Information and stories about global poverty
China has recently made a powerful statement in regards to its solar power use as China’s solar power target for 2020 has already been surpassed, according to research recently published by the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory.
With recent solar expenditures, China’s solar power target for 2020 has already been surpassed—the goal was 105 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. China now has 112 gigawatts of solar capacity, which bypasses any of the efforts of European countries to embrace solar power. Since the beginning of 2017, a whopping 35 gigawatts have been installed to meet China’s solar power target—more than twice as much as any other country had installed in 2016.
Part of China’s 112 gigawatts includes the largest solar farm and the largest floating solar farm in the world. This is part of a move by the Chinese government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as to reduce coal-fired air pollution in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing, which damages the air quality in these urban areas.
In response to China’s rapidly growing solar sector, some critics have urged European nations to step up their efforts to utilize the power of the sun. Since 2015, when China surpassed Germany as the world’s largest solar power market, the solar capacity of Germany has expanded to only 41.1 gigawatts.
The environmental implications of this are huge; however, solar energy could also play a key role in alleviating global poverty. Solar energy can be utilized to power the basic needs of those living in poverty in China—it is an effective way to offer power to those who may not have reliable access to electricity. Solar energy can pave the way to access to basic human necessities, such as lighting and drinking water.
Regardless, China still has much of its energy demand to account for. Only one percent of China’s energy demand will be able to be met by these 112 gigawatts of solar power, as coal remains the source for the majority of Chinese energy. China is still the world’s greatest carbon emitter, and this issue must be addressed. However, the remarkable nature of what China has accomplished should still be celebrated and replicated in the future.
– Jennifer Faulkner
St. Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation in the Caribbean that gained independence from England in 1983. Most of the population of 52,000 descended from West African slaves. Additionally, most of the population lives on St. Kitts, which some politicians in Nevis believe neglects the Nevisians in government affairs.
Due to its size, there is limited information regarding hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis. However, the information that is available shows that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is taking action to eradicate hunger.
Of note, the percent of undernourished people in St. Kitts and Nevis stood at 10.2 percent for the period 2011-16, a significant decline from a high of 21.9 percent during 2005-2007. Unfortunately, many individuals who still face hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis may not have the resources to confront illness and may have to risk other aspects of survival or may become dependent on others for their own livelihood.
The government has implemented the Poverty Reduction Strategy that will reform the presence of hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis. Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Agriculture and Social Services, highlighted several of these government initiatives on World Food Day 2015. The government plans to accomplish this strategy by redistributing resources more equitably; strengthening public, private and community organizations; investing in social services and empowering vulnerable groups.
St. Kitts and Nevis has also implemented a safety net program that provides financial or food baskets to poor families. Additionally, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working on an initiative to provide one meal a day to all primary and secondary school children.
Despite the small size of the two islands, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working hard to combat hunger and has many strong initiatives in place to promote a higher standard of living for its citizens.
– Christiana Lano
The country of Slovakia was once known as Czechoslovakia until its peaceful dissolution in 1993, which in turn created the Czech Republic. Today, the country is home to more than five million citizens with a population that has been steadily growing over the past decade. According to The World Bank, Slovakia also has a poverty rate of 12.6 percent, which roughly equals just less than 700,000 people. The causes of poverty in Slovakia are varied and run deep through the country’s history.
One of the suggested causes of poverty in Slovakia is its prolonged dependence on factories. During its time as Czechoslovakia during World War II, the country served the Nazi regime by supporting the war machine with supplies and troops and by aiding its efforts to ethnically cleanse Europe.
After World War II, Czechoslovakia came under the control of the Soviet Union and focused on industries such as coal mining, producing steel and machinery. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, the demand for these industries decreased, leaving many workers out of a job.
The industries of Slovakia are still focused on heavy machinery production, mostly the production of cars. This, combined with the fact that the industries of Slovakia lack any competition among one another, is one of the main causes of poverty in Slovakia. It should be noted that stronger product market competition could assist in alleviating this cause.
