Information and stories on development news.

Poverty in Guinea-BissauGuinea-Bissau is a small West-African country with a population of fewer than 2 million. It is bordered by Senegal to the North, Guinea to the East and South and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. The country gained its independence from Portugal in 1974. Since then, its political history has been marked by continuous instability and frequent coup d’états. Moreover, Guinea-Bissau, suffers from high levels of poverty, economic fragility and a dire lack of medical and nutritional resources, ranking it among the poorest nations in the world. Here are five key facts about poverty in Guinea-Bissau.

5 Facts about Poverty in Guinea-Bissau

  1. Poverty in Guinea-Bissau is a widespread issue. In fact, more than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line. This figure was slightly less but still high at 50% in 1991. Poverty in Guinea-Bissau disproportionately impacts women and children, specifically those between 15 and 25 years of age.
  2. The country faces a high risk of infant mortality. At 4.75 children born per woman, Guinea-Bissau ranks 17th in the world in terms of fertility rates. Similarly, the country has high maternal and total infant mortality rates at 667 deaths per 100,000 live births and 51.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively.
  3. Agriculture is a primary, yet relatively unprofitable industry. Guinea-Bissau’s economy heavily depends on agriculture, yet lacks other critical infrastructure. Though the country is rich in unexploited mineral deposits and offshore oil, cashew production constitutes 80% of its exports. In addition, 82% of the labor force works in agriculture, leaving very little development prospects for the industrial and service sectors. A weak legal system, corruption and a turbulent political climate also contribute to the country’s position as a transit location for cocaine trafficking from South America to Europe.
  4. An alarming amount of children suffer from malnutrition. Approximately 27.6% of the country’s children under five are stunted, and low birth weight rate registered at 21.1% in 2015. A significant portion of adult women also suffer from anemia. Further complicating health conditions is the country’s comparatively high HIV prevalence rate of 3.3%. It also has a low hospital bed density rate of 1 bed per 1,000 people.
  5. Guinea-Bissau suffers from poor educational outcomes. In particular, illiteracy is strikingly high: nearly 71% of women and 45% of men over 15 years of age are illiterate. Schools in the country are continuously threatened by teacher strikes and flooding. In the 2016-2017 school year, for instance, strikes in primary schools resulted in 92 lost teaching days.

Fortunately, organizations such as UNICEF continue to work to improve living conditions in many areas of Guinea-Bissau. For instance, in an effort to address malnutrition and poor health outcomes among the children of Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF has been working closely with the country’s Ministry of Health. This can clearly be seen through UNICEF’s provision of Vitamin A and deworming supplements for children under 5. In the area of education, UNICEF in partnership with other organizations, led efforts in training schoolteachers and school inspectors in coordination with the country’s Ministry of Education, targeting indications like education quality and retention rates.

Despite its strategic location and natural resources, Guinea-Bissau remains far below its economic and social potential. Poverty in the West-African nation has clearly constrained its ability to make tangible progress in several developmental indicators. To alleviate the long-term implications of its political instability, food insecurity, and child health among others, it is essential that poverty in Guinea-Bissau remains within the focus of international aid and development initiatives in the future.

– Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

Dairy Farming in KenyaDairy farming is a competitive business worldwide. Small and large scale dairy farmers alike face similar obstacles—slim margins, a fragile product and a decreasing market. Kenya produces 5 billion liters of milk every year and the dairy industry accounts for 5%-8% of the country’s total GDP. This large proportion of GDP means that innovations in dairy farming offer significant potential to improve the livelihoods of thousands. In light of this economic fact, new industry actors are emerging to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

EASYMA 6.0

Finding reliable buyers is a difficult task. In many cases, Kenyan dairy farmers are forced to sell to local traders that pay unfair prices. When the digital scale and supply chain system EASYMA 6.0 was introduced in 2014, however, conditions for dairy producers improved. In collaboration with USAID-funded programs, Kenyan tech agencies developed and deployed EASYMA 6.0 into local communities.

