Key articles and information on global poverty.

Technology for EducationThe challenges posed by the lack of technology for education have shaped the educational landscape for Bolivian students, marking a distinctive element of the nation’s developmental course. While Bolivia struggles with the challenges posed by the digital divide, economic researchers are examining the intricate relationship between technological accessibility and academic opportunities. They aim to shed light on the profound implications on educational advancement and prospects of Bolivian students.

Root Causes of the Lack of Technology in Education

The lack of technology for education for Bolivian students can be attributed to a mix of factors, painting a complex picture of the challenges facing their education system. One significant contributor is the economic disparity prevalent in the country, where a considerable portion of the population faces financial constraints hindering their access to modern educational tools.

Limited infrastructure, especially in remote and rural areas, accelerates the problem, making it difficult to establish reliable internet connectivity and access to electronic devices.

Much of Bolivia’s citizenry remains poor, thus lacking widespread “Information and Communications Technology” (ICT) use.

According to Bolivia’s telecoms authority’s data, only about 40% of Bolivians and only 3% in rural areas have internet access. These households experienced the region’s worst connection speed. Therefore, it is uneasy to introduce ICT in secondary schools in this kind of setting, knowing the issue of the lack of technology for education is prominent.

Challenges of Lack of Technology for Education

The absence of advanced technological tools in classrooms hinders students’ access to current information and interactive learning experiences. This digital divide perpetuates inequality, as students in impoverished areas face disparities in educational opportunities compared to their counterparts in more affluent regions. Educational disadvantage translates into a workforce needing more digital skills for contemporary jobs, perpetuating low-income employment opportunities. Insufficient access to quality education perpetuates a cycle of poverty, limiting opportunities for individuals and communities.

Solving Lack of Technology for Education

Help Bolivia Foundation – Started in 2018 as a prominent foundation incorporated in Canada, it aims to alleviate poverty resulting from the lack of technology by funding educators and equipment to teach basic computer skills to 24 students over a year. With the purchase of six new computers for the dedicated computer room, the initiative provides a vital opportunity for these students to acquire fundamental computer skills, internet knowledge and proficiency in software packages such as Office. The Help Bolivia Foundation has made strides in providing a platform for these students to access technology, empowering them with the tools necessary for future success and socioeconomic advancement.

One Student, One Computer – Operating since 2014, “One Student, One Computer” strives to address the adverse impact of technological poverty on education and subsequently alleviate poverty. With an emphasis on improving access to information and technology, the program, aligned with the Patriotic Agenda 2025, aspires to enhance the quality of education in Bolivia.

Through initiatives like providing Quipus computers with tactile screens, rotating cameras and wireless connectivity, the program aims to make classes interactive, bridging the digital gap. These computers, costing $410 each and assembled locally, cater to the needs of private high schools and garner interest from countries like Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. The success of initiatives like the “Yes I Can” program has played a pivotal role, culminating in UNESCO declaring Bolivia free of illiteracy in December 2008.

Conclusion

Researchers and education organizations alike have become more conscious of the critical need to address the use of technology in the classroom. Efforts like the “One Student, One Computer” program gained traction. There is hope for bridging the technological gap and fostering a more equitable educational environment, paving the way for enhanced socioeconomic development in Bolivia.

– Mahima Bhat
Photo: Flickr

Help the CongoThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest country in Sub-Sahara Africa, is rich in natural resources. Yet, due to ongoing crises and internal conflict, most of its inhabitants have not benefited from this wealth. As recently as 2022, the citizens of the Congo continued to experience severe human rights violations due to the effects of armed conflict. This crisis of conflict has impacted the Congo throughout history and continues to exist even after the end of the 2003 Congo Wars. A study in 2022 shows that around 60 million people still living in the Congo survive off  $2.15 a day. This shows severe poverty rates that continue to exist. Here are five ways that the U.S. works to help the Congo.

Health Care

The U.S. continues to provide extraordinary aid to those help people living in the Congo. Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has contributed over $1.7 billion to the Congo to provide health assistance. Health Care aids help the citizens of the DRC fight against infectious diseases such as HIV, Ebola and measles. While this has made a groundbreaking impact on the DRC’s inhabitants, these diseases have not completely disappeared and the country is still fighting against the spread of infectious diseases to this day.