Furthermore, Slovakia ranks low on the list of European Union countries in terms of innovation. Within the European Union, Slovakia ranked next to last in knowledge-creation and ranked last for innovation and entrepreneurship. Slovakia also lacks investment in education and the application of information technology.
Ethnic poverty is very prevalent among the population of Slovakia, particularly within the Roma population. Roma are considered some of the poorest and most marginalized group in the entire country. The Roms became marginalized during WWII, and many who survived fled the country. Those currently living in Slovakia today live in shanty towns or ghettos.
Despite the hardships that Slovakia has endured, there is positive news about the economic situation in the country. According to The Slovak Spectator, “the labor market surpassed several milestones: 1) the number of jobs in the economy rose to an all-time high; 2) the number of jobless declined to pre-crisis levels; 3) the unemployment rate declined below the eurozone’s, for the first time ever.” Though there are sure to be challenges ahead, the country seems to be on the right path to solving the causes of poverty of Slovakia.
– Derrick Chariker
According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2015 human rights report, there have been no recent outstanding abuses of human rights in Monaco.
The country is governed by a sovereign prince, and legislative acts are conducted by the prince and the popularly elected National Council. Elections in 2013 were accepted by international organizations as free and fair.
Despite meeting its commitment to the protection of citizens human rights, there continues to be some pressure to further protect human rights in Monaco in the following areas:
In 2015, the Department of State reported instances of prisoner mistreatment in the country. There is one single detention center in Monaco, in which detainees have been reported to not be given enough time in the sunlight and outdoor exercise. Monaco’s government has allowed independent human rights observers, such as the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), to continue to monitor the situation. The CPT regularly schedules visits to the detention center.
Additionally, much can still be done to strengthen human rights in Monaco, especially for children and people with disabilities, which the council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights acknowledged after his visit to Monaco at the beginning of the year.
The Office of the High Commissioner, which was created for the protection of rights, liberties and for mediation, was urged to strengthen the legislation against all forms of discrimination in general. For example, Monaco is still in the process of ratifying the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Other issues on the horizon for human rights in Monaco include the recent passing of a law on the preservation of national security. The law allows for Monaco authorities to undertake administrative surveillance using voice recordings. Since the enactment of this law in 2016, the Monaco police can monitor anybody presenting a threat or suspected of organized crime and terrorism.
The commissioner for human rights emphasized the use of effective democratic control when it comes to security surveillance during his visit. With proper legislation, the already good record of human rights in Monaco can only continue to improve in the future.
– Melanie Snyder
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with a population of 3.5 million located in southeast Europe and is best known for its 1992-95 war and genocide in Srebrenica. Yet, more than 20 years after the end of the war, Bosnia’s citizens are still suffering in poverty. Approximately 50 percent of the country is deemed vulnerable to becoming poor. The poverty rate is 19 percent in rural areas and 9 percent in urban areas.
In addition, 15 percent of Bosnian citizens cannot afford basic services, such as food, clean water, fuel or healthcare. Only about a third of all working-age citizens have a job, and only a quarter of those same citizens have a formal job. Poverty is higher in rural areas where 50 percent of the population depends on agriculture even though much of the land in Bosnia is not suited to agriculture. Farmers also lost 90 percent of their livestock in the war. Children face disproportionate levels of poverty and, according to UNICEF, 170,000 children in Bosnia are poor.
Causes of Poverty: War and the Economy
The causes of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina are more complex and tied to the country’s history and culture than they may first appear. The legacy of the war is the most salient cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before the war, Bosnia was classified as a middle-income country. However, the conflict devastated the economy, down-grading Bosnia to a lower middle-income country. It has yet to bounce back to its pre-war level of economic prosperity.
Other economic repercussions of the war include a government that is expensive to run and corruption that runs rampant among politicians. Infrastructure is still under reconstruction and many Bosnians live outside of their homes and outside of the country, having been internally displaced or forced to flee.
The war is still felt in Bosnia in ways that are not just economic. Deep ethnic divides translate to political divides. This subjects at least half of the population to discrimination in the workforce and in society. These tensions affect the allocation of resources, further disadvantaging minority groups.