The process of EASYMA 6.0 starts with farmers weighing their milk at designated buyer collection centers. Producers then get an automated receipt as well as an immediate advance. This system ensures that farmers receive fair compensation for the quantity of product they supply. Ultimately, this innovation makes it easier for farmers to earn a fair living wage.

In addition to providing security in payments, EASYMA 6.0 also enhances transparency and record-keeping within the dairy industry. As a result, more than 22,000 Kenyan dairy farmers now have access to farm extension services, financial products and even livestock insurance through EASYMA 6.0.

Mazzi Milk Jug

Although a seemingly small and simple issue, spoiling milk can lead to large losses for dairy farmers in Kenya. Spoiled milk can lead to huge losses, negating much of the hard work performed by farmers. Without viable ways to fix the issue, farmers will continue to lose a valuable part of their productand, thus, their incomesevery year.

In developing countries, safely delivering milk and dairy products is the hardest challenge farmers face. Small-scale farmers produce 80% of the milk in Kenya. Due to small-scale farmers’ insufficient access to quality storage and refrigeration, a significant amount of milk is spoiled during delivery. This struggle prompted the development of Mazzi, a durable and inexpensive jug that prevents spills and slows curdling.

Traditional jugs, or jerry cans, leave dairy products vulnerable to contaminants that cause spoilage. Additionally, traditional jugs are also fragile and very hard to clean. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation worked with Global Good and Heifer International to find one key solution to this issue: Mazzi.

Mazzi is a 10-liter reusable plastic container that prevents spills, limits contamination and is easy to clean. Mazzi has a wide mouth that allows farmers to use two hands during the milking process, ultimately increasing productivity. The invention also has a detachable black funnel that enables farmers to determine whether cows have udder infections, as well as a stackable lid that helps with transport and makes the product easy to clean.

The Mazzi jug will only cost $5, compared to competitors priced around $30. By increasing incomes through improved yields, this inexpensive innovation is transforming dairy farming in Kenya and improving the lives of farmers in the process.

MyFugo

Many farmers rely on the dairy industry to make a living, yet Kenya has not adopted technology to improve yield. MyFugo is a software application that is projected to increase milk production in Kenya by helping farmers monitor their cows in real-time. Allan Tollo, the app’s founder, explains that “the app helps the farmer monitor his cows throughout the day enabling them to tell what time their cow will be on heat for it to be served at the right time.”

The MyFugo technology operates by using a Smart Cow Collar. Farmers place the device on their cows and receive notifications on their smart devices of the exact time their cow is in heat. Farmers can increase milk production by reducing the calving period by more than six months. This innovation eliminates prevents farmers from missing cow fertility dates, decreases calving intervals and lowers feeding and treatment costs.

The app is free to use, but the collar costs $150. Although expensive upfront, animals will produce more calves in their lifetime leading to higher milk production, increased revenues and greater economic stability for dairy farmers in the long-term.

MyFugo has registered 8,000 farmers already and is constantly working to grow its user base. The app can track animals at any location, as well as identify their risk of disease. Farmers also gain easier access to veterinary doctors and loans. With many small farms traditionally lacking access to veterinary care and financial loans, this innovation offers the potential to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

Broad Impact

Many farmers are reluctant to embrace new technologies that challenge traditional farming techniques. However, these innovations are steadily transforming dairy farming in Kenya and creating unparalleled opportunities for farmers to earn a successful living. With new technology and easy access to records, dairy farming in Kenya is traveling a new road toward lasting progress. The successful integration of technology in Kenya’s dairy farming industry demonstrates the potential of future innovation in the agricultural industry at large.

Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr

jewelry rebuilds economy in cambodiaCambodian artisans are turning the same brass once used to murder into a symbol of peace and resilience, a stand against the violence that once overtook their country. Artisanry and design have deep roots in Cambodian history. However, the Khmer Rouge destroyed centuries of creative artifacts and left Cambodia’s economy in shambles. Cambodia is now littered with bombshell casings from the Khmer Rouge-led Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War and a bombing ordered by former U.S. president Richard Nixon. But jewelers are reclaiming their nation through craft, turning these casings into beautiful pieces of jewelry as a stand against the violence that overtook their country. Their jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia and reduces poverty along with it.

