Technology to promote literacy

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an independent state comprised of about 600 small islands, that also shares a land border with Indonesia. PNG uses technology to promote literacy in a number of ways. PNG broke off from Australia in 1975 but still receives substantial economic, geographical and educational gains from the country. However, the Australian government reports that in spite of their economic growth and middle-income country status (due to agricultural and mineral wealth), “PNG’s social indicators are among the worst in the Asia Pacific. Approximately 85 percent of PNG’s mainly rural population is poor and an estimated 18 percent of people are extremely poor.”

The World Bank details that PNG also faces a “vexing” situation regarding their remoteness and number of languages. Communities in PNG are very closed off from one another and land travel is strenuous. PNG has 563 airports and air travel has proven to be the common way to get from one place to another. At over 800 languages, PNG is recognized as “the most linguistically diverse country in the world.” As a result of these two factors, PNG’s education system faces a variety of challenges. PNG was ranked 153 on the Human Development Index in 2017, and its adult literacy rate was reported to be 63.4 percent in 2015. Australian Aid and the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) cooperated to produce The SMS Story research project, a way to use technology to promote literacy.

The goal of the SMS Story Research Project was to ascertain whether daily text message stories and lessons would improve the reading ability of children in grades 1 and 2 in Papua New Guinea. The text messages were sent to elementary school teachers in the Madang Province and Simbu Province using a free, open-source software program called Frontline SMS. The project was a controlled trial with two groups, one group of teachers received the message and the other did not. About 2500 students were evaluated before and after the trial. Using statistical testing, it was determined that the reading ability of the group who received text messages was higher than that of the group that did not.

It was found that the schools participating in the study had little to no reading books in the classroom and that students in groups without an SMS story were “twice as likely to be unable to read a single word of three sub-tests (decodable words, sight words and oral reading).” It seemed that many classrooms in PNG did not provide easy access to reading materials or proper reading lessons.

Amanda Watson, a researcher involved with the project stated that the SMS stories were helpful to the teachers as well. She says, “The teachers actually received almost like a reminder to teach, a bit of a motivator to keep teaching and they received that every single day and we think that really helped them to realize that they’re supposed to be teaching reading every single day, five days a week.” This suggests that before the trial, some of the teachers may not have promoted reading as much as they should have, either due to lack of access to materials or not realizing its importance.

Daniel A. Wagner, of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues, detail the importance of using technology to promote literacy in countries with minimal access to education or educational materials in their paper, “Mobiles for Literacy in Developing Countries: An Effectiveness Framework”. He underlines the importance of promoting literacy through information and communications technologies (ICTs) in today’s world where there are “more connected mobile devices than people” and provides several examples of organizations that are working towards increasing literacy through ICTs.

The Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI) is run in South Africa by the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy. They aim to “improve literacy through interactive, computer-based lessons” created by the University of Pennsylvania’s International Literacy Institute (ILI). They provide access to educational materials and issue students with “mother-tongue resources” in regions where computer sources or books are mostly in English. Comparably, Ustad Mobile is an application in Afghanistan that runs offline on phones. They center around instructing reading comprehension, listening, and numeracy. Teachers and students can download and share lessons; the app also includes exercises, videos and interactive quizzes in order to “mobilize education for all”.

BBC Janala is another project using technology to promote literacy in Bangladesh. It is a multi-platform service and can be accessed through TV, internet, print and mobile phones. BBC Janala concentrates on teaching English through three-minute audio lessons, quizzes, TV shows, newspapers, textbooks and CDs.

Illiteracy is an issue in Papua New Guinea; most likely due to the lack of reading materials and importance placed on literacy. However projects like, “The SMS Story” are all over the world and are working towards using technology to promote literacy one step at a time.

Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

App to Help Refugees in Uganda
Uganda has been accepting refugees for many years. Unfortunately, these refugees have limited access to economic opportunity. That is where LevelApp comes in. The nonprofit Refunite created the app to help refugees in Uganda. The program creates small tasks for refugees to complete in exchange for payment. It is not a substitute for a regular income, but it provides some money on the side that refugees can save for the future. The work pays well too; a refugee may normally make around $1 a day, but the app gives them the potential to make up to $20 a day.

Uganda’s Refugee Crisis

Refugees have been seeking shelter in Uganda for many years now. Here are some facts about refugees in Uganda.

  • The refugee population in Uganda rose by 48 percent in the past year.
  • There are over 1.3 million refugees in Uganda.
  • Over 60 percent of those refugees are from South Sudan.
  • The South Sudanese are coming to Uganda to escape an oppressive government.
  • Many South Sudanese refugees are between 15 and 25 years old.
  • Almost 30 percent of refugees come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The Congolese are escaping ethnic violence and an Ebola outbreak.

How LevelApp is Helping Refugees

Refugees need to be able to save money if they are to lift themselves out of poverty. The app helps women, who are important in local economies, by giving them tasks they can do from home. Almost 30 percent of users are women and they can use extra money in many beneficial ways. Some ways are to send kids to school, buy livestock and access health care, which might make them less dependent on foreign aid. Another important benefit is that by using this new technology, refugees learn new skills that they can use when they return home.

How LevelApp Works?

Refugees complete simple tasks like categorizing images and datasets. The more tasks they complete, the more money they make. They can download tasks and complete offline, which is important because many refugees do not have access to a consistent internet connection. Refugees can make almost $200 a month with this simple work. As of July 2019, LevelApp had around 1,500 users and the hope is that this number will grow.

The tasks are to help Refunite develop artificial intelligence. The basic tasks refugees complete, like labeling and mapping, help the AI learn. For Refunite, this is a win-win scenario because it is helping refugees climb out of poverty while developing AI.

Unexpected Benefits of LevelApp

While LevelApp is helping to lift refugees out of poverty, there are also some other positive effects. Using the app, refugees are beginning to learn English, which is an incredibly useful language to know. Also, through LevelApp, young people can new people. This is beneficial because a high number of refugees are young, and they are often stuck in limbo socially and economically. The youth often have difficulty making friends and progressing their careers. The app has also benefited the careers of young people by teaching them 21st-century skills that they can use when they return home.

LevelApp is helping refugees by providing an income that they normally would not have. It is a unique economic opportunity that greatly benefits refugees by providing them with 21st-century technological skills to use to access higher-paying jobs when they return home. The creator, Refunite, is also benefitting because the work refugees do for the company helps develop its artificial intelligence program. The company could easily develop this technology at home in the United States, but giving this opportunity to refugees is beneficial to combatting poverty. This app to help refugees in Uganda has created benefits that stretch beyond just poverty reduction and display the need for innovative solutions to global poverty.

– Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

Hiring Refugee Women Can Boost Global GDP
Women and girls make up about half of the refugee population worldwide, but less than half have a paid job. In some countries, such as Germany and Lebanon, females make up just 6 percent of the working world compared to the United States’ 40 percent. Even in the United States, the number is low. Many refugee women do not have paid work because they face violence and discrimination in workplaces, including sexual assault and exclusion. However, if accepted into the working world, hiring refugee women could boost the global GDP by $1.4 trillion.

How Hiring Refugee Women Could Boost the Global GDP

More workers mean more hands to create products. Companies can sell more if they produce more. The global GDP is an annual measurement of all the final goods sold worldwide. Statistically, only four out of 10 migrant women are getting paid to work compared to seven out of 10 men. As mentioned earlier, the gap in women workers is partly due to workplace discrimination and partly to pay gap. In places such as Turkey,  where the pay gap between women and men is highest, the difference in salaries is about 94 cents per dollar. In the United States, where the gap is lower, the difference is 29 cents per dollar. By increasing women’s pay and making workplaces more accessible, women could not only become more motivated to enter the field, but the hiring of refugee women could also boost the global GDP to a total of $2.5 trillion.

