Foreign Aid Policies In 2019, the Overseas Development Institute came out with the principled aid index to assess the degree to which donor countries are contributing to a prosperous world. According to the report, the principled foreign aid policies not only benefit the country that receives the aid, but it also serves the interests of the donor country. Below is a list of how this report’s top five countries are using their foreign aid:

5 Countries Foreign Aid Policies

  1. Luxembourg is a small country in Western Europe that has pledged 0.96% of its gross national income (GNI) to go towards development and aid. It is one of the few countries that meet a goal set by the U.N. to dedicate 0.7% of a country’s GNI to foreign aid. Luxembourg starts by targeting some of its partner countries, which include Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. With remaining funds, Luxembourg helps provide humanitarian assistance in Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam. The country also focuses on private enterprises through microfinance and inclusive finance to help promote productivity. In 2020, Luxembourg joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative which motivates the government to share data about foreign aid spending with the public. Accountability is an important factor in creating sustainable aid.
  1. The United Kingdom is another country that has met the U.N. goal of 0.7% of GNI for foreign aid. The U.K. set the goal back in 1974 but recently achieved it in 2013. Additionally, the government inscribed the goal into law in 2015 so that the country now has a legal duty to achieve it. Around 64% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to countries for bilateral aid. The main recipients of bilateral aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan. The remaining 36% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to multilateral institutions like the E.U. and the U.N. Additionally, the U.K. has also provided humanitarian aid for Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Also, the country offered assistance to Nepal and Indonesia — following natural disasters and Somalia during the hunger crisis.
  1. Sweden has continuously met the U.N. goal since 1976. The country even made its own goal to dedicate 1% of its GNI to foreign aid in 2008. In 2019, Sweden allotted 0.98% of its GNI for foreign aid. Along with Norway, Sweden is considered to be a “humanitarian superpower.” The Swedish development cooperation, also known as Sida, is Sweden’s leading agency for providing foreign assistance. Sweden has 33 partner countries that it helps by creating income opportunities and strengthening democracy. Sweden is dedicated to helping achieve the U.N., 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s primary goals include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, the environment and climate change, health equity and education and research.
  1. Norway has met the U.N. goal for providing foreign aid since 1976. In 2019, Norway apportioned 1.02% of its GNI for foreign aid and development. Norway’s foreign aid policies use an approach that follows the 2005 Paris principles. These principles value ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and accountability. Norway provides foreign aid funding for civil society organizations and budget support. The country also uses a large part of its budget to help people inside its borders. For example, Norway has used part of its budget to provide for its refugee population, which included more than 50,000 refugees in 2019.
  1. Ireland currently does not meet the U.N. goal, but the country is hoping to double its impact by 2025. In 2017, 0.36% of Ireland’s GNI went toward its foreign aid budget. Ireland’s foreign aid focuses on developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The country hopes to combat the issues of displacement and conflict, which Ireland’s main concern — climate change, tends to exacerbate. Additionally, developing countries are more likely to feel the effects of climate change disproportionately as compared with developed countries.

Striding Forward

These five countries’ foreign aid policies are impressive examples of how developed nations can make valuable contributions to global well-being. Hopefully, more undeveloped countries continue to benefit from foreign aid policies of more developed nations. Likewise, it is important these developed countries continue their efforts to achieve the U.N. goals, for theirs and the world’s greater benefit.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay

Global Food SecurityThe global population has been growing exponentially in the last few decades as compared to earlier times in human history, given that 42% of the population is under the age of 25. With a rapidly growing population, global food security is threatened and it is expected that without major agricultural enhancement, there will not be enough food for future generations. By 2050, crop production must grow by 60-100% from 2005 levels in order to avoid this fate.

Youth hold the future of the global food system in their hands. There are many young people working to combat the global food security crisis in a way that puts sights on the future, not the present. Through scientific innovations, advocacy and more, these young men and women not only give hope for a world with less hunger but also vehemently encourage others to join them. Some examples of their work follow. 