Causes of Poverty: Gender Inequality and Cultural Attitudes
Gender inequality has become a cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a unique way. Working-age men faced the highest numbers of fatalities during the war, and as a result, one in four households are now headed by women. These households are the most vulnerable to tipping over the edge into poverty because women only make up 35 percent of the workforce and they are typically paid less.
Attitudes toward welfare are also a cause of poverty. Bosnia does receive foreign aid and it has its own welfare programs designed to provide help to poor and at-risk populations. However, 85 percent of people in Bosnia believe the elderly need more financial and government assistance, while only 60 percent of people believe the same of children.
The Good News
Despite the high levels of poverty and unemployment, Bosnia’s future is far from abysmal. Progress has been made in recent years. According to the UNDP, “Over the first decade of the millennium, BiH has achieved progress in a number of areas. The annual average GDP growth of 6 percent has led to a reduction in poverty of almost 4 percent.” The government reduced its dependence on foreign aid and remittances from Bosnian expatriates. And the society made strides toward gender equality, as shown by the relatively high parity in education, particularly at the university level.
By continuing to empower civil society, holding the government and its officials accountable and providing equal access to resources and services, Bosnia can continue to pull its people out of poverty and reduce the power of its wartime legacy.
– Olivia Bradley
The Republic of Moldova recently celebrated 26 years of independence from Russian and Romanian control on August 27, 2017.
The country gained independence in 1991 and developed its own political traditions in the early 90’s resulting in a parliamentary democracy that is practiced today. Parliamentary supermajority had the power to elect the president until the transference of that power to Moldovan citizens on March 4, 2016. This achievement offers its citizens a strong sense of control and power in working with the government.
The Moldovan Constitution, created in 1994, highlights the importance of its people. Such covenants as “civic peace, democracy, human dignity [and] fundamental human rights and freedoms,” can be found in the document. Rights including the right to universality, equality, education, protection against inhumane treatment, freedom of speech, free access to justice and the right to health protection are awarded to all Moldovans.
Human Rights Violations
The 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Moldova, conceded that police brutality, human trafficking, discrimination against various marginalized groups and inhumane conditions in mental hospitals and prisons are among some significant issues taking place despite the republic’s zero-tolerance policies for such abuses.
Efforts to combat these human rights violations are in place. Such laws include the 2012 Law on Enforcement of Equality which legally ensures anti-discrimination for Moldovan inhabitants. The 2016 adoption of law No. 71 advocates for gender equality by requiring at least 40 percent of each political party’s candidates are women, providing the option of paid paternity leave and prohibiting sexist language and images in advertising.
Though the country is consistently ranked as one of the poorest—and in some reports, the poorest—countries in Europe, human rights in the Republic of Moldova are redolent of some of the richest countries in the world and are continuing to make progress.
Organizations Working to Improve Human Rights
Several organizations are taking action against human rights violations including the Moldova Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), Promo-LEX Association and Civic Solidarity. These associations are substantial in contesting civil injustices and providing free legal aid to those in need.
There is room for legal development for human rights in the Republic of Moldova. Improving the conditions for the disabled, mental institutions and prisons would be a good start. Nonetheless, the republic continues to make strides in evolving its human rights laws and enforcing them.
– Sloan Bousselaire
Upon mention of its name, this Caribbean nation evokes thoughts of picturesque sandy beaches with luxury resorts lining the coast. These images are not inaccurate, however they fail to capture the full scope of life in the Bahamas.
Consider that the Bahamian government has set the poverty line at $4,247 of yearly family income. This number places 13 percent of Bahamians in the category of “poor.” The reality of this situation is that even those who aren’t below the poverty line face harsh living conditions, as the cost of living continues to rise. Minimum wage in the Bahamas amounts to $210 per week, or $10,920 per year, which is still not enough for most Bahamians to support themselves and their families.
So, what are the causes of poverty in the Bahamas? What conditions in the Bahamas are preventing the growth of a strong working middle class?
One answer to these questions is tourism. Already, 49 percent of the country’s citizens are employed by the tourism industry. However, the critical flaw in this system is that a majority of the jobs available to young Bahamians within the tourism industry are unskilled labor. These jobs, for the most part, pay minimum wage and don’t provide young Bahamians with the opportunity to generate significant savings.
