asante africa foundationEducation has a massive impact on global poverty rates. According to the Global Partnership for Education, around 171 million people globally would escape poverty if every child left school with the ability to read. However, according to the Brookings Institute, one in four primary school-aged children in East Africa are not receiving an education. Asante Africa Foundation is working to combat this statistic. The non-profit organization aims to provide quality education and job skills to underprivileged children in Kenya and Tanzania through a four-pronged approach.

The Leadership and Entrepreneurial Incubator Program

The sub-Saharan workforce is the least skilled in the world. According to an Inter-University Council of East Africa report from 2014, a mere 49 percent of employers in Kenya believe graduates are prepared to succeed in an entry-level position. Only 39 percent of employers in Tanzania believe graduates are prepared. Asante’s leadership program works with children to build skills that are applicable in the workforce.

The program is a three year curriculum focused on personal development, job readiness and entrepreneurship. Skills like goal setting, financial literacy, leadership development, professional etiquette, industry exploration, project planning, interviewing and resume building are taught to children in the program. The programs five year impact report states that around 60 percent of participants have a leadership position in their communities, more than 70 percent have completed internships and participants have seen a 40 percent increase in salaries as opposed to those not involved in the program.

The Girls’ Advancement Program

According to Human Rights Watch, over 49 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa are out of primary and secondary school. Tanzania was found to have policies harmful to girls’ education. Human Rights Watch discovered that school officials conducted pregnancy tests and expelled pregnant students. The Girls’ Advancement Program teaches female students about sexual maturation, reproductive health, children’s rights and also assists schools in providing safe environments for girls.

The program has greatly benefited female students. Financial literacy is at 95 percent, 85 percent of participants feel they can attend school while menstruating and 70 percent know the importance of HIV awareness and prevention. The program also involves male students and helps them learn about male and female health.

Accelerated Learning in the Classroom Program

The third of the four ways Asante African Foundation is educating impoverished youth in East Africa is by improving educational resources and classroom environments. The Accelerated Learning in the Classroom Program provides intensive teacher training, a learner-centered education model and low cost digital resources to schools. Over 3,000 teachers have been trained to use digital resources in the program. According to Asante, 63 percent of students involved saw increases in English and critical thinking skills.

Scholarship Program

According to UNICEF, direct and indirect costs of schooling are a large barrier to education, especially among girls. Asante provides scholarships for primary, secondary and university level schooling. The primary school scholarship covers food, school materials, uniforms, personal items, boarding and transportation. The secondary and university scholarships cover all the aforementioned items except transportation and are based on academic performance. All of the scholarships cover one year of expenses and are given to rural and poor students of East Africa.

Asante has positively impacted over 500,000 lives through their programs. According to Global Partnership for Education, programs like Asante’s help reduce poverty rates, increase individual earnings, reduce income inequality while promoting economic growth. Asante has received awards from UNESCO, the Jefferson Awards Foundation, the Khan Academy, the African Achievers Awards and the United Nation Girls’ Education Initiative for their effective and beneficial work. The four ways Asante African Foundation is educating impoverished youth in East Africa and strategies like them are essential for the development of that region, and according to the U.N., imperative in ending extreme poverty.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopia's Economy
Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 112 million people. Ethiopia also has the fastest growing economy on the continent and is located on the east coast. In 2015, the World Bank reported 23.5 percent of Ethiopia’s population to be living under the national poverty line, however. As of 2019, its GDP is expected to grow between seven and eight percent in the next year in large part due to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who proposed large scale economic reforms in June 2018, two months after assuming office. The following facts about Ethiopia’s Economy give a closer look at the country’s development in recent decades.