Kiranjit Kaur: Kisan Mazdoor Khudkushi Peedit Parivar Committee

Kiranjit Kaur of India, a 23-year-old political science postgraduate student from Punjab state, is a pioneer in the fight against farmer suicide. Losing her own father to suicide spurred her to focus on community engagement to address the statistics of over 16,000 farmer suicides in India each year. With 39% of the employed population working in agriculture, success is important for the health and well-being of farming families.

Punjab was an agricultural haven during the Green Revolution, but since the 1990s, with increased land productivity and the cost of agriculture, loans have become a norm and financial stress has increased. Kaur motivates the women in her community to participate in a social campaign that focuses on mental health, mutual support and activism. As for now, she spends most of her time working with the group but plans to do a Ph.D. on farmer suicide in the future.

Craig Piggott: Halter

A New Zealand native, Craig Piggott dedicates his talents to agricultural innovations in herding and tracking cows. His invention involves a GPS-enabled and solar-powered collar for cows, Halter, which enables farmers to herd the animals remotely; using sounds and vibrations to both direct the cows and alert the farmers of any issues. Piggott developed the app through three years of testing, and a few dairy farmers in Waikato are eager to implement the technology within their own herds. With more testing and exposure, he hopes to extend the program nationally to aid New Zealand’s agricultural field.

This innovative app will save time and resources by decreasing the farmer’s workload and using grazing grass more efficiently, thanks to the virtual fences. Piggott’s company was founded in 2016 when he was 22-years-old and has grown to a current team of more than 40 scientists, engineers and other professionals.

Sophie Healy-Thow: Scaling Up Nutrition

Sophie Healy-Thow, a 20-year-old Irish college student, is a prominent European name in the rural development advocacy and global food security spaces. She and her team’s natural bacteria project won the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2013, and she was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Teens. Healy-Thow also speaks out about calling leaders to action, and hopes for a time when young people are listened to and engaged instead of just getting a pat on the head.

Today she speaks at the U.N. conventions and TED talks and is part of a team developing a Kenyan project called Agrikua, which focuses on encouraging women’s involvement in agriculture, providing education and other support. After university, she plans to work for a charitable organization that helps women, inspired by her current involvement in ActionAid U.K.

Jefferson Kang’acha: The Eden Horticultural Club

Food security is not a new issue in 19-year-old Jefferson Kang’acha’s life in Kenya, and he works to grow tomatoes in order to protect the staple ingredient of many Kenyan households. Due to declining yields, the price of tomatoes has spiked to high prices that most Kenyan families cannot afford. In response, Kang’acha developed the hydroponic production of tomatoes, which grows the plants with no soil and in a controlled climate.

By founding the Eden Horticultural Club, he is able to provide tomatoes to his community, including schools and hospitals in the area. In the first few months alone, he was able to distribute 2.5 tons of tomatoes to more than 100 households. He hopes to one day use this process to assist global food security throughout Africa and beyond.

The Future of Global Food Security

The future of the agriculture industry is hard to predict, but the U.N. encourages youth participation and innovation to solve the problem. Goal 2 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Vast problems require bold solutions, and these four young people are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovators doing their part to protect global food security.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Pixabay

healthcare accessibility in ireland
Given the significance of healthcare systems to their beneficiaries, it can be easy to generalize them as either “bad” or “good.” However, while both remarkably successful and disastrous systems do exist, setups like the Irish system demonstrate that a single system’s success can vary greatly between “bad” and “good.” Here is some pertinent information about healthcare in Ireland.

Background

As with most nations in Western Europe, Ireland utilizes a public healthcare system. The quality of the aid options covered by the government is inversely related to a citizen’s income and situation. Still, every Irish citizen is entitled to public hospital care, birthing services and a chance to apply for limited prescription drug or medicine payment.

Supplemental support for the Irish public system comes in the form of private health insurance companies and increasing government spending. Private healthcare has exploded into a wide field of Irish companies providing extended care to over 30% of the population. Government healthcare budgets have also grown, with an annual expenditure of 21.1 billion euros as of 2017.

