systems are functional. In the past, Myanmar struggled with irrigation upkeep and water distribution, so The Pyawt Ywar Pump Irrigation Project stepped in to improve irrigation infrastructure, reform water management and provide education to farmers. Since its implementation, farmers and the government have worked together to make sure water distribution is fair and regulated, and farmers have learned how to use land efficiently to increase crop growth. The agriculture industry has improved as a result: the gross domestic product for agriculture increased from 12,316,081.8 MMK mn to 13,964,771.2 MMK mn in just five years.

Purifying Wastewater has Increased Access to Water

Proctor & Gamble’s Children Safe Drinking Water program and World Vision teamed up to give Myanmar residents a tool to clean non-potable water: a powder mixture invented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The powder transforms 10 liters of contaminated water into clean, drinkable water in just half an hour, providing a day’s worth of resources for a five-member family. This means that poor families living in Myanmar can purify water from rivers and streams instead of spending a lot of money on bottled water. P&G has helped with improving Myanmar’s water since 2008, and the water purification tool has helped 200,000 people gain access to safer water.

Decreasing Illness

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, is a common occurrence in Myanmar because of people’s tendency to collect water in their homes. Stored water attracts mosquitoes and creates a large breeding ground for the disease. Myanmar is labeled as a high burden dengue country, and citizens take preventative measures by learning how to protect their water against mosquitoes and to keep their spaces dry and clean. In 2015, there were 42,913 cases of dengue, but after a year of water education and awareness, the number dropped to 10,770.

Looking Ahead

Access to clean water has increased in the last 15 years, but there is still more to be done. In 2000, 47.31 percent of citizens in rural areas had access to potable water, and that number has increased to 59.85 percent as of 2015, but it is still low. The Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene plans for universal access to water by 2030, and improving water quality in Myanmar may be achieved with increased awareness and action.

Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

 

child poverty in spain
Since the end of Spain’s economic recession in 2014, the country is the largest grower in the EU, with a GDP almost twice that of the average European country. Despite a six-year recession that impacted both the entire population and other countries in the Eurozone, the economy seems to have recovered. However, despite Spain’s economic recovery, the rate and likelihood of children in poverty have increased exponentially. Curiosity arises as to how an issue like poverty could arise in a country as developed as Spain.

The Problem

The rise of child poverty in Spain despite the recovery of the economy seems counterintuitive. However, studies show that one in three children are likely to be impoverished or socially excluded, according to the EU’s latest figures. As the results of their studies show, Spanish children are not only encumbered by a lack of income, but also lack of socialization, meaning that child poverty in Spain is multidimensional; this means a lack of proper education, nutrition, future employment, and social time on top of the financial crisis that has remained in many middle and low-class families despite the national economic recovery. Impoverished families are unable to prevent their children from reaching the same fate because the turn of the recession has resulted in a job market that provides no opportunity for even the most qualified candidates.

This issue is most dominant in middle and low-class families, and the middle class is already dangerously small. The trademark economic concept of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is true in the Spanish socioeconomic classes and results in the stretching and thinning of the middle class. These larger socioeconomic effects are only symptoms of child poverty in Spain. The reason why the focus of the recession is on children is that they are the most at-risk demographic; when parents are impacted, it extends to their children.

The Larger Issue

Child poverty in Spain has adverse effects on the rest of society, including senior citizens, young adults, and parents. The growing number of impoverished children puts pressure on the social pension systems that account for one of the fastest aging populations in Europe. Children trapped in poverty will grow to be adults who remain reliant on social and governmental assistance. Many young adults avoided higher education due to attractive employment opportunities before the recession, leaving a large population of eager, unaccredited workers in a job market that no longer needs it. Because of the lack of opportunity in the job market, parents are reliant on unemployment benefits or the pension of their parents.

Effects of The Problem

Because child poverty in Spain is a multidimensional issue, the effects correspond to their complexity. In terms of education, Spain has experienced a drop out rate 23 percent higher than the EU average since the beginning of the recession in 2008. In general, Spain’s dropout and unemployment rates are high, specifically among those of disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

Studies show that even very brief bursts of intense poverty can impact child development for the rest of their lives. Economists and child development specialists predict that if this poverty persists, the adults of the future will have been stunted in their development due to their reliance on pensions.

What Is Being Done?