Agriculture

An overreliance on agriculture is expected in a country as rich in natural wealth as the Congo. Agriculture has an impact on the country’s prosperity by employing its inhabitants while providing essential food supplies for families. Agriculture production accounts for 42.5% of the DRC’s gross domestic product by providing food security and sustainable economic development. The U.S. aims to support agricultural success by offering loans to Congolese enterprises. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has recorded that 70% of the population has been employed in agricultural practices. This is a huge part of the country’s population. However, the issue remains to exist. Only a tiny portion of the land is properly farmed, although a sizable portion of the people are employed in agriculture. This is where USAID comes in. USAID supports farmers to improve cultivated land and food security for its population.

The DRC benefits as a Feed the Future (FTF) country. This means that it is one of a select group of countries that is committed to improving its sustainability in agriculture. USAID assists in improving household income and enabling men and women to participate in the market.

USAID’s work focuses on fostering Congolese women’s empowerment by providing women with the necessary tools to improve the lives of their families. A huge portion of women account for agricultural work within the DRC. Therefore by empowering Congolese women, USAID is significantly contributing to the improvement of family life and nutrition among the poorest parts of the country.

Humanitarian Support

Over 600,000 people were forced to leave their homes in 2022 due to an ongoing conflict crisis. This brings displacement rates to nearly 6 million. This is the highest rate of displacement amongst other African countries and a significant increase from the 5.5 million displaced people in 2021. USAID aims to build the foundations of peace in a country that has suffered a long history of conflict. This is being achieved through supporting community-led efforts to prevent conflict and provide holistic services to survivors of gender-based violence. The goal is to advance peace in the DRC and Do No Harm. USAID continues to provide essentials to those impacted, such as food aid, health care and shelter to those who have been forced to flee their homes due to the crisis of conflict and violence. Thus helping the economy to recover and improve the lives of families across the country.

Education

The DRC’s education system fights to survive against the displacement and poverty caused by ongoing conflict. The government provides a free education scheme that gives thousands of children from low-income families access to a well-rounded primary education.

Teachers and parents battle against an inequality of resources, which favors urban over rural schools. This inadequate provision of school resources causes issues such as overcrowded classrooms and irregular salaries for teachers. Thus making the continuation of certain rural schools a challenge that is faced by teachers, students and parents alike.

This is accompanied by the ongoing threat of armed conflict. Studies show that more than 2 million school-aged children are missing out on education due to the impact of violence and due to the lack of school provisions and equality of resources, the quality of education in some schools remains poor. More than 420 schools were affected by attacks and conflict within eastern and western DRC. Therefore, to help the Congo, protection and resources for school-aged children are needed, to allow them access to real education.

– Éadaoin O’Leary
Photo: Pixabay

Humanitarian Aid InternationalIndia, especially its rural communities, suffers from widespread poverty and income inequality induced by a long history of colonization. Statistically, almost 60% of India’s population lives on  $3.10 a day, the World Bank’s median poverty line. Humanitarian Aid International (HAI), an Indian nongovernmental Organization (NGO), seeks to lift people from local communities out of systematic poverty by utilizing a unique humanitarian aid model.

About Humanitarian Aid International

Humanitarian Aid International started like any other NGO. It was formed by a team of professional humanitarian workers and academics whose purpose was to alleviate poverty in the local communities of India. After realizing how international NGOs often neglect the opinions of local NGOs while making critical decisions, HAI broadened its purpose to include the representation of local NGOs in national and international humanitarian circles. HAI’s model for providing aid to communities prioritizes understanding the local context, which includes the communities’ cultural beliefs and practices behind their poor conditions. The organization determines the aid it provides with this local context in mind.

Working at the Local Level

India is one of the world’s most religiously and ethnically diverse countries. Therefore, Indian communities often suffer from unique economic problems shaped by their cultural traditions and history, one example being the severe income inequality between higher and lower castes. HAI considers factors such as discrimination and equity in determining aid for impoverished communities. Consequently, the nonprofit can develop multifaceted responses to complex issues.

In the case of Hindu refugees fleeing persecution in Pakistan, HAI was able to gain a profound understanding of the refugees’ plight by constantly interacting with them respectfully and inquisitively. Realizing that the refugee camps lacked not just electricity but also educational facilities and clean running water, HAI actively provided resources to satisfy these needs; they adapted the aid to reflect the non-Western reality of these camps, evident in the Hindi lessons for children and adults alike.