Despite these traits, problems with healthcare in Ireland, especially with accessibility, remain. In fact, while Ireland has gone through four systematic changes and over six different healthcare management departments in the past fifteen years, citizen access to medical care is still an urgent issue.

Structural Accessibility Problems

While Ireland has taken great pains to offer monetary support for its public and private medical professionals, the nation’s support of citizens in need of said professionals is poor. In theory, medical aid would be distributed equally by need across Ireland’s counties. Instead, regions like the nation’s South-East have difficulty accessing support for any medical field, lacking professionals from general practitioners to speech therapists.

Additionally, Ireland faces lingering challenges due to its restructured healthcare system from the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Ireland’s public system remained in place during the crisis but at the cost of temporarily plummeting expenditure and creating lasting widespread changes. Some of the changes to the system were:

  • Specialized national directories were subsumed into an Integrated Services Directorate (ISD)
  • Management of individual regions was given to locally-based Integrated Service Areas (ISA)
  • The provision of healthcare became a task split between the national government and four regional departments

While Ireland’s division of hospitals and state worked during an economic crisis, over time, significant flaws have appeared. Barring emergencies, the healthcare system is simply too slow to change in accordance with the needs of Ireland’s citizens. As a result, regions with above-average health risks are left without necessary national aid. In nations with more independent local governments, this shortage might be resolved. In this case, it only leads to severe problems with healthcare accessibility in Ireland.

For example, the county of Wexford consistently provides medical care below Ireland’s national average despite a disabled population of over 20,000 citizens and theoretically widespread access to healthcare. As the amount of at-risk citizens has not quite reached emergency levels, the region simply is not prioritized despite a clear need for and a right to more healthcare access.

Private Insurance

A further limitation on healthcare accessibility in Ireland is the growth of its private healthcare system. This system was affirmed in the 1950s and initially led by the Voluntary Health Insurance Board to alleviate the concerns of private insurance owners. Today, the private system leads to conflicts of interest.

With most Irish private care still delivered in public hospitals, as opposed to private ones, a vicious cycle has formed. Due to Ireland’s restrictions on their access to public healthcare, owners of private insurance receive priority when admitted to hospitals. However, as public insurance users also rely on these hospitals, those dependent on public insurance can be forced into long waits for treatment or prescriptions. This, in turn, forces citizens in need of urgent or regular care to purchase private insurance. The more private insurance is purchased, the more other public users feel as though they need private insurance to ensure hospital access. Ultimately, this leads to even more private insurance and more pressure until certain economic groups are priced out of public hospitals, limiting already restricted access.

Potential Solutions

In terms of resolving the problems with healthcare accessibility in Ireland, several different options present themselves. The first, as demonstrated by the Irish Red Cross, is to fill the gaps in national service with volunteers. However, this solution is inherently limited in scope. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which has devoted a research series to optimizing Ireland’s healthcare process, is leading an alternative approach. This research series, while informative and educational, has not taken any form of direct action.

Instead, the most definitive actions taken thus far have been by the Irish government. Recently, it has established Regional Integrated Care Organisations (RICO) to serve as midpoints between ISDs and ISAs to ensure faster national response times to regional welfare changes.

While Ireland has made progress in ameliorating healthcare accessibility, there is much further to go. A country with Ireland’s system and budget can do more to aid its citizens. While its situation is improving, awareness of the issues around healthcare in Ireland remain vital in ensuring its continued success.

Chase McCall

Photo: Freepik

Poverty in Ireland
Ireland joined the EU in 1973, after which the country enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2007. In 2008, however, Ireland suffered a recession. The effect of this recession still echoes through the state of poverty in Ireland.

During their time of prosperity, Ireland’s GDP rose from 69.2 billion in 1995 to 275 billion in 2008. During this period, Ireland’s unemployment also fell from 11.7% to 6.7%. Experts suggest that this rapid economic growth was possible because many tech firms poured into Ireland during the 1990s. Ireland’s favorable tax rate, which was 20 to 50% lower than its neighboring countries, encouraged these tech firms. This constant investment by tech firms, international corporations and development in tourism further contributed to Ireland’s economic growth.