7 Facts About Ethiopia’s Economy

  1. Prior to 2018, the state primarily controlled the Ethiopian economy, which was in line with the beliefs of its dominant political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In 2018, however, Prime Minister Dr. Ali, chairman of the EPRDF, announced that it would allow private investors into some of its monopolies, beginning with select airlines, electricity and telecommunications. Ali and the EPRDF found this shift necessary to spur economic growth according to the government.
  2. Agriculture, textiles, minerals and metal processing are the largest industries in Ethiopia. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the country can trace 40.5 percent of its GDP to the export of coffee, vegetables and sugarcane. Recently, foreign investment in flower, wine and textile industries have become major contributors to the Ethiopian economy as well.
  3. Despite this, Prime Minister Ali has declared his intention to move Ethiopia’s agriculture-based economy into manufacturing, which he announced in a national plan titled Vision 2025. The goal of the plan is to create more than two million jobs and grow the manufacturing industry to 25 percent of Ethiopia’s economy. The idea is for Ethiopia to position itself as a viable contender for low wage jobs to foreign companies in need of labor.
  4. Infrastructural development is also an integral player in the expansion of the Ethiopian economy. Vision 2025 also details the timeline for the creation of 10 new public industrial parks as well as six others to be completed by private developers, bringing at least 60,000 jobs to the area. The sites will receive supplementation in the form of free water, subsidized rent and electricity. To this end, the government has created the Industrial Parks Development Cooperation to oversee the project, and communicate with potential investors. This initiative has been rather controversial to date, however. Strikes erupted at Hawassa Industrial Park, which opened in 2016, due to low wages and unsafe working conditions.
  5. Another significant infrastructural development has been the light rail, the first transportation system of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its completion, the metro has allowed more than 60,000 people easier access to urban centers where they are more likely to find work or able to attend school for $.027 a ride.
  6. Ethiopia’s potential as an energy provider superpower can not only be seen by its light rail, which relies on hydropower, but also by its large stake in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which once completed, will be largest in the continent. It has been under construction since 2011 but will be able to generate 6000MW of electricity, serving not only Ethiopia’s water and hydropower needs but those of 10 other countries as well.
  7. As a rising global economic powerhouse, Ethiopia also has a great interest in expanding its tourism industry. With multi-billion-dollar investments spread across industrial parks and transportation, Prime Minister Ali announced his intentions to no longer African citizens require visas to enter the country. The plan to expand the Bole International Airport so it can serve 22 million people, more than triple the number it accommodates today, accompanied this.

The economic reforms and rapid, large scale infrastructural development happening in Ethiopia today are a promising start to reducing its poverty levels worldwide. Internationally, others recognize Ethiopia’s efforts too; the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion of support in 2018. These seven facts about the Ethiopian economy highlight the government’s rightfully ambitious initiatives— sure to result in a more advanced country supported by the creation of hundreds and thousands of jobs it requires to continue to thrive.

– Jordan Powell
Photo: Flickr

Education Development in Tajikistan

Education development in Tajikistan has increased in recent years through the assistance of UNICEF, the European Training Foundation (ETF) and other organizations. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan (MoES) introduced key reforms, such as the National Strategy on Education Development 2020, to improve its lacking education system. The reasoning behind efforts in education development in Tajikistan is to attain useful skills so that citizens may gain employment and a steady income. As a result, the declining but high poverty rate of 31.5 percent in Tajikistan can be reduced.

Education in Regions of Rural Poverty

The European Training Foundation found that 600,000 Tajikistanis are labor workers that work in Russia. About 57 percent of these workers are unskilled, poorly paid and work in hazardous conditions.

Since 73 percent of the country lives in rural areas, the main focus of the ETF, UN agencies and nonprofit organizations are regions such as Khatlon and Soghd. Over 70 percent of the poor live in the Khatlon and Soghd Regions. Both regions are emphasized to reduce poverty in Tajikistan and improve the quality of education.

The government’s goal is to double its GDP and reduce poverty in Tajikistan to 20 percent by 2020. To achieve this, the European Union and the ETF have identified three priorities: Health and vocational education, training and rural development.

These priorities have a total cost of around $275 million. The ETF is providing support in the following areas: contributing to international donor cooperation active in professional training, providing thematic expertise to support EU projects, articulating policy dialogue methods and practices and involving key national stakeholders in initiatives.

The World Bank’s Progress

The World Bank financed the $16 million Fourth Global Partnership for Education Fund Grant. The grant was created to improve Tajikistan’s preschool and general education. Additionally, it was meant to strengthen the system’s ability to withstand continued reforms in the education sector.