Interview With David Leitner

David Leitner, a professor of Cultural Anthropology at Las Positas College, Livermore, California, explains how communities perceive the world in unique ways. According to Leitner, these perceptions shape the communities’ material needs. Humanitarian organizations like HAI need to understand these material needs to optimize the aid they provide.

“Culture is both a sort of lens through which you interpret your experiences and also a tool kit you have available to react to the world in response to your needs and wants,” said Leitner. HAI also utilizes its model of understanding local context to promote and advance children’s and women’s rights, ideas that vary locally and nationally based on cultural and social differences.

Why This Is Important

According to Leitner, no two communities share everything in common. Therefore, utilizing a universal model to provide aid to local communities can be ineffective since “If both sides have different assumptions about the problem that needs to be solved, it can lead to some serious misunderstandings.” Additionally, understanding a community’s specific economic and cultural conditions can reveal hidden sociopolitical structures that may help explain systemic poverty.

“Coming in from the outside, there’s oftentimes a lot of information that you can only get if you have had a chance to first allow the local people to trust you. This can sometimes reveal hidden power structures that you may not be aware of,” said Leitner. This knowledge can also be applied to HAI’s advocation for the representation of local NGOs in international humanitarian discussions. International NGOs regularly neglect these organizations despite often being the only ones who provide direct aid to impoverished communities worldwide.

Consensus has been reached during events such as the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 to provide more funding to local NGOs and include them in discussions on humanitarian issues. However, non-Western local NGOs have neither been provided the necessary amount of aid nor the representation in international coalitions that Western organizations largely dominate. To diversify international humanitarian networks, earning the trust of local NGOs is necessary, as each deals with different communities with unique causes behind their impoverishment. HAI intends to do just that with active advocacy of its model and local NGOs in national and international spheres.

The Future

HAI has done much good work advocating for its model within the international humanitarian sphere. It has hosted the international secretariat of Charter4Change and signed the Climate Charter, signaling a dedication to supporting local actors and communities. It is also a member of large NGO networks like the World Humanitarian Action Forum and Sphere India, among other accomplishments.

The organization’s work in local communities is a continuous and ever-changing process. It runs multiple campaigns, ranging from providing educational resources to students from poor neighborhoods with insufficient education facilities to laying out ways for people to sponsor individual children whose circumstances have disproportionately disadvantaged them. Ultimately, HAI’s work has humanized the impoverished communities that are often unheard of by universal models of providing humanitarian aid. Thanks to NGOs like HAI, the hope for increasing local NGO participation in humanitarian efforts is on a positive trajectory.

– Parth Mishra
Photo: Flickr

Witchcraft in the Central African RepublicIn the Central African Republic (CAR), up to 50% of prosecutions are for allegations of witchcraft, based on a law which, of course, can not be proven and therefore not challenged. This law targets the most vulnerable of the population- impoverished women, children and the elderly. With an ongoing civil war, the legislation’s role in shaping society and power is instrumental in identifying how culture, tradition, government and conflict work to create an impoverished society.

However, with greater international awareness being brought to the issue in recent years, many organizations are doing their part to help. Here is everything you need to know about witchcraft in the Central African Republic.

The CAR Is in the Midst of a Brutal Civil War

Since its inception in 1960, the CAR has suffered from decades of instability and violence. In 2020, the Patriots for Change (CPC) was formed to disrupt the 2020-2021 CAR election. Most recently, the CPC renewed its attacks on the government in early 2023, equipped with better weaponry. As the CAR delves deeper into intraregional conflict, the humanitarian crisis worsens, contributing to poverty and poor living conditions.

Witchcraft and Vulnerable Groups

In the CAR, the law specifies that suspected witchcraft in and of itself is not a crime but rather its “harmful use.” This applies explicitly to accusations of witchcraft, which refer to intentions to do harm to people, damage property and disrupt the public.

Accusations of witchcraft are intrinsically tied to social marginalization and contribute to the filtering out of unwanted people, most especially elderly women. Most of the people who are accused of witchcraft are around the age of 55, with an increased emphasis on isolated women who may be divorced, widowed, childless or otherwise alone. From January 2020 to June 2021, almost 60% of the defendants held in the women’s remand prison in Bangui could be classified into one of these categories.