Effect of Businesses Hiring Refugee Women

The hiring of refugee women could have a positive impact on the economy and local businesses as well. In 2017, Starbucks Coffee pledged to hire around 10,000 refugees by 2022, which will help give more opportunities for refugee women to go out and seek work. With hiring refugee women, Starbucks hopes to help “a population who seeks a chance to rebuild their lives and have a fresh start.” By giving refugee women a paid job, they are able to start over and put the money towards their families. 

The Pay Gap Status

The way to help employ more refugee women would be to close the pay gap between men and women. Worldwide, only 63 percent of the wage gap has closed, meaning men are making more than women in over half of the world. This rate is highest in countries such as Germany, Lebanon and Jordan. By closing the pay gap, refugee women in these countries will have a steady income to support their families, and make them less dependent on aid from their governments.

Besides economic growth, refugee women can make improvements in society, as well as make personal improvements. In Baalbeck, Lebanon, a Syrian woman refugee named Bushra makes her living by fixing electronic devices. Not only does it bring in a source of income, but it is also making an impact on the world around her, “The role of an electrician is mostly for men,” Bushra says. “But it shouldn’t be exclusively for men. We can work even better than them.” Bushra is one of the few women in the village that has a paid job. She is using her skills to help improve the society around her, while still providing for her family.

Over half of the world’s refugee women do not hold a paying job. If brought into the working world, hiring refugee women can boost global GDP by $1.4 trillion, bringing the total to $2.5 trillion. There will not only be an economic increase but an increase in societal empowerment as well. By encouraging women to use the skills that they have, they will not only improve the production of goods but can use their skills to help others.

– Destinee Smethers
Photo: Flickr

Top Seven Blockchain Projects
Traditional perceptions of blockchain technology involve uses in financial technology and under the table transactions. Blockchain, however, has possibilities far beyond finance and digital currency. By its nature, blockchain provides unparalleled security and transparency. By creating a decentralized network of highly-encrypted blocks, a blockchain system creates a secure, unchangeable ledger. No one person can make changes and the encryption means that it is extremely difficult to hack, thus making blockchain one of the most secure and transparent technologies in the world. This technology has the power to revolutionize poverty reduction. Below are the top seven blockchain projects that represent the most successful blockchain for poverty projects that address real, pressing global issues.

