disabilities in SenegalSenegal has the fourth largest economy in the western region of Africa. However, half of Senegal’s population still lives in extreme poverty. Due to the limited disability services provided by Senegal’s government, the barriers that people are encountering under poverty are amplified for Senegalese people who have a disability. Efforts towards improving disability services in Senegal are currently focusing on accessibility within education and economic inclusion.

Improving Educational Opportunities

Children with disabilities often miss out on quality education due to a lack of accessibility services. It is estimated that, in West Africa, one in four children with a disability does not attend school. Many organizations are working to improve the education system in Senegal to make it more accessible for people with disabilities. One organization is Sightsavers Senegal.

There are 700,000 people in Senegal who have a visual impairment, which includes thousands of children. Sightsavers Senegal started a pilot program in order to address the large number of visually impaired students who are excluded from the education system in Dakar. The program began in 2011, and by 2016, 187 students with visual impairments were enrolled in three different schools.

Sightsavers was able to provide scholarships to students along with textbooks that had been translated into braille. Facilities and technology were also adapted in order to accommodate students with a visual impairment. Sightsavers was able to collaborate with Senegal’s Ministry of Education to provide resources and training for students and educators to include more inclusive learning spaces for children with visual impairments.

The success of this pilot program provided incentives to the Senegalese government to uphold the program and work towards expansion nationwide. This budget has allowed for the addition of assistive facilities and learning resources in two more regions in Senegal.

Improving Economic Inclusion

Gaining economic independence and success is often difficult for individuals with disabilities. Job training and matching are challenging when services aren’t available to facilitate the movement of people with disabilities into the workforce. Senegal enforces a minimum access quota to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in both private and public sector jobs. These quotas minimize the number of people out of work due to a disability. The Ministry of Civil Service, Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Technical and Vocational Training are in charge of implementing and enforcing the quota.

In Senegal, Humanity & Inclusion’s “EMPHAS” Project is working to provide training and services to help individuals with disabilities work towards economic security. Their focus has mainly been pointed towards women and young people who have disabilities. Humanity & Inclusion focuses not only on the technical training side of job fields but also advocates for accessible facilities. At least 500 adults and 90 public and private employers have benefited from the implementation of EMPHAS.

In March 2019, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under the U.N., assessed the efforts being made towards improving disability services in Senegal. The committee identified areas where more intervention can be made, such as more vocational training and a focus on the implementation of services. Although there is still a portion of the disabled community in Senegal experiencing exclusion, resource allocation and a focus on making facilities more accessible have contributed to improving disability services in Senegal.

Claire Bryan

Photo: Flickr

Income_AfricaThe idea that guaranteed basic income can solve poverty was first proposed by lawyer Thomas More in the 16th century. Guaranteed basic income, also known as universal basic income is an unconditional periodic money transfer to ensure that a citizen can pay for his or her basic necessities no matter what. The idea that everybody will be paid money every month, whether or not they have a job, is undeniably radical.

Guaranteed Basic Income Has Supporters and Detractors

Economists are divided into two groups over the idea: one in favor of guaranteed basic income and the other against it. Those opposing the idea believe that it will undermine the incentive to do a job, that more people would end up in low-wage jobs or that a “handout” is by no means a tool to “turn things around”. Some of them also argue that even if guaranteed basic income can solve poverty, a program like this can be very expensive and hence negatively affect a nation’s economic growth.

On the other hand, the idea has found acceptance among several intellectuals, politicians, historians, economists and entrepreneurs alike. One of them is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, who has called for others to embrace the idea, in case people start losing their jobs to automation and artificial intelligence.

Current Studies Testing the Efficacy of Basic Income

To see how guaranteed basic income can solve poverty, many experiments are underway around the world. A nonprofit organization in Kenya called GiveDirectly has launched one of the most comprehensive economic and social experiments in human history. They will be selecting groups of people who will receive $22 per month for a period of two to 12 years, no strings attached.