The CAR’s Rule of Law Is Difficult To Enforce

Prosecutions are almost entirely sourced from the confessions of the accused. Accused people who refuse to confess face an increased risk of vigilante justice and mob violence. At the same time, within the judicial system, refusing to confess may be the only way to avoid conviction. Cases of witchcraft are considered carefully due to their sensitive nature, which causes judges to search for a conviction by whatever means necessary. Accusations of witchcraft are significantly more common in rural areas where law enforcement and the judicial system have limited power.

Communities Rely on Support From Local NGOs

Caritas CAR is one such NGO providing services since CAR’s inception in 1960. Among its primary goals of alleviating the pressures of poverty in the CAR, Caritas CAR also focuses on building a stronger society. Most accusations of witchcraft come from somebody the accused knows and by providing social resources, Centralis CAR targets this problem at its root.

The CAR still has a long way to go with some of the highest rates of remand detention in the world, unparalleled conflict and levels of poverty and a targeted system of persecution of the most vulnerable people in society. However, the CAR and its people continue to work toward a better, more connected society through NGOs like Caritas CAR.

– Anjum Alam
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in AgricultureChild labor is a worldwide occurrence, with up to 70% in the agricultural sector. In developing countries with higher poverty rates and limited access to quality education, many children work on farms to support their families and earn incomes. The International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that the African continent has the highest number of child laborers in agriculture, with up to 72 million kids working on farms, raising livestock or farming crops. In Asia, that number reaches up to 62 million.

A Hazardous Work Environment

Agricultural labor is considered high risk, with tasks such as transporting heavy equipment and using machinery without proper protection becoming a significant hazard for kids involved in the work. Insufficient education can also lead to children not properly understanding the dangers of pesticides, contributing to the risks in the field. Reports of children experiencing headaches and fever after exposure to pesticides are a common casualty.

While this work can be dangerous for everyone, children, whose bodies are still developing, are particularly susceptible to harm. Working in the agricultural sector from a young age threatens children’s physical as well as emotional and psychological well-being. Some children also face stunted growth due to quitting education to work.

What Causes Child Labor?

Agricultural child labor is heavily intertwined with impoverishment and lack of food access. Households that struggle financially turn into child labor before prioritizing children’s education. Additional factors contributing to child labor in agriculture include having limited access to quality job opportunities and education, which limits the understanding of what child labor is within various communities.

During circumstances of crisis, such as during a conflict or natural disasters, children’s livelihoods change drastically and child labor increases. Migration, infrastructure wreckage or loss of family income can become driving forces for using child labor as a coping strategy.

Child Labor’s Invisibility

Child labor in agriculture often goes unnoticed, as many children work without pay to help their families on small, local farms. Qu Dongyu, chief of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), emphasized that not all instances of children participating in agricultural tasks can be categorized as child labor, as some may just be learning or helping their families.

The thin line between what constitutes child labor and what doesn’t makes it challenging to recognize instances of child labor in agriculture at times. Additionally, caregivers may sometimes lack awareness regarding the harmful repercussions of child labor, seeing it as a necessary and obvious coping strategy for survival. What constitutes child labor includes work that puts children at risk, deprives them of acquiring proper education and, overall, denies them of having a childhood.

The Work Toward Eradicating Child Labor in Agriculture

FAO shows a steep decline in child labor in agriculture in Asia starting in 2017. However, the trend shows increased agricultural child labor, with 10 million kids working in the sector from 2012 to 2019. However, organizations like the ECLT Foundation are fighting to eradicate child labor. The ECLT Foundation focuses on tobacco-growing farms and, since 2011, has reached up to 711,000 community members through advocacy programs. Additionally, the foundation has helped up to 204,000 children previously involved in child labor.

– Paula Pujol-Gibson
Photo: Unsplash

Traditional Drumming in GhanaThe traditional practices of the drumming rituals in Ghana are deeply rooted in the people’s belief systems. Social workers investigating have also found that traditional drumming in tribes can positively impact the community’s welfare by boosting economic resilience, attracting tourism and creating educational opportunities. Traditional drumming in Ghana has emerged as an unexpected ally in the fight against poverty, weaving together economic empowerment, community development and cultural preservation.

Cultural Roots

Ghanaian traditional drumming is deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of the nation. With diverse ethnic groups, each with its unique drumming traditions, these rhythms have been passed down through generations, embodying stories, rituals and social connections. Prominent ethnic groups like the Ashanti, Ewe, Dagomba and Fanti each possess distinct rhythms, dances, chants and drum traditions. The drums are bearers of cultural identity and communal spirit.