In 2008, the global financial crisis hit. Ireland’s unemployment rate spiked from 4.9% in 2007 to 6.7% in 2008. This employment rate peaked at 15.4% in 2012.

To remedy their economy, Ireland agreed to a 92 billion dollar loan package from the European Untion and the IMF in late 2010.  In March 2011, the Irish government further committed to meeting the deficit targets with Ireland’s EU-IMF bailout program. Through multiple measures, Ireland became the first country of the European Union to exit the bailout program in 2013.

Lasting Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis

According to Social Justice Ireland’s 2019 report of poverty in Ireland, 15.7% of Ireland’s population, or 760,000 people, lived below the poverty line. Among this number, 202,000 are children and 111,000 people living in poverty are in employment. Poverty can still be an issue for those individuals who are employed since many of these jobs are low-paying. Some estimates suggest that approximately 23% of Ireland’s full-time workforce worked in these low-paying jobs in 2019.

This is especially concerning since income disparity in Ireland is quite large. Researchers found that the top 10% of households have 24% of total disposable income while the bottom 10% only have three percent. This further contributes to child poverty in Ireland.

Child poverty is also one of the most concerning aspects of poverty in Ireland. In their same 2019 report, SJI estimated that around 23.9% of impoverished people in Ireland are children. This leads to deprivation in material, cultural and social resources that can aid them to develop into a healthy adult. Child poverty has far-reaching consequences on child development, education and future job prospect of those affected.

Combating Poverty in Ireland

The Irish government is taking active measures to combat poverty. For example, a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute found that Ireland’s tax system took most measures to reduce household income inequality among its European peers. In the ESRI report, researchers stated that, through broad-based Universal Social Charge and the early level that the income tax kicks in, the level of inequality in take-home income in Ireland is getting closer to the EU average.

To combat child poverty, the Irish government also devised a national policy in 2014, in which the government aimed to reduce children in poverty by two-thirds by 2020 by supporting families in poverty. Furthermore, the Irish government’s Budget 2020 will increase the Living Alone Allowance and the Qualified Child Payment, which both aim to further assist those on social welfare. The Irish government estimates that the new budget could help 108,000 children to enroll in early childhood care and education programs.

 

Poverty in Ireland is a remnant of the economic turmoil that the Irish people suffered during 2008. However, as apparent in Ireland’s economic growth after 2013, Ireland has proved its resilience. While income inequality and child homelessness are still an issue, the Irish government is more than cognizant of these problems. Many in Ireland have hope for a better economic future.

–  YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor
Child labor is defined as the employment of children who are under the legal working age. Currently, there are about 265 million children engaged in child labor around the world. While this is clearly not ideal, there has been a reduction in child labor across the globe, from 23 percent of children working in 2000 to close to 17 percent in 2012. Many countries whose laws once allowed for child labor now protect their children from such harsh conditions instead.

Where Countries Are Based on Levels of Income

There are four basic income levels. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

The higher a family’s income, the less likely they are to have their children work from a young age. Likewise, the higher a country’s income, the less likely they are to approve of child labor. We can see the likelihood of child labor by looking at the income level of different countries.

Level 4: Ireland

In 18th and 19th century Ireland, children were routinely put to work because they could be paid less than what adult workers were paid, they could operate certain machines that adults could not and it was believed that they would grow up to be harder workers. In many cases, children aged 3 to 7 were outright kidnapped by organized trade rings and forced to do whatever work their masters wanted them to.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1996 changed all of that. Under this law, Irish employers cannot make children younger than 16 work full time. Additionally, employers cannot hire anyone under age 14 at all. Children aged 14 to 15 can only do light work during school holiday periods, work in educational programs that are not harmful to their health or cultural enrichment jobs. On top of that, employees aged 18 or younger must receive a minimum of €6.69 per hour, which is 70 percent of the Irish adult minimum wage.