To date, the organization has distributed more than $70 million among 80,000 households in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. “What’s interesting about basic income is that, coincidentally, it’s a conversation people are having all the way from Silicon Valley, where they are worried about job loss to robots, to some of the poorest countries in the world,” said Paul Niehaus, professor of economics at the University of California San Diego, co-founder of GiveDirectly and a firm believer that guaranteed basic income can solve poverty.

In Finland, the government randomly selected 2,000 unemployed citizens for a one of a kind experiment started at the beginning of 2017. To study how guaranteed basic income can solve poverty, these people will receive €560 every month for two years, tax-free. A key goal of the Finland experiment is to give unemployed people incentive to work by providing them with financial assistance even after they become employed again. Researchers chose the €560 monthly amount because it roughly equals the current level of unemployment benefits.

In a recent interview given to NPR, Stockton, California mayor Michael Tubbs said,” In fact, I think [it] will make people work better and smarter and harder and be able to do things like spending time with their families [be]cause we’re not robots.” Stockton will start a similar experiment by the end of this year.

What Basic Income Can Do for Impoverished People

The proponents of guaranteed basic income caution that the amount paid must be sufficient to be of assistance when misfortune strikes but not large enough to satisfy all of a person’s wants. They also argue that the freedom to start a new business or to say yes to a job that pays little but yields joy, or to say no to a job that pays too little or is demeaning, should not be reserved only for the wealthy.

Historian Rutger Bregman highlights an experiment conducted in India by American psychologists involving Indian sugarcane farmers. These farmers get around 60 percent of their income all at once. Hence, they are relatively rich during one part of the year but poor the rest of the year. The farmers were subjected to an IQ test before and after the harvest. The results showed that farmers gained nine IQ points after the harvest, as the extra money freed up mental resources that were previously concerned with making ends meet.

A similar study conducted between 1974 and 1979 in Dauphin, Canada proved that a guaranteed basic income can solve poverty by making the recipients smarter, healthier and richer. Further studies can bolster the effectiveness of basic income worldwide and could lead to it becoming an important tool in ending global poverty.

– Himja Sethi

Photo: Flickr

The island nation of Malta, located off the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea, has been ruled by a variety of nations over the centuries because of its strategic location in the sea. It was not until 1964 that it received its independence from the United Kingdom. It is one of the world’s smallest countries, but it still has its struggles, especially with hunger in Malta.

In 2015, it was reported that 16.3 percent of the Maltese population was in poverty. Additionally, the percentage of children under 18 and adults over 65 who were victims of poverty were 23.4 and 21 percent respectively. Hunger in Malta is obviously linked to poverty, because these people cannot afford to adequately feed themselves and their families. Many even said they were unable to keep their homes warm enough during the winter.

There are currently 21,000 children at risk of poverty in Malta, most of whom come from large families or single-parent households. In both cases, the household income is below the poverty line and is not enough to feed them or give them a decent upbringing. Children from these families cannot even begin to think about getting an education because their nutritional needs are barely being met.

While there has been a relatively steady, albeit small, reduction in the rate of hunger and poverty in Malta, under the administration prior to that of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat there was a significant increase. The poverty rate jumped from 20 to 24 percent and food prices were rapidly increasing, making it even more difficult for Maltese people to feed their families. The very slowly growing income rate has not been able to counteract the rapidly rising cost of living in Malta.

While it has been said that Muscat has “no interest” in addressing the challenges of people of low economic status, he at least pledged to increase the minimum wage. While this is not by any means a grand plan for the reduction of poverty and hunger in Malta, it is at least a step in the right direction. Additionally, the previous head of the National Party indicated his hopes for the improvement of conditions for Maltese people in poverty, indicating that the party would do what it could to decrease poverty.

In December 2014, an official plan was set in place for poverty reduction. The plan from the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity puts 94 strategic actions in place through 2024.These strategies address poverty from specific angles such as social services, health and environment, culture, income and social benefits, education and employment. However, there are flaws in this plan too, as the ministry says part of the plan is to “empower vulnerable groups to become less welfare dependent.” This does not imply any concrete action, and suggests that Maltese people in poverty can simply “become” wealthier.

There is much to be done in Malta, and hopefully the government will put in place more concrete strategies for lifting their people out of poverty and reducing hunger. Until then, the ten-year plan will have to suffice, and should have some positive impact on people in poverty.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island nation in the Caribbean that has faced a number of challenges in the past decade. The nation has a population growth rate of negative 0.31 percent and approximately 15 percent of the total population was unemployed in 2008. There are several causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but most are related to its failing economy and poor education system.

The failure of the banana industry around 2008 pushed much of the population into unemployment or poverty, and the sudden rise of the construction industry has created an income gap. There were very low wages across the country and few job opportunities, leading to a poverty rate of 30.2 percent. The nation needs to focus on better integration into the global economy and on creating a more competitive national economy.

Low education levels has also been one of the larger causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. While there are programs in place, such as the School Meals and Textbooks program, to help low income families educate their children, many poor children still do not attend school everyday. Literacy rates were at 84 percent in 2008, but younger generations did have higher levels than older generations.

Gender inequality with relation to access to education is another of the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2008, it was reported that nearly 50 percent of women had their first pregnancy between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. It was also noted that the labor market was inherently biased and women needed much higher levels of education to be able to compete with men. Households with a female head tended to be much poorer, and there was no formal legislation to deal with gender discrimination in the workplace.

Strides have been made, however, toward reducing poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In terms of the economy, tourism has become a larger sector and has created more jobs. With increased tourism has come increased construction, and that has also created the need for more labor. In terms of education, in 2000 the government set a number of goals that were to be achieved by 2015. These goals focused on providing good quality and compulsory primary education to all children, but particularly girls and ethnic minorities, and improving literacy rates and access to higher education for both boys and girls.

While there is not a lot of recent data about poverty in the nation, these goals are quite progressive and have shown solid attempts to reduce the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. With continued effort from the government, the small island nation should be able to develop further and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Help People in UzbekistanThe Republic of Uzbekistan was formed in 1991 after declaring independence from the Soviet Union. However, this independence came at a cost. After losing subsidies afforded by the Soviet government, this nation experienced a serious economic decline. Today, not only do 12.8 percent of Uzbekistan’s citizens live beneath the national poverty line, it has a steady unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. With an economy largely based around agriculture, Uzbekistan’s GDP has suffered during the last few decades due to the fragile ecosystem caused by climate change, rapid population growth and environmentally-damaging economic pursuits.

These financial hardships are not helped by the Uzbek government, which has a track record of corruption, non-transparency and numerous human rights violations. Though there have been improvements in terms of income distribution and income rates, the future of this nation is ambiguous, given the likelihood that their high commodity prices will decrease with the current environmental and market disruptions. This places a great deal of pressure to establish a market-based economy, which calls for both higher education rates and outside investors.

As of now, agriculture still employs over a third of Uzbekistan’s population of 31.8 million. In order to achieve a measure of financial prosperity while subsequently lowering poverty rates and raising income rates, this nation must invest in the 58.5 percent of its population below the age of 30. Let’s take a look at how to help people in Uzbekistan.

SOS Children’s Villages in Uzbekistan
One way to help people in Uzbekistan is by donating to SOS Children’s Villages International, or specifically to one of its many bases in Uzbekistan. Founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1949, this organization worked to provide orphaned and abandoned children with loving families after World War II. Today, this program has placed 577,000 children into healthy alternative care. On top of this, last year 297,000 children were reported to be learning at SOS Children’s Villages’ schools, training centers, and social centers.

In Uzbekistan, many children are forced to drop out of school at a young age and are exploited within the cotton industry. Oftentimes, young children are sent out to live, work and earn for their families. This ends in this nation’s youth fending for themselves on the street in order to survive. Without programs like SOS Children’s Villages, these young people are placed into institutions, which only perpetuates the trend of young adults unable to act independently. Reports relay that the majority of girls leaving institutions marry early, start families young and never achieve the educational and professional potential of which they are capable. Allowing this institutionalization empowers the cycle of poverty prevalent in Uzbekistan. By helping or donating to SOS Children’s Villages in Uzbekistan, you could be a powerful force in the creation of better, safer lives.

The Cotton Campaign
Another way to help people in Uzbekistan is by supporting The Cotton Campaign, a coalition working in the service of human rights and the eradication of both child and forced labor. Each year during the harvest season, the Uzbek government is responsible for forcing adults and children alike out of their jobs, homes and schools in order to contribute to its annual cotton quota. While this is dangerous enough with consideration to the health of these forced laborers, who are more often than not placed into unsafe housing, exposed to harmful chemicals and forced to pick beyond their limits, the power the government holds over these citizens compromises both their education and their profession.

The Cotton Campaign works to help people in Uzbekistan by mobilizing communities, organizations and individuals to advocate against the exploitative terms of citizenship in Uzbekistan. In educating potential lobbyists about the necessary ramifications and laws that need to pass through the Uzbek government, this coalition gives each individual the power to work against this existing inhumanity. By supporting their efforts, you can contribute to the end of modern-day slavery.

Both of these organizations are doing important work to help people in Uzbekistan. By donating, volunteering or raising awareness, you can contribute to improving the lives of Uzbekistan’s impoverished people.

Briana Fernald

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Kuwait Poor?Kuwait, a small country located in the Middle East, is a country that tends to be stereotypically characterized as stricken with poverty. A common question that is asked is, why is Kuwait poor?

But this stereotype is not necessarily true. Kuwait is indeed small, but its oil reserves have made it one of the richer countries in the region. In terms of purchasing power, Kuwait’s GDP is ranked 55th in the world by the CIA World Factbook.

Due to Kuwait’s small population size, this success directly correlates to its people’s standard of living. As of 2016, Kuwait’s GDP per capita ranked 11th in the world at $71,900. This figure is much higher than many major economies such as the United States, which ranked 20th at $57,400.

Based on these figures alone, Kuwait appears not to be a poor country, but one of the most prosperous in the world. So, why is Kuwait poor? On the international stage, it is not. When one looks further, however, key figures may legitimize that question.

What is interesting about Kuwait is that the country’s poverty rate is extremely difficult to find. Neither the World Bank, the CIA World Factbook nor UNICEF have access to it, which raises a lot of questions. Why do these trusted international organizations not have this information? Is this information being withheld, and if so, for what reason?

Based on other metrics, it is hard to see Kuwait as a stereotypical poor country. The figures mentioned above related to GDP show that the nation as a whole is seeing economic success, and an unemployment rate of 3 percent suggests that its poverty rate must be low.

Still, the lack of specific data in this area is unsettling. If Kuwait is as prosperous as it seems to be, there should be no issue in providing data relevant to its poverty rate and income distribution. In order for the world to know for certain, the international community needs this data.

So, why is Kuwait poor? It technically is not poor, but that is not necessarily the right question to be asking. By asking questions regarding Kuwait’s poverty rate, its income distribution, and the general livelihoods of its people, we can better analyze the country’s successes, its shortcomings and its opportunities for growth long into the future.

John Mirandette

Photo: Flickr

Addressing the Macedonia Poverty RateJust north of Greece in southeastern Europe lies the mountainous country of Macedonia, carved by rocky valleys and three large freshwater rivers. The country has a population of 2.1 million people, most of whom have been suffering a few notches below the poverty line. Looking at the Macedonia poverty rate will shed some light on what can be done to better people’s lives.

An estimated 21.5 percent of the Macedonian population lives below the poverty line, per the most recent data. In 2008, the rate was only 1.3 percent. A majority of impoverished people in Macedonia live on only $1.90 per day. Additionally, the country has a poor history of income distribution, as the poorest 20 percent of the population make only one quarter of the income of the richest sector of the population.

Rural poverty is the most rampant in Macedonia, where 40 percent of the population and two-thirds of the country’s poor lives. People in these areas either make their living off of small-scale farming and livestock production or they are among the rural unemployed. Farmers can usually provide only enough food for their families plus a small surplus for selling, while the unemployed have no accessible employment or resources in the rural community. Rural markets have always suffered and, in turn, so has the economic production of agriculture since the collapse of the country’s communist system and the Yugoslav republic divided. Financial resources to bring small farmers back to business then became almost nonexistent. The International Fund for Agricultural Development concludes that the major causes of poverty in the country are massive unemployment following the collapse of the command economy, lack of technical and financial resources for improving agriculture and lack of access to local and international markets for products.

Reports in the last several years note the deepening poverty crisis in Macedonia, which particularly affects young people and families with small children. The poverty rate in 2011 was 30.4 percent, or one in three Macedonians, with more than 40 percent of people under 39 years old being poor. There was also a spike in the percentage of poor married couples with children from 28.9 percent to 35.1 percent between 2010 and 2011. Almost half of all poor people in the country live in small households with five or more family members, creating a worrying trend of families with low incomes and many mouths to feed but not enough resources.

Because they live in low-income households, children and youth are the most adversely affected. A study by UNICEF in 2006 elects that child poverty leads to social exclusion, risky behaviors during adolescence and vulnerability to exploitation. Children are more susceptible to the results of being dependent on an impoverished family: lack of education and future employment, inaccessible resources and support, little food and clean water to nourish growing minds and bodies and declining emotional and physical development. However, UNICEF strongly urges that child poverty become a central point of national policy. Constraints on the country’s progress in alleviating poverty include poor financial management, little public expenditure on healthcare and education, lack of social protection and inadequate legislative and institutional framework which might bring balance back to at-risk families and children. This and other studies on the Macedonia poverty rate reveal the the impacts of poverty on families and individuals are largely irreversible.

By addressing the situation of poverty in Macedonia, the hope for change lies in reform, stronger protective legislation, broader income distribution and an eye-opening call to action benefiting the poor in this country.

Olivia Cyr
Photo: Flickr


The debate over immigration is one of the key tenets of modern U.S. political discourse. The poverty aspect of the conversation, however, is frequently ignored.

But some academics have taken to asking an intriguing question: should poverty reduction through immigration legislation be taken more seriously as a proposal?

The data bears out how legal immigration can benefit both parties when it comes to alleviating poverty. Among Mexican immigrants, the largest foreign-born group in the U.S., those with legal recognition have a 12 percent lower rate of poverty than the undocumented. Average annual income is around $6,000 higher.

The domestic economy, and U.S. workers, can benefit from these influxes. The labor market becomes more efficient and managerial positions often appear and are usually filled by native-born Americans. Employers are also spurred on to comply with labor, health and safety regulations, unlike when undocumented migrants form their employment base.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act stands as a testament to what federally sponsored legal immigration can do to reduce poverty both domestically and abroad. The legislation legalized the status of 2.7 million immigrants and in the process increased their wages by 5 percent. A frequent criticism of a more liberal immigration policy is that it encourages poverty to ‘migrate’. This fails to account for the impact bills like the 1986 act can have to encourage poverty reduction through immigration.

More successful than some humanitarian and foreign aid projects, migration is capable of alleviating poverty among some of the most at-risk nations in the world. Haitians, the most poverty-stricken people in the Western hemisphere, have migrated in large numbers to the U.S. and Canada, often as refugees. Now, around four out of every five Haitians who are above the poverty line live abroad. These migrants, in turn, often repatriate wages back to Haiti to support their relatives.

Encouraging legal immigration as a policy goal could be under threat in 2017. The White House has made moves to significantly curb legal migrants and a new proposal endorsed by President Trump seeks to greatly limit the availability of green cards to family members of existing immigrants. The number of refugees will also be cut in half.

Congress appears unwilling so far to pass such a bill. Some Republican Senators have highlighted the economic benefits of legal immigration to their home states, such as South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham. They could join Democrats in universal opposition to the proposal and effectively kill it.

Treating immigration as a poverty-solving method could prove effective if taken seriously on Capitol Hill. While it appears any restrictions to legal immigration remain unlikely to pass, poverty still is a largely absent feature of the debate. The 1986 Immigration Reform Act, in particular, should stand out as an example of how to support poverty reduction through immigration.

Jonathan Riddick

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Turkey
Poverty in Turkey? Despite seeing rapid growth and development as a nation, Turkey continues to face a recurring problem with poverty amongst its citizens. Though the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) has nearly tripled in the past ten years, according to the United Nations’ Human Development Report, many of Turkey’s citizens are not seeing this growth and are caught by the causes of poverty in Turkey.

The Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper based in Istanbul, reported in May that the monthly poverty threshold increased by nearly 500 Turkish liras to reach just shy of 5,000 liras (or $1,400). This threshold delineates the monthly expenses of a family of four. If their household income falls below the threshold they will be unable to afford housing, clothes, food, heat, electricity or other utilities.

 

Poverty in Turkey Data

 

Data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute indicates that the severe material deprivation rate – a statistic similar to the monthly poverty threshold that tracks families’ abilities to afford at least several basic material essentials such as food and heating – increased from 29.4 percent in 2014 to 30.3 percent in 2015 (the last two years with available studies).

The causes of poverty in Turkey, as an opinion piece by Turkish novelist Kaya Genc claims, lay partly on the shoulders of Turkey’s track record of huge income inequality. Genc notes that the top 20 percent of Turkish families hold over 45 percent of the country’s GDP, while the bottom 20 percent have just over six percent of the GDP.

The Rural Poverty Portal notes that, in 2014, the majority of people in poverty in Turkey lived in rural areas, where the rate was over 35 percent below the poverty threshold to merely 22 percent in urban areas. This rural-urban inequality stems from several factors:

  • Average rural family size is nearly double that of urban families.
  • Environmental issues like climate change, soil erosion and continued issues with overgrazing livestock – all of which greatly affect agriculture, which is the livelihood of the vast majority of rural families.
  • Low literacy rates and limited education
  • A continued lack of welfare and social security for the rural poor.

Genc theorizes that this inequality can likely trace its roots back to longstanding negative attitudes of Turkey’s poor, both rural and urban, by its upper classes. Genc writes: “For decades, Turkey’s poor were characterized as backward, conservative, religious-minded people who represented the worst of the society.” Despite the country’s wealth increasing overall, Turkey’s wealth inequalities must be addressed to get at the root causes of poverty in Turkey.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Cyprus
Cyprus is a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean and is the third largest and third most populated island in the Mediterranean. Despite being an island, the cost of living in Cyprus is relatively low. The prices are about 25 percent lower than those in other Northern European countries.

There are many inexpensive commodities in Cyprus, such as the local seasonal fruit. Rent and utility bills are also relatively cheap on the island, especially water bills and electricity. Basic utilities are usually around 128 euros a month. The more expensive commodities in Cyprus are internet access, milk and clothing. Most of the milk is imported to the island, which raises the price. There are very limited options for clothing, and most are very expensive. Online shopping is an option, but internet costs upwards of 42 euros per month, making it a luxury.

A comfortable net income in Cyprus is between 10,251.61 euros and 11,960.21 euros annually. After the euro was introduced to the island, the prices there rose overall. The euro is still fairly new, so not everything has been affected yet, but the prices are predicted to rise further, including those of produce, utilities and clothing.

The island has a slow pace of life, which refers to the rate at which commodities are fixed when they break. People go days or weeks without electricity when there is an outage because the relaxed pace of life means that the electricity is not a top priority. This lifestyle can be nice but also has its downsides, especially with the unemployment problem in Cyprus.

This lifestyle and high unemployment rate both affect the cost of living in Cyprus. Cyprus has a lack of available jobs, which affects the country’s economy and its citizens’ decision-making. With the decreased income and increasing cost of living in Cyprus, limitations are placed upon decision-making. Less becomes affordable for families and, in turn, can increase poverty rates. The unemployment rate has shrunk the economy, impacting the cost of living in Cyprus.

A somewhat positive impact on the country’s cost of living in Cyprus is the low transportation costs. Buses are cheaply available, but there are no active train systems, and these buses are unreliable. Most people rely on private taxis, instead of the bus systems, but these are more expensive. The citizens have been informed that a train system will be installed within a 15-year time frame.

Luckily, housing is quite affordable in Cyprus. The ultimate problems for the country are the unemployment and price increases due to the introduction of the euro. These problems should be the focus for improving the cost of living in Cyprus.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Pixabay