What Was the Cambodian Genocide?

April 17, 1975 marks the dark day that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge began destroying the Cambodian people. Pot’s goal was to rebuild Cambodia in the image of Mao’s communist model in China. However, this led to the murder of an estimated two to three million people in the historic Killing Fields. Between the murders and thousands of starvation deaths, 25% of the Cambodian population died in three years.

This loss devastated the country’s creativity culture, leaving a mere 10% of artists alive. The Khmer Rouge also banned all creative art forms that did not politically benefit them. In addition, the regime destroyed all of Cambodia’s cultural traditions. In order to rebuild the country, its people have looked to the arts.

Rajana Association of Cambodia: Jewelry Rebuilds the Economy in Cambodia

Local jewelers collect pieces of mines, bombs and bullets and upcycle them into beautifully cut brass rings, necklaces and bracelets. They also work with a Cambodian organization that trains people how to properly remove old landmines so that the jewelers can use the material. Rajana jewelers pride themselves on preserving Cambodian style and culture by staying away from Western designs. This not only demonstrates the artisans’ pride in their country’s culture but also their attempt to replenish the art destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

The Rajana Association of Cambodia began in 1995 as a project under a UK-based NGO, Cambodia Action, which employed young Cambodian refugees at a camp in Thailand. It became its own independent company in 2003 and has since grown into a prominent and successful organization in Cambodia and worldwide. As such, its jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia while preserving its culture.

By successfully expanding their company, the leaders of Rajana have also transformed the lives of their jeweler partners. With an outlet to work from home, the artisans make a living wage while caring for their families. Rajana also established several shops across the country solely run by Cambodian staff in order to sell the products. This income has helped send children to school, provide food for their families and purchase transportation.

Artisans Help Economies Grow

Artisan work has played a crucial role in opening the economy in post-conflict Cambodia to the global market. This rise in jewelry work has not only helped revive Cambodian tradition but also promoted commerce, trade and employment. Cambodia’s GDP has grown to $27 billion in 2019 from $588 million just before in the genocide in 1974. Jewelry manufacturing has contributed $4.8 million to the country’s GDP and employed over 3,500 people, making it a leading factor in the economy’s sustainable development. What began as a way to revive cultural traditions after the genocide has proven to be a driving component in changing the course of Cambodia’s history: the country’s poverty rate has continued to fall as employment rates rise, and is now at about 13% as of 2014 compared to almost 50% in 2007. Thus, jewelry both rebuilds the economy in Cambodia and reduces the poverty its citizens face.

Beautiful Jewelry Reduces Poverty

Several fair trade shops sell Rajana products online, including Ten Thousand Villages and Oxfam. These shops pay their artisans fair prices for their products, thus helping them establish better lives for themselves and their families. It is incredibly important to support international artisans. This fair trade keeps not only their economies alive but also their culture and history. In all, this jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia through cultural preservation, resilience and creativity.

– Stephanie Russo
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Montserrat
Montserrat is a self-governing, British Overseas Territory located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is a relatively small island made mostly of mountains and volcanic beaches. In 1995, Montserrat faced catastrophe as the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted. This article will provide a brief account of how hunger in Montserrat (among other factors) after the eruption of the volcano increased.

Disaster Strikes

The eruption resulted in a mass evacuation of the island — leaving only 30% of the original population behind. This natural disaster has had lasting effects on the island’s resources and economy. However, perhaps the largest impact was increasing hunger in Montserrat, of course, due to the volcanic eruption.

The volcanic deposits from the Soufrière Hills Volcano severely damaged a majority of the territory’s farmland. In this way, the eruption destroyed much of Montserrat’s agricultural sector. Land that was not damaged by the eruption was placed in the exclusion zone. This, in turn, proved to make food and resources inaccessible and scarce for those remaining on the island. Notably, since the eruption occurred, most food in Montserrat comes from overseas imports rather than the territory’s domestic agriculture.