Level 3: Croatia

In Croatia, the legal minimum age for work is 15. From the ages of 15 to 18 years old, children can only work with written permission from their parents, and inspections must show that the labor does not interfere with the child’s health, morality or education. In addition, anyone caught dealing in child prostitution in any way will face a three to 10-month prison sentence.

These laws have not stopped all child labor in Croatia. Roma children are often forced to beg in the streets, and Croatia experiences the active trafficking of young girls for prostitution. That said, the 2006-2012 National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of Children made great strides in the reduction in child labor, particularly prostitution.

Level 2: Sudan

Of Sudan’s 37.96 million children, 45,600 are currently subject to child labor. Not only are there no laws against child labor, but the government also encourages it by kidnapping children in rural areas during military raids. These children start working at age 5, so they miss out on their educations, which otherwise would be compulsory.

However, Sudan has made strides in decreasing the child labor rate, including signing a Partnership Protocol Agreement with the European Union in 2008 and inspecting working environments to keep children from working in toxic conditions. Unfortunately, little has been done to help rural areas. Families have to migrate to urban areas or to other countries to escape labor and let their children get an education. Although, escape from Sudan is illegal and far from easy, it is still possible.

Level 1: Niger

The child labor rate in Niger is 42.8 percent. The jobs that young children are made to perform include agriculture, mining, caste-based servitude and forced begging. The government has set up a number of programs to reduce child labor, including Centers for Education, Legal, and Preventative Service; The Project to Reduce Child Labor in Agriculture; and The World Bank Country Program. However, these programs have made only moderate advances in stopping child labor.

Child labor continues to be a problem in the world today. Poor and corrupt countries are quick to put children to work because the children do not require high wages. However, laws and legislation all over the world have resulted in a global reduction in child labor. It has not stopped child labor altogether, but a little progress is better than none at all. The fight to end child labor continues.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts about Poverty in Ireland
The poverty rate in Ireland has been increasing since the recession in 2008. Along with poor health and economic inequalities, unemployment has been a huge factor contributing to poverty in Ireland

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Ireland

  1. Almost 800,000 people in Ireland live in poverty despite the improved economy: According to the Irish Times, although the economy is doing well, the people are not. Children make up a quarter of a million of the 790,000 people living in poverty in Ireland today.
  2. The “working poor” make up 105,000 of those in poverty: According to Social Justice Ireland, 18 percent of the adults in Ireland are working, but their salaries aren’t enough to afford the basic necessities for themselves or their families.
  3. Poverty is worse in rural areas: In Ireland, in the Border, Midlands and West regions there is a much higher number of those living in poverty. In fact, the Eastern and Southern regions of Ireland fewer than 50 percent of the people per capita live in poverty when compared with their rural counterparts. 
  4. The rent in Ireland has increased: The rent in Ireland is six times the average rate of other European countries. Poor families aren’t able to afford the basic necessities let alone a house with inflated rent despite the Housing Assistance Payments provided by the government. New plans are being considered to work to solve the issue.
  5. The gender gap is a large cause of women in poverty: Women often have to work in lower paying, sometimes temporary jobs. During the recession men in working families saw a 9 percent pay decrease, but women saw 14 percent. When coupled with the fact that women were already making less money than men, this cut only made the situation worse. 
  6. Single parents are more at risk: Single parents, of whom 84 percent are women, face some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, making it extremely difficult to work for a livable wage and take care of the family. The organization One Family is working to help alleviate poverty for single-parent families in Ireland. They hope to reduce poverty rates and create legislation to help support all families as well as bring recognition to the complications that single-parent families must face.
  7. Ireland’s Deprivation Gap has increased over time: Ireland has a significant and still increasing gap in deprivation between vulnerable adults (single parents and those with disabilities) and other adults in society. Between 2004-2015, Ireland’s showed the largest increase in its deprivation gap out of the 11 EU countries.
  8. The United Nations is working to help with the problem: The director of Social Justice Ireland was invited by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs to be part of a meeting on “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All.” This was held at The United Nations in New York in May 2017. This group of experts was brought together to make policy recommendations to help reduce poverty.
  9. Social justice Ireland is helping with Five Outcomes to reduce poverty: Social Justice Ireland is an organization working to create a stronger, sustainable future in Ireland. The group wants to help face the issues by setting out goals for the government to achieve. Its view for a better future involves “a vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability.” In April 2018, the government launched The Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020. This plan highlights 19 high-level actions that will promote awareness, participation, support and policy alignment to achieve sustainable goals for Ireland’s future.
  10. Despite the poverty, the economy is doing well: The Irish economy has been recovering since the recession of 2008 and has had time to grow. Since 2017, 55,000 jobs were created. Also, in 2018, Ireland saw a 4 percent growth in the economy. Although many are still in poverty, the creation of new jobs can help many struggling. One way the government is working to provide jobs is through energy reform. By alleviating energy poverty, the government would not only provide energy and fuel to poverty-stricken areas but also could create an estimated 3,200 jobs per year over the 15-year plan.