Marsha Olive, World Bank Country Manager, signed the act in 2013 and said, “This comprehensive project aims to ensure that the children of Tajikistan, especially the most marginalized including girls, ethnic minorities, rural children, and children with disabilities, are afforded the opportunity to achieve their education goals for future development and success.” The fund built off of the success of previous projects that began in 2006 from the Global Partnership for Education Fund.

The grant ended in 2017. It resulted in 18,978 students benefiting from infrastructure improvements against a target of 7,900 students. The grant also trained 5,395 primary teachers. Furthermore, it provided supplementary books to all schools. About 160,000 primary students are enrolled in schools with upgraded learning conditions, against a target of 100,000.

Looking to The Future

With the help of organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF and other nonprofit organizations, education development in Tajikistan will continue to progress. Consequently, the poverty rate will decline. Although the government’s goal to reduce poverty in Tajikistan is slow, progress is being made through coordinated efforts. Progress in the education sector shows that positive change is occurring in the country.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Rwanda
As of early 2019, estimates determine that Rwanda is host to approximately 150,000 refugees. To support this number, Rwanda maintains six refugee camps and four transit/reception centers, in addition to supporting refugee integration into urban areas. Rwanda is remarkable for its inclusive approach to refugees, most of whom are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The national government, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Government of Japan and other international, national and local organizations are all working to improve opportunities and livelihoods for refugees in Rwanda.

Approximately 79 percent of refugees in Rwanda live in the refugee camps, with the remainder — about 13,000 — living in urban centers. Rwanda gives refugees the right to do business and access health services, insurance, banking and education to promote integration. As of 2017, Rwanda had integrated more than 19,000 refugee students from Burundi into its national school system.

According to UNHCR, enabling the self-reliance of refugees is an essential part of its mission. UNHCR creates and supports initiatives that allow refugees to contribute to the economic development of their host country.

Ali Abdi has lived in Rwanda for 20 years after fleeing Somalia. After applying for a business card, he now runs a small convenience store and lives with his Rwandan wife. Ali described Rwanda as “a peaceful country” where “people do not discriminate.” He is thankful for his ability to be independent.

Supporting Refugee Entrepreneurs

In Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, many refugees like Ali are finding success in entrepreneurship. UNHCR labels Kigali as a “City of Light” for its accepting and supportive attitude toward refugees. The Government of Rwanda is actively working to promote the integration of refugees into the city with targeted assistance.

For refugees aspiring to own their own business, Inkomoko is a local business consulting firm that trains and supports refugees with UNHCR’s support. Beginning in 2016, Inkomoko’s refugee program has worked with 3,300 refugees, resulting in the creation of 2,600 new jobs across the country, a significant boost to the economy. The director of Inkomoko’s refugee program, Lydia Irambona, stated, “Our main goal is to help them increase their revenue, get more customers and understand how to do business here.”

Annick Iriwacu, a Burundian refugee, went to Inkomoko after a referral from her cousin. She has since opened a successful business selling liquid petroleum gas. The business has grown enough for her to now have five employees. She stated, “They gave me the strength and hope to continue, because I was giving up.”

Financial Support for Refugee Camps

While refugees in Rwanda’s refugee camps have fewer opportunities for economic independence and contribution, supporting and protecting them is still crucial. In June 2019, the Government of Japan donated $270,000 to UNHCR Rwanda to cover the needs of 58,552 Burundian refugees in Mahama, the largest refugee camp in the country. This is one of many donations, as the Government of Japan has supported Rwanda for six years and provided a total of approximately $7 million to the UNHCR to support Rwandan refugees.

UNHCR intends to use the 2019 money to maintain and improve refugees’ access to legal assistance and protection against violence, as well as health care services. Refugee camps in Rwanda provide primary health care and send refugees to local health facilities if they require secondary or tertiary care, which can be costly.

Supporting Refugee Farmers

Many refugees living in Rwandan camps want to become more economically independent, however. While the refugee camps provide displaced people with access to basic education and health facilities, many refugees have found that working allows them to take further advantage of what Rwanda can offer them and their families.