Lasting Impacts on Hunger Issues

In 2012, a Country Poverty Assessment found that 36% of Montserrat’s population was impoverished. Since most food in Montserrat enters the country from abroad, many families are unable to afford weekly food costs. Children under 15 years of age experience this at high rates and unfortunately make up 33% of the territory’s population that is food insecure.

Hunger in Montserrat after the volcanic eruption of 1995 increased. However, the lack of school-based food programs exacerbates the problem. With poverty largely affecting children under age 15, this lack of support only fuels food insecurity issues. A study of primary school students from 2016 revealed that financially insufficient families could not send their children to school with food.

Helping Hands

Since the natural disaster in 1995, Montserrat has made progress in fighting hunger. Importantly, this progress in fighting hunger comes in conjuncture with assistance from the U.K. as well as other countries. Foreign aid has massively contributed to decreasing poverty and hunger in Montserrat. As a result, Montserrat currently ranks as an upper-middle-class country. Aid also comes from organizations, and not just the U.K., helping Montserrat achieve new levels of economic stability. For example, the Montserrat Foundation focuses on distributing money and resources to local individuals on the island. Furthermore, the foundation distributes this aid (money and other resources) to organizations within the island territory to create economic opportunities and growth for the community. As a promising show, after receiving foreign aid, the country’s GDP experienced a 1.5% increase.

From Natural Disaster to Natural Resource

In 2014, the Government of Montserrat brought attention to the use of Soufrière Hills as a geothermal power source. The proper development of geothermal power holds the potential to be a massive turning point in Montserrat’s future. Notably, the Department of International Development has also invested in the project.

Montserrat is simply another example of how foreign aid can effectively create a promising future for a once troubled community. Out of natural disaster and tragedy, the island territory suffered higher rates of hunger and poverty, yet through foreign aid efforts, it is beginning to improve.

– Adelle Tippetts
Photo: Flickr

SDG 7 in Costa Rica
Costa Rica ranks 35th out of 193 countries in the United Nations 2020 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Report. This is quite an impressive feat for a Central American nation of just 5 million people. Especially when compared to its southern and northern neighbors — Panama and Nicaragua, which rank 81st and 85th, respectively. While challenges remain for many of Costa Rica’s sustainable development goals, the country is doing a remarkable job of achieving and maintaining SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. SDG 7 aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Costa Rica is often lauded as one of the greenest nations on Earth and is consistently viewed as a case study in the development and application of renewable energy. Below is a brief update on three components of SDG 7 in Costa Rica, i.e. affordable and clean energy.

Population with Access to Electricity

The latest U.N. estimate finds that 99.6% of Costa Ricans have access to electricity. This is great for not only the government (in their attempt to achieve the SDG 7) but for everyday Costa Ricans who have a steady stream of electricity. Costa Rica is ahead of the curve in the methods that it uses to generate power; 98% of its electricity comes from renewable energy sources. In breaking down this 98% figure into its parts — 72% is hydropower, 16% wind, 9% geothermal and 1% biomass/solar. This virtually universal access to electricity from renewable sources is the basis for providing affordable and clean energy in Costa Rica.

Access to Clean Fuels & Technology for Cooking

Clean cooking fuels and technology are classified by the SDG report as those that lead to fewer emissions and/or are more fuel-efficient. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), kerosene is not a clean fuel. The SDG panel (composed of experts from the WHO, International Energy Agency, World Bank and other prominent organizations) estimates that nearly 3 billion people use “traditional stoves and fuels” which pose risks to human health, the environment and the climate.

Additionally, estimates point to household air pollution as the cause of death for 4.3 million people per year. Costa Rica’s nearly universal access to electricity and its foundation in renewable energy sources affords more than 93% of households access to clean fuels and technology for cooking. In contrast, just over 50% of Nicaraguan homes have access to clean energy and technology for daily cooking. Among Central American nations, Costa Rica leads the way in terms of progressing towards this fully realized, key component of SDG 7.

CO₂ Emissions: Fuel Combustion for Electricity & Heating

Costa Rica is bested in this statistic by only two nations in all of North and South America (Paraguay and Uruguay). While the SDG report lists Costa Rica as “on track” toward reaching zero emissions in this category, Costa Rica’s CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion for electricity and heating are marginally higher than its emissions in 2000. In this regard, SDG 7 in Costa Rica has room for improvement. However, both numbers are still lower than about 90% of all U.N. nations.

A Commitment to Further Progress

Affordable and clean energy in Costa Rica is a shining example of the country’s progress and strengths within its annual SDG report. This is due to Costa Rica’s stunning foundation of renewable energy and its commitment to developing and providing access to cheap, clean and reliable energy to citizens. The Ticos (native Costa Ricans) recognize the need to go even further and are dedicating themselves towards becoming a net-zero emitter by 2050 — with their recent Decarbonization Plan. Costa Rica is a model for countries seeking a shift towards clean energy amid the stark realities of the 21st-century climate situation.

Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Flickr

Rural Farmers in East AfricaHuman-wildlife conflict can be devastating to individuals and communities living in rural areas. Elephant encroachment has destroyed the livelihoods of many rural farmers in East Africa, forcing them further into poverty and often creating tension with governments and conservation groups. One man living next to the Tsavo West National Park in Eastern Kenya, a popular tourist destination, had his goats snatched by lions and his farm pillaged by elephants, eliminating his ability to earn an income. As he was already impoverished, he could not afford protection other than what proved to be an effective row of thorny acacia trees to deter wildlife. As animals continue to encroach upon people’s land around Tsavo, many feel forced to resort to crime and poaching to earn a living.

That said, more individuals and organizations have become more committed to halting human-wildlife conflict and poaching. Governments wanting to maintain the wildlife tourism industry, conservation groups aiming to protect animals from extinction and poor farmers seeking a reliable and legal wage all share a common goal of eliminating the prevalence of poaching in Africa. In recent years, a potential solution has emerged for rural farmers in East Africa: beehive fences.

An Emerging Solution: Beehive Fences

After consulting with farmers in Kenya who noticed elephants tended to avoid trees that contained beehives, Dr. Lucy King of Save the Elephants conducted a study to determine whether fences lined with beehives could effectively deter elephants. These fences consist of wooden posts equipped with a beehive, as well as a thatched roof to protect the hive from the elements and metal wires running between each post. Dr. King used Langstroth beehives which, though not the most modern beehives, are easy to construct and operate.

The general process by which the fences function is that an elephant will attempt to walk between the two posts, causing it to hit the wires. The subsequent movement of the posts and hives upsets the bees, who will in turn bother the elephant and force it to turn around.

Dr. King found that 80% percent of elephants in her study were deterred from entering farms equipped with beehive fences, representing a clear validation of her theory. However, it should be noted that the fences do not work equally worldwide: the fences appear to work better in East Africa than in Asian countries where the fences were also tested. This discrepancy is likely due to regional variations in elephant and bee species. Studies indicate that African bees are more aggressive than their Asian counterparts, resulting in differing reactions from elephants. Even if the effectiveness of beehive fences is localized, this solution maintains the potential to transform living standards for rural farmers in East Africa.

Taking the Lead: Implementing Beehive Fences

One organization helping to build beehive fences is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This nonprofit organization aspires “to protect Africa’s wildlife and to preserve habitats for the future of all wild species,” and has a vested interest in improving the lives of rural Kenyans. To date, the Trust has built more than two kilometers of fence line including 131 beehives bordering the Tsavo Conservation Area. Farmers receive lessons from a professional beekeeper on how to properly maintain and harvest their hives, enabling them to profit from honey sales. Clearly, in addition to increasing outputs by reducing damages from elephants, the beehive fences themselves provide an income boost because the bees pollinate farmers’ crops.

The Future of Farmer Protection

Beehive fences are not a perfect solution to human-elephant conflict: they require training to maintain, can be evaded by some elephants and are less effective depending on the geographic area. Many believe electric fences would surely be a better elephant deterrent; however, these systems are too expensive and difficult to maintain, especially in rural regions. As such, beehive fences are the best solution currently available to mitigate human-elephant conflict in East Africa. More investment is necessary to establish beehive fence lines across all human-wildlife borders in East Africa in order to guarantee that all farms are protected. By giving farmers greater confidence in their abilities to sell crops at market, beehive fences increase yields and enable rural farmers in East Africa to ultimately escape poverty.

