clean cooking initiativesFor most people, their day starts with tea or coffee followed by a light breakfast, available with minimum effort. For those less fortunate, this simple morning routine requires hours of backbreaking labor. Solid cooking fuels like wood and coal are necessities in much of the world, but in addition to contributing to climate change, they perpetuate poverty. This is partly because those who depend on this type of energy risk health problems from Household Air Pollution (HAP) and partly because solid cooking fuels can be labor-intensive to acquire and use. Over the past two decades, an overwhelming body of research has cited clean cooking as a primary target for policy reform. It furthers all eight of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals and five of its Sustainability Development Goals. Several exemplary clean cooking initiatives are making a difference today.

More Access to Energy, Less Poverty

Several studies attempt to quantify the damage caused by solid fuel. Lost productivity resulting from resource collection prevents an estimated 2.6 billion people from escaping poverty, disproportionately affecting women. Children’s school attendance also decreases when they must spend large amounts of time gathering fuel, hampering their education. People’s health also suffers from solid fuel. Indoor pollution from dirty energy — six times deadlier than outdoor — creates an estimated $10.6 billion in healthcare costs yearly in rural China alone. Not to mention, HAP reduces lifespans in affected populations by 20 years. It causes between 1.6 and four million premature deaths annually, second only to unsafe water in deaths caused. “Dirty” cooking fuels also produce an estimated 2% of carbon emissions, roughly equivalent to the pollution from all global air travel.

Clean Energy and Poverty Reduction

A widely cited 2004 paper argued that clean cooking protocols had high potential for poverty reduction and encouraged the creation of federal and intergovernmental agencies to manage a 10- to 15-year plan to implement them. Nonetheless, 15 years later, a Draft Energy Policy commissioned by the Indian government concluded that “clean cooking fuel has been the biggest casualty of lack of coordination between different energy Ministries.

“Not only India but also the international community has failed to leverage a low-cost opportunity with enormous benefits. The global cost of clean fuels for those lacking them totals only $50 billion per year or roughly 0.2% of a developed nation’s GDP. Diverse clean cooking initiatives at all levels are not only essential to poverty reduction, they are achievable.

Clean Cooking in Haiti

World Central Kitchen (WCK) originated during relief efforts following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake and continues providing meals to vulnerable populations. Most recently, Founder and Chef José Andrés closed several restaurants to feed low-income people during the pandemic. But WCK has evolved beyond catastrophe response to become a global leader in culinary activism, including clean cooking.

Following the initial work in Haiti, the organization created the #HaitiBreathes campaign to improve school lunch programs. Observing that “children who eat during the day do better in school,” the campaign has helped 140 schools convert their kitchens to use liquid propane, benefitting 65,000 students and school cooks. Preventing child labor associated with solid fuels is fundamental to poverty reduction. The campaign’s culinary education component and infrastructure upgrades also offer long-term socioeconomic and health benefits by improving sanitation and food safety.

Clean Cooking in Kenya

An estimated 15,700 premature deaths per year in Kenya are attributable to HAP. These deaths are preventable as 75% of households know of clean cooking subsidies and programs, yet 70% remain unable to buy a clean cookstove because of the high prices. Of those who make the relatively expensive upgrade, 60% say the fuel cost for their preferred cookstove is too high, and they are forced to endure the enormous health and productivity effects of purportedly “cheaper” alternatives.

In conjunction with the Clean Cookstove Association of Kenya, native chef and Clean Cooking Alliance Ambassador Susan Kamau educates underserved communities on solid fuel issues. The #CookCleanForKenya program transitions individuals to sustainable fuels; its Facebook page details success stories and explains the nefarious consequences of open fire cooking. By marketing innovative products like the Cookswell Energy Efficient Charcoal Oven, the initiative connects consumers to various clean cooking options. Local figures like Kamau understand local impediments better than a foreign NGO does, making partnerships like this one especially effective.

Clean Cooking in Cambodia

Twenty percent of Cambodians live in poverty, and for them, alternatives to solid fuel are unattainable. People rely mainly on wood for fuel, causing a decline in forest cover from 73% in 1965 to 59% in 2006. Low-cost and temporary clean cooking options are the best way to create meaningful change. One study found that simply introducing flues, though it did not decrease carbon emissions, caused a 75% reduction in negative HAP health outcomes.

The Neang Kongrey Cookstove Initiative produces high-efficiency stoves that cost only $1.50 and reduce fuel consumption by 60%. This female-staffed company enables clean cooking at a grassroots level while also promoting sustainable economic growth. It makes up a mere 5% of the national cookstove market, but the project represents a 700,000-ton decrease in harvested wood and a 500,000-ton decrease in carbon emissions yearly. Although financed through international agencies, this dynamic business creates local change.

