Resource TrapLogic follows that the wealthier a country becomes, the more financial resources it should have to combat poverty. The European Union countries and the United States have many programs to address domestic and global poverty, administered by both non-governmental (NGO) and governmental organizations. Taking the logical argument further yields that countries with vast natural resources should be equally capable of fighting poverty. By monetizing their vast natural resources, they should have plenty to provide for their citizens. The reality though is starkly different due to the resource trap.

Resource Trap

While rich countries are capable of enacting change, the manner by which their wealth was accumulated affects how their governments appropriate funds. The resource trap, or resource curse, as called by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), posits that resource-rich countries tend to have higher rates of conflict and authoritarianism combined with lower rates of economic stability and economic growth. Along with the NRGI, Bloomberg finds that countries with vast natural resources have high degrees of conflict, corruption and poverty.

One of the many examples of this conundrum in the world today is Iran. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Iran’s economy has a large industrial sector which makes up 35.3 percent of the country’s GDP. Iran’s large oil reserves gave rise to its top three industries: petroleum, petrochemicals and gas production. These three are resources commonly cited in reports regarding resource traps.

Even though Iran is rich with natural resources, it has an Aggregate Freedom Score of 18/100, which categories the country as “Not Free”. In their report on Iran, Freedom House cites antigovernment protests over the worsening economy and corruption as a factor in Iran’s low score. These dynamics have rendered the country prey to the resource trap. Resource traps like those found in oil-rich countries are especially troublesome because their governments are beneficiaries of vast amounts of income that would otherwise come from taxation. Since the government does not depend on tax revenues to remain in power, the will of the people tends to be ignored, which leads to unchecked corruption.

Economic Monitoring

NGOs combating corruption in oil-rich countries work to address how petroleum-based revenues are used to suppress its people. According to Radio Farda, Iran has a record of marginalizing NGOs that attempt to address the exploitation of its citizens. Solving the riddle of resource-trapped countries is a hard task and involves a multitude of tactics. Most of the work done by NGOs in Iran is done through the World Bank’s Economic Monitor program. Monitoring efforts like these where selected topics of interest to Iran and the international community are published provide data useful in liberating countries from their resource traps.

– Spencer Julian
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Iran
Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has prioritized the need to improve Iran’s health care system. Indeed, Article 29 of the IRI’s Constitution establishes every Iranian citizen’s right to high-quality health. The Ministry of Health and Medical Education is responsible for providing the health care necessary to achieve this goal. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Iran and the state of the country’s health care system.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Iran

  1. Starting in the early 1980s, Iran successfully launched a reformed primary health care system or PHC. Because of Iran’s PHC programs, life expectancy in Iran has steadily risen from 55.7 years in 1976 to 75.5 years in 2015. Since the implementation of the PHC system, Iran has also experienced increased economic growth and literacy, and an improvement in safe water access and sanitation. The Community of Health Workers suggests that all of this may have contributed to Iran’s increased life expectancy.

  2. The aim of PHC was to provide all Iranians with health care by 2000. Especially in the beginning, PHC prioritized reducing health inequality between urban and rural populations by focusing attention on and resources to rural areas. Central to PHC was the establishment of health houses in rural areas. Behvarzes, local community members who had personal ties and commitments to the community, would run these houses.

  3. As of 2009, more than 90 percent of Iranians have some type of health insurance according to data cited by the Japan Medical Association Journal. Both the public and private sectors play a pivotal role in Iran’s health care system, which is a nation-wide network that includes local primary care centers in Iran’s provinces, secondary care hospitals in the provincial capitals and tertiary hospitals located in big cities. The public sector provides most of the primary care and some of the secondary and tertiary health services. Some public services, like prenatal care and vaccinations, are free. The private sector focuses on secondary and tertiary services. Additionally, NGOs play an active role in Iran’s health system, specifically concerning issues like children with cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and thalassemia.

  4. In addition to higher life expectancy, Iran has seen better health outcomes on several fronts. For one, the incidences of malaria-related deaths have decreased significantly from 15,378 cases in 2002 to 777 cases in 2015; 28 of these cases resulted in death. The reduction in malaria-related deaths is the result of interventions, such as the introduction of tap water and electricity into villages.