Even Sevilla, the fifth most populated city in Spain and a huge tourist destination, falls victim to increasing child poverty rates. There are many gaps in the welfare system that are unaccounted for, which are essential to the development of children. For example, because of limited monthly income but the need to continue to feed their children, families are buying enough food for everyone, but without the necessary nutrients for developing bodies. As such, children in Spain aren’t necessarily hungry, they are impoverished. So, NGOs like Save the Children fill in the gaps in children’s diets by providing nutrient-rich meals.

Save the Children works in several domains that benefit the needs of at-risk or impoverished Spanish children, including nutrition, health and education. By filling in the dietary and academic gaps in these children’s lives, their families will have some security. In 2014, Save the Children reached 14,889 children and 5,635 adults through programs that combat educational poverty, social exclusion, and workshops that prevent the issue from furthering. The hope is that as the recovery continues, economic reform will result in a balancing of socioeconomic classes and the disparity will vanish. Until then, NGOs like Save the Children will continue to try and cover up the remaining holes in the system left by the recession in the hopes that the children they serve will grow up to lead a generation where poverty is the exception, not the expectation.

Hope for The Future

Child poverty is a major issue because these children will grow up to be the leaders of their nation. The increased rate of child poverty in Spain is an alarming problem that is fueled by an economic crisis and a weak social infrastructure. Child poverty in Spain is different than in other countries. Spanish children are not poor in the traditional sense. They are fed and have access to education. The nature of poverty is more nuanced than a lack of resources. Children in Spain are fed, yet malnourished, have access to school, but often drop out. The other key issue is the lack of socialization among peers. However, with NGOs like Save the Children who provide programs to areas in need, this issue can perhaps be alleviated. With directed efforts towards these specific problems and programs that are tailored towards the specific nature of these issues, child poverty can be eradicated, securing Spain’s future prosperity.

Andrew Yang
Photo: Flickr


Nearly 63 percent of people living in Africa lack internet access. In contrast, 11 percent of North Americans, 13 percent of Europeans and 48 percent of Asians lack internet access. In response to this issue, Africa50, an infrastructure investment organization, has launched an innovation challenge asking for modern innovators to submit their original ideas on how to provide internet to under-served areas in Africa.

The Africa50 Innovation Challenge began May 14, after it was announced at the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda the same month.

The submitted solutions will be piloted in Rwanda, which Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé said was the ideal place to implement and test the solutions.

Rwanda: A Country Evolving in ICT

Ebobissé described the country as having a thriving Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) sector. Cooperation between the challenge and the co-development of the Kigali Innovation City, a project Africa50 invested $400 million in 2018, is evidence of this ICT boom.

Rwanda has increased its internet access to 29 percent, as of 2019. The increase is a marked improvement compared to the less than 1 percent who had access in 2000. This development can, in part, be accredited to the National Information Communication Infrastructure (NICI) policy the country adopted in 2000.

The policy defines four separate stages of increasing internet and communication in Rwanda. The country has already prepared the ICT groundwork and is currently in the fourth and final stage; enhancing the infrastructure and improving the service delivery.

The goal of the final stage is to increase technological skills, develop the community and private sector and enhance the government’s use of the internet and cyber-security. The policy is planned to end in 2020.

The ideas will be implemented more broadly across the continent once the pilot phase in Rwanda is complete.

Winning Criteria and Perks

The judges will be looking for six main criteria in the proposals submitted to the Africa50 Innovation Challenge:

  • Innovation and originality
  • Ability to be implemented on a large scale
  • Affordability for both implementors and consumers
  • Sustainability for the environment
  • Readiness to be piloted in Rwanda
  • Adaptability of the solution for a variety of circumstances

The finalists will be announced mid-October and they will present their solutions at AfricaCom the following month.  Those selected will be announced at the 2020 Transform Africa Summit, but the organization does not specify how many winners will be chosen.

The winners will be awarded a cash prize or project development funding, connections to investors and exposure as an innovator.

If these solutions are implemented, economic growth and job creation are a few of the newfound benefits that may come to these countries. Companies can grow and have an improved role in the competitive market if they have access to the internet.  As a result, these solutions allow them to reach more consumers, labor pools and raw materials, according to a 2012 report by the International Telecommunication Union.

ICT Progress in Other African Countries

There will certainly be interesting proposals from this year’s Africa50 Innovation Challenge entries,  but there are already solutions that have worked in other African countries.

For example, Kenya has had a considerable jump in their internet speed and bandwidth — which increased 43 percent from 2016 to 2017. This increase can be attributed to the National Broadband Strategy for Kenya. Additionally, Nigeria has increased its number of internet users from 72 million in 2017, to 92 million in 2018.