The IKEA Foundation, UNHCR, the World Food Programme, the Government of Rwanda and the Food and Agriculture Organization have all provided funding. These organizations are working together to improve the livelihoods of both refugees and local Rwandan farmers.

In the Misizi marshland, 1,427 Rwandans and Congolese refugee farmers are working together for agricultural success. The project is also generating social cohesion, as the Rwandan and refugee farmers are learning to work together and recognize the benefits of cooperation. As of early 2019, these farmers had produced more than 101 tonnes of maize, the profits of which enabled them to feed their families.

Rwanda’s Example

Rwanda intends to continue its inclusive approach to refugees them become successful and independent whether they live in camps or cities. Refugees have found success in Rwanda because its government and international partners are working hard on their behalf.

While there is still more work to do to ensure that refugees in camps have access to work opportunities and that refugees in cities receive support in achieving economic independence, the nation serves as an example of how to successfully help refugees begin new lives and contribute to a country’s economy.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in Germany

What began as a peaceful political uprising in 2011 has become one of the most devastating on-going civil wars of the 21st century. The war has contributed to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, leaving Syrian refugees in Germany hopeful for improved living conditions. The Syrian Civil War has not only devastated the country and its people but also neighboring nations, creating a regional disruption.

Syria’s fall is a global failure, and the consequences the war has brought with it have been difficult for other countries to manage. The Syrian Civil War forced countries to establish new policies to address the influx of Syrian refugees. Syrians have been escaping the bombings and repression since the outbreak of the war in 2011. However, in 2015, Europe was under more pressure when over one million refugees arrived through dangerous sea travel. Some Member States have closed their borders, and others have implemented new welcoming policies.

Current Living Conditions

Angela Merkel’s Germany welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees with its open door policy. German crowds awaited the arrival of Syrian refugees in Munich from Austria in 2015. However, today this enthusiasm contends with the rise of populism and right wing parties, affecting the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany. Amidst refugee settlement, anti-immigration views have become more and more popular among Germans. This forces the government to desperately establish effective integration policies to reduce tensions.

The living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany are very difficult. They are hospitalized as needed after arriving from extremely life-threatening conditions. Later, the refugees receive camp assignments. Due to the large number of refugee arrivals, Germany had to build emergency camps. These camps lack quality infrastructure and necessary equipment. Some refugees are assigned to shelters such as Tempelhof, where they sleep in a small bed among hundreds of others in one hall.

Due to integration laws that assign family members to different cities, some refugees must endure family separation. Moreover, Germany suspended the family reunification policy between 2016 and 2018 for refugees awaiting their status approval. According to the German government, Germany embassies received 44,736 family reunification applications in 2018, but only granted 1,500 applications.

Paperwork Holds Up the Process

Unfortunately, the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany become even more difficult once paper work begins. It could take up to eighteen months to be recognized as an asylum seeker. In most cities, refugees cannot join integration programs if they are not asylum seekers. According to the German law, asylum is a given right to anyone fleeing political persecution. However, the process of being granted refugee status based on the Asylum Act and the Residence Act can be lengthy.

These acts entitle refugees to integration programs, language classes and employment. This is not the reality for refugees who wait years of the approval of their status. Systematic hurdles can stop refugees from learning German, continuing their education or pursuing a job. Therefore, many refugees lose hope and enter black market jobs or seek distressing pathways.

A Brighter Future

Nonetheless, German policies, under the guidance of Merkel, continue to strive for effective integration. Overall refugee unemployment dropped sharply from 50.5 percent to 40.5 percent in mid-2018, based on the Institute for Employment Research. The study also concludes half of the refugee population will be employed by 2020. This is an optimistic advance considering the language barrier in addition to the fact that 80 percent of refugees who arrived in 2015 did not acquire a university degree. This is achievable because the settlement of refugees is improving along with the overall living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany.

Eventually, refugees will be able to leave crowded shelters and move into apartments with their families. By improving  integration efforts and paperwork processes, Syrian refugees in Germany can gain asylum status and attain their legal rights.