  5. To completely eradicate malaria, health officials should concentrate resources to prevent and treat the disease in the specific provinces where the disease is most prevalent. Policymakers should monitor borders to prevent the spread of malaria into Iran from outside the country. They should strengthen cooperation between institutions and improve the health systems’ ability to quickly identify epidemics.

  6. Between 1995 and 2011, Iran’s neonatal (NMR), infant (IMR) and under-5-year (U5MR) mortality rates in rural parts of the country decreased substantially. In particular, Iran’s NMR and IMR saw a statistically-significant decline as a result of a family physician program and rural insurance program. Implemented in 2005, Iran intended these programs to reform PHC, which did not cover access to specialists or private-sector physicians for rural populations. The family physician program and rural insurance program provided preventive and outpatient care to rural communities and made health care access more equitable between urban and rural areas. By providing greater access to important health services, these reforms improved many health indicators, such as child mortality. From 1995 to 2011, Iran’s NMR dropped from 17.84 to 10.56; the IMR decreased from 31.95 to 15.31; and Iran’s U5MR declined from 40.17  to 18.67.

  7. One of Iran’s significant health achievements is a dramatic increase in child immunization; indeed, providing vaccinations was one of the main activities of the community health workers under PHC. From 1990 to 2006, the percentage of one-year-olds immunized with three doses of DPT rose from 91 to 99 percent. Over that same period, one-year-olds immunized with three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine increased from 62 to 99 percent; similarly, one-year-olds immunized with MCV rose from 85 to 99 percent. This increase in immunization among children correlates with a sharp decline in Iran’s infant mortality rate.

  8. Cardiovascular diseases are the most common causes of mortality in Iran and connect to more than 45 percent of deaths. The second most common cause of death in Iran is accidents at 18 percent. Cancer follows at 14 percent and then neonatal and respiratory diseases, each of which accounts for about 6 percent of deaths in the country. Many NGOs, like the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), are cooperating with the Iranian Ministry of Health to combat these frequent causes of mortality. For instance, at the beginning of 2019, the country launched a national campaign to fight cancer. This campaign seeks to bring hope to cancer patients and to raise awareness about the fact that cancer is treatable and often preventable. Officials note that behavioral and dietary risks can cause cancer.

  9. While Iran’s health care system has improved significantly, it still has room for growth. For instance, greater than half of the under-5 deaths in Iran are the result of preventable or easily-treatable diseases and illnesses, such as malnutrition, which affects some 45 percent of children under the 5-years-old in Iran. One NGO that is helping food-insecure refugees in Iran is the World Food Programme (WFP), which has had a presence in Iran since 1987. In January 2018, WFP implemented the Iran Country Strategic Plan (2018-2020), which provides a combination of cash and monthly distributions of wheat flour to refugees in need, especially the most vulnerable women-headed households. In January 2019 alone, WFP helped 29,736 people in Iran.

  10. Another NGO providing health services to Iranians in need is Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which translates to Doctors Without Borders. MSF provides marginalized groups in south Tehran, such as drug users, sex workers, street children and the ghorbat ethnic minority, with free health care. MSF runs a clinic in the Darvazeh Ghar district, where they provide services including medical and mental health consultations, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, ante- and postnatal care and family planning. In 2018, MSF provided 29,900 outpatient consultations.

As these 10 facts about life expectancy in Iran show, the health of the Iranian people and health care system of Iran have improved significantly in the past few decades, due largely to the reforms of PHC and the family physician program and rural insurance program. If the Iranian government continues its investment in these programs, there is a good reason to believe life expectancy in Iran will continue to rise in the coming years.

– Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

Buttigieg's Foreign Policy
The youngest of the Democratic candidates running for office in the 2020 election, people widely know and consider candidate Pete Buttigieg for his professional and academic credentials. People commonly refer to Buttigieg as “Mayor Pete” due to his current occupation as South Bend, Indiana’s mayor, but he also speaks eight languages, including Norwegian, Maltese and Arabic. Buttigieg received his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 2003, and soon after completed his postgraduate education as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Between 2009 and 2017, he also served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has also set him apart as a champion for foreign policy.

Following his speech at the University of Indiana, where he discussed his foreign policy with an emphasis on national security, TIME Magazine referred to Buttigieg as the potential “foreign policy candidate in 2020.” Notably, while most other presidential candidates have only vaguely touched upon their foreign agenda, Buttigieg’s foreign policy has made up a key aspect of his campaign.