– Jeff Keare
Photo: Flickr

remittances in PakistanThe global COVID-19 pandemic has sent many countries’ economies spiraling downward. Developing countries such as Pakistan have been hit especially hard due to poor infrastructure and social safety nets. However, one piece of encouraging economic news resulting from the pandemic is that remittances in Pakistan have increased to a record high.

Why Remittances Are Crucial to Developing Countries

In essence, remittances are sums of money sent back to a country from its citizens currently working abroad. For example, if a man in Pakistan leaves his family to work in Australia due to a better job market, he may send back sums of money to support his family still living in Pakistan. Remittances are vitally important for several reasons.

Firstly, the family still in Pakistan often relies on remittances to pay for essentials such as food and clean water, or other important services like sending children to school. These payments allow Pakistanis to increase their human capital, which refers to the amount of value a person can provide for the economy. Healthy, more educated people help an economy more than unhealthy, uneducated people. More human capital in turn improves the economic outlook for the country as a whole.

Furthermore, remittances are an important system that encourages migration and opens up the labor market for people seeking jobs. Educated people in Pakistan can view remittances as a form of insurance that their families will be taken care of, which makes them more likely to temporarily migrate to a different country with better job prospects. For those remaining in Pakistan, a smaller supply of local workers opens job opportunities and increases wages.

How COVID-19 Increased Remittances in Pakistan

In July 2020, remittances in Pakistan were the highest ever recorded for a single month. Pakistani citizens abroad sent $2.77 billion were sent back to Pakistan, an increase of 12.2% from June 2020. This number also represents an increase of 36.5% from July 2019. The countries from which most remittances in Pakistan came were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the United States. Remittances for the year now stand at $21.8 billion. As a result, Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked workers abroad in a statement recognizing the immense value of remittances for Pakistan’s economy.

Analysts reason that the increase in remittances in Pakistan is primarily from far fewer pilgrimages to Mecca. Having spent less money on Hajj, workers abroad had more to send back to Pakistan. Additionally, canceled flights and reduced travel overall contributed to increased remittances. Another reason remittances increased is the rising efficiency of channels used for overseas workers to return their money. For example, Pakistan reduced the threshold for a formal money transfer from $200 to $100, allowing greater accessibility to transfers.

Ultimately, the increasing remittances in Pakistan represent exciting news for an economy otherwise devastated by the pandemic. Hopefully, news like this will continue to surface as the world discovers silver linings emerging from the pandemic.

– Evan Kuo
Photo: Flickr

Clara Lionel Foundation
While people may best know Rihanna for her music, she has also used her fame and influence to become a powerful force for global change. In 2012, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation. This philanthropic organization works to strengthen vulnerable communities in Africa and the Caribbean. Here are a few ways the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) has fought against global poverty.

Emergency Response

Every year, natural disasters around affect over 200 million people worldwide and push 26 million into poverty. In the wake of a natural disaster, donors and organizations often rush to provide support and resources to impacted areas. However, after donors eventually lose interest, these regions are left helpless; furthermore, numerous organizations trying to help can become ineffective if they do not communicate with each other.

The Clara Lionel Foundation’s climate resilience and emergency preparedness plan proactively helps vulnerable communities prepare for environmental disasters. Rather than focusing on reactionary rebuilding, they can get ahead of future problems. In 2018, the organization worked to strengthen existing infrastructure in the Caribbean to withstand future disasters and eliminate the need for extensive rebuilding.

The Foundation recognized that women’s health centers often go unincluded in typical emergency response assistance initiatives. Therefore, it partnered with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Engineers Without Borders to improve access to reproductive health clinics in vulnerable Caribbean areas.

Additionally, the CLF issued a $25 million grant for emergency equipment at the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season. This money helped ensure that relief organizations could distribute these supplies whenever necessary. The aim of this proactive emergency response model is to turn the Caribbean into the world’s first climate-resilient zone, a strategy that could eventually scale up and adapt to protect other vulnerable communities around the world.

Global Education

The Clara Lionel Foundation has worked since 2016 to provide access to education for vulnerable children in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on Malawi, Barbados and Senegal. CLF partners with the Campaign for Female Education in Malawi to support girls’ secondary education. They provide financial assistance and transportation. CLF also provided paid internships for secondary school graduates to become trained HIV testers. This initiative created employment opportunities and helped to address a prominent health crisis. In Senegal, CLF invests in repairing and constructing classrooms for children who lack a safe place of education.

In 2016, Rihanna and the CLF joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to advocate the importance of accessible education. As the GPE Global Ambassador, Rihanna visited impoverished schools in Malawi and encouraged world leaders to increase support for global education initiatives.

COVID-19

As communities worldwide face the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clara Lionel Foundation has stepped in to help. The foundation donated $6.2 million in partnership with Jack Dorsey and the Shawn Carter Foundation to help marginalized communities in the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean fight COVID-19. This funding fueled frontline organizations such as Direct Relief, Partners in Health, the International Rescue Committee and the WHO’s COVID-19 Response Fund. CLF’s donation allowed for increased testing capacity, more personal protective equipment and the development of medical facilities equipped to handle the virus.

Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna uses her fame to be an advocate, ally and role model in the fight against global poverty. Her actions have transformed the lives of many vulnerable people throughout the world. Rihanna and CLF will continue to have a wide impact as others hopefully adopt her philanthropic spirit.

– Allie Beutel
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopia's Hydroelectric Expansion
Ethiopia is a young, developing country that is currently investing in hydroelectricity to meet the energy demands of a growing population. Currently, only 44% of Ethiopians have access to electricity. As the population continues to grow within the country, citizens’ access to electricity will be a cause for great concern. Ethiopia’s hydroelectric expansion is addressing the energy crisis and powering the country’s economic growth, at the same time.

Naturally Sourced

Ethiopia is well situated to harness the natural, kinetic energy of water because the Nile River runs through the northern part of the country. However, hydroelectricity does require the construction of costly dams. In this same vein, Ethiopia recently built one costing $1.8 billion. While expensive, once built, these dams provide an abundance of energy for many generations. Currently, Ethiopia’s hydroelectric expansion has achieved a 3,813-MW capacity for a population of roughly 108 million people.

As the Blue Nile begins in Ethiopia, the country does not have to worry about other nations damming the river upstream and thus, (hypothetically) cutting off its supply of water. Ethiopia’s geographic advantage thereby increases its energy autonomy. Additionally, hydroelectric energy is renewable and reliable because it is not dependent on variable weather conditions as is the case with other renewable, energy resources.

Growing Demand

Ethiopia’s population is growing at a staggering rate of 2.56% per year. Notably, less than 50% of the population has access to hydroelectricity. To help people escape poverty in the modern age, they must have access to an electrical grid. Access to electricity does not guarantee prosperity, but the lack of electricity almost ensures poverty.

Ethiopia is one of the leading African nations in hydroelectric energy and is continuing to invest in more dams. In 2016, Ethiopia embarked on a joint venture with China and built one of the largest roller-compacted dams in the world. Although dams are vulnerable to droughts — they provide clean, renewable energy that is not dependent on highly variable weather patterns, such as wind and sunlight. Ethiopia cannot solely depend on hydroelectricity and instead, must continue to increase its energy supply to meet an ever-growing demand. Nearly 40% of Ethiopia’s population is younger than 14-years-old. As this population matures, it will further increase the demand for energy within the country. The booming population will continue to slip into poverty if it does not invest in a hydroelectric infrastructure that can support such a population growth rate.

Positive Growth

Hydroelectricity provides abundant energy. Yet, it requires an electrical grid to transport that energy across the country and perhaps equally as important, from an economic standpoint — into neighboring countries. Not only has Ethiopia built more hydroelectric dams, but it has also expanded its entire energy infrastructure. Ethiopia strives to become an energy hub for Africa as it exports electricity to Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya. Although 29.6% of Ethiopia’s population lives below the poverty line, there is a great reason to hope that this number will decrease as the economy further develops. Ethiopia currently has the 13th highest industrial growth rate at 10.5%, annually. The economy is rapidly growing, largely supported by Ethiopia’s hydroelectric expansion.