Empowering Communities

In recent years, traditional drumming has catalyzed economic empowerment at the grassroots level. Numerous community-based initiatives have emerged, utilizing the art of drumming to generate income and combat poverty. In the South Dayi district town of Peki, drum “cavers” hand make the drums to be sold in sets for 5,000 Ghanain credits ($415).

Particularly in Southern Ghana, drum makers can sell sets of drums to art centers, which sell in markets that showcase the makers’ craftsmanship, along with handicraft sellers showcasing other goods like woven Kente cloth, wooden sculpture, beadworks, etc. One prominent example is the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, supported by the Ghanaian Ministry of Tourism. The revenue generated from drum sales goes back to the community and the carvers business.

Tourism and Cultural Exchanges

Ghana’s traditional drumming has become a magnet for cultural tourism. The country’s vibrant music and dance festivals attract domestic and international visitors eager to experience traditional drumming. The economic impact of tourism on local communities cannot be overstated, as it creates employment opportunities, stimulates local businesses and encourages the preservation of traditional cultural practices. Such drums are sold to art centers that cater to tourists and typically take greater latitude in drum design.

In addition to tourism, cultural exchange programs have further elevated the status of traditional drumming in the global arena. For instance, Ed Sheeran collaborated with Ghanaian artist Fuse in 2018 and made headlines for singing as part of the collaboration in Twi (spoken in southern and central Ghana). Collaborations between Ghanaian drumming groups and international artists or institutions provide exposure, fostering a deeper appreciation for the art form. This exposure contributes to poverty alleviation by creating performance opportunities. It also bolsters the global recognition of Ghanaian drumming traditions, which can positively reinforce awareness, diversity and tourism.

Educational Initiatives

Beyond economic avenues, traditional drumming has found its way into education as a tool for empowerment. In the southern part of Ghana, where the tonal language of Twi is spoken, “talking drums” mimic the speech patterns and these drum patterns are used in some schools to signal the beginning or end of classes or the start of recess. These rhythms are additionally used in ceremonies and weddings and to recite poetry.

Many organizations and schools in Ghana are incorporating traditional drumming into their curricula, promoting culture and skill development. Promoting music in schools can improve students’ social connectedness, mathematics, reasoning and listening. By teaching the art of drumming to the younger generation, these initiatives empower youth with valuable skills and disciplines that contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Conclusion

Ghanaian traditional drumming is not merely an art form but a force for change and resilience. Through economic initiatives, cultural tourism, educational programs and global recognition, traditional drumming in Ghana is fighting poverty one beat at a time. As these rhythmic traditions continue reverberating across communities, they serve as a testament to the transformative power of culture.

– Ava Johnson
Photo: Flickr

BRAC in LiberiaThe Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) is a nongovernmental organization that has been making significant strides in improving the lives of Liberians through its diverse range of programs and initiatives. With a mission to alleviate poverty and empower communities, BRAC has established a strong presence in Liberia, working towards addressing key challenges such as education, health, livelihood support and community development.

How Did BRAC Begin?

Founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972, BRAC has grown into one of the largest NGOs in the world. While working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell Oil, his life changed dramatically when the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh unfolded. This prompted him to leave his job and relocate to London, where he played a crucial role in starting Action Bangladesh and HELP Bangladesh to support the war.

Why Is BRAC Helping Liberia?

Liberia is a country that struggles with extreme poverty, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line. The wars that took place until 2003 have left a devastating impact on health care and educational facilities, with buildings being destroyed and equipment being stolen. As a result, most health care workers, university faculty and hospital and medical school administrators decided to flee the country. This has caused a decrease in life expectancy, a significant dropout rate, substandard learning conditions and a lack of qualified teachers.

Sustainable agricultural production in Liberia also often receives insufficient attention regarding policies and programs. Poor investment in this sector has resulted in reduced farmland, mismanagement of water resources and negative impacts on food distribution and production. Pest management practices and technology adoption are also hindered, while fertilizers and modern cultivation methods still need improvement. Additionally, inadequate road networks and high transportation costs decrease food production, further aggravating the situation.

How Is BRAC Helping Liberia?