Lack of livable wages consequently results in many Bahamians facing household food shortages. As a response to this issue, in 2008, a group of Bahamian students joined together to create Hands for Hunger, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in the Bahamas. This group looks to communities within the Bahamas and asks them to contribute their efforts towards feeding the hungry. Hands for Hunger works with local restaurants, farms, hotels and anyone else capable of lending a helping hand by donating food or resources. To date, Hands for Hunger has facilitated the donation of one million pounds of fresh food to Bahamians in need.
Looking even deeper, poverty in the Bahamas is also affected by the educational system. Underfunded school systems perpetuate a system of education which lags greatly behind the rest of the developed world. The national exam system used to evaluate Bahamian secondary school students is known as the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). With students receiving a disappointing average grade of D on from the BGCSE’s introduction in 1993, the Bahamian education system is producing young adults who cannot become employed due to a system that has failed them. Access to proper education is a vital necessity for the growth of a strong generation of young leaders.
Due to multiple factors which can be seen as causes of poverty in the Bahamas,the island nation’s people are looking to the international community for support now more than ever.
– Tyler Troped
Though Brazil boasts a strong economy, income disparity between the rich and poor is vast, and 3.7 percent of the total population lives in poverty. Much of the poverty in Brazil is concentrated in northern rural areas, where young people in particular feel the effects of poverty. In Northern Brazil, about 25 percent of all children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. This income disparity is partially due to unevenly distributed land, and high land prices make it difficult for small-scale farmers to compete in the market. In recent years, the government has undergone measures to correct this imbalance, including reducing taxation on farming, which has already begun to improve the welfare of rural poor.
Brazil has been very successful in alleviating much of its own poverty, in particular through a government program known as Bolsa Familia. Through Bolsa Familia, parents receive a monthly stipend in exchange for sending their children to school and to health checkups. Still, there is much to be done to ensure that the rural poor continue to thrive.
Here are just three ways to help people in Brazil:
- Sponsor a child. With young people in Brazil most harshly affected by income inequality, this may be one of the most effective ways to disrupt the cycle of poverty and help people in Brazil. For example, Child Fund International offers programs to sponsor individual children. This money goes toward supplying a child with food, clean water and education.
- Volunteer. There are many ways to volunteer time toward bettering conditions for people in Brazil. Project Favela, based out of Rio de Janeiro, is a volunteer-run organization which offers both schooling and after school care for poor children (and many adults as well) completely for free. Volunteers help teach English, science, math, reading, art, theatre and even coding.
- Encourage vocational training. CARE, a nonprofit organization based out of the UK, has had tremendous success addressing the structural causes of poverty in Brazil and encouraging rural schools to provide vocational training to its students. In addition, CARE has helped poor communities in Brazil develop sustainable business practices and has provided access to microfinance.
Though Brazil still struggles with inequality and poverty, it’s clear that, on its own, the country has made tremendous strides toward fixing its problems. With a bit of help, it can continue to bring down the poverty rate and build a better future for all its citizens.
– Audrey Palzkill
Togo is a relatively small sub-Saharan nation that is situated along the Gulf of Guinea with a population of approximately 7.6 million people. A 2008 UNICEF report found that 81.2 percent of Togo’s rural population lived below the poverty line, making it one of the “world’s poorest countries.”
Why is Togo poor? And what is being done to combat poverty in Togo?
Here are six factors that can help begin to answer the question “why is Togo poor?”
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook stated that the adult literacy rate in Togo is 63.7 percent, which makes it difficult for Togo to participate in the rapidly evolving global economy. Furthermore, young girls are often not able to attend schools because they are wedded off at a young age—and many families often have to sacrifice education in order to allocate money to food.
- The United Nations reported that over 100,000 people live with HIV/AIDS and nearly 68,000 children are left without families as a result—yet absent a robust healthcare system (and the appropriate resources), Togo has a difficult time responding to and controlling disease outbreaks. Life expectancy in Togo is only 65 years.