Indeed, Buttigieg advocates for organization and forward-thinking; the country’s decisions today will lead the nation and the world in the decades of tomorrow. In his words, “we need a strategy… Not just to deal with individual threats, rivalries, and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define the balance of this half-century in which my generation will live the majority of our lives.”

This article outlines three key aspects one should know about Pete Buttigieg’s Foreign Policy, with respect to potential effects on global poverty trends and the developing world.

End the Endless War

Buttigieg criticizes the post-9/11 legislation that allows the president to use what they deem necessary military force against any organization who assisted with the terrorist attacks. Specifically, he points out that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) needs major correcting. A former naval intelligence officer himself, he detailed that this blank check that deployed him to Afghanistan needs changing: troops should only enter into conflict with the government’s complete understanding of the issue at hand and the possible consequences of military involvement.

According to Buttigieg, promoting a government that brings power to Congress once again in taking votes on war and peace would ensure a more careful government in its military decisions. This would especially be the case when U.S. involvement concerns vulnerable and severely impoverished countries, like Afghanistan.

Reverse Authoritarianism

Given the severity of conditions in North Korea, Buttigieg assures that he would not take any interactions with the regime lightly. Moreover, he is a clear believer in the liberal international order, which emphasizes democracy and leadership by the U.S. and its allies, as a way to greater ensure peace, prosperity and consequently lower global poverty rates.

Buttigieg believes reversing authoritarianism would require the unapologetic promotion of liberal order ideals. He also claims that the U.S. has lacked a proper foreign policy since the last presidential election, and incorporating the liberal international order and applying it in communications and relations with Russia or North Korea would bring structure to the U.S. foreign agenda.

Rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal

Buttigieg has highlighted that as president, he would make nuclear proliferation and rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, a priority in his foreign policy. The Obama administration first established the agreement in 2015 and worked to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in exchange for lifted sanctions by Germany and the U.N. Security Council, including the U.S. While the Iran Nuclear Deal and its consequences remain controversial domestically, Buttigieg’s vow to rejoin falls in line with the liberal international order, which stresses international cooperation and alliance, in addition to democracy.

Furthermore, there has been a reported economic crisis in Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and implemented sanctions. According to Hassan Tajik, director of the Iranian group for the development of international trade, “one of the main problems is the reduction of people’s purchasing and financial capacity, which has brought the population to the edge of poverty.” Rejoining the deal begs the question of a potential change in impoverished conditions in Iran.

While Buttigieg’s speech may not be a Buttigieg Doctrine, he outlines clear priorities in a speech about foreign policy, which may deem him more foreign policy-oriented among the Democratic candidates. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has yet to disclose his complete stances on a range of foreign policy-related issues, but his speech has indicated his desire to involve the U.S. with international affairs in a cooperative, yet cautious manner. As demonstrated, doing so can have a major impact on global poverty trends.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Iran

Child labor is defined by the International Labor Organization as the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood and interferes “with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful.” The Human Rights Watch estimates that around 70 million children around the world are currently working in hazardous conditions across many sectors, including agriculture, mining and domestic labor. Unfortunately, in Iran, the number of child laborers continues to grow. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about child labor in Iran.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Iran