Clean cooking initiatives like those led by the WCK in Haiti, the Clean Cookstove Association of Kenya and the Neang Kongrey Cookstove Initiative in Cambodia are vital to creating clean energy, aiding low-income families and making progress in alleviating global poverty. With continued efforts from nonprofits and individuals alike, the international community takes one step toward reducing global poverty through clean cooking initiatives.

– Kit Krajeski
Photo: Flickr

Children in Haiti
Children in Haiti face a myriad of shockingly harsh challenges, with more than 60% of the population living in extreme poverty. Roughly 70% of all children in Haiti are extremely deprived, lacking access to at least one of the following: clean water, food, adequate shelter, healthcare or schooling. With 46% of Haitian children living in absolute poverty, organizations have stepped in to help fulfill the basic needs of children.

Inadequate Shelter and Diseases

More than 50% of children in Haiti lack adequate housing. They often share rooms in the home with family members, with crowding as severe as five people to a room. These rooms have dirt floors and roofing made of leaves, which cannot withstand the rains of Haiti. In addition, 40% of all children do not have toilet facilities.

Furthermore, more than 1.5 million children in Haiti are not immunized, leaving them at risk of deadly diseases. Many of these children also have no access to medical care and more than 800,000 children lack sufficient clean water. As a result, children often resort to drinking contaminated water from ponds and dams.

Starvation and Mental Health Issues

Inadequate food and nutrition lead to severe consequences: more than 75,000 children who survive past the age of 5 could potentially suffer permanent health consequences. Haitian children often lack access to nutritious foods that provide the necessary vitamins vital for growth such as zinc, vitamin A and iodine.

Children in Haiti also suffer symptoms of PTSD due to the terrifying impacts of major catastrophes, including the 2010 earthquake. Limited general healthcare in Haiti means mental healthcare is also lacking. Many children who survive earthquakes and other natural disasters are at risk of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusion and bipolar disorders due to the stress ad trauma endured.

Other conditions, such as homelessness and sexual abuse, can also contribute to mental health concerns. A 1991 study found that thousands of children lived in the streets of Port Au Prince, Haiti. The average age of Haitian “street children” was 11 and half of the children studied had used drugs. Furthermore, girls in Haiti are at high risk of rape and sexual abuse.

Hope Song Refuge

The Borgen Project spoke with Dr. Anita Frew of Hope Song Refuge in Haiti. Dr. Frew typically spends six months of the year caring for children and mothers who cannot care for themselves in Haiti, apart from 2020 when COVID-19 prevented her travel.

Dr. Frew explains how mothers struggle to feed their children. The men in the household often leave because they cannot care for their families and there are limited work opportunities in Haiti. Without access to food, yet yearning to satisfy the pain in their children’s stomachs, some Haitian mothers make cookies out of mud and contaminated water.

The cookies are left out in the sun to dry and are then fed to the children. The children receive no nutritional benefits and often become ill because of the diseases carried in the water. When mothers feel they can no longer care for their children, they may abandon them. It is not uncommon to see abandoned children on blankets on the side of the road as mothers give up hope.

Some desperate mothers even give up their children to traffickers who convince them that their children will have better work opportunities and an improved quality of life outside of Haiti. Traffickers take Haitian children to countries such as the Dominican Republic where the children are sold into child prostitution or slavery. The work of Hope Song Refuge in Haiti seeks to prevent child trafficking by aiding mothers and their children.

Hope for the Future

The harsh circumstances that the children of Haiti face are due to the many tragedies arising from poverty. Starvation and disease are part of the daily lives of many children. The children of Haiti who do not perish from disease or starvation are subject to abuse and often struggle to have their basic needs met.

Despite these conditions, however, there is hope. Dr. Frew’s mission was successfully able to save a child from a human trafficking situation. The Haitian Border Police have also worked to lower the number of trafficked children. Working in partnership with the Haitian Social Welfare Agency, the border police have arrested more than 50 potential traffickers since the agencies began reporting in 2017.

These efforts show a promising trend of reducing child trafficking and lifting Haitian children out of poverty. Moving forward, the government and humanitarian organizations must make addressing child poverty in Haiti a greater priority.

– Carolyn Lancour
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 vaccinations in HaitiHaiti faces a surge in COVID-19 cases, while also being the only COVAX member in the Americas to not commence administering vaccines. Despite reporting low infection rates at the start of the pandemic, Haitian hospitals are now overwhelmed with an influx of patients. With a deficit of resources and infected patients being turned away, there is a desperate need for the commencement of COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti.