The poverty rates in Ireland have increased despite the some of the progress in the economy. The main reasons seen in the top 10 facts about poverty in Ireland can be solved by new government policies. Organizations like Social Justice Ireland are doing their best to help bring awareness of these policies to the government and the U.N. to build a better future for Ireland.

Negin Nia
Photo: Pixabay

Irish Foreign Aid
Irish foreign aid is distributed by Irish Aid, a program within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The main focus of Irish Aid is to reduce hunger and improve resilience. This means that Irish Aid focuses on developing economic growth, improving governance and holding governments accountable for human rights. Much of their work and funding is focused in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ireland and the UN

During the United Nations negotiations to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were to feature in the United Nations program “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Ireland worked alongside Kenya to facilitate intergovernmental negotiations in 2014 and by mid-2015 the negotiations were complete.

This is an important milestone for Irish foreign aid. Ireland has yet to meet the United Nation’s standard of .7 percent of a nation’s gross national income (GNI) for foreign aid; the nation currently only spends .33 percent. Although Irish foreign aid spending is not at expected United Nation levels, it is still effective.

Impact of Irish Aid

Like many other nations and their foreign aid agencies, Irish Aid uses a grant system to make use of its allocated money. In 2012, Irish Aid granted 100 million euros to the organization Concern Worldwide. Irish Aid and Concern Worldwide have been partners ever since.

A similar partnership was struck again in 2017, and the grant money would be used to fund programs all across Africa in 17 different countries. Irish Aid and Concern Worldwide are working together on the Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN) project, amongst others.

Concern Worldwide

According to Concern Worldwide, nearly 45 percent of children in Zambia are undernourished, which can lead to health difficulties later in life and hinder a child’s performance in school.

Concern Worldwide works to combat this deficiency by bringing together both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture. This cooperation will help the government learn how to effectively manage this issue. Concern Worldwide also provides advanced training for farmers, including improved techniques to increase crop yield and preserve the environment.

Educational Efforts

Education is another important area for Irish foreign aid. On the Irish Aid website, stories can be found about individuals, individual programs and their respective successes. In the realm of education, one young Ugandan man is an exceptional success story. Munyes Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Business studies with education in a country where nearly 4 out of 5 adults cannot read or write.

Although his parents worked incredibly hard, they were unable to afford to send him to secondary school, let alone college. However, Munyes was able to go to college due to Irish Aid; after graduating, he now works as a community facilitator in Uganda. Munyes is a great example of how investment in people can turn out to be one of the best investments a nation, organization or person can make. Money was spent on one person, and that person can go on to help hundreds of people.

One Step At a Time

Although Irish Aid is changing peoples’ lives all over the world, it can still do better. Better funding and direction from their government can go a long way.

Although Ireland’s government does not yet have a plan to reach the target of .07 percent, credit should still be given to the nation. Ireland was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis but continued to do its part to help around the world. Hopefully, as the Irish economy continues to grow, its government will begin to form a coherent strategy for improving its foreign aid efforts.