Njoud Mashouka
Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about living conditions in trinidad and tobago

North of the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is a wondrous country with elements that make the island unique. Living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago are bewildering due to its economic growth and the risks of HIV. There are many factors that affect living conditions on this island that make it whole. These are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Trinidad and Tobago

  1. Trinidad and Tobago is regarded as one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean due to its oil reserves and rich resources which help boost the economy in great ways. It is also regarded as one of the top three wealthiest countries in the Americas because of the amount of oil and gas throughout the island allowing for the economy to thrive and helping people live well throughout the island.
  2. Public healthcare is provided for free for citizens on the island, but there are private healthcare providers that can be paid for if it is affordable. There are numerous healthcare centers established around the island making it easily accessible for the citizens in Trinidad and Tobago.
  3. Although the economy has seen a significant boost since its independence in the 1960s, 26 percent of the population is living in poverty, surviving on less than $2.75 a day.
  4. Education is free to children between the ages of 5 and 16. There are private institutions that citizens can pay for but public education provides children with free transportation, books, and meals while in school giving children the opportunity to learn effectively.
  5. Trinidad and Tobago suffer from an increase in crime rates compared to 2016. There has been a 5.5 percent increase in crime rates, which are mostly violent crimes including murder and robbery.
  6. Trinidad and Tobago have a rich cultural life throughout the island celebrating historical African music, dance and literature.
  7. Housing has become a primary concern throughout the country due to the increasing population throughout the island. Many people struggle to find housing in urban areas due to the increasing shortage of land and high construction costs.
  8. Housing conditions vary throughout the urban and rural areas of Trinidad and Tobago. Families in rural areas usually inhabit wooden huts and have various family types where women are typically the head of the household.
  9. The unemployment rate has reached its lowest in 2015 with a rate of 3.5 percent. It has seen a significant decrease since the 90s where it was 17.2 percent.
  10. HIV has become a prevalent disease affecting a large amount of the population. Nearly 11,000 people are living with HIV but with access to free public health care, nearly 75 percent of the population is receiving treatment for the disease.

Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing great economic growth due to the vast amount of resources and has seen progress regarding education and health care but still see issues regarding diseases, housing and poverty. Although these may be factors that can affect the country negatively, Trinidad and Tobago have the potential to combat these elements to help the country thrive. These are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Elijah Jackson
Photo: Flickr

What is the W-GDP
The limitations that women have to pursue economic advancement on the same playing field as men occur even at a young age. There are societal expectations, stereotypes and constraints that women face from when they are very young. These expectations do not cease to affect women in the pursuit of roles in higher-paying jobs around the globe. U.S. President Donald Trump launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative in February 2019 in recognition of these issues and acknowledging related foundational constraints.

The W-GDP focuses on women prospering within the workforce, thriving in entrepreneurship and becoming established in the economy through the removal of legal barriers. These three pillars of the W-GDP recognize the untapped potential of women in the global economy. A unique team including the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, a National Security Advisor and leaders of the World Bank, UNICEF and Walmart promote the W-GDP. This sheds light on the uniqueness and significance of this initiative.

Women Prospering in the Workforce

The focus on women prospering within the workforce pertains to efforts implemented toward the placement and elevation for women’s global workforce participation. The actions behind this pillar prioritize making provisions for women’s access to education and training and providing the support necessary to thrive economically. Women also do not receive equal access to digital services in comparison to men. This further limits women’s economic advancement considering these services may involve training, employment and financial services. Over 1.7 billion women do not own cell phones throughout developing countries. Further, the likelihood of women using mobile internet is 26 percent less than men. These components also restrain the equality of women in the workforce.

The time-consuming weight of care and labor that women endure also limits opportunity. More likely than men, women face unsalaried work such as family care, cleaning and retrieving clean water. These activities hinder women from receiving a quality education, training or essential skills. All of these components are essential in obtaining higher-paying substantial-growth positions in areas such as engineering, math or science.

So, what is the W-GDP? It is an initiative that acknowledges this crisis that is harming the global economy and has developed plans to invest in over 50 million women in developing countries. Estimates have determined that this initiative adds $28 trillion to global gross domestic product (GDP) when it has 100 percent participation from women in the workforce.