Nigeria’s fiber network, 21st Century, is partnering with Google Station and anticipates the installation of 200 Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2019, according to Fortune.

Africa50 aims to spread high-speed internet and improve opportunities for those living in under-served communities, whatever the solution.

– Makenna Hall
Photo: Flickr

NEPADThe New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) aims to reduce poverty through sustainable development and empowering women. In 2001, African Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted NEPAD. A year later, the African Union ratified the framework for pan-African socio-economic development.

In 2008, the United Nations drafted a resolution to ensure that the Member States were committing to addressing and assisting with the developmental needs of Africa. The resolution includes specific recommendations on addressing and implementing these commitments.

Main Goals of NEPAD

There are six “themes” to these recommendations, and since the implementation, several changes have been made, significantly improving life for millions across Africa. The themes and some of their benefits are as follows:

  1. Improving agriculture and food security- At the 24th summit of the African Union, held in 2014, NEPAD committed to doubling agricultural productivity on the continent. At the same summit, NEPAD launched the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance. This program aims to help 25 million farmers learn about sustainable agricultural practices.
  2. Managing natural resources NEPAD has given $1.2 billion to help preserve land in Africa. Since the launch of this partnership, half of all African countries have pledged to conserve and protect at least 10 percent of their land. This helps provide environmental stability in various regions. In fact, two-thirds of African countries have either completed an action plan to ensure environmental stability or are in the process of completing it. This will lead to a decrease in natural disasters and hope for integration and infrastructure.
  3. Integrating the region and expanding infrastructure- NEPAD has given over 70 grants to improve transportation, energy, technology, and water management. The plan is to connect Niger, Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso, as well as Burundi and Rwanda, Benin, Togo and Ghana, Kenya and Uganda and many more. This would make it significantly easier for states to interact with each other and exchange goods.
  4. Increasing human development- NEPAD is investing in improving access to health care and treatment of HIV/AIDS. This is being facilitated by making information about the diseases more readily available and by providing nevirapine, a life-saving medication for prevention and treatment of the diseases. The future of Africa lies with its children, therefore it is critical to improving access to education. NEPAD is working to redistribute government funds ensuring that children and schools remain a priority. It also aids in equipping schools with clean water and sanitation systems.
  5. Protecting economic growth and fair governance- Over the past decade, several diverse partners have joined in efforts to improve the African economy. Since the implementation of NEPAD, African economies have begun receiving significant financial aid globally. Aid comes from countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China, Korea and Turkey. The Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg and Norway are huge supporters of NEPAD. These countries invest 0.7 percent of their gross national income towards U.N.-led development efforts. NEPAD has set the standard that 70 percent of the population in any given African country must view its governments as impartial and free of corruption.
  6. Assisting with cross-cutting issues (like creating gender parity, capacity development and technology)- sub-Saharan Africa was reported to have some of the lowest rates of gender parity in the world. However, NEPAD implements programs focusing on reforming laws, making education more accessible to women and women, social and economic justice. Through these programs, thousands of women have become politically active and aware in all areas of their lives. In addition, thousands of aspiring scientists have been able to receive a higher education thanks to NEPAD funds. This is critical to the future of the continent, as increasing knowledge of technology can allow for cut back on reliance on natural resources; therefore allowing them to compete with more developed nations.

Charlie Fiske, a former officer with the Peace Corps, praises the efforts of NEPAD, especially in its investments in infrastructure. However, he also stresses the importance of expanding upon these efforts. Fiske told The Borgen Project, “NEPAD is an excellent start to creating sustained stability in Africa, but it’s not nearly enough. I cannot stress enough how important it is to provide aid to the people of Africa. There are over a billion people on that continent, a billion lives that could be just drastically improved by some simple funding.”

– Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr

United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act
On July 15, 2019, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act. The bill, announced by New York Representative Eliot L. Engel and Texas Representative Michael McCaul, seeks to provide greater safety and security for the Northern Triangle countries. The highest volume of immigrants from South America come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. It is the hope of the United States Congress that increasing aid and promoting a stronger economy and sense of security in these nations will address the root causes of the current migration crisis. This bipartisan legislation outlines several ways the United States may assist the Northern Triangle nations.