Established in 2008, BRAC Liberia adopts a community-driven strategy to create tailored and influential initiatives. With a focus on urban, rural and refugee populations, the program’s interventions prioritize the fair involvement of all community groups. It directly engages with communities, ensuring their voices and stories remain at the heart of  BRAC’s programs.

Agriculture

Regarding agriculture, the programs conducted by BRAC Liberia focus on training farmers in climate-smart agriculture techniques and poultry and livestock management. These programs provide valuable knowledge and equip farmers with essential resources like seeds, tools, poultry and livestock. Additionally, to ensure ongoing assistance, the organization recruits and trains local leaders who act as community promoters, offering on-site support and helping farmers overcome difficulties.

BRAC Liberia is also committed to improving the adoption of nutrient-rich crops to address child malnutrition in impoverished communities. The organization actively involves lactating, pregnant women and young mothers in nutrition forums and awareness campaigns to achieve this. These initiatives aim to educate them on the significance of breastfeeding, child nutrition, hygiene practices and food safety measures.

Education

BRAC Liberia’s education program is based on a community-led model that aims to foster and maintain high-quality education in Liberia. This approach prioritizes child-centered learning, teacher development and preserving children’s well-being. Teachers are also trained to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide an excellent education to their students. In June 2021, a remarkable majority of the 750 participants in UPGI (Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative) completed their studies, with an impressive graduation rate of 85%.

Health

Regarding health, the organization has developed an integrated network in Liberia consisting of community health promoters and health program personnel. This network aims to provide vital health care services in five crucial domains: reproductive and child health care, Malaria control, Tuberculosis (TB) control, family planning and basic curative services. This network also plays a pivotal role in the emergency response efforts for Ebola and COVID-19.

Microfinance

BRAC Liberia’s main objective is to offer various financial services to individuals at the base of the socioeconomic ladder, with a focus on empowering impoverished women residing in remote rural areas who face significant challenges in accessibility. By providing self-employment prospects and strengthening financial stability, it aims to empower them economically. As of July 2023, $19.9 million was distributed and granted as loans.

Conclusion

BRAC’s work in Liberia encompasses a comprehensive approach that tackles socioeconomic challenges and fosters community development. The organization’s efforts to improve access to education, enhance health care services and empower individuals through entrepreneurship have significantly impacted lives in Liberia. Furthermore, BRAC’s agriculture and community development initiatives have contributed to sustainable livelihoods and empowered local communities.

– Sara Hatab
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Technology Transformed MoldovaThe Republic of Moldova has dedicated much effort to reaching developmental sustainability since its inception in 1991. After decades of struggles and considerable overlapping crises over the past few years, the nation is one of the poorest in Europe. The country’s progress towards addressing its more in-need residents has come under stress from the pressures of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine; demanding new avenues of development to keep the nation afloat- such as increasing investment in a tech-led future.

In the past decades, the country has come to focus heavily on its investment in tech sectors. Technology transformed Moldova, providing blueprints the government is still actively pursuing. With the influx of roughly 113,000 Ukrainian refugees into the country since the start of the war, those tech-focused initiatives and aid programs are going to become essential in the decade to come. Moldova is in a unique position as far as countries struggling with high levels of poverty go, as the country boasts a developed technological infrastructure, with 3G coverage in more than 99% of the country and 4G coverage in more than 95%. Moldova has the foundations to build measures that can affect all the country’s needy.

2020 Digital Moldova

In 2013, the Moldovan government pledged to implement a comprehensive development initiative for the nation called “Digital Moldova 2020” to foster sustainability in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. By enhancing national Internet coverage, facilitating access to new government digital services and ensuring stable Internet connections, the program has yielded significant returns in providing Internet accessibility to those who can leverage its benefits. With 98% coverage across the country, Moldova is well-positioned to capitalize on the advantages of digitization. This includes collaborations such as its partnership with the US-based “Betterthancash,” a G20 partner, which aims to simplify and digitize government payments for the economically disadvantaged population in Moldova.