Women Thriving in Entrepreneurship

The W-GDP initiative helps women thrive in entrepreneurship by opening their access to capital, markets, networks and mentorship. The W-GDP is addressing this issue because it highlights another problematic area; women-owned businesses face inequality in systems developed in their countries that do not provide equal access to market information, personal services, networks and other means of expansion. About $300 billion represents the credit gap in women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises all around the world. Many countries with undeveloped financial structures are not treating these gray areas in the middle efficiently.

To change these circumstances, systemic reconstructions will provide short and long-term aid as solutions to these issues. Overall structural or institutional amendments make up the solution to combat the blockages women face regarding opportunities and system access.

Women Enabled in the Economy

The pillar of enabling women in the global economy focuses on the policies and laws that countries established that provided barriers to the financial progress of women. The trials women face in pursuing economic participation include the weight of unsalaried care, gender-based violence, lack of expenditure in their education, required spousal consent for employment and lawful blockades to specific careers. These lawful barriers include prohibiting or limiting their rights to assume, own property or have contracts through their name. To alleviate these limitations, the government, private sector and citizens of society must implement essential exerts of labor and force.

The W-DGP believes that investing in women can lead to positive outcomes. These outcomes are beneficial to all, including national security, peace, stability and local economy boosts from family investments. It is time to tap into the population that has the potential to bring upon these changes.

– Janiya Winchester
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nicaraguans with Disabilities

After seven years in Granada, Nicaragua, this January, the Cafe de las Sonrisas set up shop in the capital city of Managua. Also known as the “Cafe of Smiles, ” the little restaurant was a popular tourist destination in Granada, partly because of its atmosphere but also its unique staff of Nicaraguans with disabilities. Customers sat down to lunch in a large, airy room with hammocks hanging from the ceiling—courtesy of the hammock factory next door.

The menu presents simple Nicaraguan meals in Spanish and sign language. Posters on the walls also display some words in sign language customers might need to know: hello, goodbye, yes, no and thank you. Aside from an interesting lesson in linguistics, these posters provide a means of communicating with the cafe’s staff, all of whom are deaf and/or mute. That’s where the Cafe de las Sonrisas gets its name, according to the owner. In the absence of the spoken word, the main language of the restaurant is sign language and smiles.

Founding the Tio Antonio Social Center

The cafe—the first cafe in the Americas to employ only people who deaf and/or mute—is the brainchild of Antonio Prieto Brunel, also known as Tio Antonio. A native of Spain, Brunel moved to Nicaragua 13 years ago. After seeing the predicament of people who are deaf in Nicaragua, Brunel set out to make a difference.

As a result, he built the Tio Antonio Social Center, a nongovernmental organization that provides employment for people with disabilities. The Social Center also consists of a hammock shop, which employs young people with various disabilities. Meanwhile, the other half of the Social Center is the Cafe de las Sonrisas.

Living with Disabilities in Nicaragua

For people like the hammock makers and cafe staff, such opportunities are hard to come by. Nicaragua has always been a difficult place for people with disabilities. As recently as the 2000s, people with disabilities were treated as less than human, both by society and their families. Many were hidden from the public by their families for the majority of their lives. And, the abuse of people with disabilities was swept under the rug. In some cases, people with physical or intellectual disabilities were even kept in cages. While such abuses are almost unheard of now, there are stories of people with disabilities being kept in cages from less than 20 years ago.

To make matters worse, Nicaraguans with disabilities lacked access to any sort of public support system. Such a system would allow them to adapt to society or advocate for themselves. Instead, in the 1980s, the first schools for people who are deaf in Nicaragua were built. Before that, many Nicaraguans who are deaf lived in isolation. This was not only due to societal stigma but also the lack of community. In fact, Nicaraguan Sign Language was not developed until the schools began bringing children who are deaf together.

Improving Circumstances in Nicaragua

Since then, social progress for people with disabilities in Nicaragua has been slow but steady. While the government has built “special schools” for children with disabilities, these schools are chronically underfunded and understaffed. In addition, youth with disabilities frequently lack social support from their families. Seventy percent of children with disabilities in Nicaragua grow up without their fathers. Frequently, the birth of a child with disabilities results in the father abandoning the family. In addition, due to the stigma surrounding disability, 90 percent of Nicaraguans with disabilities are unemployed.