As with any important issue, the best change will happen when a government is called higher by its people and its media (specifically The Irish Times). With concentrated efforts reflective of populations near and abroad, Ireland can only do good.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The History of Poverty in IrelandIreland’s political and religious history has had a great effect on the country’s history of poverty, which has continued throughout many centuries. There are still neglected political policies that cause great poverty today.

Early History of Poverty in Ireland

The history of poverty in Ireland began with the invasion by Great Britain in 1649. Oliver Cromwell governed Great Britain at that time, and he despised Roman Catholicism. He felt that the predominantly Catholic Irish people could not be trusted and sought to bring them to order. Cromwell executed those that would not comply and exported children to sugar plantations in the West Indies, hoping to decrease the population of the Irish. This population loss allowed Great Britain to gain control over Ireland.

In the 18th century, Ireland’s farmland became the property of English landlords. The landlords were not present to work the farms and only collected rent. The landlords would force multiple families to live on one piece of property to charge more rent. This overcrowding resulted in hunger, as the crop yields could not sustain multiple families and still provide income for rent. Those who could not pay were evicted and had nowhere to go.

Potato Famine a Major Cause of Poverty

The main crop produced on the farmlands was a staple of the Irish diet, the potato. However, potatoes are susceptible to disease, even though the crop needs little maintenance. This was the cause of the Great Potato Famine that began in 1845. The famine was caused by the water mold disease known as late blight, which resulted in crop failure three years in a row. This drove families further into poverty. There were many families that were unable to pay rent or feed their children. The Great Potato Famine was one of the most significant events in the history of poverty in Ireland. The famine caused more than one million deaths and reduced the population by nearly half.

Even though Great Britain impacted the history of poverty in Ireland by taking control of the farmland when the Great Famine was devastating Irish families, the government refused to intervene and provide help to Irish families. Charities and soup kitchens had limited resources to help those suffering from starvation. Those who did not perish from starvation or disease were forced to immigrate to other countries.

Poverty Issues Still Present Today

This history of poverty in Ireland has seemed to carry over to the present day. In 2010, it was estimated that 6 percent of the population is living below the poverty line and approximately 15 percent of people are at risk of falling below the poverty line. The poverty line is measured by the average income and anyone that makes less than 60 percent of the average income is considered to be living in poverty.

Advocacy group Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has studied the history of poverty in Ireland and seeks to correct the ongoing issue. SJI reports that more than 100,000 people with employment are still living below the poverty line. In addition, SJI has stated that to avoid poverty, a single adult must make an estimated €250 a week and a family of four must bring home approximately €579 a week to be over the poverty line. The difficulties that the working poor face in reaching these income levels are attributed to low pay that is not fairly regulated, either by employers or the government.

Another factor that causes the population to be employed and still below the poverty line is an unfair tax system that has always been a part of the history of poverty in Ireland. SJI strongly urges the government to take charge and break this ongoing cycle of poverty for the Irish people.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

Success of The Straight Talk Foundation and Irish Aid Bursary Program in UgandaDespite being a much smaller country than the United States, Ireland has contributed much of its resources to help end global poverty through funding for a variety of foreign aid, humanitarian and development assistance projects.

Irish Aid

Irish Aid is the country’s official program that fights against poverty and hunger around the world, and which makes up a key part of Ireland’s foreign policy. According to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the program helps poorer countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, pursue development while also providing humanitarian assistance.

In 2015, €647.51 million was spent on Irish Aid, which comprised 0.36 percent of Ireland’s gross national product. Irish Aid uses this money for programs related to agriculture, nutrition development, health, HIV education and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

The Straight Talk Foundation

One country that Irish Aid has worked closely with is Uganda, and one of its partners is the Straight Talk Foundation, which began in 1993 as a newspaper funded by UNICEF. Initially, it targeted Ugandans between the ages of 10 and 24 and focused on reproductive health and HIV education. As it continued to develop, the foundation eventually expanded the topics it covered and started to work with adults in the community rather than just the youth, because of the important role adults, teachers and parents have in the lives of children.