Top 7 Blockchain Projects for Poverty

  1. Agri-Wallet: Agri-Wallet is a mobile app that allows farmers to remotely and securely receive payment for their produce and save money on business expenses. The majority of smallholder farmers do not have enough funding, both due to delayed payments for goods and a lack of access to credit. This is because banks are hesitant to lend to poor farmers that do not have a strong credit history or collateral. Through the blockchain financial ecosystem, Agri-Wallet allows farmers access to small loans and guarantees payment the first week of every month, which has been a major boon to Kenyan farmers. Agri-Wallet has already seen extensive success in Kenya, with approximately 4,000 farmers, 14 suppliers and 25 buyers using the app only one year after its large-scale release.
  2. Mojaloop: In developed countries, some may take access to banking for granted, but 1.7 million adults around the world do not have access to a secure banking system. The Gates Foundation sought to change this by releasing Mojaloop, an open-source solution that allows anyone to build financial services software, providing financial security through blockchain-based encryption. The key to Mojaloop’s importance is its egalitarian nature – a developer does not have to be connected to a major company or bank to develop technology using Mojaloop, and the code bridges all financial products and applications in any given market, providing unprecedented access to financial services for poor populations. The app has already gained the confidence of two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and the Gates Foundation estimates that it will reach 338 million existing mobile money accounts through the entire continent of Africa. In other words, this blockchain for poverty app could provide a flexible, universal banking system to 338 million people in Africa.
  3. Diwala: As of June 2019, there are more than 70 million displaced people worldwide fleeing war, persecution and conflict. The ability to join the workforce of refugee’s new home is critical for their integration into their new community and to rebuild their lives. However, when fleeing a war-torn country, it is difficult for refugees to retain certifications or diplomas. Diwala provides a secure, unchangeable digital resume that verifies a person’s skills, education and certifications that employers can rely on to provide an accurate record. The organization currently works with multiple organizations and universities to help issue credentials via Diwala to further verify education and certifications. Diwala is already bringing digital employment verification to Kenya and Uganda.
  4. BitGive: BitGive’s goal is to provide better transparency and accountability between donors and charitable organizations. The company’s blockchain for poverty product, GiveTrack™, allows donors to trace their donations in real-time to see exactly where their money goes. BitGive’s use of blockchain technology provides high-level security while also providing an unalterable ledger that donors can refer to at any time to ensure their money goes to the cause they want and see the real impact they are having on a community. The use of cryptocurrency also means that BitGive can quickly and efficiently transfer funds across the globe. The organization has seen amazing success, including partnerships with Save the Children and The Water Project.
  5. Goodr: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans waste approximately 30-40 percent of the U.S. food supply, while 820 million people around the world suffer from hunger. Goodr provides blockchain-based supply chain management tools that allow companies, such as airlines, convention centers and other food operations, to redirect surplus foods to food-insecure communities. As an added incentive, Goodr provides companies with blockchain-based ledgers that allow them to track their food and identify areas of waste. During the 2019 Superbowl alone, Goodr rescued over 100,000 pounds of food.
  6. OneSmart: The World Bank considers government corruption a significant challenge in reducing global poverty, particularly because corruption disproportionately affects poor populations. In 2018, UNICEF funded OneSmart’s OS City project to combat corruption and bring more transparency to local and national governments. OneSmart created a blockchain platform that is flexible enough to be integrated with existing city management platforms, allowing for the implementation of blockchain and artificial intelligence throughout government to avoid waste and increase transparency.
  7. SOLshare: SOLshare seeks to help the 1.1 million people worldwide without consistent access to electricity. It is the first-ever peer-to-peer electricity trading network, allowing villages to create mini-power grids by connecting houses with solar panels to other homes in the neighborhood. The blockchain-based platform allows for the fast, efficient and safe transfer of funds between neighbors, allowing for local, independent electricity grids. SOLshare has already brought electricity to 65 million people in Bangladesh and is helping helps poor villages shape a greener future.

People limit the use of blockchain technology by relegating it to banking or shady online transactions alone. The above top seven blockchain projects show that blockchain has value as a tool to develop solutions for multiple global issues. A blockchain is a useful tool that can address multifaceted issues in fighting poverty. Though it is still an emerging technology, blockchain deserves widespread research and support.

– Melanie Rasmussen
Photo: Flickr

Nigerian Dance Company
People primarily consider dance a form of art or entertainment, but this Nigerian dance company is using dance to make a difference and better its community, as well as provide the determination and focus for the younger population. QDanceCenter is a dance studio, touring dance group and community development center all in one. It has received international recognition for touring and performing shows that focus on a variety of current socio-cultural, personal and political topics.

History and Mission of QDance

Qudus Onikeku, an internationally acclaimed choreographer and dancer, founded QDance in 2014. QDance started as a way to promote dance and tradition in the Lagos community. Onikeku also realized the need for employment and personal development opportunities and decided that fighting unemployment would be a major goal of the center as well. It now works with dancers and non-dancers and provides many employment and internship opportunities throughout Nigeria and the rest of the African continent.

QDance has a mission of “embracing creativity and innovation as a way of life.” It places high importance on innovation, using it as a means to create a goal, generate creative ideas, follow through on development and practical application and make it deliver real value and products. The QDance philosophy combines art and business to create a social enterprise and works with young people primarily in order to keep striving for the future of the center. QDanceCenter believes that dance is a business and employs not only dancers but also non-dancers who ensure that all the content and intellectual properties QDance produces returns an income. Its primary focus is to make sure that the center can continue to pay employees as well as continue to tour and perform.

Dance to Make a Difference

With over 203 million people in Nigeria, 19.81 percent of the population is between the ages of 15 and 24. Of that number, 12.4 percent of the people within that age range do not have employment and are dealing with homeless issues. QDance is trying to make a difference both in the world of dance and within its own community. Currently, the Nigerian dance company employs nine full-time positions, 150 part-time positions, 20 internship opportunities and 230 indirect/outside jobs. Although it focusses primarily in Nigeria, it has made an impact in nearly 50 countries.

Onikeku considers QDance to be comprised of change-makers and says that they “have to be willing to attack something that society’s failing woefully at.” One of the other major focuses of QDance is working with dancers and artists living with disabilities. The center provides a platform for all dancers, based on talent and regardless of ability or disability. To date, QDance has trained over 100 young dancers, including those disabilities. It has amassed over 10,000 active followers and has worked with over 200 artists.

By providing employment opportunities for both dancers and non-dancers, QDanceCenter has been able to provide an income to hundreds of people as well as make a positive impact on the Lagos community in the past five years. In addition, the international community has recognized the work and talent of the center and its dancers, with many clients and artists located outside of Nigeria. Through these continued efforts, the Nigerian dance company is using dance to make a difference in the community by fighting against poverty and unemployment. Over the next several years, the organization will have helped many more people follow a passion, receive a steady income and foster a sense of community and development over an international following.

– Jessica Winarski
Photo: Flickr

Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Mall for Africa Boosts Prosperity
Mall for Africa boosts prosperity by allowing African consumers to purchase items from retailers located in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company’s innovation offers a secure and easy way for African citizens to purchase items online.

The Foundation of Mall for Africa

Chris Folayan, a Nigerian citizen and the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa, opened Mall for Africa in 2016. Foloyan founded this organization in Nigeria because this nation is the most affluent and high-powered country in Africa. Folayan has plans for Mall for Africa to expand in several other African nations as well, such as Ghana and Kenya.

The primary objective of Mall for Africa is for customers to purchase items from the U.S. and the U.K. and to market their own goods effectively in the absence of fraud and theft. Companies transport their products to the United States and United Kingdom infrastructures. Africa then receives the items.

In 2018, Mall for Africa began coordinating with the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in order to construct facilities in 15 of Africa’s nations. The purpose of this was to reduce shipping costs from international companies and allow for secure payment methods with provincial dollars.

Africans who make purchases online often pay high-cost fees for shipping items. To counter this, Mall for Africa opened storehouses in Portland, Oregon and London to reduce transportation costs. Furthermore, customers are able to purchase items using their own currency through new payment options.

Market Advantages

Mall for Africa boosts prosperity in Africa because of the availability of supplies and materials that generate employment opportunities, improve schooling and new forms of medical treatment. In particular, one entrepreneur purchased a sewing machine which enabled her to begin her own sewing operation. Educational institutions have benefited from Mall for Africa by having the ability to purchase necessary academic materials. These materials include items such as computers and books.

The medical field has benefited from the ability to obtain medical equipment. This gives doctors the ability to effectively pronounce medical conditions and offer treatment options.

Mall for Africa has helped create jobs for Nigerian residents. For instance, more than 60 citizens work full-time. Some expect the number of workers to increase with the implementation of new infrastructures in other African countries.

Since the company first launched, Mall for Africa has boosted prosperity in terms of profit. In fact, it has produced millions of dollars in yearly profits. An expansion of profits should happen due to the implementation of this business in other African nations. In 2019, Nigeria and Kenya are expecting to see a large increase in sales due to the development of various enterprises and the expansion of the working class earning more pay.

eBay’s Collaboration with Mall for Africa

While Africans are able to purchase products overseas as of 2017, Americans now have the ability to purchase original artifacts from Africa through the Mall for Africa application on eBay. Residents in some countries have the ability to sell their artifacts through eBay and market these products to U.S. consumers. Some of these countries include Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Burundi. The commodities will be available through the Mall for Africa application on eBay, which enables entrepreneurs to expand brand awareness and increase economic prosperity in Africa.

The primary groupings of products are fashion, antiques and jewelry. Mall for Africa will likely include other groupings in the future with the addition of other African countries selling their products.

Mall for Africa’s shipping co-partner, DHL, handles the transportation of all packages. The merchant packages their items then delivers the package to the closest DHL shipping facility. In February 2017, DHL reported a substantial rise in international sales. The company predicts that by 2020 the online market will progress at a rate of 25 percent annually. That is close to double the volume of sales achieved nationally.

While this partnership is expected to expand inventory to the United States, there will also be opportunities for economic advancement for Africans who now have the option of selling their products internationally. Overall, Mall for Africa boosts prosperity for the African continent.

– Diana Dopheide
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste or East Timor, a small island between Indonesia and Australia, has struggled with gaining independence since its colonization in the 16th century. The long-standing political turmoil which placated the country throughout much of its history has impacted its economy. The overarching lack of access to raw materials, such as clean water, also depicts the nation’s struggling economy. Below is a list of 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Timor-Leste

  1. Housing: World Bank estimates from 2016 assumed that Timor-Leste’s economy and its building of national infrastructure would increase steadily over the subsequent three years. It predicted that the growth of the nation would decrease to four percent in 2017, bounce back up to five percent in 2018 and hit six percent in 2019. Unfortunately, the situation concerning Timor-Leste’s housing has remained stagnant. Most people’s houses consist of bamboo, wood and a thatched roof. People that live in urban areas are able to use concrete, which shows a divide in the living conditions in Timor-Leste.
  2. Education: Approximately 20 percent of preschool-aged children in Timor-Leste attend school and nearly 37 percent of young adults living in rural areas are illiterate compared to the six percent in urban areas. Sanitation and access to clean, drinkable water are sorely lacking in schools alone. In 2008, UNICEF began partnering with local agencies to end this issue. It advocated for the establishment of the Basic Law of Education in 2008, the Basic Education Law in 2010 and the National Policy Framework for Preschool Education in 2014 among others.

  3. Agriculture: Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of Timor Leste’s income; its main products include maize, rice and cassava. Very few of the farmers have access to sustainable technologies or practices that are necessary for efficient agricultural production. USAID implemented a plan to address this developmental disparity from 2013 to 2018 through its partnership with Developing Agricultural Communities (DAC). This partnership works with local sectors to teach horticulture technologies and the 349 participating farmers saw great results. Original participants saw their production increase by 183 percent and total revenue by 186 percent, while farmers new to the DAC increased production by 466 to 517 percent.

  4. Access to Food: Due to the heavy reliance on agriculture for survival and income, droughts and shortages of food production can result in high levels of starvation. The 2017 Global Hunger Index classifies Timor-Leste as suffering from high levels of malnutrition. Since 2001, the number of undernourished people has remained stagnant at 300,000. The Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) aims to improve incomes in addition to food and job security to the rural areas of Timor-Leste. It has a six-year-plan agreed upon by the World Bank and government in 2016 and predictions dictate that it should impact 16,500 households and approximately 100,000 people.

  5. Employment: While a majority of the population’s jobs consist of agriculture and farming, there is a huge job market in the science and technology fields. The employment rate is one of the highest that the country has seen in 10 years at 97 percent. This illustrates that while Timor-Leste may be a poor country, it has a lot of untapped potential.

  6. Medicine: Access to doctors and basic medicine has improved over recent years, but many rural communities still seek basic services. New organizations are currently emerging to improve supply chain management of pharmaceutical supplies. There are only 175 doctors that serve the entire population of Timor-Leste. Similar to the United States, citizens have a choice of whether to invest in private or public health care and the government monitors both.