Details About The Bill

Firstly, the bill details a five-year program which focuses on economic development, the strengthening of democratic institutions and anti-corruption efforts. Because the insecurity of these countries’ economies is driving so many to seek refuge in foreign nations, enhancing market-based internal solutions for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is a priority of this plan. Furthermore, it will implement institutions and programs that will allow these places to remain resilient in the wake of frequent natural disasters.

In order to support the integrity of the democratic institutions of the Northern Triangle, this bill intends to provide support to ensure free, fair elections and the continuation of an independent media. This measure is to prevent the spread of political propaganda and to make the democratic process accessible to all.

This bill includes many measures to support and fund anti-corruption efforts, which is so important when so many migrants from these countries are leaving to escape the prevalent gang violence. It provides support for such efforts as faith-based organizations for at-risk youth. Many young people have no choice but to engage in violent gang activities in order to protect themselves or their families.

Funding From The United States

The United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act is allotting $577 million dollars in monetary aid to these three countries for the 2020 fiscal year but includes strong conditions as to how the countries must use the funding.

The bill also includes measures to protect the safety of not only those native to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador but also the many American people who have concerns regarding immigration into the United States. The act calls for visa bans and asset freezes for corrupt individuals in an effort to halt some of the corruption in government and drug trafficking which are making these nations unsafe.

This bipartisan legislation will also provide increased support for development efforts in southern Mexico. The hope is that there will be more peaceful relations between Mexico and the Northern Triangle nations to diminish some of the reasons for the mass exodus from these countries.

Lastly, Congress has mandated that the State Department and USAID provide reports regarding the root causes of migration in the Northern Triangle countries after the implementation of the United States’ aid. The bill mentions some of the root causes including drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, corruption, gender-based violence, gang activities and the forcible recruitment of children into gang activities. These reports will allow Congress to determine how aid from the United States and the implementation of social services has altered the social and political climate of the Northern Triangle.

A Promising Victory

With so much ever-heightening concern regarding the immigration crisis, the unanimous, bipartisan passing of the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which the Borgen Project supports, is a victory for the current state of poverty amongst immigrants. If this bill officially becomes law, it is the hope of Congress that the United States’ assistance and aid to the Northern Triangle countries will target the many causes of immigration and allow people to remain in their homes with a sense of security.

– Gina Beviglia
Photo: Flickr

 

improvingsierraleonesurbanmobilitySierra Leone is a country in Western Africa that borders the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains four pronounced physical regions: the coastal swamp, the Sierra Leone Peninsula, the interior plains and the interior plateau and mountain region. Currently, about 62 percent of people in Sierra Leone live in a rural area. These villages center most of their economic activity around rice farming while Sierra Leone as a country obtains most of its economic growth through mining, primarily iron ore. By improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility, the country will be able to increase its economy.

Many of these villages, as well as the country itself, are still recovering from the civil war that dismantled many of their institutions. In the 1980s, the government of Sierra Leone initiated a program to modernize their road system, which had been used as a railway until 1975. However, the new road system was also a victim of the aforementioned civil war. Organizations like the World Bank are improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility by improving infrastructure.

The Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project

On June 13, 2019, The World Bank introduced the Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project for Sierra Leone. Their objectives are to “improve quality public transport, address climate resilience, improve road safety in selected areas and enhance institutional capacity in the transport sector.” The Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project is comprised of five main sections:

  1. Modernization and Professionalization of Public Transport Services: This section will “focus on Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) in the sector”: This section will include a bus fleet renewal scheme with private operators in order to make improvements upon the current informal operator system as well as a bus to school program. The World Bank will be providing technical assistance to strengthen the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, improve capacity building and training for transport operators and install ancillary facilities.
  2. Strategic Resilient Mobility Investments: These investments will be used to “improve access, climate resilience and road safety.” With this section, the World Bank hopes to improve the connection to international markets and the ferry for pedestrians and vehicles. It also plans to improve road conditions, drainage capacity, traffic management, signalization, parking and more while taking into account the country’s strategic city plans.
  3. Building Human Capital and Institutional Capacity: Here, the aim is “to promote public transport reform and operationalize the MFD agenda.” This section focuses on enhancing logistics and strategies for the country in the long term. The World Bank plans to improve road safety and road safety databases, enhance climate resilience by assisting pre-existing sectors as well as improve academic capacity, women’s empowerment and citizen engagement.
  4. Project Management: This sector aims to improve funding for “goods and services to support project management, financial auditing, data collection, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and operating cost.” This section will also aid in refining project management, social and environmental safeguards, grievance redress mechanisms, response to sexual exploitation and abuse efforts and mitigation of gender gaps.
  5. Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC): CERC will “enable the rapid reallocation of funding among project components following an emergency.” With a CERC, the World Banks hopes to strengthen disaster preparedness, both natural and manmade, and strengthen the response to conflicts, epidemics and economic shocks.

