Information and stories on development news.

Poverty in HaitiWith a population of more than 10 million, Haiti faces high levels of poverty. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. More than half of all Haitians live on less than $2 a day and about one fourth live on less than $1.25 a day. However, things are looking up thanks to these nonprofits fighting poverty in Haiti.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP)

Founded in 2007, HFAP originally focused on child sponsorships and providing food for the elderly. However, it expanded and opened an elementary school in Port-au-Prince in 2008. This school brought infections and illnesses to the attention of the organization. As a result, HFAP opened its first medical program in 2009. It trained local nurses and provided the children with needed medications. In 2010, HFAP opened both an orphanage and a women’s job creation program called “Gift of Hope” to fight poverty in Haiti.

HRAP’s founder, Mallery Neptune, runs HOPE House with her husband Frentz. Hope House is an orphanage that looks after and cares for abandoned Haitian children. It provides food, education, medical care, love and attention. HOPE House was originally established as a toddler and infant care center, helping malnourished, wounded or orphaned children recover and return home. HRAP also reaches out to the mothers of these children when possible. They can enroll in Gift of Hope so that these children can return to stronger and healthier families.

Gift of Hope is a program to give mothers in poverty reliable skills and income to help them provide for their children. It currently employs 70 Haitian women, providing them with an income that is “at least three times the minimum wage” in Haiti. It is helping prevent the cycle of poverty by creating jobs that keep the women out of poverty and their kids out of orphanages and off the streets. Gift of Hope also works with local artisans; all purchases on the online shop go toward helping empower women and strengthen families in Haiti.

REBUILD globally

Julie Colombino founded Rebuild globally when she visited Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to help with disaster relief. The organization has evolved drastically over the years. What started as disaster relief led to education and eventually job training. “The transition came out of necessity as I was learning the truths behind the poverty in Haiti,” Colombino told The Borgen Project. “I learned that education wasn’t just enough to be sustainable in a country like Haiti where the unemployment and under-employment rates were nearly 80 percent.”

Education is necessary, but it does not have as large of an impact on a country if there are no jobs available to provide Haitians with a much-needed income. So, REBUILD globally works to provide both an education and a job to those in need.

The Elèv Education Program provides students with full scholarships to attend school, covering the costs of books, uniforms and tuition. Students not only receive full funding for their education through Elèv but have access to mentoring programs and personalized tutoring. It is still a small program since it sees children all the way through their schooling (most of whom attend university afterward) and gives them a guaranteed job at their for-profit counterpart Deux mains. However, Colombino expressed her desire to reach out to more regions and counties in Haiti. The Elèv program has educated more than 300 students and provided 15,080 hours of tutoring.

The Lavi Job Training Program prepares Haitians for the workplace. With the lack of businesses and available positions, REBUILD globally decided to focus on what it could control and curate. Colombino stated that this allowed the organization to give those in the program “a 100% guarantee…[that] there would be a dignified, living wage job waiting for them.” Since every Haitian enrolled in their job training program is promised a job at Deux mains, the training is very specific to the craftsman’s work within the factory. The program has helped those enrolled see a 92 percent increase in food security and a 53 percent average decrease in debt.

Haiti Partners

John Engle and Kent Annan founded Haiti Partners in 2009. It helps provide education to Haitians so they can help their country grow and thrive. Engle had moved to Haiti in 1991 and started developing programs then along with their other Haitian and American staff members. The education programs being put to use had been in the works for more than a dozen years prior. Haiti Partners’ goal is to provide a new approach to education as their way of fighting poverty in Haiti.

Haiti Partners opened the Children’s Academy and Learning Center in 2012. It provides both a quality education and a “working model of education-centered community development.” It educates both the children and their parents, who attend adult education classes, community savings and loan groups or contributes to service hours. Haiti Partners seeks to become a model for Haiti’s Ministry of Education and other schools in the country, in hopes of reshaping how Haitians are being educated for the better.

USAID believes that education is necessary “for sustained social and economic development,” which is why it is often a focus of nonprofits. More than 85 percent of the schools in Haiti are run by NGOs and communities. It is no wonder that these nonprofits are fighting poverty in Haiti by improving education.

Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Improving Roads in TajikistanAlthough officially established in 1924, Tajikistan is host to one of the richest and most diverse cultures in the world given its unique geographic location and history. Trade and travel were historically central to Tajikistan’s culture and development, but many roads have been neglected.

Located in Central Asia, the country is neighbored by China to the east, Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west and Kyrgyzstan to the north. Tajikistan has evolved immensely from ancient times when nomadic tribes roamed the country, becoming a major center of commerce and trade in the Central Asian region.

The Silk Road was an abstract trade route traveled frequently by merchants from Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, India and the Far East throughout the Middle Ages and the European Renaissance. It passed directly through many Central Asian countries. Tajikistan was no exception. One of the Silk Road’s most northern routes passed through the Pamir Mountains in what is now modern-day Tajikistan, offering travelers the safest possible route through the “Roof of the World.”

Neglect, Gangs and Corruption

But decades of neglect have led to dilapidated and very dangerous roads in Tajikistan, while governmental abuses and gangs add additional strain on these important transportation routes. In rural areas, hazardous dirt or gravel roads stretch on for many miles before connecting with the nearest paved highways. Rural mountain passes – of which there are many due to the country’s rugged terrain – are also closed for roughly six months during the winter and early spring due to a number of dangerous conditions, including frequent avalanches, mudslides and large rocks falling on the road. Gangs are also known to lie in wait to prey on travelers while corrupt traffic police also inhibit efficient and unimpeded travel along highways and rural roads. The so-called traffic police regularly allow government vehicles by yet pull over others arbitrarily under the pretense of inspecting registration. They often wrongfully deem these cars unfit to drive or claim they are unregistered, forcing travelers to pay a bribe in order to continue on their route.

The Pamir Highway

The Pamir Highway is one example of a Tajikistan highway that has been consistently neglected. While much of the road is paved, most of the mountainous passes it stretches through are unpaved and untended. The passes are closed in the winter months because of the avalanches and other prohibitive driving conditions, and the minimal oversight allows the gangs to inhabit these areas.

The highway becomes especially dangerous as it approaches the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, where the road elevates to as much as 2,800 feet above sea level. Due to a lack of oxygen at these altitudes, many travelers report altitude sickness and lightheadedness, a particularly precarious situation given that there are no guardrails along cliff-drops. Road maintenance teams are also slow to respond to any widespread damages, which are often left in disrepair for indefinite periods of time.

Effects on Rural Populations

As of 2016, 73 percent of Tajikistan’s population lived in rural areas. These people depend on the dilapidated rural roads to access education, health care, food and other tools/supplies, meaning that their lives are put at risk on a regular basis. More broadly, this stifles Tajikistan’s economic development and discourages investment in the country. Economic issues hurt the poorest people most of all, and Tajikistan’s continued infrastructure underdevelopment makes it extremely difficult for rural populations to earn a living and access the necessities of life – as is the case in many developing countries.

Efforts to Improve Roads and Infrastructure

However, outside influencers are trying to improve the poor condition of roads in Tajikistan. Neighboring China has begun investing in updating the country’s poor infrastructure to improve trade inter-connectivity across Central Asia. Within the past decade, the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) financed and constructed the Dushanbe-Chanak Highway.

The highway spans the length of the country from north-to-south and has given many rural areas the means to access other parts of the country in a safe manner. The road is entirely paved and stretches from Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, to Uzbekistan’s southern border. It has provided the country with stable bridges that span previously dangerous crossings and cuts through mountains, meaning that travelers no longer need to risk their lives driving around them on dangerous dirt roads.

The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative to better connect Asia and spur further development and growth of Central Asia. As of June 2017, China has invested $2 billion into Tajikistan, according to the China Global Television Network.

The Future

Foreign investment initiatives such as China’s are part of the solution to improve infrastructure and roads in Tajikistan, which will spur additional economic development and provide more opportunities for rural populations. Newly paved highways that now connect the outer reaches of the country to urban centers will increase commerce both within the country and with neighboring nations. Safer infrastructure will also spur foreign investment from multinational corporations that can bring jobs and technological advances. With further improvement to infrastructure and roads in Tajikistan, the country may well see itself become a center of commerce once again.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Wikimedia

HYDRO IndustriesWater is essential to life, but unfortunately, there are people all over the world who do not have access to clean water. Pollution, poverty and weak infrastructure are often the causes of a lack of clean water. The world’s poor population has often been obligated to travel great distances in order to get clean water. Dirty water often leads to unsanitary conditions and the spread of disease. Thousands die each year from diseases due to a lack of clean water. Fortunately, a company called HYDRO Industries has a new way to provide water to those in need all over the world.

HYDRO Industries

HYDRO Industries is partnering with BRAC, one of the biggest non-governmental organizations in the world, to bring clean water to Bangladesh. BRAC was founded in Bangladesh, so this is their way of giving back to the community. In Bangladesh, five million people lack access to safe water, and 85 million people do not have access to proper sanitation. The current setup is not working well enough, so a new way to provide water is needed. The two organizations plan to begin their operation in Bangladesh in the spring of 2020.

HYDRO Industries will provide its products and BRAC will use its connections with local communities to establish the water treatment plants. The project aims to help around 25,000 people in the first phase and then continue to improve their product and increase the number of people they are serving. HYDRO hopes to expand all over Bangladesh and neighboring Nepal and India.

How Important is Clean Water?

  • Almost 800 million people do not have access to safe water
  • Two billion people don’t have a good toilet to use
  • A child under five dies every two minutes because of dirty water and poor toilets
  • Every minute a newborn dies because of infections from an unsanitary environment and unsafe water
  • For every $1 invested in clean water, there is a $4 increase in productivity
  • Every day, women around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water
  • Almost 300,000 children under age five die annually from diarrheal diseases

The world’s poor population sometimes has to spend hours looking for clean water. If the water is no longer a worry, they will have more time to be productive and focus on their economy. Clean water also reduces the likelihood of disease. Better health and productivity can result in a better community in the world’s poorest places.

What Does HYDRO Do?

HYDRO is a Welsh tech company that creates innovative water treatment plants that can treat water and raise it to drinking standards. The company also uniquely treats the water. Instead of using chemicals to purify water, they use electric power, which makes the entire process more sustainable and effective than chemical-based purification.

Bangladesh is not the first place that HYDRO is planning on helping. In fact, the organization has already provided clean water to multiple poverty-stricken areas around the world. In 2016, HYDRO provided clean water for 82 East African villages. There the water treatment plants provided locals with 8.5 million liters of water every day.

Finding a new way to provide water to those in need is important to work. HYDRO Industries has an innovative method that could potentially help millions of people around the world. Using electric power, HYDRO’s water treatment units can provide water at levels above western standards. Clean water is such an immense benefit to people all over the world. Clean water helps people fight disease and death. Providing a consistent and clean source of water close to people’s homes makes communities more productive and provides a better chance of reducing poverty.

Gaurav Shetty
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

Economic Growth in BangladeshBangladesh, a diverse and culturally rich nation located in South Asia, is known for its beautiful green scenery and numerous waterways. It is currently the 8th most populous country worldwide. When it first became an independent country in 1971, Bangladesh was incredibly poor with 82 percent of the population living below the extreme poverty line. At the time, the country experienced a negative rate of 14 percent; political tensions were high and the nation was continuously devastated by famine and flood. Today, the situation is much different.

Growth on Many Fronts

Bangladesh now has an average economic growth rate of 8 percent, well above the regional average growth rate of 5.5 percent. In the first quarter of 2019, Bangladesh was the 7th fastest growing economy in the world, with a real GDP growth rate of 7.4 percent. Notably, between 2008 and 2017, per capita income in Bangladesh has increased by 149 percent helping to boost human development indicators for the country.

Bangladesh’s remarkable economic growth has raised a significant portion out of the population out of poverty. The poverty rate of Bangladesh fell from 48.9 percent in 2000 to 24.3 percent in 2016 and the proportion of employed workers living in extreme poverty dropped from 73.5 percent in 2010 to 14.8 percent in 2016.

Contributors to Economic Growth in Bangladesh

With a combination of progressive social policies and economic reforms, Bangladesh has been able to attract a large number of foreign investment and find new markets, resulting in a thriving economy despite the world’s stagnating state.

Bangladesh’s economic liberalization, successful adaptation and modernization policies have allowed the country to compete in the global market place and attract foreign investors. Net foreign direct investment rose by 42.9 percent, concentrating on the power, food and textile sectors.

The Garment Industry

The success of the garment industry is one contributor to strong economic growth in Bangladesh, accounting for 84.2 percent of exports in the country. Growth in garment exports increased from 8.8 percent to 11.5 percent in 2018, reflecting strong demand from the U.S. and newer markets like Canada, Japan, India, China and Korea.

Despite continued success in the garment sector, it is risky to rely on a single industry for the majority of exports. Bangladesh is aiming to diversify its export basket, increasing competitiveness in other sectors as well. The Export Competitiveness for Jobs project, supported by World Bank Group, is an example of the effort Bangladesh’s government is taking to increase diversity in exports. 

Empowering Women

Additionally, Bangladesh has taken serious steps to empower women with efforts from non-governmental organizations such as Grameen and BRAC as well as the government to educate girls and give women a greater voice in both households and society. These efforts have helped to improve children’s health and education, which are key indicators of economic development. Additionally, the authority promotes lending to small and medium-sized enterprises as well as women entrepreneurs, introducing policies that promote economic inclusion, creating more active transactions and other economic activities.

Moving Forward with a Vision

Since 1975, Bangladesh has been listed by the U.N. as one of the least developed countries (LDCs) but has recently met the criteria to graduate from that status by 2024, which is a sign indicating the country’s capability to enable sustainable development. The government has its own agenda to become a middle-income country by 2021, celebrating the nation’s 50th birthday.

Thanks to sound economic policies, rapid modernization and progressive demographic development, Bangladesh is now able to build an economy that can successfully thrive in a volatile world. With the right policies and timely actions, Bangladesh is on the trajectory to achieve its “Vision 2021”.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

How Bangladesh Reduced Poverty
Bangladesh is a country of 159 million people in the Bay of Bengal next to India. Bangladesh struggled with poverty and economic problems after gaining its independence in 1971. However, the country has recently seen economic growth along with a steady decline in poverty. How Bangladesh reduced poverty holds lessons for other countries and one can attribute it to a variety of factors.

Investing in Public Services

In the past six years, Bangladesh has lifted 8 million people out of poverty. The rate of extreme poverty fell from 17 percent to 13 percent, and the overall poverty rate declined from more than 31 percent to 24 percent. Bangladesh has also made great strides in education, health, infrastructure and energy. Primary school enrollment rates have risen from 80 percent in 2000 to more than 90 percent in 2015, and secondary school enrollment has increased from 45 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2015. This jump in education heralds a bright future ahead as Bangladesh invests in its youth.

In terms of health care, the country has achieved an amazing 40 percent decrease in maternal mortality rates, as well as ensuring that 63 percent of pregnant women received maternity care from a trained medical professional in 2015, up from 53 percent in 2007. Bangladesh has also improved its infrastructure by building new roads and water pipelines. People now have better access to schools, health facilities and workplaces, and the pipelines have increased access to drinkable water in rural areas. Lastly, Bangladesh has added over 2,000 megawatts of energy to the national grid and provided solar energy capabilities to over four million households in remote areas. These improvements help households go about daily activities and provide more consistent access to the internet for individuals and businesses. All of these improvements help explain how Bangladesh reduced poverty and may serve as an example for other countries.

Implementing Special Economic Zones

Bangladesh reduced poverty and increased its GDP and living standards thanks to the government’s decisions and international aid. The creation of special economic zones that encourage foreign investment was one major factor in Bangladesh’s economic growth. These zones ensure legal protection and fiscal incentives for investors and allow freer movement of goods and services. These policies make these zones in Bangladesh a safe and profitable place for foreign companies to invest.

Currently, garments and textiles are Bangladesh’s biggest industries, but it is expanding into technology as well thanks to these economic zones. For example, Bangladesh exported 12 industrial robots to South Korea in 2018. While Bangladesh currently has 12 special economic zones, there are plans to create 100 special economic zones and technology hubs to foster future growth. This investment creates jobs and brings money into the economy. Bangladesh is currently trying to direct that new money into new businesses and build the country’s service industries.

The International Development Association

In addition to government policy, the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) were also crucial to Bangladesh’s improving fortunes. Many of the country’s achievements in infrastructure, health, energy and education have come with the help of IDA financing. The IDA has given Bangladesh over $28 billion in grants and interest-free credit. This funding has been crucial to the country’s recent accomplishments. The combination of IDA funding and special economic zones has given Bangladesh the jobs and infrastructure needed to pull themselves out of poverty. International aid has been a crucial factor in Bangladesh’s development.

Bangladesh has made remarkable strides in both economic growth and quality of life. Economic policies that encourage foreign investment and help from the IDA both help explain how Bangladesh reduced poverty in the last decade.

– Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

Technological Advancements in Africa
Technology
plays an important role in a nation’s modernization. Through health, communication and economical advances, all nations benefit from the inclusion of tech. The world’s leading nations are also synonymous with technological innovations, emphasizing the effect and power of focusing on technological integration with society. Promoting technological advancements in Africa has benefitted them greatly. 

Looking at the Numbers

Africa has seen a dramatic spike in mobile phone users from 330,000 in 2001 to 30 million users in 2013. However, the first piece of technology that has made a large impact and that one can consider a mark of technological advancement in Africa is the internet. In 2014, Africa Renewal, a United Nations magazine, concluded that the main issue in technological penetration of Africa would be in the rural South African regions outside of the scope of major cities.

However, the data that Pew Research showed that in six African countries, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, internet usage increased by 2 to 16 percent from 2013 to 2017, leaving South Africa the highest at 59 percent. This data shows that even if the median percentage usage, 41 percent, is not nearly as high as more developed nations like the U.S.’s 89 percent, sub-Saharan countries are still increasing in internet usage.

Pew Research has shown that younger people are the ones utilizing the internet more. From Tanzania to South Africa, 34 to 75 percent of people aged 18-29 utilize the internet. This group of users is breathing life into technological advancements.

One such case is Peter Kariuki, a Kenyan native, who recognized the growing issue of road accidents in Africa. Road accidents are now the eighth leading cause of death in all of Africa, at 1.35 million deaths in 2016, beating tuberculosis. Peter Kariuki has created CanGo (formerly SafeMoto), a ride-sharing app that links a user with a safe and experienced motorcyclist in the hopes of lowering the rate of traffic accidents 

CareAI

Outside influence has trickled into Africa. One such influence comes in the form of the European Commission and CareAI. CareAI is a computing system that can diagnose diseases anonymously using blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized growing list of records or blocks that cryptography links.

Malaria, typhoid fever and tuberculosis are some types of diseases that CareAI can test and identify and can do so in an anonymous manner. This anonymity allows migrants, minorities and those without health care to receive the diagnosis without the fear of others outing or persecuting them. The next step after the diagnosis is for CareAI to prescribe an individual with a prescription through an NGO, a nonprofit organization that operates independently of any government or even an NGO doctor. 

M-Pesa

Technological advancements in Africa have helped regions connect via the internet and mobile devices. Widespread use of the platform has increased communication and facilitated technical improvements that improve internet connections.

An offshoot of this connectivity has brought an age of innovation, such as the app M-Pesa which acts as a digital wallet that allows for remote withdrawals without having to visit a bank. With this increased acceptance of technology in Africa, outside organizations have begun to invest in helping Africa, such as U.S. company Zipline. Zipline’s partnership with Rwanda delivers blood and plasma via drones. Technology has aided Africa’s ascent to modernization and will keep improving as long as innovation exists.

With health care innovation, Africa can easily provide medical attention to those living in remote areas. The increasing connectivity of African society benefits not only the welfare of the nation but computer media connections. Outside of health care, technological advancement in Africa has improved manners of access to finances, ridesharing and social media. Africa has taken a step in the right direction in focusing on technological improvements, and people can provide assistance through the African Technology Foundation with its mentorship or partnership programs that focus on providing the education and resources necessary for technological advancements in Africa.

– Richard Zamora
Photo: Flickr

poor in Myanmar
Agriculture is Myanmar’s most important sector and provides jobs for more than 60 percent of the population. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, decreased its poverty rate from 48.2 percent in 2005 to 24.8 percent in 2017. One of the reasons for this huge reduction in poverty is its transition from a military-led government through economic reforms and development in sectors such as agriculture, finance, transportation and energy. The poor in Myanmar reside mainly in rural areas, and have poor education and employment in the agriculture field. By developing the agriculture industry, the government intends to continue to reduce its poverty.

Developing the Agriculture Sector

A 2018 report launched by the Central Statistical Organization, with technical support from the UNDP and the World Bank, provided data on poverty in Myanmar and what the country needs to do to continually reduce poverty. The report acknowledged the success of reducing the poverty rate in half, yet brought up challenges in alleviating poverty in rural areas such as the Chin State. The Chin State is a state in western Myanmar with about a 60 percent poverty rate. Approximately 500,000 live in the Chin State. Since the poor in Myanmar have employment in the agriculture sector, the key findings show that the country can achieve poverty reduction by focusing its efforts on improving agricultural productivity.

Myanmar is the second-largest exporter of beans and pulses and the ninth-largest exporter of rice. In 2016 and 2017, Myanmar exported agricultural products worth more than $3 billion, yet productivity was less than neighbors such as Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Low productivity has stalled poverty reduction in areas such as Chin State due to relying on crops that are expensive to maintain and less profitable than most other crops that endure the same climate.

How Exactly Can Myanmar Reduce Poverty?

Findings from a separate report delved into even greater detail about what Myanmar needs to do to improve agricultural productivity, and therefore, increase income for the poor in Myanmar. The report, Myanmar: Analysis of Farm Production Economics, stated that a single day’s harvest during the 2013/2014 monsoon season produced 23 kg per paddy. In comparison, Cambodia produced 62 kg, Vietnam 429 kg and Thailand 547 kg per day. Reasons for lower production of paddy than Myanmar’s competitors include poor seed quality, insignificant use of fertilizers and a lack of infrastructure.

The conclusion to the report mentioned the need for broad-based agricultural development, as most farmers in the country produce paddy and not much else. Paddy is more expensive to produce and less profitable than other crops in the region. A lack of infrastructure further impedes progress and causes farmers to seek employment in distant urban areas for higher wages. The poor in Myanmar could benefit from diversifying into low-cost crops, especially ones that can handle the typical monsoon weather that the country experiences.

Investors Taking Action

The government and private investors are currently investing in Myanmar’s agriculture sector, particularly the growing fertilizer sector. Myanmar Awba Group received a $10 million loan from the International Finance Corporation to construct a chemical plant that will produce fertilizer. The Hmawbi Agricultural Input Complex opened in August 2018 and is expected to meet 50 percent of the demand for fertilizer in Myanmar. The demand for fertilizer has increased in the country, attracting investors from across the world. The Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation invested $18.5 million in a fertilizer facility in the Thilawa SEZ.

Myanmar is also dealing with infrastructure, low productivity and poor seed quality this year, 2019. In January 2019, CITIC Corporation collaborated with Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation (MAPCO) to invest $500 million into constructing high-end rice mills and agribusiness service centers across Myanmar. Ye Min Aung, the Managing Director of MAPCO, said, “The establishment of the high-end rice mills will boost both the local and export market.” Thanks to foreign investors and government initiatives, Myanmar is seeing action in poverty reduction by focusing efforts on improving the agriculture industry.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Health Care in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a country in South Asia that borders Myanmar, India, Nepal and Bhutan. In 2019, the country’s estimated population was about 163 million people. Additionally, the country’s economy has shown an increase in exports and remittances in 2019. According to the World Bank, the country’s extreme poverty rate has reduced by half but people still consider it a developing nation. The country’s under-five mortality rate has declined in recent years as well as its maternal mortality rate. There has been an increase in malnourished children and lung diseases, however. There has also been an increase in health and safety in workplaces. Organizations both in the country and worldwide are helping to increase health care in Bangladesh.

5 Organizations Improving Health Care in Bangladesh

  1. World Health Organization (WHO): Based in Switzerland, WHO is a United Nations agency that focuses on international public health. In Bangladesh, the company provides medical aid such as vaccinations, medical research and alerts on medical outbreaks and emergencies. It also helps develop health policies, as well as monitor illness and disease trends in an attempt to prevent outbreaks. By offering these resources, the World Health Organization is improving Bangladesh’s health faster than before, which the organization’s research shows. The organization’s research shows that in 2018, 94 percent of new or relapse Tuberculosis cases received treatment, compared to around 60 percent in 2008. By introducing advanced medical techniques to the country, vaccinations and monitoring, WHO has been able to decrease the number of individuals who die from the illness.

  2. Bangladesh Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE): Bangladesh’s Ministry of Labor and Employment runs this organization and is responsible for the safety of factories, workplaces and their employees. Its job is to ensure the welfare, safety and health of all workers in Bangladesh. It ensures this by enforcing the country’s labor laws, as well as constantly updating policies to ensure employee safety. The organization has three departments including the Labor Department, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments and the Department of Trade Union Registration. By breaking the organization into smaller departments, workplace health and safety has improved, as well as the number of businesses in the country. This increases jobs as well as job security because there is less fear of injury or illness from the workplace.

  1. Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh: The World Health Organization has established the Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, which is a volunteer-based organization. HR experts, researchers, scientists, clinicians, nurses, sociologists and other health science experts lead this group. The goal of the group is to conduct research and provide education that will develop the Bangladesh health in both society and health care systems. The organization aims to improve health care access to Bangladesh citizens by making health care more affordable and easily accessible for individuals below the poverty line.

  1. World Lung Foundation: Established in 2004, the World Lung Foundation aims to increase global response to lung disease, an illness that kills around 10 million individuals annually. In 2017, lung disease made up 8.69 percent of the country’s deaths, which equals up to 68,462 people. The organization is decreasing the number by providing programs in Bangladesh, as well as emphasizing tobacco control, the negative effects of air pollution and how lung disease leads to illnesses such as Tuberculosis and acute respiratory infections. By educating Bangladesh citizens, Tuberculosis, maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped.

  1. USAID: A U.S. based agency, USAID has set up programs to help improve health and nutrition in Bangladesh. Because of this, the organization has helped decrease the under-five mortality rates, as well as maternal mortality rates. USAID has also expanded the use of family planning, improved and integrated health systems into Bangladesh, as well as strengthen the health care system and government. This leads to overall better access to health care, healthcare policies and better health practices.

Bangladesh’s extreme poverty rate has reduced by half, but the country’s population has been rising. With an undesirable health care system, organizations such as WHO and USAID have helped the country’s overall health improve, and has also decreased mortality rates. The DIFE and Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh have ensured the safety and health of individuals in the workplace and in society. Also, organizations such as The World Lung Foundation bring awareness to some of the leading mortality rates.

– Destinee Smethers
Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act
Malala Yousafzai is a Noble Peace Prize laureate. After surviving a Taliban encounter, she wrote the memoir, “I Am Malala.” She advocates for education and against discrimination.

On September 26, 2019, Hakeem Jeffries introduced the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. Communities of Pakistan and the United States have aligned with Malala’s text, principles and initiatives while many support her opinions on terrorism and poverty. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act intends to ensure that young adults and Pakistani students live without fear of discrimination, and can successfully garner an education.

The Malala Yousafzai Act

There are government programs that guide access to education throughout the diaspora communities of Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is pushing for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support education initiatives for all in Pakistan, but in particular, for women and children. In Pakistan, approximately 22.8 million children under 16 are not enrolled in school. There is a significant gender disparity too as boys tend to outnumber girls.

This is the main reason for the Malala Yousafzai Act and Congress intends to uphold the very nature of equality. The purpose of the bill is to enhance opportunities for women to obtain a scholarship. If the bill passes, USAID will leverage the number of scholarships available to women in Pakistan.

Rurally, Pakistani women face many obstacles. The development of health, nutrition and the overall labor force is a determinant in the education of women. Issues such as early marriage, transportation and societal pressures as housewives prevent women from enrolling in higher education. The World Bank states, “The benefits of education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. More educated women also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty.”

The Malala Yousafzai Act continues to mitigate discrimination and gender inequality. Malala Yousafzai frequently discusses the war on terrorism and how violence is a harsh reality for the vast majority of Pakistani women. These women continue to face seclusion and exclusion on the basis of patriarchy. Terrorists actively threaten girls and women to remove them from advancement opportunities in higher education and the public sphere.

Conclusion

For her 16th birthday, at the United General Assembly, Malala said, “So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Currently, Malala is a student at the University of Oxford. She is studying politics, economics and philosophy. She continues to engage with women from across the globe, inspiring emerging adults to voice opinions. Anyone can make a direct impact by sending an email to Congress via The Borgen Project. For more information on how to advocate for the bill, visit here.

– Zach Erlanger
Photo: Flickr