  7. Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Although water surrounds Timor-Leste, the water conditions are poor which make it very easy to contract diseases. The lack of sanitation and regular garbage collection contribute to attracting mosquitoes. Dengue fever and malaria are two of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in Timor-Leste and both have a high mortality rate. Currently, there is no treatment for dengue fever in the area, but there are multiple courses of medical treatment available for malaria.

  8. Water Conditions: Timor-Leste is an island nation, but there is an overall lack of access to clean water that plagues much of the population. Access to clean water and toilets remain a constant issue in Timor-Leste as 353,000 people do not have access to clean water. Subsequently, over half of the population does not have a decent toilet which can lead to major health major issues. In fact, 65 children die each year from dirty water and unsanitary toilets. Women also suffer from managing menstruation, which can greatly inhibit their academic achievements and widen the blatant gender inequality within the country. WaterAid Australia is working tirelessly with the government to make clean water, toilets and good hygiene a part of daily life. The program, which started in 2015, has grown to support WASH delivery service projects in over 180 countries, providing services to approximately 25,000 people.

  9. Plan International: This organization works with various communities across Timor-Leste to provide access to clean water as well as to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing and waste management. Since 2011, it has built 32 village water supply systems which have benefited over 9,000 individuals.

  10. UNFPA Timor-Leste: Maternal health is an issue that has largely slipped through the cracks. In 2010, reports stated that for every 100,000 births in the country, 150 died from complications involving childbirth and pregnancy. Hemorrhaging, anemia, infections/sepsis, labor obstructions and unsafe abortions are the major causes of maternal death. Below are the four pillars that UNFPA works hard to ensure are available to all women:

    1. Modern Contraceptives: Birth control, condoms, etc.

    2. Antenatal care: Routine health screenings of pregnant women without symptoms in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions.

    3. Safe Delivery: A delivery in a medical setting or by a midwife, in which health professionals monitor both the mother and baby.

    4. Emergency Obstetric Care: Basic emergency obstetric and newborn care is critical to reducing maternal and neonatal death.

With the increase of birth rates and access to clean water and food, there is no question that progress is occurring in Timor-Leste. Improvements are slowly diminishing the fatal health issues in the country as these 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste have illustrated.

Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

App Helps Job Seekers

Recently, a new and innovative app helps job seekers and employers in South Africa. The app makes finding a new employee or job less stressful and a little more fun. A group of employers that were frustrated with the traditional job application process created “Mr. Employ,” an app that helps job seekers find the right position and company that best suits them and their needs. Additionally, Mr. Employ is helping employers find the right people for their company.

An App For Employees

Mr. Employ” is free to use. The app helps job seekers view potential job postings quickly and easily. On the app, there is a dashboard that summarizes all the jobs one matches with. Mr. Employ’s matching criteria is unique and weighted in that it allows job seekers to choose the best jobs out there.

Candidates are able to read a quick summary about which prospective employers match with their wants and qualifications. From there, candidates can see whether they would like to give them a “thumbs-up.” Regardless of whether a person may not like the job posted, no job postings are ever left out of the dashboard. Candidates may just match less with one job over another based on their personality, wants and professional goals.

This app helps job seekers as they can “like” up to five jobs on the app. To create a profile on the app, candidates upload a standardized micro CV, a photograph and a 15 second video.

An App For Employers

On the app, employers can quickly be matched with a growing pool of candidates through its easy and navigable sites.

First, employers must create their job postings and then enter as many job specifications as they would like to that upload. Then, employers choose whether they would like to keep their job posting open to all potential matches, or simply only to those the company specifically likes themselves. After the company’s profile is complete, companies can then see all current dashboards for all potential candidates they matched with. The can also view their match in a percentage regarding the candidate’s qualifications for the specifications posted for the specific jobs.

The 15-second video is very important to employers since it serves as a candidate’s first impression. It gives companies a real sense of whether a candidate will be a right fit for the culture and nature of their business. From a first impression, companies can gather whether they would like to spend the time to get to know the candidate in person or not.