Noah Kleinert
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

tourism and COVID-19COVID-19 has caused major disruptions for travel on a global scale. The tourism industry has already experienced a loss of over $300 billion in the first five months of 2020, and that number is projected to increase to as much as $1.2 trillion due to the pandemic. Additionally, 100 to 120 million jobs associated with tourism are at risk. Tourism and COVID-19 have struggled to co-exist amidst the turmoil of 2020, especially in three major tourist countries. However, organizations are working to protect the future of the travel industry.

Global Tourism and COVID-19

Tourism is considered the third-largest export sector. It is an essential component of the global economy, comprising 10.4% of total economic activity in 2018. Some countries rely on tourism for 20% or more of their total GDP. Many countries rely on capital from tourists, ranging from small, low-income island countries to larger, high-income countries. However, according to a U.N. policy brief, there will be an estimated 58-78% decrease in tourists in 2020 compared to 2019. Three countries that have been especially affected by COVID-19 and tourism are Spain, Thailand and Mexico.

  1. Spain: Spain experienced the second-largest overall economic loss in tourism due to the pandemic, behind the United States. The country lost $9.7 million in revenue due to travel restrictions and decreased tourism. Because Spain is a high-income country and has various other contributors to its economy, it is expected to recover with greater resilience than similarly impacted, lower-income countries.
  2. Mexico: In 2018, Mexico gained a total of 7.15% of its GDP from tourism. However, Mexico’s income from tourism in April 2020 was a mere 6.3%. Additionally, the tourism sector accounts for approximately 11 million jobs in Mexico alone, many of which are now at risk.
  3. Thailand: Thailand has lost nearly $7.8 million due to travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The country has taken these limitations seriously in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, this action has come at the cost of earning a ranking as one of the countries hit hardest by economic losses associated with tourism. The tourism sector is responsible for about 10% of the country’s total GDP.

Government Response to Tourism and COVID-19

Although COVID-19 has introduced an unprecedented economic strain on a global scale, governments are working to help countries recover. Spain released an aid package allocating €400 million to the transport and tourism sectors, €14 million to boost the local economy and €3.8 million for public health. Mexico’s government is distributing 2 million small loans of 25 thousand pesos (about $1000) to small businesses. Lastly, Thailand has approved three tourism packages to assist the local economy and small businesses.

NGO Policy Response to Tourism and COVID-19

With government and NGO action, experts predict that the travel sector will return to 2019 economic levels by around 2023. Many organizations are stepping in with policy solutions, providing hope for the industry’s revival. The U.N. World Tourism Organization released the COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package, highlighting three main policy areas: “Managing the crisis and mitigating the impact,” “providing stimulus and accelerating recovery” and “preparing for tomorrow.” Similarly, the International Labour Organization released a policy framework with four main pillars to protect workers, stimulate the economy, introduce employment retention strategies and encourage solutions-based social dialogue.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development provides “Travel in the New Normal,” a series of six policy areas. These include helping businesses to implement “touchless” solutions, sanitation supplies, health screenings and other protective measures to prevent COVID-19. The OECD states that domestic travel will be vital for the recovery of tourist nations, contributing to 75% of the tourism economy in OECD member countries.

These efforts, along with other policy strategies, are vital to the recovery of the tourism industry. They will be particularly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises, industry-employed women and the working class as a whole. These policies will also further U.N. Sustainable Development Goals like No Poverty, Reduced Inequality, Partnership, Sustainable Cities & Communities and Decent Work & Economic Growth.

The tourism sector has suffered major losses in response to COVID-19, with a significant amount of revenue and jobs lost or at severe risk. Countries of all regions and income levels have been affected by the pandemic, including Spain, Mexico and Thailand. However, these setbacks provide unique opportunities to both transform the tourism industry and promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

– Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Flickr