The Freetown Urban Transport Authority

One way to improve urban mobility in Sierra Leone is by improving infrastructure in the country’s capital, Freetown. The World Bank is working with Adam Smith International, an award-winning global company that specializes in the delivery of projects that improve economic growth and government reform initiatives. They created a six-month project in line with the current Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project, which will improve urban mobility.

Together, they developed a fully integrated mobility plan that updates regulation and planning in the urban center of Goderich and Hastings. It will work to create the Freetown Urban Transport Authority. They are working to rebuild and refurbish new and existing infrastructure to make it more sustainable and improve the roads in Freetown, the Capital of Sierra Leone.

As a country with an initially weak infrastructure and poor economy, Sierra Leone has struggled to adapt its foundation to modern needs. As a country with a higher percentage of rural areas than urban, Sierra Leone has had trouble with their transportation system. However, organizations such as the World Bank and Adam Smith International are working towards improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility in order to provide more functional and safer streets and easier access to economic and travel centers.

Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

Five Facts About China’s Poverty Alleviation ProgramChina has contributed to more than 70 percent of poverty reduced globally, making it one of the countries with most people lifted out of poverty in the past four decades. China has also recently become one of the leading nations in poverty reduction efforts by implementing a poverty alleviation program. Here are five facts about China’s poverty alleviation program.

Five Facts About China’s Poverty Alleviation Program

  1. Main Goals: China’s main goals for this program are to address issues such as food security and clothing, compulsory education, basic medical care and housing. It wants to solve these issues by 2020. Additionally, by 2020 it wants to have a zero percent poverty rate in rural areas. Furthermore, the government wants to increase the income growth rate for farmers while also solving the regional poverty problem.
  2. Implementation of the Program: In order to achieve its goals, the government has focused on developing the economy through local industries, combating corruption within the poverty alleviation efforts and making changes to the education and healthcare systems as well. The Chinese government has registered the poor population in order to target the specific regions that need help the most while also tracking the progress being made. By targeting specific regions and having the entire poor population registered, the Chinese government can provide assistance to certain households or individuals. There are five parts of the poverty alleviation program which are being implemented to raise more people out of poverty and those are industrial development, relocation, eco-compensation, education and social security.
  3. Progress being made thus far:  As of 2019, more than “700 million people have been lifted out of poverty” according to the country’s national poverty line of $1.10 a day, which is more than 70 percent of the world’s poverty reduction efforts. When using the poverty line of $1.90 a day more than 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty between the years of 1981 and 2013. In 2016, more than 775,000 officials were sent out to different rural areas within the country in order to further development and aid the poor-stricken people living in the less-developed parts of China. This has proven successful given that, after this tactic was employed, the population living in rural areas that were still affected by poverty dropped to 30.46 million people. Additionally, the poverty incidence was also reduced to 3.1 percent. Although great progress has been made far ahead of the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, China must still raise an additional 10 million people out of poverty in order to reach its 2020 goals of zero percent poverty.
  4. Citizens’ living conditions: China has worked closely with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to improve its citizens’ living conditions. It has done this by providing a better social security and welfare program which covers unemployment, pension, medical care, employment injury and maternity for urban employees. Additionally, this program includes what is known as the “Dibao,” the minimum living guarantee program, which ensures that even the poorest residents in either urban or rural areas would be supported by the government.
  5. Global impact: China’s poverty alleviation program is not only a domestic policy but also an international policy. It has benefitted many developing countries around the world. The Chinese government has provided about 400 billion yuan ($59 billion) in aid, which has benefitted 166 countries and international organizations. Additionally, more than 600,000 aid workers were sent overseas to contribute to the poverty-reduction efforts. China has also pledged $2 billion to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation in order to support developing countries to reach the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result of China’s poverty alleviation program, people countrywide are overcoming the challenges of poverty. Not only is the percentage of poverty globally declining because of China’s efforts but people are also thriving. China is the only country worldwide to have improved its citizens’ living conditions to such an extent in such a short period of time.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Countries That Escaped From PovertyEradicating poverty from a country can be a difficult and daunting task, but it is not impossible. Some countries are able to develop solutions that bring their economy and their people out of disastrous living conditions. Here is a list of five countries that escaped from poverty and created a better future for their citizens.

5 Countries that Escaped From Poverty

  1. Ghana: In 1990, this small West African nation had a GDP per capita of $1,900 with a poverty rate of 52 percent. By 2018, their GDP had reached an all-time high of $4,211.85 and their poverty rate was cut to 21 percent. Their extreme poverty rate also dropped from 35.6 percent to 18.2 percent within the same time. How were they able to do this? The country focused on educating its citizens to be a well-educated workforce. This allowed them to industrialize and put people in charge that had the knowledge and resources to succeed. Agriculture was the main area of employment back in 1990, but with a diversification of the economy, they were able to boost other sectors to create more jobs. This included the manufacturing and exportation of technological goods and mining that helped them become one of the top producers in gold in the world.
  2. Norway: Having the highest standards of living in the world is not an easy feat. The GDP per capita of Norway as of 2018 is sitting at $8,1807.20, the highest in the country’s history. But they haven’t always had this success. Norway was once one of the poorest nations in the world. During the turn of the 20th century, the Northern European nation’s economy was reliant on agriculture and fishing industries. When these began to fail, hundreds of thousands of Norwegians began to leave the country to escape from poverty for economic opportunity elsewhere. It wasn’t until after World War II that Norway’s economy began to trend upward. The United States provided aid to the country that was ravaged by the fighting and they used the aid help kick start their battered economy. Once oil was discovered off their shores in the North Sea in the 1970s, their economy flourished and they have been consistently trending upwards ever since.
  3. Singapore: The small city-state of Singapore gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965. It was a rough start for the people and their economy. The country’s GDP per capita stood at $516 and more than 70 percent of the people lived in the slums with half of the population unable to read or write. Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister at the time and he installed reforms that were very successful for the people of Singapore and their economy. He began by revamping the education system and creating a workforce that was highly skilled and well trained. To bring in foreign investment, Singapore developed an attractive tax system that is one of the lowest in Asia. This would bring in shipping and manufacturing businesses to their shores. With the influx of money and a rise in the economy, they were able to improve the infrastructure and housing of the country that gave a boost to the standard of living. The country’s escape from poverty has been a success, as Singapore’s current GDP per capita is $57,714.30 as of 2017.
  4. Bolivia: Once regarded as one of the poorest nations in South America, landlocked Bolivia is now a rapidly growing economy. The country’s poverty rate plummeted from 59 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015, while at the same time extreme poverty dropped from 38 percent to 18 percent. The recent success of Bolivia can be contributed to the policies of the current leader Evo Morales installed to fight poverty. He implemented price controls over the products being sold in Bolivia such as food and gasoline so the poor could properly afford these items. While this didn’t create jobs, it did increase spending and allowed the economy to grow. Morales also created a pension of $258 to go towards those aged 60 and up to allow the elderly to escape from poverty.
  5. South Korea: After years of Japanese occupation and the end of the Korean War, South Korea’s economy was suffering in the 1950s. South Korea was not an industrialized nation and the main focus of its economy was agriculture. In 1960, South Korea’s GDP per capita was $79, which changed once General Park Chung-hee took charge of the country. Chung-hee implemented a five-year plan in 1962 that industrialized South Korea, creating jobs for the people. Companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG would receive economic incentives, such as tax breaks, to help grow their businesses. South Korea also took advantage of U.S. economic assistance in exchange for letting the United States military keep troops in the country. Today, South Korea is a thriving economy, and as of 2017, enjoys a GDP per capita of just under $30,000. In addition, the country now accounts for $56 billion of U.S. exports, indicating a strong return on the $5.6 billion of aid invested decades ago.

Being able to rid a country from the grips of poverty involves a certain level of risk and ingenuity. Whether it’s by using the resources in their country, receiving foreign aid from other countries or changing their economic system, these countries that escaped from poverty show it is possible.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Vanuatu
Vanuatu is a small nation located in Oceania, a region near the South Pacific Ocean. It is an archipelago nation made up of approximately 80 islands and is best known for its touristy capital, Port Vila. Much like many developing nations, issues are living conditions are not black and white. Instead, they are rife with complexity and nuance. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Vanuatu.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Vanuatu

  1. First on the list of top 10 facts about living conditions in Vanuatu is that it is comprised of more than 80 islands, many being volcanic islands, covering more than 1,300 kilometers.  Vanuatu’s population is estimated to be 299,882 people. Most of the islands are not close in proximity, and dangerous waters and unpredictable weather make travel between the islands difficult. This creates problems with securing access to vital places, such as hospitals, especially for people who do not live in Port Vila. Vanuatu’s vast geography also hinders government delivery services because access to the smaller islands is limited. Remote villages are the primary standard of living as citizens have discovered the best habitable locations and resources in this volcanic nation.
  2. Homes on the islands of Vanuatu are primarily made of branches, grass and leaves woven together to provide good protection from frequent heavy rains, but they can be unstable in more severe weather conditions.  Certain natural disasters, such as tornadoes, can cause these homes to be stripped away completely. This especially became clear after Cyclone Pam hit the Vanuatu islands in 2015. 90 percent of Vanuatu’s buildings were destroyed, including many homes.  Many people were left homeless after this natural disaster hit. Many of the islands are still in the process of rebuilding after the effects of Cyclone Pam.
  3. The economy is agriculture-based.  Therefore, most citizens of Vanuatu earn their living through means such as small scale farming. Agriculture is Vanuatu’s biggest industry, and 75 percent of its population depends on it for a living.  The domestic sales of agricultural products are not as strong as exportation sales. When Cyclone Pam hit the region in 2015, approximately 64.1 percent of Vanuatu’s GDP was heavily impacted since most of its crops were damaged or destroyed from the cyclone.
  4. The beef industry is one of the most popular and profitable industries in Vanuatu.   In fact, Vanuatu is the only Pacific country capable of exporting beef. The GDP percentage of animals is only six percent.  While beef is not the main meat consumption product in Vanuatu; pork is, it is the most well-known and lucrative agricultural item exported from the small country.
  5. Since rainwater and freshwater sources are the basis of survival on these islands, the nation makes maintaining reliable and clean water a priority. However, clean water is not always easy to access. For example, Tanna is one of the most inhabited islands of Vanuatu, but it has trouble getting and sustaining clean water. Recently, a pilot project was developed that converts sunlight, air and rainwater into freshwater that is drinkable. ADB and Zero Mass Water created and implemented the solution by installing 20 solar panels with safe drinking-water technology.  Each solar panel provides three to five liters for a total of approximately 100 liters of clean water each day. Vanuatu citizens with no direct access to a clean water supply system are being aided by the implementation of this project.
  6. In March 2015, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu hard. Eleven people were killed, and the cyclone caused major damage to homes and facilities such as hospitals, schools, etc. The damage caused by this cyclone showed Vanuatu’s fragility when it comes to natural disasters. Multiple aid agencies, especially from New Zealand and Australia, were quick to donate money to Vanuatu in order to help them recover from the destruction. Since then, Vanuatu has continued to receive disaster aid funds.
  7. Australia is a major economic partner of Vanuatu and has recently donated around $66.2 million for developmental assistance. With Australia as it’s biggest financial partner, Vanuatu has become more financially stable. Australia also provides plenty of tourism (which is one of Vanuatu’s biggest markets). In addition, in 2016, Australia committed to a support program to help the residents of Vanuatu handle issues associated with climate change. Australia pledged 300 million dollars over four years to the Pacific region to respond to and prepare for natural disasters and climate change.
  8. The Ministry of Climate Change and Natural Disaster has recently launched an initiative that aims to give Vanuatu 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. This plan is known as the Nationally Determined Contribution. Vanuatu is hoping that this initiative will be the first step in mitigating climate change within its own land.
  9. Education faces limitations in Vanuatu because schooling is not mandatory.  Only 60 percent of children graduate to secondary school. School is taught in either English or French. The literacy rate is only 64 percent, but most of the literate citizens are under age 35. In remote island locales, schools can be temporary structures built from wood and leaves and are affected by storms and weather conditions. Since education has not experienced major improvements, organizations such as the Vanuatu Education Support Program was created in 2012 to better the education system. It aims to provide support for the Ministry of Education and Training’s corporate plan and the Vanuatu Education Sector Strategy. One of the solutions includes “improving literacy and numeracy from kindergarten to year 3.”
  10. The health care system in the Vanuatu islands suffers from a lack of facilities and qualified staff.  There are five public hospitals and one private hospital for the 80 plus islands. Two are on the modernized islands of Port Vila and Luganville. The doctor to patient ratio is 8/10,000. If someone is in dire condition, they often are flown to other countries such as Australia or New Zealand which can make an emergency situation more complicated and dangerous.  All pharmaceuticals are imported from other countries.