Without employment, many adults with disabilities are forced to depend on their families for most of their lives. Those without families, or without family members willing to support a relative with disabilities, often end up on the streets.

Employing Nicaraguans with Disabilities

Thanks to the hammock factory and the cafe, Brunel’s employees have been able to avoid such fate. Along with providing employment, the Tio Antonio Social Center prepares its workers for other jobs by teaching them career skills. Ultimately, its goal is to allow the Nicaraguan youth with disabilities to have the freedom that older generations with disabilities were denied. Equipped with gainful employment and career skills, Brunel’s employees have the opportunity to support themselves, which means that they can avoid being dependent on their families like many Nicaraguans with disabilities.

Plus, the Cafe de las Sonrisas is aiding the deaf community of Nicaragua in more ways than one. By having customers communicate with their waiters in Nicaraguan Sign Language, the cafe helps spread knowledge of NSL among the general public. Furthermore, all of the staff members being deaf and/or mute, in a business as public as the cafe, allows them to be visible to society in a way that most Nicaraguans with disabilities are not.

By allowing this visibility, the Cafe de las Sonrisas helps to combat stereotypes about Nicaraguans with disabilities. In a country where they are often ignored or mistreated and where it is nearly impossible to get a job and support themselves, the staff of the Cafe de las Sonrisas provides living proof that people with disabilities are capable of supporting themselves and contributing to society.

Keira Charles
Photo: connact global

Living Conditions in Australia
Australia is a sovereign country located “down under” in the Southern Hemisphere and is the largest country in Oceania which homes the Australia mainland continent, Tasmania and a variety of other small islands. Australia was first inhabited by indigenous Australians until the British arrived in the late 18th century where they then split the country into six colonies including New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. These colonies eventually united to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Although Australia still lacks a growth in wages and salaries and has limited affordable housing, it has other highly developed aspects of living. These are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Australia.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Australia

  1. Education is High-Quality – The average student scored a 502 in subjects such as reading literacy, math and sciences in the Programme for International Student Assessment, an impressive score above the OECD average of 486. The average Australian will spend 21 years in school compared to the OECD average of 17 years. Of note, 80 percent of adults have completed upper secondary education.
  2. Life Expectancy is Continuously Increasing – Thanks to improvements within the public health care sector and progressions in medical care, life expectancy is improving with a significant increase over the past few decades. Life expectancy stands at 83 years of age, three years higher than the average of 80 years in the Southern Hemisphere. Notably, the country provides mental health interventions and headspace centers to adolescents for a more healthy upbringing to decrease the number of suicides.
  3. Air Quality Ranks High – Australia’s government has taken drastic measures to reduce air pollution, implementing the National Clean Air Agreement. The country’s livability has increased and impacted health and produced a positive environment despite a few concerns of high peaking airborne pollutants in some cities.
  4. Water Quality is Sufficient in Some Areas – In urban areas, 90 percent of Australians have access to acceptable water quality but in the regional areas, only 70 percent of households have access to clean sources. Due to the continuous change in climate, local water utility companies have to make a few accommodations on account of quality resulting in some areas failing acceptable water standards, such as Southern and Western Australia.
  5. Home Affordability is Declining – In Australia, owning a home is a main priority, but the number of homeowners has had a significant decrease since the 1980s due to high interest rates and an increase in housing prices in areas like Sydney. Due to this, there is an increase in household renters from 26 percent to 31 percent.
  6. Wages and Salaries are Declining – Australia measures wages and salary by average weekly earnings. Since the mid-70s, there has been a decline in reported earnings because of higher tax brackets and an increase in unemployment rates which suppress wages. There are also more people who are willing to work part-time jobs versus full-time employment.
  7. Crimes are Increasing – There are more crimes being reported in Australia than before. This ultimately affects the standard of living considering people do not feel as safe and secure. Burglary and assault are the main crimes that have increased dramatically with robberies increasing from 23 to 113 per 1,000 people and assaults increased from 90 to 689 per thousand of the population. Communities are addressing crimes by implementing situational crime prevention interventions by strengthening locks and improving surveillance.
  8. The Economy is Growing – As one of the wealthiest Asian-Pacific countries, Australia is an attractive place for investment considering the government is helping with the entrepreneurial development. Australia’s economic freedom score is 80.9 making it the fifth highest in 2019 for factors such as labor freedom and trade freedom.
  9. Quality of Life is High – Australia’s HDI is the second highest in the world behind Norway. Because it is a liberal and democratic nation along with its warm climate, 43 percent of Australians aged 18 and over are mostly satisfied with their standard of living.
  10. High Poverty Rates for Children – In 2018, three million Australians were living below the poverty line of a 50 percent median income including 17.3 percent children. Those that are living deep in poverty are surviving with $135 less a week than the median income and are relying on Government Assistance payments.