This saves companies time and energy as opposed to the traditional ways where employers would previously try to get to know someone from pieces of paper. This method prevents employers from finding out if a candidate would be a good fit for their company until they meet them face-to-face. The videos on this new app helps job seekers and saves employers time and energy. For employers to partake in the app, they must pay a fee for every job posting that they upload.

Connecting Employers with the Best Candidates

Mr. Employ is designed to help match employers and potential candidates across varying disciplines such as food, retail, sales and entertainment. The app takes into consideration scenarios like transport, gender, language, salary and location. It then assigns an applicability score to candidates. Both the employer and the applicant must “thumbs up” one another to get a match. If that connection is solidified with a hire, that applicant is automatically removed from the app.

Mr. Employ Can Help Unemployment in South Africa

South’s Africa’s unemployment rate increased to 27.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019 from the previous reported number of 27. It is the highest unemployment rate since the third quarter of 2017. Since then, the number of people that were without a job rose from 62,000 to 6.20 million.

With these daunting statistics looming over South Africa, a silver lining is seen within this new app that helps get people jobs. There are about 70 different employers currently searching for people to fulfill numerous jobs across all fields to accompany the approximate 1,200 applicants looking to succeed in those jobs for years to come.

– Jillian Rose
Photo: Flickr

sustainable energy in africaSustainable energy has become one of the most significant challenges and focuses worldwide over the past several decades. As most of the world begins to shift away from traditional biofuels, like coal and gasoline, other sources of energy, such as wind, solar and hydropower, have taken up a more significant share of the world’s energy production. The share of traditional sources has decreased from its peak of 81 percent in 2000 to roughly 65 percent by 2016; meanwhile, the share of wind energy has increased from 0.2 percent in 2000 to closer to 6 percent. Though this is a slow rate of progression, it demonstrates that most of the world is steadily moving further towards renewable energy sources. Sustainable energy in Africa is growing as governments push for more sustainable energy and is helping impoverished communities by increasing employment.

Pushing for Sustainability

Sustainable energy in Africa has seen significant boosts in recent years. One country making particularly significant strides in sustainable energy in Africa is Kenya. With a renewable energy rate of about 73 percent, Kenya is making efforts to retain sustainability. In fact, the largest wind farm in Africa just recently completed construction in Lake Turkana, Kenya. The facility has been under construction since 2014, and with a total of 365 wind turbines, it will mark a significant boost toward sustainable energy both in Kenya and in Africa as a whole.

In fact, Kenya is making an official, concerted effort towards becoming 100 percent green energy powered by 2020. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has made clear his commitment to expanding renewable energy in Kenya and has gained support from other developed nations to help invest in those projects in Kenya. Investments have led to increases in wind, solar and hydroelectric power projects over the past 10 to 15 years, with many such facilities doubling in number. Reliance on low-emission geothermal energy has also risen sharply, with Kenya ranking ninth in the world in how much power it generates from geothermal energy.

Sustainable Energy and Fighting Poverty

Aside from being environmentally conscious, renewable energy facilities also markedly increase employment. More sustainable energy in Africa can help people out of poverty. Kenya’s pushes towards wind and solar energy have led to the direct employment of 10,000 workers. Not only that, but access to electricity from these projects has also allowed some 65,000 additional people to seek out and obtain jobs elsewhere, which they could not have found without the use of electricity. The number of workers employed in the sustainable energy sector is also expected to increase by 70 percent by 2022-2023. Similarly, in Nigeria, it is expected that sustainable energy will create 52,000 jobs by that same timeframe.

It is evident that sustainable energy in Africa will drive the future of countries like Kenya and Nigeria, and assist with uplifting people both directly via increased employment and indirectly due to expanded access to clean electricity. These industries will increase not only sustainable sources of energy, but will create a sustainable economy and a sustainable population that will not succumb to the negative impacts of unemployment and poverty.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr