The Ocean Cleanup OrganizationSeven years ago, The Ocean Cleanup organization launched as a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using autonomous, solar-powered cleaning systems. Now, as part of a new initiative, the organization is rolling out barges in major rivers as an upstream solution to global, prolific marine debris.

Marine Plastic Pollution

At least eight tons of marine plastic enter the oceans each year, where a majority floats on the surface before breaking down into non-biodegradable microplastics. Around 80% of marine debris flows through rivers before reaching the ocean. Because a handful of countries are responsible for a majority of marine debris, cleaning just 10 major polluting rivers of waste would stop a significant amount of debris from ever reaching the ocean.

The Ocean Cleanup Organization

Based in the Netherlands and led by a 26-year-old entrepreneur, Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup organization has plans that include fitting the world’s 1,000 most polluting rivers with waste removal systems over the next five years. The organization’s research indicates that 1,000 specific rivers are responsible for 80% of the pollution.

The Interceptor Concept

Solar powers the waste removal systems, and they are scalable and largely autonomous. Each one uses barriers to direct waste along the river to a floating “interceptor” barge, which loads waste with a conveyor belt into containers that local municipalities can then dispose of. Individual interceptors can collect 50,000 kilograms of waste each day, though “in optimal conditions up to double this amount can be achieved.”

The interceptor concept, designed in 2015, was first utilized in the Cengkareng Drain, Indonesia, where it has remained. The Ocean Cleanup has since partnered with local governments to deploy three more interceptors in Malaysia, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. By placing each one downstream from the last major source point in a river, they manage to fill all containers every few days, though they sometimes fill up in only a few hours.

Impact of Microplastics

Marine plastics’ widespread and harmful effects on marine life are well-documented, with hundreds of species ingesting, suffocating and entangling themselves in plastics. The global impact of aquatic microplastics, by contrast, is an emerging field of study. Appearing in tap water, beer and salt, they have appeared in water samples taken from every ocean. In 2019, the World Health Organization called for more research into microplastics and a drastic reduction in plastic pollution.

An environmental health report published in 2018 stressed the risk of consuming microplastics in seafood. “Because microplastics are associated with chemicals from manufacturing that sorb from the surrounding environment,” the report finds, “there is concern regarding physical and chemical toxicity.”

Consequences of Marine Plastic Pollution

While microplastics are under-researched, larger marine waste has concrete impacts on water-adjacent communities because marine plastics kill wildlife and disrupt local ecosystems, harming livelihoods and impeding tourism. More pressing, severely polluted waterways exacerbate poverty and poverty-related issues, especially among young children. According to experts at UNICEF, children living in South Asian slums frequently play in rivers and shores contaminated with waste, excrement and agricultural runoff. Since many lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities, this makes poor water-adjacent communities hotbeds for preventable illnesses.

The Ocean Cleanup found that marine plastic is responsible for between $6 billion and $19 billion of economic costs annually. These costs “stem from its impact on tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and (governmental) cleanups,” and do not even account for the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost because of its public health impact.

Hopes for the Future

The Ocean Cleanup organization hopes to significantly reduce plastic pollution in oceans. Once fully implemented, the waste removal systems aim to reduce the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50% every five years. The organization’s latest endeavor is a line of sunglasses made from plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. With all proceeds going toward expanding cleanup efforts, this is the most stylish way an ordinary person can contribute to a greater cause.

– Skye Jacobs
Photo: Flickr

EcovillagesGreen growth refers to economic growth through the use of sustainable and eco-focused alternatives. These “green” alternatives benefit both the economy and the environment all while contributing to poverty reduction. Ecovillages are a prime example of an environmentally conscious effort to address global poverty. They are communities, rural or urban, built on sustainability. Members of these locally owned ecovillages are granted autonomy as they navigate a solution that addresses the four dimensions of sustainability: economy, ecology, social and culture.

The Global Ecovillage Network

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) recognizes that all four facets of sustainability must be addressed for maximum poverty reduction. Solely focusing on the economic or environmental impact will not yield optimal results. Embracing, not eliminating, the social and cultural aspects of sustainability should the aim of all communities in order to move toward a better future.

The development of sustainable communities around the globe is a commitment of the GEN. The organization’s outreach programs intend to fuel greater global cooperation, empower the citizens of the world’s nations and develop a sustainable future for all.

Working with over 30 international partners, GEN focuses on five defined regions. GEN Africa was created in 2012 and has overseen developments in more than 20 communities across the continent.

A Focus on Zambia

Zambia is one the countries garnering attention. Over half of Zambia’s population — 58% — falls below the $1.90 per day international poverty line. The majority of the nation’s impoverished communities live in rural regions.

Zambia’s government addresses these concerns by integrating the U.N.’s sustainable development goals into its development framework. With a focus on economic and ecological growth, Zambia could lay the groundwork for the success of its’ ecovillages.

Planting the Seed

The Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture (ReSCOPE) Programme recognizes youth as the future keepers of the planet. As well as Zambia, the program has chapters in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The focus is on establishing regional networks to strengthen sustainable efforts. The Zambia chapter along with its 17 newly joined organizations work toward the goal of educating and encouraging communities to find sustainable methods of food production.

ReSCOPE seeks to connect schools and their local environments through the Greening Schools for Sustainable Communities Programme. The program is a partnership between GEN and ReSCOPE and has received funding from the Scottish government. Through education and encouraging sustainable practices, Zambia’s youth have an active role in ensuring future growth.

Greening Schools

Greening Schools strengthens the communities of four schools — the centers of resilience and a source of community inspiration. Beginning with nutrition and food security, students are able to play a part in developmental change. Their hard work includes planting of hundreds of fruit trees. The schools became grounds for hands-on agricultural experience and exposure to the tending of life.

However, the impact was not restrained within the schools. The greening schools inspired local communities to make seed security and crop diversification a commitment. In 2019, these communities “brought back lost traditional crops and adopted intercropping and other agroecological practices.”

As part of their sustainable development goals, the U.N. recognizes the value of investing in ecovillages. Goals 11 and 12 stress the importance of sustainable communities and responsible consumption and production respectively. Educating and advocating for youth to take part in ecovillages addresses this matter.

Coming generations will determine the future, and the youth wield the power to address global concerns like sustainability and poverty. Ecovillages are a great new way to break the cycle of poverty.

Kelli Hughes
Photo: Unsplash

Bird-friendly coffee
As the market demand for coffee grows in industrializing nations, bird-friendly coffee may offer an eco-friendly solution to an unsustainable industry. The global population consumes approximately 7.5 million tons of coffee each year, and experts expect global coffee consumption to more than double in the next 20 years.

Earth may not have the capacity to keep up with demand. Forests absorb 40% of human fossil fuel emissions, and the destruction of these carbon sinks contributes to a warming climate that diminishes the land suitable for growing coffee and drives coffee plantations into previously intact forests at higher altitudes. This cycle of deforestation and warming perpetuates the loss of the 1.6 billion livelihoods. It also destroys habitats for 80% of terrestrial species supported by forests.

A Possible Future for Coffee Production

Some farmers embrace shade-grown coffee as an environmentally and economically sustainable means of coffee production. Shade-grown coffee production is a method of agroforestry that integrates coffee plantations and forest growth on the same land. Environmental benefits of shade-grown coffee compared to full-sun coffee production include erosion control, better soil health, carbon sequestration and increased bird habitat.

These environmental advantages translate to economic benefits. For example, agroforestry practices reduce nutrient and labor inputs into the soil due to the natural decomposition of leaf matter. Agroforestry also supports bird-friendly coffee production by creating healthy bird habitat. Birds provide free pest control that eliminates or reduces the need for harmful chemical pesticide use. A single bird living on a shaded coffee plantation can protect 23-65 pounds of coffee each year from pests like the Coffee Berry Borer, which inflicts $500 million worth of damage annually to the coffee industry.

Shade-grown coffee plantations typically produce 30% less coffee than full-sun plantations. However, the economic benefits of agroforestry compensate for this loss, saving an average of $2,000 per hectare each year. In fact, a study that researchers conducted at Cornell and Columbia Universities demonstrated that small-scale farmers, including 25 million coffee farmers in developing nations who produce 80% of the world’s coffee, could optimize their profits by converting at least 36% of their plantations to shade-growing practices.

Additionally, shade-grown coffee farmers can benefit by growing tree crops like mangos, passion fruit and guava on their plantations for sale or consumption. In Guatemala and Peru, for example, fruit grown on shaded coffee farms comprises 9-11% of the plantations’ economic value.

Certification Systems

The environmentally-induced economic benefits of practicing bird-friendly coffee production are many. Moreover, consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable, shade-grown coffee. A survey of more than 1,300 coffee drinkers in the U.S. interested in the conservation of bird habitat revealed that the average bird watcher is willing to pay an additional $2 per pound of coffee for bird-friendly coffee. A 50 cent premium per pound of shade-grown coffee can optimize profits on small-scale farms at 85% shaded production.

Certifications like the Rainforest Alliance certification, Nespresso’s AAA Sustainable quality certification and the Bird Friendly Coffee certification from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center all contribute to shade-grown coffee premiums. With additional support to low-income farmers from certification systems and governments, the transition to shade-grown coffee can help to reduce the growing environmental impacts of coffee production while increasing profits and fair market access for small-scale farmers. These measures will contribute to an economically and environmentally sustainable future. All of this can occur without sacrificing one of the most popular beverages in the world.

Avery Saklad
Photo: Flickr

Economic benefits of planting trees

Forest sustainability programs are vastly underrated environmental boosters of today despite the clear economic benefits of planting trees. Their influence has been overlooked in favor of expensive experimental air cleansing tactics while forests are being destroyed around the world. Though most of their impact is found in cost reduction in areas like air purification and pollution initiatives, they also provide millions of jobs worldwide.

Natural Air Purification

Not only are trees cost-effective but they are also reliable air purifiers. One of the many benefits of planting trees is that they take in CO2 from the air and turn out oxygen. At the same time, they act as filters for particulates. As the particulate laden air moves through the trees, dust particles are caught on leaves and then are subsequently washed away with the rain. It was estimated that trees cleared 17.4 million tonnes of air pollution annually in the U.S. alone. The benefits on human health were valued at $6.8 billion.

Providing a cleaner atmosphere lowers the risk of airborne illnesses and at a much lower cost. Trees can provide relief for acute respiratory symptoms and asthma for almost one million people. Cities could save millions in healthcare costs and create a visually appealing cityscape by planting trees. Beautiful landscapes also boost mental health and civic morale.

Planting Trees Creates Jobs

Trees bring industry. Trees require a different amount of care in cities than they do in a national forest. Cities require people in order to water and prune the trees. Furthermore, specialists are needed to plan and optimize tree placement. Different cities and various parts of a city will require different numbers and types of trees. This creates jobs for urban planners, ecologists and arborists. These jobs are sustainable and essential to the success of an urban forest’s impact on pollution reduction and health promotion.

Through conscious management, a balance can be struck between conservation of forests and the industry they can provide (i.e., lumber). The lumber industry provides work for 13.2 million people worldwide. However, many of those jobs are primarily in deforestation. By bringing trees into the urbanscape, cities create more job opportunities and economic growth.

Lumber is an industry that will continue to grow as we see countries develop and urbanize. However, at the moment, the industry is causing harm by stripping the world of forests. We are sadly seeing our rainforests dwindle. Through enhancing forest management practices, investing in fire and pest management and developing intense monitoring systems, the economic benefits of planting trees can be brought to its full potential. An industry can be built, giving as much as it takes and ending the destruction of habitats, species and the climate.

Current Environmental Efforts

Slowly, countries are taking advantage of the clear economic benefits of planting trees. In fact, we are beginning to see forest and lumber sustainability programs developing in some parts of the world. The EU initiated the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument, Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENPI-FLEG) in seven eastern European countries. The program helped these countries improve forest management and sustainability.

Mexico has developed multiple community forestry enterprises that work to renew what it takes from its forests. The National Reforestation Program and Commercial Plantations Program are working to plant trees throughout the country. Even in America, we see states like Georgia striking a balance between taking from and giving back to its forests through their forest management programs.

Lumber is an essential global industry. However, reforestation, conscious conservation and land management are necessary to keep this precious resource from being lost. Hopefully, more countries and cities will begin to understand the benefits of planting trees and to step up to support the world’s forests and protect their futures.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Air Pollution in Nigeria
Nigeria has the largest number of deaths due to air pollution in Africa, while the country ranks fourth for air pollution across the globe. Statistics indicate that in 2016, 150 fatalities occurred per 100,000 people as a result of this environmental issue. The State of the Global Air Report that the Health Effects Institute (HEI) published determined that Nigeria’s air quality is amidst the most lethal worldwide. Atmospheric threats such as generator fumes, automobile emissions and crop burning cause air pollution.

In 2016, The HEI indicated that industrialized countries like Russia and Germany have reported lower death rates than Nigeria with 62 and 22 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, developing countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reported much higher rates with 406, 207 and 195 deaths per 100,000 people.

Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution emits through generator fumes which produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Automobiles with older engines are also likely to emit unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere. In households, kerosene stoves produce flames that contribute to the poor air ventilation. The nation creates over 3 million tons of waste yearly and most Nigerians burn their waste in their neighborhoods rather than discarding it, contributing more pollution to the atmosphere. Another aspect that contributes to the air pollution crisis in Nigeria is the use of firewood and coal to cook.

Additionally, indoor air pollution in Nigeria is also a big issue, as the amount of fine particulate matter levels in many households surpass air quality guidelines by 20 times. In 2012, according to the WHO, Lagos, Nigeria experienced nearly 7 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor air contamination.

Air contamination across the African continent kills over 700,000 people annually; more people die from air pollution than unsanitary hygiene practices and undernourishment. Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years. Nigeria has some of the highest rates of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.

The Effects of Air Pollution in Nigeria

While developed countries have effective solutions in place to handle air pollution, underdeveloped countries are struggling to handle this environmental issue. Some countries have begun taking appropriate measures to handle it, though. As a result, the number of people exposed to air pollution has decreased from 3.5 billion in 1990 to 2.4 billion in 2016.

The report also indicated that 95 percent of the globe’s citizens are intaking polluted air. In 2016, extended subjection to air pollution contributed to roughly 6 million deaths, all resulting from diseases such as strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the top leading causes of fatalities, particularly in underdeveloped countries, even after smoking, increased blood pressure and unhealthy diets. Exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Solutions to the Air Pollution Crisis

In order to effectively handle the air pollution crisis in Nigeria, it is important for the country to provide regular inspections of automobiles to ensure that older cars are not releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. It is also integral that Nigeria removes cars from the road that are toxic to the environment.

The implementation of efficient electric energy will help decrease the need for generators, which produces unhealthy air pollution in households and work environments. However, Nigeria does have access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution.

Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is instinctively manufactured from the decay of natural waste. Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household while eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment.

In terms of trash disposal, recycling methods will be helpful to make certain that people are not burning waste. Additionally, daily waste removal from households will also help to properly dispose of trash, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odors that contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, factories that are within metropolitan areas follow guidelines regarding sustainable practices in order to decrease air pollution in Nigeria. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) monitors operations to ensure that these work environments are abiding by the pollution proclamations.

In conclusion, the execution of environmentally friendly practices in Nigeria will help decrease the air pollution crisis in Nigeria that is present in households, businesses and the outside environment. In order for the elimination of air pollution to be effective, the country must pursue the regulations for all Nigerians.

Additionally, it is necessary to inform communities regarding the sources and consequences of air pollution in order for them to effectively take action in decreasing the issue. Furthermore, those that become more knowledgeable of the issue are then able to educate others and persuade the Nigerian government to continue to enforce legislation against air pollution.

Diana Dopheide
Photo: Wikipedia

Ecosystem mapping tools in the Caribbean

Ecosystems in the Caribbean act as more than just tourist attractions. Coral reefs and mangrove habitats provide protection from natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes and high sea levels. Natural flooding causes damage to property and endangers people’s lives. The following is a list of six ecosystem mapping tools that contribute as a solution to the 50-80 percent reduction of coral reefs in the region:

6 Ecosystem Mapping Tools in the Caribbean

  1. Real-Time Ocean Forecasting System: The Caribbean and the Cayman Islands have made the management of marine habitats a priority. The Caribbean Restoration Explorer uses NOAA’s Real Time Ocean Forecasting System to monitor coral larval reproduction. Understanding the transfer and expansion of these barrier reefs is essential in determining which habitats to locate and protect.

  2. Reef Rover: As coral reefs wane away in the Caribbean, 70 percent of the region’s beaches are deteriorating. For this reason, it is crucial to identify and nurture growing coral reefs. The “Reef Rover” is a developing ecosystem mapping tool that will capture underwater images. It is a drone positioned on a boat that can reveal the evolution of these reefs through regular tracking.

  3. Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO): Along with the drones, The Nature Conservancy reveals the CAO is another advancement in ecosystem mapping tools. The CAO aircraft has already launched projects in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The hyperspectral technology is able to distinguish stress levels recognized in chemical fingerprints and habitat composition.

  4. Satellites: What’s more impressive is the collection of over 200 satellites scoping elements, including small-scales of 10 feet. The data collected every day enables the scrutiny of any changes in marine habitats. The images of these ecosystems before and after natural disasters, such as the most recent 2017 hurricanes, will illustrate the essential function of coral reefs along coastlines.

  5. The Mapping Ocean Wealth Explorer: This online data resource helps in the determination of policies that concern natural resources. In the Caribbean, tourism yields more than $25 billion annually, $2 billion of which comes from coral reefs alone. The data provides the worth of coral reefs as shown in the amount of money received through tourists on coastal recreational activities such as diving or snorkeling. This ecosystem draws 60 percent of scuba divers around the world. Fisheries contribute $400 million and provide food security. This entire commercial operation grants around 50 percent of the region’s income by protecting the jobs of six million people.

  6. The Natural Capital Project’s Marine Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST): InVEST computes the capacity marine ecosystems have to mitigate the height and force of waves and weaken the chance of erosion in coastal areas. A healthy coral reef can divert more than 90 percent of wave force before reaching the shore. This is a valuable asset for coastal communities.

Ecosystem mapping tools in the Caribbean output social and economic data so policymakers, conservation professionals and business investors can see which regions require their attention. Coral reefs not only attract tourists, which feed the region’s economy, but they also diminish the impact of wave force. Not only can systems of technology detect environmental calamity, but these tools can prepare coastal communities to withstand rather than react to their environment.

– Crystal Tabares
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in TAAF
The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) are an outer department of France. There are four main islands: Kerguelen, La Terre-Adélie, Saint Paul & New Amsterdam and Archipel Crozet. These islands are notably famous for their large penguin populations. There are also around 150 human inhabitants on the islands in winter, but the population grows to around 310 in the summer.

The region is used for meteorological and geophysical research, military bases and French fishing fleets. The main interest of these territories resides in their large maritime zones and economically exclusive zones. These zones allow for unlimited resource consumption, which has been going on for decades and has now led to the creation of a 3,850,000 euros program administered by the Agence française de développement (AFD) to protect local fauna, fisheries and biodiversity of these islands. The program that was adopted in 2009 converted dozens of previous fishing zones into protected marine habitats and parks.

There exists a strong correlation, however, between the consumption of resources and the reduction of poverty in TAAF. The AFD is set on changing fishing habits, to make consumption and trade more sustainable, and to ensure that overfishing doesn’t occur.

The AFD also distributes the Bpifrance Bank’s development loan program and has offered 14.4 million euros to the public sector to grow infrastructure, as well as 23.3 million dollars worth of loans to agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and individual enterprises.

Regardless of TAAF’s very low population density, the AFD has still created a solid development plan that will ensure that the environment, as well as the local economy, are both protected. The cornerstone of this project is the implementation of sustainable fishing and the AFD has worked with the local prefecture to develop a plan to do just that. The AFD has done a great job of creating a win-win scenario to reduce poverty in TAAF, as well as to ensure that the environment remains protected.

Joshua Ward

Photo: Flickr

Future of Farming
As humanity changes and technology advances, one thing remains constant throughout human history. People need to eat, and the future of farming requires innovation to maintain sustainable food production levels. Additionally, with 19.81 percent of the global population working in the agricultural sector and the planet’s total population continuing to grow, food production must increase.

Enter the agBOT Challenge, mixing technological efforts in software, robotics and communication to address agriculture’s current and future obstacles. Some of the specific efforts focus on increased internet efficiency in rural areas and use of unmanned equipment to do daily tasks such as seeding, harvesting, watering, etc.

All of this is also planned to be more eco-friendly by reducing carbon emissions and erosion as well as limiting chemical and fossil fuel usage.

For the 2017 Challenge, agBOT teams compete in different categories to come up with technology specifically for seeding/planting and weeding/feeding. The first place winners of the 2016 Challenge came from Saskatchewan, Canada’s University of Regina with an autonomous tractor. The tractor successfully planted several rows of seeds without human control of any kind and with an accuracy that surprised all in attendance.

This competition is not the first attempt at utilizing robotics and more advanced technology. Twin Brook Creamery has used a robotic milking system on their dairy farm for years.

Many fear that as a result of this, there will be a diminishing need for human labor that could lead to fewer agricultural jobs. In impoverished areas, however, these technologies would more beneficially function in assistance with human activity to maintain and direct robotic technology, doubling as a path for increased food production in hunger-stricken areas as well as a means for areas with less technological innovations to catch up to the rest of the world.

In the United States, agricultural jobs are already on the decline even without robotic replacement, as higher and higher numbers seek white-collar employment. Robots may then become a necessity to fill the void in developed nations left by diminishing agricultural workers.

The agBOT technology is the future of farming and will only continue to grow more efficient with each passing year. The benefits that agBOTs could provide to the worlds’ hungry may be a fundamental step in eradicating world hunger.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Poor water quality in Indonesia

Climate change, poor urban infrastructure and pollution resulting from rapid urban development and environmental destruction have led to poor water quality in Indonesia.

Although Indonesia enjoys 21 percent of the total freshwater available in the Asia-Pacific region, nearly one out of two Indonesians lack access to safe water, and more than 70 percent of the population rely on potentially contaminated sources.

Poor water quality in Indonesia is directly related to a life of poverty, as poor individuals are unable to afford clean drinking solutions.

To combat poverty and improve the lives of individuals, USAID has partnered with local governments and civil society organizations to weaken the agents of poor water quality in Indonesia by strengthening biodiversity and climate change resilience.

Climate Change

Climate change threatens to disrupt seasonal variations and thus water quality in Indonesia. The dry season may become more arid which would drive water demand, and the rainy season may condense higher precipitation levels into shorter periods, increasing the possibility of heavy flooding while decreasing the ability to capture and store water.

Increased flood conditions and rainfall facilitate the spread of disease in areas where the population lacks access to clean water and sanitation.

USAID works with the Indonesian government to help the most vulnerable areas of Indonesia become more resilient to climate change effects. The agency builds local government and civil society organizational capacity to understand the effects of climate change and to implement climate change solutions in agriculture, water and natural resources management.

More than 13,000 people have been trained in climate change adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction. As a result, USAID has worked with more than 360 communities to develop action plans addressing the impacts of climate change, which in effect improves the poor water quality in Indonesia.

Environmental Destruction

Environmental destruction associated with unmanaged development and deforestation has left many parts of Indonesia extremely vulnerable to landslides, tsunamis and floods.

An environmental disaster furthers the cycle of poverty in Indonesia as individuals are left with even fewer resources than before. The country has lost around 72 percent of its forest cover over the last 50 years.

Large barren hillside areas and the underlying soils, both subject to heavy precipitation, greatly increase the likelihood and severity of floods. When flooding does occur, urban infrastructure is quickly overwhelmed which leads to sewage spillover and further contamination.

To combat environmental destruction and improve water quality in Indonesia, USAID works to conserve and strengthen biodiversity in Indonesia. The agency does so by building capacity in national and local government bodies and associated civil society actors, and by entering partnerships, to promote and strengthen sustainable land-use practices and management in four provinces.

Projects developed by USAID focus on conserving large swaths of lowland and peat forest with high concentrations of biodiversity.

Pollution

Indonesia has become a pollution hotspot due to its economic development and rapid urbanization. Waste from commercial and industrial processes is increasingly making its way into both groundwater and surface supplies affecting water quality in Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesia’s urban slums particularly lack wastewater treatment to combat the growing pollution.

The basic sanitation infrastructure necessary to prevent human excrement from contaminating water supplies is virtually nonexistent. Households simply dispose their domestic waste directly to a river body.

Since many Indonesians are poor and have no access to piped water, they use river water for drinking, bathing and washing. Around 53 percent of the population obtains water from sources contaminated by raw sewage, which greatly increases human susceptibility to water-related diseases.

To improve the poor water quality in Indonesia by combating the effects of pollution, USAID has facilitated access to clean water for more than 2 million people and basic sanitation to more than 200,000 people.

These actions have built one more step for individuals in Indonesia to walk out of poverty, as their low income does not inhibit them from enjoying clean drinking water.

Alexis Pierce

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty FreeEmerge Poverty Free is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by enabling communities to take control of their own needs.

In partnership with a local organization, Sustainable Investments and Development Initiatives (SIDI), Emerge Poverty Free has begun a project in Mwanza, Tanzania to empower hundreds of fisher-women through economic and environmental conservation projects.

Tanzania is known as one of the world’s least developed rural countries, where 40 percent of the adult population earns less than 1.25 USD per day.

The goals of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza project are to enable women to become self-sustainable while also improving the environment of Lake Victoria that is threatened by pollution and excessive fishing.

To reach these goals, 250 women from the Kabusuli village of the Sengerema District in Mwanza have been trained in fish farming and healthcare. The group hopes to plant 10,000 trees along the Lake Victoria shore at the end of the project.

These trees will eventually be used to provide local families with wood for cooking and building materials to reduce deforestation.

Though a fairly new project, Emerge Poverty Free reports that women involved in the group have already doubled their daily incomes by selling fish within their communities during the past 10 months.

According to Aneta Dodo, secretary of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza, the group has planted 6,000 trees, created five fish ponds for domestic use and local sale that have brought high profits — and a portion of the money earned by these women funded school tuition for 30 local children.

“We have gained a lot of expertise in finance issues, fishing, environmental conservation and we are able to do most things by ourselves without having to depend on men,” she said.

Dodo reports that the group was able to secure low-interest rate loans after the group started a saving and credit facility in their village of Kabusuli.

Despite these successes, the women of Tanzania still face many economic challenges — girls have higher education drop-out rates than young men and have limited access to medical care and employment, according to Emerge Poverty Free.

Group member Asha Malando does not see these statistics as an end-all and believes that women are still capable of empowering themselves by becoming involved in community projects.

“The government cannot do everything for us. We just have to use some of these organizations well so we can develop ourselves.”

Coleta Masesla, a female fisher in Tanzania, is now able to run her own food kiosk that provides income for her children’s education and home essentials like food and clothing.

“These women have become great role models in their community as they have proved that everything is possible. Most of them had lost hope but right now they are the ones running their families. We at Emerge Poverty Free are pleased by the attitude they have shown toward lifting themselves out of poverty,” stated Jeremey Horner, Emerge Poverty Free CEO.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Emerge Poverty Free 1, Emerge Poverty Free 2, IPP Media, The Daily News
Photo: Flickr