Today, the Straight Talk Foundation works with both adults and youth and provides knowledge and support on topics such as HIV, general life skills, the environment, education, livelihoods and disability needs. The foundation’s mission is to provide reproductive health education to youth, as well as support their general well-being and development, through communication strategies based on evidence, advocacy and various services aimed at a young audience.

Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda

In 2016, the Irish government updated and relaunched the Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda as part of its new strategy for foreign aid to the country. The program has been supported by Ireland for 13 years and was designed to help Ugandan youth located primarily in the Karamoja region of Uganda pursue post-primary level education.

A bursary program is similar to a scholarship in that it is money given by an institution or organization to people specifically so they can attend a school.

Also in 2016, the Straight Talk Foundation took control of the bursary program in Uganda. The program provides 200 scholarships for disadvantaged students in the Karamoja region of the country who seek further education after primary school.

The Irish Embassy to Uganda’s website states that since 2005, 1,750 students have benefited from the bursary program, over half of which are young girls. The program covers the cost of tuition, necessary school supplies, transportation to and from school and HIV education.

Speaking to students at the event dedicated to the relaunch of the bursary program in Uganda, Ireland’s ambassador to the country stated that, “’It is our intention that this Irish government-funded bursary scheme will continue to provide educational opportunities to you and many in your communities, empowering you to achieve your dreams.”

As Ireland continues to fund its bursary program in Uganda and provide other forms of foreign assistance, more young Ugandans will gain access to education, and as a result, the opportunity for better livelihoods and futures.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

poverty in Ireland
In Ireland, the number of people living in poverty is steadily increasing. Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, the number has risen due to situational factors, such as unemployment and poor health, and exacerbated structural economic inequalities that perpetuate a cycle of poverty in Ireland.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Ireland

  • There are 790,000 people living in poverty: According to the Irish National Anti-Poverty Strategy, people living in poverty in Ireland are unable to maintain a standard of living acceptable by Irish society due to their lack of resources.
  • Only 18 percent of adults in poverty hold jobs: Despite working, these people do not earn salaries that allow them to cover basic costs of living for themselves and their families. They are called ‘the working poor’ by Social Justice Ireland.
  • There is a large income gap in Ireland: Social Justice Ireland found that the bottom 10 percent of Irish households only received 3 percent of the country’s total disposable income, while the top 10 percent of households received 24 percent of the income.
  • There are regional differences in poverty: Poverty in the more developed southern and eastern regions of Ireland is 50 percent less per capita than in the rural border, midlands and west regions of the country.
  • Disadvantaged populations are more likely to be in poverty: Sick or disabled people, and children younger than 18, are more likely to be at risk of poverty or in consistent poverty than healthy adults.
  • Single parent households are three times as likely to be in poverty: Compared to two-parent households, families with only a single parent are three times as likely to be in consistent poverty and twice as likely to be at risk of poverty.
  • Rent prices are increasing: Rent prices in Ireland are rising at six times the rate of European rates. When housing prices rise, the prices of other goods rise as well, causing poor families to stretch their resources to cover basic life necessities.
  • Moree than 8,500 people were homeless in Ireland in December 2017: This number includes more than 3,000 children and represents a 17 percent increase in the number of homeless families since December 2016.
  • Despite the poverty, economic growth is occurring: The Irish economy has moved past its recovery phase following the recession and into a time of growth. In 2017, 55,000 jobs were created, and in 2018, 4 percent growth of the economy is projected.
  • Specific policies are necessary to reduce poverty: To combat poverty in Ireland, specific government policies to address the areas of structural inequality are necessary. For example, creating a minimum living wage so all workers can afford a basic standard of life.

Even though there are still many steps needed to overcome poverty in Ireland, the Irish people are highly resilient. The 2017 World Happiness Report found that Ireland is the 15th happiest country in the world. Additionally, the report found only a small loss in happiness among the Irish people since the 2008 recession, and a high number of people reported they have someone to count on — strengths necessary to survive hardship.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr