Poverty in Micronesia
Poverty in Micronesia? The lush beauty of the tropical island group known as Micronesia implies a paradise of plenty, yet the Federated States of Micronesia remains a nation burdened by poverty. Here are five facts about poverty in Micronesia:

  1. Nearly one in five people live on less than $2 a day. Though the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of an impressive 607 separate islands across its four major states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, the population totals approximately 100,000. As of 2013, over 17 percent of the population lived on just $1.90 a day, well below the poverty line.
  2. Malnutrition is a major contributing factor. A lack of variety in available foods results in hunger, especially among children, and impedes the opportunity for citizens to rise above poverty in Micronesia. Many families rely on a local diet full of processed meats, canned fish, and carbohydrate-heavy produce such as breadfruit and yams, resulting in malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20 percent of pregnant women are anemic in the broader Pacific Island region where Micronesia lies. Sadly, 29 of every 1,000 babies born in Micronesia currently do not survive past their first year.
  3. The global definition of poverty may not apply. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi went on public record in September 2016 criticizing the United Nations’ current formula to measure poverty across the globe. This criticism stems from his consideration of the practical realities of life in the Pacific, in which it is common for young adults to have many children. He went so far as to say the existing figure of poverty, which is defined by an individual earning less than $400 per week, was “very stupid.” In response, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Group has appointed a dedicated committee to create a more appropriate replacement.
  4. A manufactured scarcity of resources is a leading cause. A drought in early 2016 caused the Asian Development Bank to lower the GDP projection for the Federated States of Micronesia to a mere two percent. Meanwhile, a broader problem of persistent societal disruption contributes to this slowing of growth. Initially examined in a 2004 study known as the Jenrok Report, life in the Pacific was described as a myriad of deficiencies. Overcrowding, contaminated ground wells and a lack of many home connections to a central water system cause sickness and contributed to poverty. Yet the Pacific governments consistently fail to spend all funds provided by other countries in foreign aid. This false scarcity shows that substantial improvement must be done at the administrative and infrastructural levels to provide for the people of Micronesia.
  5. Work is being done to improve it. The Salvation Army has worked tirelessly for more than two decades in the states of Pohnpei and Chuuk to reduce poverty, providing direct aid by supplying food and establishing social and spiritual development services. Another nonprofit organization, the USEAO, is headquartered in Seattle and was founded in 2013. They are similarly dedicated to improving the lives of citizens in Micronesia by contributing direct aid and concentrating on solving the problem of infant malnutrition.

Thanks in part to the efforts of organizations such as the Salvation Army and the USEAO, poverty-relief in Micronesia is improving. The Asian Development Bank GDP projection for the coming year is higher than 2016, and efforts to increase tourism in the Federated States of Micronesia show promise for a future where poverty is a thing of the past.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

World Hunger Statistics facts
While great strides have been made towards fighting hunger and malnutrition, world hunger remains a persistent problem. Hunger is detrimental to developing countries, as it pushes impoverished families into a downward spiral and prevents further development. This article discusses the leading world hunger statistics.

Top 15 World Hunger Statistics

 

  1.  Approximately 842 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. That’s almost 12 percent of the world’s population of 7.1 billion people.
  2. Ninety-eight percent of those who suffer from hunger live in developing countries. 553 million live in the Asian and Pacific regions, while 227 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 47 million.
  3. India has the highest population of hungry people. In 2014, over 190.7 million people were undernourished in India.
  4. Approximately 9 million people die of world hunger each year according to world hunger statistics; more than the death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis combined in 2012.
  5. Over 60 percent of the world hungry are women, who have limited access to resources because of the patriarchal societies in which they live.
  6. Because of the prevalence of hunger in women in developing countries, malnutrition is a leading cause of death for children. Approximately 3.1 million children die of hunger each year, and in 2011 poor nutrition accounted for 45 percent of deaths for children under five.
  7. Malnutrition is a primary symptom of hunger. Forty percent of preschool-age children are estimated to be anemic because of iron deficiency, and anemia causes 20 percent of all maternal deaths. In addition, it is estimated that 250 to 500 thousand children go blind from Vitamin A deficiency every year.
  8. Malnutrition causes stunting among children, a condition characterized by low height for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 161 million children under 5 were stunted worldwide.
  9. Malnutrition also causes wasting, a condition characterized by low weight for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 51 million children under 5 were wasted.
  10. Great strides have been made towards ending world hunger. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that the total number of hungry people worldwide has been reduced by 216 million people since 1992.
  11. 11. The regions that have made the greatest progress towards ending world hunger have been Latin America and South-East Asia. Latin America reduced its hunger rate from 14.7 percent in 1990-1992 to 5.5 percent in 2012-2014, whereas South-East Asia reduced its hunger rate from 30.6 percent to 9.6 percent in the same period.
  12. One region that has shown little reduction in hunger has been Sub-Saharan Africa. While the hunger rate in this region fell 10 percent from 1992-2014, the number of hungry people has actually risen during this time period, from 175.7 million to 220 million.
  13. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2006.
  14. Poverty is the number one cause of world hunger. The World Bank estimates that 10.7 percent of the world’s population, or 767 million people, lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.
  15. Over 75 percent of the world poorest grow their own food. This causes widespread food insecurity in developing countries, as drought, climate change and natural disasters can easily cut off a family’s food supply.

World hunger has proven to be a difficult problem to solve, despite the efforts of many nations and organizations working to eradicate it. However, world hunger statistics show that great progress has been made towards reducing it, and regions such as East Asia, South-East Asia and Latin America have met the Millennium Development Goal for developing countries to cut their hunger rates in half by 2015. If efforts from organizations like USAID and UNICEF continue, even more progress can be made to fight world hunger.

Chasen Turk

Photo: Flickr

 

Malnutrition in YemenAccording to UNICEF, malnutrition in Yemen has reached an all-time high.

The organization reports that an estimated 462,000 children in the country suffer from severe malnutrition, an increase of around 200 percent since 2014. Another 2.2 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance to stop any further decline in their health. UNICEF warns that even after the conflict ends, fatal malnutrition may linger and children will continue to suffer from the effects of starvation. Furthermore, at least one child dies in the country every ten minutes from malnutrition, diarrhea or respiratory tract infections.

Malnutrition in Yemen has become a major cause of death for children under the age of 5. The region has seen many children suffer from stunting, a condition where the child is short for their age and that is a symptom of chronic malnutrition. The region that has suffered the heaviest bombing, Saada Governorate, has the world’s highest stunting rates for children, reaching eight out of ten children in certain areas. The condition is indicative of severe mental and physical decline and is irreversible.

More than 900 children were killed in the first year of the war in Yemen alone, making up a third of all civilian deaths. UNICEF reports that thousands more suffer as a result of the conflict. The number of children out of school in Yemen was high even before the conflict, and that number has expanded to two million as schools have closed due to the war. “The state of health of children in the Middle East’s poorest country has never been as catastrophic as it is today,” says Meritxell Relano, UNICEF’s acting representative in Yemen, reporting to Al Jazeera.

Yemen ranks 154th in the world for human development. The displacement of 3.2 million people and limited fuel and food imports have created a severe humanitarian crisis. According to UNICEF, four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid.

In addition to malnutrition in Yemen, lack of infrastructure has furthered the country’s health crisis. Water and sewage systems have been damaged during the conflict, and a lack of fuel imports have made it impossible to deliver water to civilians in desperate need. The same lack of fuel has made hospitals unable to power generators in the midst of this severe health crisis.

In October, health officials in Yemen confirmed a cholera outbreak, a severe threat to children already suffering from the lack of healthcare in the country. According to Relano, the conflict has curtailed advances in healthcare in the country and led to the spread of diseases like cholera and measles that disproportionately affect children.

The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when troops loyal to the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, combined forces with a group known as the Houthi movement and attempted to take back the country from the internationally recognized president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Since the Houthi and their allies have taken much of the country, a coalition of countries that are supported by western powers (including the United States) has undertaken an air campaign against the rebels. Since the air campaign began in March 2015, over 10,000 people have been killed and millions have been forced out of their homes.

While the Houthi and their allies have committed serious human rights abuses, the majority of the deaths in this conflict have been attributed to air strikes. The two deadliest incidences in the war so far were an attack on a market that killed 97 civilians in March and an attack on a funeral hall in October that resulted in over 100 deaths. According to Human Rights Watch, the United States is complicit in both of these attacks by providing the deadly weapons that were used to bomb civilians.

Human Rights Watch further urges the United States to permanently ban the sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia, as the bombs sold by the U.S. to this country have been found at the sites of 23 illegal airstrikes. In addition, the international community must do more to address the severe crisis of malnutrition in Yemen.

Eva Kennedy

Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition
The leading causes of death among children around the world include preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria. Malnutrition has been reported to be the underlying contributing factor to these health complications. Although progress is being made in limiting the extent of malnutrition, many starving children from disadvantaged groups are being overlooked in this mission.

Malnutrition makes children more vulnerable to common infections, increases the severity of these infections and also extends the recovery process. If the severity of malnutrition persists, by 2030, there will be an estimated 129 million children under the age of 5 whose growth will be stunted due to malnutrition.

Children can experience wasting if malnutrition is severe enough. In 2015, about 50 million children under the age of 5 were wasted and 17 million children were severely wasted.

Despite the magnitude of malnutrition, some children continue to go unnoticed because of where they live or the circumstances in which they were born. The odds of a child surviving depend on factors such as whether the child is living in a rural area or if the child belongs to a disadvantaged ethnic group.

Children who are disabled or affected by war are disadvantaged when it comes to the aid they receive. Save the Children published a report in 2015 titled “The Lottery of Birth” that revealed in more than 75% of low and middle-income countries, inequalities in child survival rates are worsening.

The Save the Children report explains that although overall progress is being made in reducing the number of under-5 childhood deaths, this change is mostly attributed to the progress being made in more privileged groups of children. The report calls this disparity an “unfair lottery of birth” given that factors that are simply a matter of chance are determining whether children live to celebrate their fifth birthday. The report also notes that if the world were to pursue an equitable means of reducing child mortality, progress would ensue 6% faster over the course of 10 years.

In order to tackle the inequality that underlies the distribution of aid to malnourished children, countries need to follow in the footsteps of countries, like Rwanda, Malawi, Mexico and Bangladesh, that have combined rapid and inclusive reductions in child mortality, thus ensuring that no groups of children are excluded.

The U.N. also adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, which is replacing the Millennium Development Goals. This new framework is even more ambitious in its goals for child and maternal survival rates and in its commitment to work toward a more comprehensive solution for global malnutrition. The purpose of the Agenda for Sustainable Development is to ensure that all people can “fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.”

Although progress has been made, in order to more effectively and efficiently tackle the issue of malnutrition, poor and marginalized groups need to have access to the same quality services as any other group suffering the same conditions.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

Refugee camps

Refugee camps are supposed to be temporary living settlements for displaced people fleeing violence and persecution from their home countries. While the accommodations within refugee camps are built on short-term solutions, the idea of “temporary” for refugees grows obsolete as their living situations become more permanent.

A refugee spends an average of 12 years living in a camp according to the New York Times. These camps face their own significant problems. In the last 10 years, the number of displaced people in the world tripled. Over 60 million people are now displaced, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugee camps are constantly subjected to insufficient funding and support from the international community, overcrowding, scarcity of food, shortage of clean water and poor sanitation.

Without adequate food, refugees are susceptible to chronic malnutrition, which increases their risk of disease or illness. While the UNHCR recommends a daily minimum of 20 liters per person per day, many refugee camps fail to meet these standards. A lack of clean water and poor sanitation systems result in more diseases, such as diarrhea and cholera.

Proactive health measures, however, are being taken. To combat malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies, some refugee camps have implemented community gardens. At the Meheba refugee camp in Zambia, for example, refugees can grow their own food and add fruits and vegetables to their diets. Calls for improvements in both the latrine and sufficient waste disposal systems have also been made, as these will not only improve sanitation but also prevent disease.

The Kilis Refugee Camp in Turkey resembles more of a permanent shelter. There are no tents, but sturdy containers instead. The camp has amenities that many others lack; electricity, maintenance, a clinic and grocery stores. Within the grounds, there are also schools and counselors.

However nice the camp is, the prolonged stay of many of the refugees makes it more difficult to maintain psychological well-being. The placement of refugee camps away from society and the increasing length of stay by their residents make it hard for the people to remain engaged. Without employment and integration, refugees cannot practice their skill sets or feel connected to the local community.

UNHCR Engineer and Physical Planning & Shelter Officer Anicet Adjahossou found that one solution to strengthen community building within refugee camps was to work with anthropologists and refugees to redesign the standard refugee camp grid format into a new housing layout.

In 2012, Adjahoosu worked with UNHCR at the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia to organize the homes into sets of U-shaped enclosures. The innovative arrangement prompts more family interaction and allows for larger communal areas. Also included were locations for schools, water distribution points, markets and health centers.

In addition to improving the living conditions in refugee camps, more aid must be given to prevent and end conflicts, so that we do not continue to see an increase in people forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Luckily, it appears that advocates like Anicet Adjehossou are taking the lead.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

Global Communities Poverty in Ghana
A non-profit organization called Global Communities works to end poverty in Ghana with a 5-point plan in conjunction with USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy.

The non-profit organization works in more than 20 countries around the world, with Ghana being a focus of the recent programs. Global Communities, created about 60 years ago, works with the private sector, governments and local communities to provide the “means and ability to live and prosper with dignity,” something it ensures under its organization’s vision.

The Maryland-based organization paired with USAID in support of the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy to be implemented over the years 2014-2025. The program’s goal seeks to reduce chronic malnutrition by 20 percent over those 11 years. Global Communities has put forth these five goals in hopes of accelerating the fight against malnutrition in Ghana.

1. Provide more opportunities for economic growth through microfinance

Individuals who do not have access to the capital provided by large financial services corporations can gain access to funds through various microfunding institutions. These smaller companies allow a more intimate relationship between the lender and the borrower. Global Communities works through Boafo Microfinance Services in order to provide low-income Ghanaians with the money for new businesses, education and homes.

2. Build a more “resilient” Ghana by improving the nutrition in local diets

In order to reach this goal, Global Communities has partnered with the USAID/Ghana Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) program to “reduce poverty and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations.” The introduction of the sweet potato in local Ghanaian farms was a successful implementation of the partnership. Both USAID and Global Communities hope to educate communities on the importance of good nutrition instead of just providing temporary relief.

3. Create pathways for urban youth to become financially independent

Global Communities has joined the Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative For Employment in opening up the construction sector to Ghana’s youth. In five of the biggest cities in Ghana, the initiative hopes to “reach more than 23,000 youth” by teaching them the skills for employment. Because Africa’s youth makes up a majority of the population, targeting this demographic is the most effective way to reducing poverty in Ghana.

4. Improve access to clean water and sanitation

Working with both the public and private sector, Global Communities is working to enhance the current water and sanitation infrastructure. With focus on “slum communities” in three cities, the non-profit seeks to optimize every individual’s condition while constructing water and sanitation services that can be sustainable. These efforts are paired with USAID’s Water Access Sanitation and Hygiene for the Urban Poor (WASH-UP) and USAID’s WASH for Health (W4H). An important part of the relief is affecting a change in behavior which can help create a poverty-free society that operates without relief.

5. Upgrade local neighborhoods and reinforce political and social institutions

After the basic needs of food, water and shelter are met, a society can begin to upgrade its political, economic and social conditions. Global Communities, with the Bill & Melinda Gates SCALE-UP program, echoes this idea as it reinforces educational and financial institutions for residents in the low-income communities of Accra and Sekondi-Takoradi. The expansion of government services, such as female inclusivity and public transportation, in those regions is being implemented through the Our City, Our Say project.

Global Communities is just part of a larger non-profit coalition fighting against global poverty in Ghana. The process includes numerous programs with funding from various foreign governments, each generating results through their focus on different parts of the Ghanaian society. Readers can follow the various programs and outcomes on the Global Communities website.

Jacob Hess

Sources: Global Communities 1, Global Communities 2, USAID 1, USAID 2
Photo: Borgen Project