- There is widespread water insecurity. Only 63 percent of the Togolese people have access to sanitary water available for consumption often leading to the spread of waterborne diseases.
- Poor governmental infrastructure that pervades Togo often hinders foreign investment in agriculture, which accounts for a large proportion of exports. Government corruption is also prevalent which often hinders meaningful policy action and prevents democracy.
- Child labor and sexual exploitation prevent Togo from fostering a generation of youth that is equipped to participate in the global economy. Forty-seven percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are forced to work in agriculture which prevents them from getting an education.
- A UNICEF study found that the rate of severe malnutrition among children under the age of five exceeds 10 percent and is thus higher than the critical level determined by the World Health Organization. The same study also reported that 108 out of 1,000 children will die before their fifth birthday because of malnourishment. Inability to produce a healthy generation only serves to further answer the question “why is Togo poor?”
Despite the widespread structural poverty that pervades Togo, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have mounted an effort to alleviate poverty.
The World Bank has launched several projects in Togo focused on “macroeconomic recovery and stability, health, agriculture, education and more.” Notably, the group has built 325 primary school classrooms and provided $26.1 million for infrastructural development in impoverished communities.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared Togo a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative which provides debt relief as a poverty reduction strategy. In addition, the World Food Programme has provided assistance to groups affected by natural disasters and high food prices in an effort to reverse the political and economic turmoil that Togo has been confronted with.
As demonstrated by the World Bank, IMF and WFP, meaningful foreign aid and reform must be structural if it is to produce sustainable and long-lasting results.
– Hannah Ritner
Boasting gorgeous beaches and pale blue water, Antigua and Barbuda is a popular hub for tourism, making it one of the most economically successful nations in the Caribbean. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism comprises 60.4 percent of Antigua and Barbuda’s GDP. Despite the influx of tourism-related wealth, 22 percent of the islands’ occupants live below the poverty line, raising the question: what are the causes of poverty in Antigua and Barbuda?
While tourism has undoubtedly boosted Antigua and Barbuda’s economy, generating 54.3 percent of the nation’s total employment, the unique temporality of the tourism industry has left some citizens in the lurch. People working in the tourism industry have a reliable income during the tourist season. However, these individuals find themselves unemployed during the off-season and unable to afford basic necessities for parts of the year.
Demographics also play a role in the poverty status of people living in Antigua and Barbuda. Women in Antigua and Barbuda are employed in private sector and tourism jobs even more than men, and are less likely to be poverty-afflicted compared with women in other developing nations. However, single mothers shouldering the unshared financial burdens of parenthood are still exceptionally vulnerable to life below the poverty line. Poor households typically have 5.2 children, while more affluent households average only 2.8 children. Over a third of Antigua and Barbuda’s population living in food poverty is under the age of 14.
Overcrowded living situations correlate with insufficient resources, such that poor families often cannot afford to send their children to school, making these children more vulnerable to poverty in adulthood. A primary school education reduces the probability of poverty by 91 percent.
While statistics reflecting the poverty status of young people in Antigua and Barbuda may seem disheartening, UNICEF is confident that the prevalence of poverty in the nation’s younger demographic may actually help effectively aim poverty prevention efforts. By targeting families with more children, UNICEF hopes to provide aid to those who need it most. Additionally, the organization has proposed school feeding programs to provide proper nutrition to children living in food poverty.
While the causes of poverty in Antigua and Barbuda function at personal levels like employment and family size, there are also larger factors such as flawed infrastructure, which makes public facilities and social services difficult for citizens to access. Infrastructural weaknesses are particularly threatening for nations like Antigua and Barbuda, which is vulnerable to environmental catastrophes such as hurricanes.
On September 5, Hurricane Irma devastated Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda was left in shambles, and nearly all its inhabitants have lost their homes. Prime Minister Gaston Browne immediately implored the world for aid contributions, and the Red Cross has already provided over $120,000 to support disaster relief efforts throughout the Caribbean. However, much more aid is still needed to help those who have been affected regain and rebuild their lives. Many organizations have already rallied to assist the people in need.
– Mary Efird