  1. As of 2012, around 11 percent of children in Iran were engaged in some form of illegal work. Under Iranian law, it is illegal to work under the age of 15. However, due to circumstances like poverty and organized crime, this law is not often followed. Often, criminal groups force children to sell items or beg on the street, and research shows that in some cases children as young as 3 years old have fallen victim to this kind of labor. Some children are forced to swallow packets of drugs and cross the border of Iran to excrete them. Many have died in this process. Additionally, children’s bodies have been found abandoned without certain organs in remote areas of Iran.
  2. Poverty is a major contributor to child labor in Iran, as homelessness increases a child’s vulnerability. The government reports that more than 60,000 children live on the streets in Iran. This makes it easier for perpetrators to target children who are in desperate need of food and shelter, especially if the parents are absent. In fact, About 60 percent of child laborers in Iran are the only source of income for their families.
  3. The problem is so vast that officials believe it cannot be handled by one single entity. In April 2018, Reza Jafari, the director of the Iran Welfare Organization’s office, said that “child workers are so numerous that no organization can single-handedly cope with the problem.” Government officials are working to tackle the issue from several angles, including welcoming outside help from nonprofits.
  4. Child labor has declined globally but is on the rise in Iran. Since 2000, the world has seen its child labor rate drop by a third, while Iran has experienced the opposite. Vice president of the Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights Tahereh Pazhuhesh said in June 2018 “despite the global reduction in the child labor statistics, we see child labor surge in Iran.” The worsening problem illustrates the urgent need for help in the area, as it is more and more common to see children working in sweatshops, markets, farms and more.
  5. Government officials believe that 90 percent of child laborers have been sexually assaulted. Reza Ghadimi, managing director of social services at the Organization of Tehran Municipality, released this statistic on a state-run news agency report in October 2017. He added that many of these children are also exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.
  6. The rate of HIV infection is higher for child laborers is higher than the average. The head of the AIDs Research Center of Iran, Dr. Minou Mohraz, said “the rate of HIV infection among Iran child laborers and street children is 45 times higher than the average.” Additionally, these children are often exposed to other sexually transmitted diseases such as Hepatitis B.
  7. While Iran’s government has banned child labor, state-sponsored institutions still hire child workers. Municipality contractors often recruit children aged 5 to 15 years old because they can pay them less. In fact, because children are less aware of their rights as workers, they can be paid up to 70 percent less than adults. Waste management is one industry that employs a particularly high number of children. This is especially dangerous because as Tehran City-Councilwoman Elham Eftekhari noted, “these children not only work but also live and sleep in garbage factories that are filled with vermin and odors.”
  8. The ILIA Foundation is looking to help, and the presence of NGOs in big cities like Tehran is on the rise. The organization are focusing their efforts on the root of the problem, which is extreme poverty. The ILIA Foundation is opening more outreach centers, which provide shelter and hands-on education for struggling children. The Foundation also partnered with U.N. refugee and health agencies to tackle the issue from all angles.
  9. UNICEF is working with the government to address the root of the problem. The group works with political leaders and focuses on promoting good parenting, as well as enhancing the State Welfare Organization’s capacity to monitor the problem. It also aims to improve Iran’s Child Protection in Emergency’s coordination mechanism.
  10. The Imam Ali Popular Students Relief Society is bringing a new approach to helping the street children of Iran. The group, which is recognized by the U.N., was organized in 2010 and has already gathered 12,000 volunteers to help its cause. The organization holds events for the children, like sports events, to bring them positivity and hope. Meysam Vahdei, the group’s head of sports, said “the only choice for most of these kids in their neighborhoods is violence, poverty and mis.ery. We have tried to give them self-confidence through sports to improve their lives.”

Child labor in Iran is not only a serious issue but a worsening one. These facts about child labor in Iran demonstrate the critical need for aid in the region. Poverty is at the heart of the problem and organizations are working to reduce these extreme conditions, in turn getting the children the help they need.

– Natalie Malek
Photo: Flickr

Diplomacy in the Middle East
In a time clouded by violent Middle Eastern conflicts, the spotlight is focusing on how quickly the U.S. can militarize these regions. However, it is important to take note of diplomacy in the Middle East. The following is a list of the U.S.’s current diplomatic efforts in the Middle East and the ones it could potentially make in the future.

The Iraq-U.S. Alliance

Iraq is proving itself to be a key alliance for the U.S., as America seeks to put an end to the Islamic State of Iraq. The importance of preserving this alliance is more vital now than ever. To nurture this alliance, U.S. aid goes to the government of Iraq in the hopes of helping the country attain its domestic goals. This aid will hopefully allow Iraq to respond to pressing matters such as finding living quarters for the displaced and putting reforms in place to meet the needs of its people. As Iraq continues to stabilize domestically, it will help both the U.S. and Iraq militarily by giving them the ability to build up their security forces.

Natural Disasters in Iran

In 2019, a flood struck Iran which resulted in over 60 deaths and only succeeded to add on to the country’s existing troubles. The country was already in an economic crisis as a result of President Trump’s decision to impose secondary sanctions. While the Trump administration has been harsh in its stance toward Iran, there are steps the U.S. can take to aid Iran in its recovery.

Many developing countries, like Iran, constantly face under-preparedness for natural disasters which then adds to its existing financial pains. If the U.S. were to aid Iran in preparedness by providing access to better weather monitoring technologies, the country would be better equipped to handle natural disasters. To help Iran accomplish this and save lives, the U.S. government could consider creating a new general license to allow for access to this technology.

Military and Economic Aid to Israel

Israel has been a longstanding ally of the U.S. In fact, America sends Israel over $3 billion in military and economic aid each year. Through strong diplomatic relations with Israel, the U.S. prevented radicalism movements in the Middle East. Israel also provided the U.S. with valuable military intelligence. The U.S. remains committed to this alliance, and as of August 21, 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development released a statement indicating that it would be increasing efforts to create employment opportunities and stable communities in Israel. The U.S. also committed to continuing to provide “water, education, technology, science, agriculture, cyber-security and humanitarian assistance.”

Humanitarian Efforts in Syria

After President Trump’s targeted airstrike, humanitarian efforts in Syria have begun to garner interests again. The airstrike was in response to Bashar Al-Assad’s usage of chemical weapons on his people. Since the airstrike, the U.S. discussed different ways to aid Syria through helping displaced refugees, coordinating with other countries and giving more aid. People consider the crisis in Syria to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times.

If America wishes to aid Syrians in this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. could make it easier for Syrian refugees to enter the country. Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, the U.S. has only accepted 20,000 refugees. There are still millions of Syrians in need of resettlement. The U.S. could also provide insight and intelligence to countries that are dealing with refugees on the frontlines. Countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan need help learning how to deal with a mass influx of refugees.

While the world has shown more interest in U.S. militarization, the U.S. government demonstrated its interest in facilitating diplomacy in the Middle East, indicating that diplomacy in the region is never off the table.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Recession in Iran

Iran, a southwest Asian nation of over 81 million people, currently struggles with a dire recession. Iranians face a combination of inflationary pressures and economic stagnation, known as stagflation. Listed below are 10 facts about the recession in Iran:

10 Facts About the Recession in Iran

  1. Sanctions – The recent resumption of U.S. sanctions has taken a large toll on Iran’s economy. Sanctions contributed to a gross domestic product contraction of 3.93 percent in 2018 after a GDP growth of 3.73 percent the previous year. The sanctions particularly target oil exports, Iran’s primary revenue stream. A BBC report states that Iran’s oil trade has lost $10 billion in the past six months because of sanctions.
  2. Oil Dependency – Iran contains the fourth most crude oil reserves in the world, which has led to a volatile economy based on petroleum. Oil was a boon to Iran’s economy in 2016, a year in which the country witnessed a 12.52 percent GDP growth. However, as the World Bank notes, this success rapidly diminished to approximately 3.8 percent growth in 2017 as petrodollars became rarer.
  3. Ambiguous Poverty Line – Poverty is difficult to fight because Iran’s government cannot decide on a poverty line. The Iran Observer stated in 2017 that various government representatives define absolute poverty differently. Iranian Vice President of Economic Affairs Mohammad Nahavandian estimated 10 million Iranians live in poverty while, Parviz Fattah, head of the Khomeini Relief Foundation, claims the number is closer to 20 million.
  4. High Unemployment – Iran currently suffers from an unemployment epidemic, particularly among the educated youth. A mere 14,000 new jobs appeared yearly for the 700,000 youth entering the market between 2006 and 2011. Now, the Brookings Institution reports that college-educated men aged 25 to 29 years have a 34.6 percent unemployment rate, and women of the same group have a 45.7 percent rate.
  5. Emigration – One result of Iran’s employment dilemma is the mass emigration of skilled labor from the country. There is a surplus of skilled labor without the necessary demand, so educated Iranians flee the country for new opportunities. CNN Business reports that Iran’s Science Minister, Reza Faraji Dana, admitted 150,000 skilled Iranians had fled the nation in 2014 for this reason.
  6. High Cost of Living – The cost of living in Iran between 2018 and 2019 has skyrocketed alongside rapid inflation. According to the BBC, the Iranian rial has lost 60 percent of its value in the past year. Housing costs and medical attention have risen by 20 percent and especially harm the poorest individuals.  In March 2019, a Statistical Centre of Iran report also showed a 57 percent increase in white meat prices and a 37 percent uptick in dairy costs for average citizens.
  7. Increasing Poverty – As employment and affordable goods become scarcer, more Iranians fall into poverty. The Brookings Institution estimates that poverty remained at roughly 10 percent nationally in 2011, but it has risen since then. Research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies found that it rose as high as 38 percent in the Sistan and Balouchistan provinces between 2016 and 2017. The threat of insulated urban areas succumbing to poverty displays the problem’s magnitude. Qom, the renowned traditional center of Islamic clerical training, suffered from a 30 percent poverty rate in 2017.
  8. Relief International Helps – Relief International is one nongovernmental organization mitigating the recession’s effects and preventing the economic crisis from deepening. Originally founded by Iranian-Americans in 1990 as “The Iran Earthquake Relief Fund,” RI focuses on cash assistance for flood victims and training local NGOs. The floods in the Golestan province have exacerbated hard times, and RI’s instant cash assistance will help 2,000 families from slipping into poverty. RI also hopes to have an indirect effect on poverty reduction by training 20 Iranian NGOs in efficient service to the poor.
  9. Amenities Expanded – Despite the recession, most Iranians have access to basic amenities due to government efforts post-1984. The Brookings Institution charts that in 1984, below 80 percent of citizens had electricity or plumbing. The government realized the issue stemmed from underdeveloped rural areas and immediately provided funding. It was an incredibly successful campaign that brought Iranians universal electricity and plumbing by 2000. These efforts continue today, spawning progress in the midst of recession and delivering baths to nearly 100 percent of Iranians by 2017.
  10. Improving Efficiency – Iran’s government is acting to make the economy more efficient, and there are many recommendations available for enhancing fiscal stability. An International Monetary Fund consultation with Iran in 2015 congratulated the government on widening the revenue stream by implementing simple direct taxation. Recommendations included expanding employment for women and increasing privatization, both of which should unlock new productivity for the economy.

The above 10 facts about the recession in Iran show that many hurdles still block the country’s growth. However, the steady increase in access to amenities displays economic progress within the recession and the IMF’s recommendations provide viable solutions to stagflation. Continued improvements will service the poor and provide a path to Iran’s economic stability.

Sean Galli
Photo: Flickr

Flood in Iran

Heavy flooding due to severe rain wreaked havoc in Iran, destroying homes, infrastructure and agriculture. The flooding is the worst the country has seen in 70 years, but many in the international community have been gracious and cooperative in assisting relief efforts following the flood in Iran.

Unprecedented rainfall caused flooding that destroyed or damaged 143,000 homes and killed at least 78 people. An estimated 10 million people were affected, 2 million of which need humanitarian aid. Several countries and many humanitarian organizations are cooperating with the Iranian government to facilitate disaster relief.

Iranian Response

The Iranian government authorized allocating up to $2 billion from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. They plan to implement the funds through relief payments and reconstruction. The flooding inflicted $2.5 billion in damages to roads, bridges, homes and farmland. Around 4,400 villages across 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces were affected, and 8,700 miles of roads were damaged.

Initially, the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s (IRCS) Emergency Operations Center received meteorological alerts of severe rain and responded by circulating flood warnings. As the flooding occurred, IRCS sent helicopters and boats to rescue at-risk people threatened by rising floodwater. Many people took shelter in public evacuation centers inside of stadiums, halls and mosques.

Global Relief Efforts

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been coordinating a relief plan implemented through the IRCS. The IFRC is appealing for over 5 million Swiss francs to assist around 150,000 people for nine months.

Thus far the IRCS has provided support services to more than 257,000 people. Those services include shelter for 98,000 people, pumping water out of 5,000 flooded houses and transporting 89 people to health facilities. They also distributed thousands of tents, blankets, heaters, health sets and kitchen sets. Part of the money appealed for by the IFRC would go toward replenishing stocks of emergency items like these.

Zala Falahat, the IRCS Under Secretary for General International Affairs and International Humanitarian Law, commented, “This is the largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years…For the Red Crescent, this is one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in our history.” The IRCS effort is 18,000 relief workers strong, many of whom are volunteers.

The European Commission is also actively assisting relief efforts following the flood in Iran. They activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) and provided $1.2 million in humanitarian funding. Other countries from Europe providing support include Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Vatican and Slovakia. The money has gone toward emergency supplies like generators, water and mud pumps, inflatable boats, hygiene kits and other necessary items.

Iraq has been especially active in providing support for people affected by the flood in Iran. The Iraq Popular Mobilization Force organized an aid convoy including six ambulances and 20 trucks of medical and food supplies. Other Middle Eastern countries have also cooperated with humanitarian efforts, including Amenia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey. Russia, Japan and India have also sent relief items.

The United Nations has sent a wide range of agencies to help Iran. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing emergency supplies. Indrika Ratwatte, the UNHCR’s Director for Asia and the Pacific, said, “UNHCR’s efforts are in solidarity with Iran and its people who have hosted millions of refugees for four decades.” The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) estimates $1.5 billion in damages to the agricultural sector due to the flood.

Though the flood in Iran caused wide-spread damage, the international humanitarian community is springing into action to help. The government of Iran expressed gratitude toward the many global partners who provided aid. The disaster relief effort is a powerful example of international aid in action.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

Elderly Care in Iran
The Iranian government recently turned an eye towards aiding development and putting the nation back on track after the Iraq war. There is still a great deal of room for social reform in this improved state of development, especially in the area of elderly care in Iran.

Aid for the elderly population in Iran is projected to become a large issue, as the country experienced a baby boom in the years of the Iraq-Iran war (1980 to 1988) which will lead to an increased elderly population in the future. The rising rate of unemployment in Iran has made it difficult for the elderly to find and hold jobs, and most elderly people are unable to provide for themselves in their old age.

Elderly People in Iran

One-third of the Iranian elderly population is not covered by any health insurance; meanwhile, the Iranian government diminished the elderly retirement pension — only one-third of the elderly population receives a pension — while 20 percent of families are economically dependent on the senior householder. The elderly demographic has a very low socioeconomic status and basic insurance policies fail to cover most elderly care costs. Without the money to afford the extra costs, older people often fail to receive the help they need.

There are currently five main governmental organizations taxed with elderly care in Iran:

  • The Social Security Organization
  • The State Welfare Organization
  • The Red Crescent
  • The Imam Khumeini Relief Foundation
  • The Martyrs Foundation

However, there are no clear developed policies on elderly care, and no single organization responsible for addressing this crucial societal need. As a result, ambiguity and uncertainty surround specific organizational responsibility.

Challenges of Elderly Care in Iran

Policy-making is one identified challenge of the elderly care process in addition to access, technical infrastructure, integrity and coordination and lastly, health-based care services. In regards to access, there are no transportation facilities and many of the elderly are entirely stuck at home due to physical reasons or an inability to pay for transportation costs.

Also, 70 percent of elderly people in Iran are illiterate, which impacts their awareness of access to resources. Currently, Iran does not have the physical, human and informational resources to implement an elderly care policy. This is concerning as the country is projected to experience fast demographic changes and a huge increase in the elderly population in the near future.

The country does have community-based services for the elderly such as nursing homes, adult daycare centers, cultural centers and meals on wheels; unfortunately, the distribution is sparse and these services are intended for mainly elderly people with disabilities. However, on a more positive note, the fact that this issue is being qualitatively and quantitatively studied is considered progress.

Need for Action

Historically, little attention has been paid to elderly care in Iran, but new studies and scenario exercises will thankfully aid the government in creating a sturdy policy framework for addressing elderly care in Iran.

The country is still developing and many other issues surrounding poverty are the main focus of the government right now. There is still time to address the problem of elderly care in Iran before it becomes too big to handle, but the Iranian government will need to start taking action immediately.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Pixabay

Universal Basic Income in Iran
Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Iran was originally implemented in 2011, making it one of the first countries to use such a program. While there have been some opponents to this program, it largely remained successful in comparison to existing welfare programs.

Universal Basic Income and Poverty

Universal basic income is used in developing countries to fight poverty and to promote health and education, where the population does not have enough resources to fulfill these needs on their own. Iran started their universal basic income program in 2011 in the form of cash transfers.

The government started monthly deposits of cash into individual family accounts amounting to 29% of the median household income and 6.5% of the GDP. This amounts to about $1.50 extra income per person per day.

In the 40 years prior, there have been subsidies on bread and energy, so people paid less for bread, water, electricity, heating and fuel. This program was changed to the cash transfer program in 2011 because the government believed that energy subsidies always benefit the wealthy more than the poor and also because energy subsidies encourage more fuel consumption which is detrimental to the environment.

Universal Basic Income and Labor Supply

One of the main concerns people had before this program was implemented was that it would negatively affect the labor supply. It was believed that if people received money from the government unconditionally, there would be no incentive for them to work at all.

However, the only negative labor supply that was affected was people between the ages of 20 and 29. But this age group did not have a strong connection with the labor market even before the Universal Basic Income program in Iran was implemented. This is because Iranians have the choice to enroll in tertiary and graduate education, thus largely preventing this age group from working.

Rationing is prevalent in the market for formal work in the private and public sectors, where jobs are highly sought after. Employees are attached to their jobs and are unlikely to withdraw from their positions. This is apparent even with the population receiving cash assistance.

Positive Impact of UBI

Of the individuals employed in 2010, 88.5 percent remained employed, 4.5 percent lost or quit their jobs and the rest became inactive in 2011. Of the unemployed, 26.3 percent found work in 2011, which is about the same number as those who lost their jobs in 2011. Of those engaged in housework in 2010, 3.2 percent found jobs in 2011, which is fewer than those who left their jobs for housework.

There was a positive impact of the universal basic income program on the service sector. This can be explained by the fact that the service sector is populated by credit-constrained small firms that cash transfers can help expand. Some examples of workers in the service industry are housekeepers, teachers and deliverymen. In fact, their weekly hours had increased by roughly 36 minutes.

Conclusion

The overall conclusion is that the program did not affect labor supply in any appreciable way, according to a paper published by economists in 2011. Universal Basic Income in Iran is a proven program despite the fact it went through modifications. It serves as an example of the benefits a UBI has that other countries can look to for comparison.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in IranPoverty in Iran has been fluctuating over the years. There are many reasons for this, but also many solutions that the government, citizens and other countries can take to make changes and help those in poverty. The current population of Iran is around 82 million, and in 2017,  28.40 percent were unemployed youth.

According to a World Bank study, poverty in Iran is estimated to have fallen from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between 2009 and 2013. This was most likely because of a universal cash transfer program in late 2010 that focused on eliminating the subsidies on energy and bread. However, poverty is still a major issue. According to another World Bank study, poverty increased again in 2014 and declining social assistance could be a potential reason.

Poverty in Iran is not only affecting citizens’ ability to afford basic necessities, but is also causing negative issues related to mental health, including suicide, in Iran’s youth. Regardless of all the causes of poverty, there are actions being made to make changes.

Income Gap Causing Problems

Unemployment is a major problem in Iran. Many individuals are working more than one job to afford basic necessities and pull themselves and their families out of poverty, while others are barely working at all. According to an Iranian economist, “there are currently 3.3 million jobless people in the country.” This is due to the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor. The minimum wage jobs of many individuals with lower incomes can not help them move out of poverty and the wealth gap has been expanding. On top of this, there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

According to World Bank statistics, unemployment in Iran was 11.26 percent in 2016, 11.06 percent in 2015 and 10.57 percent in 2014. There is hope that the unemployment rate will keep going down by creating more jobs and having the government adopt new approaches to pull individuals out of poverty.

In 2017, President Rouhani stated that his government wants to prioritize reducing unemployment and creating around 900,000 job opportunities per year. On the other hand, Labor Minister Ali Rabiei said that realistically his government can create 300,000 to 400,000 job opportunities annually.

Sanctions Hurt the People Too

U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran don’t only affect the politicians but the citizens too. Sanctions are seen as one of the major causes of food insecurity, mass suffering and eventual high poverty rates. According to The Economist, 75 million Iranians are suffering from the U.S. sanctions imposed on them. Oil, for instance, is the largest source of income for Iran. When there is no oil coming, there are no U.S. dollars, and everything purchased in Iran is with U.S. dollars. With no U.S. dollars, the value of Iranian rial is falling drastically, causing many companies to go bankrupt. Therefore, they have to let a lot of employees go.

The World Bank released a report on the economic improvement in Iran and stated that many of the economic developments in Iran are due to the removal of the sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program enforced in 2016. Removing the sanctions will make living conditions for Iranian citizens in poverty less difficult. However, as of November 2018, the U.S. is imposing the sanctions again and informing and requesting all other countries, including India, China and the European Union countries, to stop working with Iran. With reinforced sanctions that were in place before 2016, there is a lot of unrest and fear among citizens for more unemployment and more people going into poverty.  

Action to Reduce Poverty

Poverty in Iran can be seen as a major issue, exasperated by the upcoming sanctions on businesses and oil in the country as well as the increasing gap between the rich and poor in society.  However, statistics show that creating jobs and removing sanctions can significantly improve the lives of Iranians living in poverty. Communication is key to global change.

– Negin Nia
Photo: Flickr