Living conditions in Australia compared to the rest of the world rank high. Education is abundant and most Australians find their standards of living satisfying. However, these 10 facts of living conditions in Australia portray the need for improvement in water quality and poverty rates that are affecting the everyday lives of Australian citizens.

– Jessica Curney
Photo: Flickr

migration of peopleDr. Ermitte Saint Jacques is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. Her primary focus is the transnational migration of people and globalization. Dr. Jacques sat down with the Borgen Project to discuss the state of the migration of people and some of the misconceptions that follow in their paths.

Limited Economic Opportunities

Dr. Ermitte Saint Jacques has found in her research that the migration of people provides benefits for both the migrants and the countries involved. “Many people migrate for a livelihood,” said Dr. Jacques. “If people can’t seek a livelihood in their own country, they travel abroad.” Migration enables people to maximize their opportunities. When prospects aren’t working out in one country, they have the capability to go to the next.

Many migrants return to their home countries after finding successful jobs; it’s often seasonal and not permanent. For example, in 2017, 4.4 million people immigrated to a country within the European Union. Of that, two million migrants were from non-EU countries. However, more than three million reported leaving the EU that same year. As of Jan. 1, 2017, non-EU immigrants made up only 4.2 percent of the EU population.

Supply and Demand

Businesses demand the need for workers, and migrants fulfill some of these demands. “It’s important to recognize the contribution immigrants have,” said Dr. Jacques. “Some immigrants come to open businesses, some come to be laborers.” Often, those who are here as laborers, fulfill an important function that might otherwise go unfilled. Many misconceptions about laborers revolve around them taking important jobs from citizens or living off of government aid.

“We need to push back against the rhetoric of migrants coming to steal work, get on welfare, etc.,” said Dr. Jacques. “Everything can cross borders except people, and that’s very problematic. Mobility for people is a problem.” Dr. Jacques hopes more countries will follow suit with the European Union’s policy on open borders and the Schengen Agreement. Signed in 1985, the Schengen Agreement eliminates internal borders to enable migrants to travel freely among countries in search of economic opportunities. Only four of the 26 members of the Schengen Agreement are not part of the EU.

Poverty and Migration

Poverty poses a problem in that it hinders many people’s ability to migrate because they simply don’t have the funds to leave. So, impoverished people often lack the opportunities that migration offers. People who don’t have the resources to migrate either need a social network that can provide access to the ability to migrate or they must enter a cyclical travel and work pattern. They travel as far as they can and work for a bit before traveling again until they finally end up where they want to be.

“We are not talking about people fleeing turmoil or fearing for their life,” said Dr. Jacques. “They are not refugees or seeking asylum. They are typically economic migrants seeking work.” Migrants are different than immigrants. Immigrants move from one country to another to live; whereas migrants typically move from one country to another for economic reasons, and often, the move is temporary.

People emerge from poverty by seeking better opportunities elsewhere, and migration enables them to do so. It is an investment for those who are struggling. “Migration is necessary for people to escape from the horrendous cycle of poverty and finally be able to maintain a livelihood,” said Dr. Jacques. The more people understand about the migration of people, the easier it will be to dispell the misconceptions.

Jodie Filenius

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