Technology transformed Moldova and its infrastructure to such a degree that in 2023, the Ministry of Economy revealed its extension to push the achievements of the digitization efforts further up to 2030. Plans are now being laid down to create digital channels between the friction points of communication between citizens and the authorities, services, or companies. All are improving the viability for digital-reliant companies to expand within Moldova and even creating the opportunity for a “Digital Education” focused program. Lacking digital education is a vulnerability that has become apparent following the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Energy Poverty

Following the occupation of Ukraine, inflation rose to 34% in August 2022 and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has reported more than 60% of the country is living with “energy poverty” stipulations despite all the progress of the “digital Moldova 2020” strategy. Hence, the Moldova government birthed the Energy Vulnerability Reduction Fund, leveraging EU partners and rapid development provisions to compensate those most affected by these compounding challenges. Thanks to these efforts, the UNDP observed significant improvement over 2023, with a 43% reduction in energy poverty and 83% of natural gas bills covered within the fund.

Education

Improving technological infrastructure has profoundly affected the education system, with the EU presenting digital laboratories for schools, offering more opportunities for future generations. Further, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has worked to set up ambitious EDUTech laboratories across 81 schools. With the provision of modern equipment and IT lesson plans, UNICEF hopes to open avenues into STEM fields for the nation’s young and learning for the displaced refugees who have had their lives halted by the conflict in Ukraine.

EU4Molvoda has invested heavily in tech-powered infrastructure improvements, too. This includes providing IT equipment to 15 kindergartens in the Chaul and Ungeheni Municipalities. Additionally, they have established a new water supply network in Ugheni, ensuring safe drinking water for more than 24,000 people. Moreover, EU4Molvoda has set up temporary refugee shelters with light generators, heaters and electric fans, all in pursuit of reinforced sustainability in the face of Moldova’s modern crises.

Final Remark

The Republic of Moldova has been placed under many compounding crises in recent years. The rapid development of modern technologies and their intelligent implementation has allowed the country to withstand and even build up. Reacting to the refugee crisis and accepting targeted aid has provided opportunities for rapid development, empowering the country’s youth and relieving people experiencing poverty. There is a long way to go for the nation, notably being one of the poorest countries in Europe. Still, with increasing commitments to Technology-led 2020, the Republic is poised towards a technology-transformed Moldova.

– Brandon Murphy
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ceramic FiltrationAccording to UNESCO’s U.N. Water, “Globally, two billion people do not have safe drinking water and 3.6 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation.” Ceramic filtration is a helpful creation that can reduce contaminated water in various developing countries at a low price.

What Is Ceramic Filtration?

Ceramic filtration uses clay to create a case to remove impurities from water sources, such as water-borne bacteria, microplastics, heavy metals and toxic chemicals. The process of creating ceramic filtrations is quite simple. In a bucket, shifted powdered clays will be mixed gradually with water and combustible burn-out material (natural materials that can be burned), such as coffee grounds, crushed charcoal, sawdust, or ground rice husks. Mixing these materials will create a soft, moldable paste. Then, the clay will be pressed into the bucket to mold around the bucket’s shape and eliminate excess water.

With the clay is in its desired shape, the crafter will leave it to air dry properly for 30 days on a dry shelf. After air drying, the clay is placed in the kiln at 877 to 1006 degrees Celsius. Once the ceramic pot is assembled and adequately dried, ridding water of bacteria and chemicals is simple. Pouring water into the clay pot with a bucket underneath allows water to permeate through but not sediments and bacteria into the bucket.

Why Is Ceramic a Possible Solution To Water Stress?

Ceramics is a viable option for developing countries as clay is an ample resource and can be found easily in different climates. The cost of water filtration systems is too expensive for most developing countries to afford, “[Industrial water] systems costs can range significantly due to these variables, with some simple, low-flow systems running as low as $45,000, to high-end, high-capacity systems with price tags exceeding tens of millions of dollars.”

According to the World Bank, “Low-income economies have 2021 GNI per capita of up to $1,085.” This indicates that leaders in these countries may struggle to afford essential goods for their populations, let alone invest in filtration systems. Ceramic filtration is a possible solution to address water stress, offering an easily accessible and cost-effective resource. The creation of a ceramic filter typically costs around $50.

As stated by John Howarter, an assistant professor of materials engineering and environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University, “A filter in Kenya costs about $50 in materials, with labor and transportation as additional costs, but that filter will last five to 10 years, so the overall cost is very low.”

Conclusion

Ceramic filtration is a possible solution to water stress, allowing billions of people to have clean, accessible water at an affordable cost. The dissemination of knowledge about inexpensive and easily deployable filtration methods is crucial in empowering individuals in underdeveloped countries, offering them a fair chance at a healthier life.