Haiti Before the Surge

Haiti confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. The country immediately implemented a complete shutdown by way of closing schools, quarantining visitors and prohibiting public gatherings. Officials also advised that citizens wear masks. By June 2020, the country reported 2,500 COVID-19 cases, leaving Haiti at a relatively low number of reported cases compared to other countries. However, experts have argued that the number of reported cases in Haiti falls substantially lower than the actual number of existing cases due to an overwhelming lack of testing resources and facilities.

Widespread misinformation about COVID-19 leaves many Haitians unwilling to get tested and unwilling to follow precautionary measures. With Haiti largely left to its own devices in handling COVID-19, certain factors, including the inadequate medical care system and high poverty rates, make it difficult for infected patients to receive or afford proper medical care.

Poverty also leads to overcrowded districts and the inability to buy face masks, while poor sanitation increases the spread of disease. Even before experiencing the largest spike of cases since the start of COVID-19, Haiti proved extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. In 2018, Haiti declared its goal of achieving universal healthcare coverage by 2030. However, as the “most impoverished country in the western hemisphere,” the road to achieving universal healthcare contains several obstacles.

The Spike of COVID-19 cases

On June 25, 2021, Haiti reported upward of 18,000 cumulative cases and more than 400 cumulative deaths, with nearly 2,300 of the cases occurring in the span of just a month. The Associated Press reports that the government declared a health emergency on May 24, 2021, by imposing a curfew and compelling people to take preventative safety measures. However, many people are unable to avoid large crowds in marketplaces or on public transportation while others simply cannot afford face masks.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Haiti can be largely attributed to more people getting tested and seeking treatment. Additionally, other variants of COVID-19 could be to blame. Due to the seemingly low number of reported cases earlier in the year, authorities reduced the number of beds allocated for COVID-19 patients. With the rise in cases, hospitals are now at capacity, having to turn patients away.

The Need for COVID-19 Vaccines

Although vaccinating citizens would aid in fighting the pandemic, officials have yet to start COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced an aid plan to facilitate vaccine delivery to Haiti. This first shipment will contain the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine procured through COVAX, a global vaccine initiative that ensures vaccine equity by securing COVID-19 vaccines for low-income countries. PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne asserts that the global community needs to help strengthen Haiti’s response to COVID-19, unifying despite political differences to make COVID-19 treatment a top priority.

As of June 9, 2021, Haiti had still not received any vaccines. The country was supposed to receive more than 750,000 doses of AstraZeneca in May 2021, but the delivery was “delayed due to the government’s concern over possible clotting as a side effect and a lack of infrastructure to keep the vaccines properly refrigerated.”

Doctors express concerns that even if the doses do arrive, there will be challenges in the vaccination rollout. Young adults, who largely ignore government mandates, comprise much of the population. Additionally, gang violence makes it difficult for people to safely venture to clinics and health centers. Nevertheless, officials hope that any delay with COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti will cease.

Domestic and Global Solutions

As residents await the launch of COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti, grassroots organizations aid in the fight against the pandemic. Heart to Heart International, an organization dedicated to improving global healthcare, directs community health workers to teach market vendors and the surrounding community in Haiti about preventative techniques, hygienic practices and the detection of COVID-related symptoms.

GlobalGiving is a nonprofit platform that connects other nonprofits to donors. Through GlobalGiving, Economic Stimulus Projects for Work and Action (ESPWA) looked to raise more than $5,000 for the COVID-19 response in Haiti. Through the first phase of its initiative, the organization has supported 19 communities with more than 40,000 residents by providing seeds to local farmers to sustain agriculture and by supporting a microloan program to assist small businesses. ESPWA also supported the creation of a soapmaking business to generate sustainable income and promote hygiene.

On July 14, 2021, Haiti received 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines from the United States. With more powerful countries reaching out a helping hand, the campaign for COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti can begin with a higher chance of success.

– Cory Utsey
Photo: Unsplash

How UEFA Foundation is Fighting Child Poverty in HaitiThe UEFA Foundation, the governing European football association, has been instrumental in child development within the expanding country of Haiti. The UEFA Foundation has joined forces with the Goals Organization, a nonprofit that focuses on using football as a means to engage youth in Haiti. Together, they have teamed up to try and establish better health education, climate action, leadership activity, education and community service in Haiti through their joint child development program. The UEFA Foundation has donated more than 200,00 euros for the program this year. Together, UEFA Foundation and the Goals Organization are working to fight against child poverty in Haiti by improving children’s development.

The Haiti Humanitarian Crisis

The Caribbean island of Haiti has suffered a tumultuous 21st century, with a history of natural disasters, health crises and overall poverty that have impeded many from improving their living conditions. Most recently, the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 was a devastating event that resulted in more than 200,000 deaths. Rebuilding has been an ongoing process that has lacked the investment needed for Haiti to reach stable economical levels and fight child poverty in Haiti.

In a recent study from the Human Development Index, Haiti was ranked 170 out of 189 countries in terms of per capita income, the worst in the Western Hemisphere. The country has one of the world’s worst infant and maternal mortality rates. Additionally, within that same study, it was found that a child from Haiti would face a 45% of productive life due to incident educational, medical resources.

With 60% of the population living in poverty and with an increase in unstable weather conditions, Haiti has become one of the most challenging countries for young children to grow up in.

How Sport Helps At-risk Children

Sports have long proven to be beneficial in a young child’s development, from improving their social skills and sense of community to physical and cognitive growth. It has been showcased that vital childhood interaction between peers creates a bridge of communication from which children can expand their lives. As such, organized sport dictates a significant part in the fight against child poverty in Haiti and all over the world.

A recent study from Stanford Children Health showed the overall benefits that competitive and organized sports could have on children. Some of those benefits include better heart, eye and lung health, combined with a strong social and self-awareness development.

Another study from the Aspen Project emphasized how important organized sports are to a child’s development. The findings included a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and showcased a 1.8% decrease in obesity when children participate in afterschool activities and sports and an increase in immunity against 13 different cancers. Additionally, the benefits are not merely physical. There is a direct correlation between physical experience and enhanced academic behavior, according to the GAO. Neurologically, a child’s brain is more active when there is also physical activity.

Mental wellness has also risen as a major factor in recent years. Many Haitian children have suffered from difficult circumstances, which may have affected their mental health, but recent studies, like a 2020 study from The New York Times, showcase how children lacking the means for subsistence are two times more likely to report feelings of depression.

Team GOALS and The UEFA Foundation

The Team GOALS organization has partnered with the UEFA Foundation to construct an expanding soccer program that has been given the green light in 2021. As the major governing football body in Europe, UEFA established the UEFA Foundation to team up with local organizations and fight against poverty and overall oppression. This foundation creates an opportunity that many young Haitian students lack. The construction of youth soccer facilities combined with educational teaching is the springboard that the UEFA Foundation hopes can create a change in Haiti.

The UEFA Foundation has supported fundraising for this new initiative with more than 200,000 euros. The program aims to establish a community center that focuses on football as the starting point to growth. This community football center would focus on several different football-related objectives. The football initiative would also include classroom lessons on gender equality in sport, conflict resolution, rural sport and an increased initiative in exercising.

The results are expected to be very good news for the future of Haiti. The projections from the UEFA Foundation include results such as reducing pregnancy rates from 7% to 1%, engaging in physical activity for nine out of 10 children for the first time and providing nutrition and health services to children in need.

The Team GOALS organization also expects a significant increase in trees planted, six youth-led community projects and 35 literacy instruction graduates, with an additional 25 of those children receiving scholarships. Overall, the partner organizations are expecting to create a massive shift in educational, physical and financial development for the Haitian youth.

Conclusion

Young Haitian children in the modern era have struggled to find a foothold within a stable economic and healthy environment. When there are countries around the world with a surplus of economic and health resources, children who have only ever seen financial and medical struggle should be given a chance to succeed. The Team GOALS and the UEFA Foundation have created an excellent avenue for the new generation of Haitian children to learn and have a shot at succeeding in the mental, financial and physical aspects of their lives.

Mario Perales
Photo: Flickr

How Olympic Athlete Naomi Osaka is Improving Gender Equality
Naomi Osaka is a half Japanese and half Haitian Olympic tennis player who represents Japan in competitions. Osaka has great role models who have supported her throughout her entire life. As such, Osaka understands the immense impact that positive role models can have on young adolescents, especially girls. When girls turn 14 years old, they are estimated to leave sports twice as often as boys their same age. Naomi Osaka is improving gender equality through her love of sports by positively impacting young people’s lives and creating a space for people to embrace their culture. Furthermore, Osaka’s foundation and others are working hard to build classrooms, tennis courts and more to help alleviate global poverty.

Naomi Osaka Play Academy

The Naomi Osaka Play Academy is an initiative founded last year that aims to change girls’ lives through play and sport. Osaka wanted to start the initiative in Tokyo knowing how impactful role models were to her at a young age. Additionally, Play Academy has provided grants and gender-inclusive training to three organizations that empower young girls. Its success expanded to Los Angeles where Osaka aims to ensure that Black, Asian and Latinx communities have more opportunities to engage in sports. The initiative has proven to be extremely successful. As such, Osaka began working within communities in Haiti, where her father is originally from.

Play Academy in Haiti

About 90% of Haitian adolescents report never having played a sport before. Fortunately, Play Academy has partnered with GOALS Haiti to reach this underrepresented demographic. Osaka believes in empowering young adolescents in Haiti to embrace diversity. The initiative has allowed for the construction of classrooms, tennis courts and it has sent many children abroad to expand and improve studies. Furthermore, Play Academy and GOALS Haiti aim to improve and advance youth leadership. Both organizations share the same goal of promoting gender equality through soccer and education while creating stronger and healthier communities in rural Haiti.

Naomi Osaka believes it is incredibly important to have women in leadership positions. Women including Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris are just a few leaders that have influenced Osaka in her life. She hopes athletes including herself and Serena Williams, who own National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams, will inspire young girls all around the world.

Osaka is improving gender equality worldwide by promoting a passion for sports and giving children opportunities to enjoy participating in sports. Osaka is unique as a Japanese national while directly resonating with Haitian communities. Acknowledging the importance of having role models, Osaka hopes that her and others’ work will help alleviate poverty. She also hopes it helps girls create a more equitable future while nurturing and inspiring the world’s next athletes.

Mio Vogt
Photo: Flickr

Reconstruction in HaitiHaiti is a country in the Caribbean with a population of 11.2 million. In 2010, more than 200,000 Haitians died in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that also destroyed much of the country’s properties and infrastructure. Destruction from the earthquake has since been compounded by other natural disasters, unrest and disease outbreaks. The United States allocated USAID funding for reconstruction in Haiti back when the crisis first developed. In April 2021, a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines how effective this aid was in helping Haiti recover. The report analyzes $2.3 billion of aid over the course of 10 years. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, believes that this report will help identify which U.S. development projects best help Haitian people. In turn, this report has the potential to shape how U.S. aid in Haiti changes going forward.

Overview of Past Aid

The GAO found that USAID dispersed 89% of the total allocated aid to Haiti, with a canceled project to build a new port accounting for much of the remaining portion. In addition to operating expenses, the funding spent on Haiti fell into several categories. Health and disabilities as well as economic and food security made up the majority of spending at a combined 60%. Cholera outbreaks and droughts made these two sectors a high priority for funding. However, the aid that helped Haiti recover from cholera and food insecurity means a smaller portion of USAID funding focused on the physical infrastructure needed for reconstruction in Haiti.

Future USAID Projects

The U.S. Government continues to allocate aid in support of Haiti. Three months before the GAO  published the April 2021 report, the  United States announced additional developmental assistance aid to Haiti worth almost $76 million. U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison, commended the work USAID has done so far in advancing health, education, food security and Haiti’s economy. Future projects through the most recently allocated aid will attempt to further progress.

In April 2020, the U.S. committed $16.1 million to exclusively address the COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti. Due to the urgent nature of crisis outbreaks in Haiti, the U.S. Government developed a rapid aid response for the country’s most pressing needs.

The World Bank

Other development agencies also responded directly to the relief required as a result of the earthquake. The World Bank responded to Haiti’s crisis by forming the Infrastructure and Institutions Emergency Recovery Project. This gave special attention to rebuilding vital institutions and infrastructure as part of reconstruction in Haiti. The overall aim was to benefit long-term recovery. These reconstruction activities helped more than 1.1 million Haitians as of May 2019. While the $11.3 billion required to reconstruct the damage from the earthquake far eclipses USAID funding for Haitian aid, the United States can more effectively impact this process by shifting the focus of aid.

The Road Ahead

More than 10 years ago, the country of Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake and USAID formed an aid relationship to assist in the country’s recovery. Since then, the U.S. Government involved itself heavily in improving Haiti’s dire needs when new crises emerge. Through the efforts of the United States and other fundamental organizations, significant progress has been made with regard to reconstruction in Haiti. Further efforts will build the foundation for more long-term recovery.

Viola Chow
Photo: Flickr

World Hope International
World Hope International (WHI) is a Christian charity organization working to alleviate poverty by protecting communities. The organization began in 1996 in Virginia and has the core values of opportunity, hope and dignity. By 2019, WHI’s projects spanned 21 countries, awarded 1,835 child sponsorships and provided safe drinking water to 11,841 people.

World Hope International began focusing on COVID-19 related projects in February 2020 through the rehabilitation of wells in Liberia and the Enable the Children program in Sierra Leone. The Enable the Children (ETC) program gives therapy to children with disabilities and provides food for their families. On October 16, 2020, The Borgen Project spoke with Heather Hill, the Director of Communications and Marketing at WHI, about child sponsorships and aspects of the organization’s COVID-19 response.

Child Sponsorship Program

WHI funds an education-based child sponsorship program where people donate $35 a month to help the education of one child in need. During COVID-19, Hill noticed that the child sponsorship levels decreased. He told The Borgen Project that “We launched this campaign and we really talked about sponsorships.” As a result, the last months of 2020 picked up 200 new sponsorships. On top of this campaign, Hill explained how WHI’s partner, Wesleyan Church, launched “the initiative to try and get 1,000 children sponsored in the next few months with us.”

WHI’s COVID-19 Response in Haiti

World Hope International supports the La Gonave Wesleyan Hospital in Haiti. With the help of the Wesleyan church and private donors, the hospital received nearly $4 million worth of basic medical supplies in 2019. Founded over 50 years ago, the hospital still helps approximately 120,000 people in or near La Gonave. WHI’s current project asks for donations equating to $30,000 to transport approximately $2 million worth of medical materials to the location.

Another WHI project in La Gonave is the LB-20,000 water container that underwent installation in February 2019. This container produces approximately 20,000 gallons of clean water every day through solar-powered water farming techniques. The program was a collaboration between WHI, the GivePower Foundation and the West Indies Self Help (WISH) Organization to create clean water for the island. This collaboration continues to provide a clean water source for the entire island.

Other WHI Projects

WHI also helped create a new platform called the Get Support helpline. This platform allows communities to submit requests for various forms of relief during the quarantine period. It launched in late March 2020 and helps organizations connect with communities to better provide them with COVID-19 relief. This program allows people from quarantined communities to request relief packages, such as food or childcare. Volunteer organizations then respond to these requests.

One of WHI’s most important COVID-19 related projects focuses directly on rehabilitating the wells in Liberia. Pandemic restrictions placed numerous cross-country border and curfew challenges on drilling wells in the country. But, the team overcame these challenges by rehabilitating 15 wells instead of drilling new wells. After completing this goal marker by June 2020, WHI promptly set another 15-well marker to provide clean water for Liberians. These citizens would otherwise have to walk tens or hundreds of miles to find clean water.

Despite the COVID-19 disaster, World Hope International has not forgotten about its other ongoing projects. For example, the Strengthening Families and Communities program considers new ways to give Albanian children a place to pursue their interest in education while complying with pandemic restrictions.

True to its Goals

World Hope International is incorporating a variety of global projects to help communities survive the impact of COVID-19. Across the world, WHI’s projects have supported hospitals, rehabilitated wells and prepared a COVID-19 response. WHI’s projects have stayed true to their goals from the past to the present.

– Evan Winslow
Photo: Flickr

5 Things to Know about Feed the Children and Their Work in Haiti
For the last 40 years, Feed the Children has been working toward a hunger-free world by providing resources to those who lack basic necessities. In 2020, Feed the Children has created a substantial impact worldwide and reached countless children and families in need. Most notably, Feed the Children is making a difference in Haiti.

Feed the Children’s Goals

Feed the Children works in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania to reduce hunger and bolster education. The specific approach in each country varies slightly based on the overwhelming needs of the area. However, the dedication to alleviating food insecurity and teaching self-reliance remains a priority in every community. These impoverished areas desperately need assistance to help build better communities for their children. Feed the Children hopes that its efforts will yield the following four results:

  • Properly nourish children by age 5.
  • Provide all children with clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene resources.
  • Enable all children to receive a high-quality education.
  • Cultivate financially stable families that contribute to their communities.

Successfully Reached over 1.6 Million People

The organization displays its impressive impact in its 2019 Annual Report and shares its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. While the organization works both in the United States and internationally, its combined impact accounts for 6.3 million people worldwide. In its 10 countries of focus, it has reached 1.6 million people and distributed over 9.4 million pounds of food and essential items; the value of these items total over $31 million. The organization gave school supplies and books to 17,821 international students. Moreover, 228,450 school children now benefit from regular, nutritious meals at school. In its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, Feed the Children plans on implementing many new initiatives to create an even larger impact in the future. Here are some of its most prominent strategic visions:

  • Expanding its emphasis on child-focused programming to 10% of total resources.
  • Reducing chronic and acute undernutrition in impoverished communities to only 12%.
  • Increasing the percentage of food donations by 8%.
  • Gaining 36% more corporate partners to contribute toward product and service donations, financial gifts and promoting shared values.
  • Increasing overall revenue by 21%.

Intervention in Haitian Natural Disasters

Haiti is both the most impoverished and least developed country in the western hemisphere. The country’s literacy rate is only 61%, which is significantly below the 90% literacy rates among most Latin American and Caribbean countries. Its education expenditures account for only 2.4% of the GDP; these numbers make it apparent that the Haitian commitment to education is staggeringly low. The economy struggles from political instability, natural disasters, disease and mismanagement of humanitarian relief. Frequent hurricanes contribute to the high rates of damage and death seen in Haiti. In 2017, Haiti only collected 10% of its GDP for tourism. This is significantly low compared to its past percentages and the Caribbean states’ average of 15%. These startling statistics caught the attention of Feed the Children and inspired them to extend aid to this struggling nation.

Community Development Programs and Peer-to-Peer Care Groups

The Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD) programs have been making a difference in Haiti through their implementation into 12 different communities. This program teaches children and their families how to prevent malnutrition and reduce poverty through food and nutrition, health and water, education and lifestyle. This training is extremely pertinent to the members of these Haitian communities, as many children suffer from malnutrition. At least 17% of babies are born with low birth weights and 22% of children have stunted growth. Feed the Children hopes that this community development program will save many children from the harmful effects of malnutrition. Through an emphasis on low-cost sanitation initiatives that possess high impact results, families can learn how to address health issues more quickly and prevent disastrous health outcomes.

Additionally, Feed the Children has incorporated peer-to-peer Care Groups in Haitian communities. These groups meet to help educate mothers of young children about nutrition and health. With the ultimate goal of raising healthy children, the peer-to-peer Care Groups teach mothers how to utilize nutritious foods and how to prevent water-borne illnesses through safe cooking.

Positive Results

Not only has Feed the Children been able to give its 12 targeted Haitian communities more food and basic resources, but it also equipped them with the tools they need to build more self-sustaining societies. From the peer-to-peer Care Groups alone, over 1,600 women received training as caregivers who are equipped with extended knowledge on nutrition and safe health practices for their children. Feed the Children also incentivized families to keep their children in school by offering a hot meal three times per week at school. For many families, this school food serves as the only guaranteed meal a child would consume in a day. Therefore, providing these meals for school children both helps keep them from malnourishment and encourages consistent school attendance.

Feed the Children is a great example of an organization that has been making a difference in Haiti and yielding substantial results in the fight against global poverty. With various initiatives spanning 10 nations, countless numbers of vulnerable children and families are learning about how to implement healthy food, water and hygiene habits into their daily lives. Food insecurity and lack of education are huge contributors to poverty; Feed the Children recognizes this and strategically approaches malnutrition and education in a way that cultivates improvements in the lives of the poor.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr

Elderly Poverty in HaitiIn 2020, the average life expectancy worldwide was 72 years; in Haiti, it was 64 years. The majority of the 500,000 Haitians over age 60 are economically dependent and nearly 80% of the population is forced to survive on less than $2 a day. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the older generation is not immune to this crisis. Elderly poverty in Haiti is an imperative issue in need of increased advocacy and aid.

Natural Disaster Created Major Need

The devastating earthquake of 2010 demolished Port-au-Prince. An estimated 250,000 people were killed and over 1.5 million were displaced from their homes. Many elderly were left without shelter, proper clothing and inadequate methods of sanitation. Age is the main factor contributing to the immense vulnerability of this population after disaster. Often, the young and healthy receive vital aid during catastrophes rather than the elderly. As a result, the lack of food and water has hit Haitian elders exceptionally hard.

Water can come with a hefty price tag that some cannot afford. Unfortunately, Haitians living in poverty often walk for miles to streams or ponds to obtain water. If that fails, people sometimes resort to “garbage-filled rivers” to supply their households with water for daily use. This can be an impossible task for an elderly Haitian struggling with mobility. The task of accessing clean water is even more of a challenge for those living in Haiti’s countryside. A majority of Haitians live in rural areas and almost 70% are deemed “chronically poor” compared to only about 20% living in urban areas.

Elderly Poverty in Haiti During COVID-19

In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember all groups need assistance. Different segments of society often receive help unequally. Those left behind in terms of aid tend to be the elderly poor, many of whom do not have the resources to help protect themselves. An October 2020 assessment found that 98% of older adult Haitians did not know where the nearest COVID-19 testing site or treatment facility was located. Soap and basic sanitary needs are now luxuries. Additionally, almost 90% reported having less than two days worth of food at home. Further, nearly half said their mental health had been affected and worry plagued them most, if not all, the time. The pandemic has worsened the situation of elderly poverty in Haiti, which was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.

Aid for the Elderly

Nonprofits and NGOs have stepped up to aid the elderly in Haiti. One nonprofit committed to solving this need is Mission-Haiti, founded in 2005. Within its first year, the organization was able to build the Mission-Haiti Orphanage. The organization then furthered its efforts by opening The SAM Home for the Elderly, a Haitian-led elderly care program. The SAM Home for the Elderly provides elders in need with a safe place to live, access to medical care and three meals a day. Mission-Haiti also began an Advocates for Elders program, which allows anyone to sponsor an elderly Haitian in need for $35 a month.

Increased housing is one of many solutions to ending elderly poverty in Haiti. The World Bank’s projects in Haiti provide an array of other types of aid, including sanitation and water. One of the World Bank’s water projects has seen major success. In its efforts to build, extend and improve drinking water supply systems, more than 70,000 Haitians in rural areas have better access to clean drinking water.

In response to COVID-19, the World Bank collaborated with UNICEF and OREPA to set up more than 2,100 hand-washing stations. The organization has also helped to build 50 sanitation blocks in various public schools and markets. This has helped 26,000 people gain access to sanitation facilities. In the first three months of the pandemic, health care facilities were gifted with protective equipment, including 3.5 million masks. Additionally, around 750 oxygen concentrators were installed to aid in treatments for COVID-19 patients. The World Bank has also focused on awareness campaigns on the importance of good hygiene practices and regular hand-washing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Looking to the Future

The extensive list of adversities facing elderly Haitians will continue to require resilience. However, continued activism can eradicate elderly poverty in Haiti. But in order to achieve this, everyone must be included in the fight. Increased efforts to end elderly poverty in Haiti will allow the country’s life expectancy to continue its upward trend.

Sarah Ottosen
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in HaitiHaiti, a small country that borders the Dominican Republic on the Hispaniola island, suffers greatly from poverty. Natural disasters, systemic inequality and diminishing economic opportunities create a dire state of extreme poverty. Specifically, child poverty in Haiti is the major poverty crisis.

Over half of Haiti’s 11.2 million population live on less than $3 a day, and malnutrition affects 65,000 children under five. Many children under 14 — over a third of Haiti’s population — do not have ready access to health care, clean water, food security or the right to fair and decent work. The question stands: What does child poverty in Haiti look like today, and what obstacles persist in ending it?

It’s easy to forget that statistics reflect the experience of real, living people. Please keep this in mind. Considering this, here are five facts about child poverty in Haiti.

The Statistical Perspective

  1.  Caloric and nutritive malnutrition affects nearly a third of children in Haiti. Out of every five children, one child is malnourished and one out of 10 is acutely malnourished. Before the age of five, one child out of 14 will die. Those who live deal with the effects of inadequate food supplies. Poor access to vital nutrients means that children are subject to poor health, growth and development.
  2. Despite Haiti’s free publication education, only half of elementary-aged children are enrolled in school. Millions of disadvantaged parents have very few with little resources to secure education for their children. This is a result of Haiti privatizing 92% of schools.
  3.  Nearly half a million children are orphaned in Haiti. A significant proportion of these “lost” children are exploited for labor in dangerous conditions. “Host households” take in children whose families cannot provide for them. Many of these children — known colloquially as “restaveks” — end up as victims of human trafficking.
  4.  Adequate health care is hard to come by in Haiti. Child immunization has stagnated at 41%. The proportion of children who die before their first birthday has risen by 2% in the last year – from 57% to 59%. HIV, tuberculosis, and a variety of other chronic, crippling diseases ail an estimated 20,000 children in Haiti, and treatment is increasingly difficult to obtain.

COVID-19

Haiti is particularly prone to natural disasters, in large part due to its geographical situation in the Bermuda. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake ravaged the island of Hispaniola in 2010. A slew of tropical storms, hurricanes and additional earthquakes further compromised Haiti. Nearly 10 years later, Haiti still struggles with recovering from its 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew alongside dealing with recent social unrest and COVID-19.

Humanitarian aid efforts are nearing an all-time high for the country, but the efficacy of these programs and endeavors has been questioned. The threats of COVID-19 aren’t the only ones Haiti must face. The future is increasingly uncertain for millions of Haitians and their children, due to equipment shortages, lack of qualified health care professionals and a worsening economic climate.

Ways to Help

What is there to do? Explore The Borgen Project’s homepage. From there, it’s easy to email and call representatives and leaders. There is the option to donate to the cause. For free, one can create momentum on social media to raise awareness about the dire situation in Haiti. A number of ways exist to combat child poverty in Haiti; it just takes action.

Henry Comes-Pritchett
Photo: Flickr