This concludes the top 10 facts about living conditions in Vanuatu. This archipelagic nation is very independent and allows its citizens to choose how they want to live, but, due to the structure of a nation of small islands, this way of life comes with setbacks.  The citizens of Vanuatu have seen some small improvements in their way of life, and with the positive aspects of this country, improvements can continue with the right steps.

Haley Saffren
Photo: Flickr

 

town planning and poverty

Also known as city or urban planning, town planning is an interdisciplinary and dynamic field that seeks to understand how policies change in response to community needs, population growth, lifestyle changes and the needs of a changing population. Contemporary urban and regional planning techniques for survey, analysis, design and implementation developed from fields such as architecture, civil engineering, public health, economics and geography to further comprehend the welfare of people, control land use, design urban environments and enhance the natural environment. Urban areas will house 70 percent of the world’s population by 2050, getting town planning right is vital to ensuring that future areas are safe and resilient places, especially for the poorest of residents.

A Multi-Faceted Approach

Planning has and will play an important role in improving the quality of life in urban areas. It is also a critical support for tackling poverty. With its potential to expand accessible services and economic opportunities, informed city planning can help regenerate connection among persons, bring public health amenities and promote social justice. It should not be forgotten that the planning movement sprang from the public health movement and the Victorian slums in the 19th century. Planning went beyond the basic drive to deliver more homes in a sanitary environment to include community design and social separation. Thereby offering people a better way of life after both world wars.

Nevertheless, in order for planning to focus on poverty eradication, Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association said, “Planners must have the skills and opportunity to increase their understanding of places and how their work affects how people live their lives.”

How Does Town Planning Eradicate Poverty?

Different factors contribute to determining poverty levels in deprived neighborhoods such as unemployment, high housing costs, low education, health inequalities and low level of participation in public life. Despite the social separation that the planning movement has brought about, proper planning policies have the ability to bring about the interconnectedness between municipalities and authorities to reduce the social and spatial differences between people and groups. For instance, by decreasing the distance at which rich and poor individuals live with one another, URBinlusion has shown that social stability can be increased as well as the competitive power of cities.

Town Planning in Calicut, India

In Calicut, India, a city with a population of 437 thousand, people depend on the city for employment, education, healthcare and commercial needs. Along with municipalities, the Asian Development Bank has identified poverty reduction as a key sector for development. With a shortage of land for low-cost housing, social exclusion of the poor from decision making and increasing incidences of crime, a poverty reduction program that focuses on sustainable city development was implemented. By 2020, Calicut will be slum-free.

Sustainable town planning is the backbone of poverty reduction through slum improvement in Calicut. They did so by improving basic infrastructure and services in all slums, improving shelter conditions and improving human resource capability of the urban poor. Interventions included expanded coverage of ongoing poverty alleviation programs and strengthening and capacity building of local NGOs.

Town Planning in Caloocan, Philippines

Similar can be said about Caloocan, Philippines, a city with a population of over 1 million. Of this total population, 23 percent is unemployed. In 2002, the city government, along with many urban planners, launched a City Without Slums (CWS) Program that aims to provide low and middle-income families an opportunity to acquire decent housing at affordable costs.

The CWS program was launched with the support of the World Bank and U.N.-Habitat. It has led to the expansion of resources for the urban poor by improving the coherence of effort among on-going urban programs in Caloocan. The program is committed to improving the living conditions of the urban poor by promoting City Development Strategies (CDS) and city-wide slum upgrading.

Town Planning in Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is a key economic area of central Vietnam with a population of 740 thousand persons. 80 percent live in the urban area. Nevertheless, substandard housing penetrates through the city of Da Nang.

Therefore, the Asian Development Bank along with the government and city planners aim to develop new infrastructure and upgrade their water supply system to promote stable urban management. Apart from this, they have launched programs focusing on poverty reduction and hunger eradication, through more jobs and appropriate solutions to pressing social concerns such as subpar health services. The city is currently facing budget constraints on their development, however, it is certain that their urban areas will be free from slums and promote social good for its citizens.

These examples of town planning and poverty display the benefits of a positive relationship between these two social factors. Town planning done right can contribute significantly to the worldwide fight against poverty.

Monique Santoso
Photo: Flickr