– Jessica Jean-Baptiste
Photo: Pixabay

Sanitation in TogoAmid the vibrant tapestry of Togo’s cultural heritage and natural beauty, the state of sanitation plays a crucial role in shaping the country’s public health landscape. As the nation strives for progress and development, the need for sanitation is a factor in influencing the well-being of its citizens. In examining Togo’s sanitation practices, five key facts come to light, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities within this essential domain.

Increased Exposure to Diarrheal Diseases

Regarding sanitation in Togo, open defecation has become a significant contributor to the increased prevalence of diarrheal diseases. With a lack of proper sanitation facilities, many individuals resort to defecating in the open, exposing themselves to a heightened risk of waterborne infections.

The presence of flies that land on the feces and subsequently carry bacteria into nearby households exacerbates the aftermath of open defecation. More than six million people, or 88% of the 7.3 million people living in Togo, lack a toilet in their homes. An outdoor pit latrine is a toilet, but they are rare. According to reports from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization, 54% of Togolese people defecate outside. This can result in outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other diarrheal illnesses, resulting in hundreds of avoidable deaths annually.

Provision of Clean Drinking Water by the World Bank

The World Bank has approved a new initiative to improve sanitation and provide clean drinking water to as many families in Greater Lomé as feasible. With a $100 million budget, this initiative will enhance access and the quality of water and sanitation services through several private sector partnerships and investments.

The project will fund many initiatives, including the construction of a wastewater and fecal sludge treatment plant, the restoration of the water supply systems, technical studies for the long-term expansion of large-scale water production capacity and the integration of a distribution network.

Inclusive Sanitation in Urban Centres in Togo

A €1.25 million (about $1.3 million) initiative by the African Development Bank aims to enhance sanitation in ten Togolese cities, including Sokode, the country’s second-biggest metropolis. According to Minister Tiem, the initiative supports the government’s sustainable access to clean drinking water and excellent sanitation in Togo.

In Sokodé, where just 34% of households had a toilet in 2010, there is a severe deficiency in hygiene and sanitation. The African Development Bank had 16 ongoing projects regarding sanitation in Togo valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Addressing this issue involves improving sanitation infrastructure and implementing comprehensive awareness campaigns to promote healthier hygiene practices and break the chain of disease transmission in communities across Togo.

Laws for Solid Waste Management

Due to the industry’s rapid expansion and the resulting 2427.2 tons of waste produced daily, Togo is also experiencing difficulties with its social and environmental operations. Due to population expansion, 54 million tons of solid garbage will be generated nationally by 2030. The predicted average annual production of municipal solid waste is 305.340 tons, of which 89.428 tons are collected and buried.

On July 3, 2023, the University of Rostock (UR) and the West African Service Center for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use (WASCAL) jointly released the draft of the National Sustainable Strategy (NSS) on integrated municipal solid waste management by 2023 with a Vision to 2030 and projection to 2050. To achieve the goals, action areas and infrastructure requirements must be considered, together with the financial arrangements for investments and the capital recovery strategy for waste management operations.

Implementation of Green Industrial Companies

Green Industrial Companies (GICs) are industrial enterprises that integrate certain green concepts into their operations to protect the environment, either directly or indirectly. Generally speaking, the legislative’s goal is to create regulatory frameworks to encourage more businesses to become GICs and integrate some form of green strategy into their daily operations. At the end of 2018, the rate was 43%, while the share of renewable energy in total electricity production rose to 3%.

Green growth entails promoting economic development and growth to ensure that natural resources continue offering resources and environmental services essential to our well-being. Today, low- and middle-income economies rely heavily on the commercial, export-focused economic activities that arise from their natural resource endowments. The fact that primary product exports, such as food, fuel, ore and metal commodities, dominate export revenue for these economies highlights Togo’s need for natural resources to compete in the global economic spectrum.

Conclusion

The alarming rise in diarrheal diseases, linked to the widespread practice of open defecation, highlights the urgent need for comprehensive sanitation reforms. Organizations like the World Bank and the Project for the Promotion of Inclusive Sanitation in Urban Centres in Togo are committed to providing clean drinking water. They aim to achieve this through strategic operations addressing a critical aspect of public health, offering a lifeline to communities grappling with waterborne infections.

– Mahima Bhat
Photo: Pixabay