Gender Equality Issues in Moldova
Massive advancements in the quest for gender equality have filled the Modern Era. In the early 20th century, suffrage was pivotal in allowing women to obtain the right to vote. No-fault divorce, maternity leave, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act served to further advance the position of women. Around the world, these acts and ones like it have served to acknowledge and reform many factors limiting women’s role in society.

Need for Change

Despite many of these advances, a great deal more progress is necessary. Women are far more likely to be victims of sexual, spousal and physical abuse than men. Additionally, women still make approximately 60% of what their male counterparts earn per hour. If one acknowledges gender inequality now more than ever, why is gender equality progress so difficult to achieve? The answer may lie in the many problems the Republic of Moldova has seen. Specifically, the state of gender inequality in Moldova epitomizes that of countries gender inequality plagues, due to its deep-seated history of gender prejudice, as well as the limited effectiveness of implementing gender-based reforms.

Current Reform Efforts

Gender equality issues in Moldova have long struggled under the reign of communism. As a former member of the Soviet Union, the nation faced many limitations on expanding its people’s liberties and its economy. As a result of regressive economic situations, much of Moldova’s social culture relies on predicated, traditional gender roles. This makes the achievement of gender equality difficult, as society expects women to remain in their traditional gender roles.

Currently, Moldova’s gender equality efforts have appeared to be keeping up with those of other countries. In 2006, the government passed the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In 2016, the Republic of Moldova executed the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which attempted to provide social and economic freedom to all human beings. Additionally, it adopted Law No. 71, which introduced paid paternity leave of 14 days and banned the use of sexist imagery and rhetoric in advertisements. Furthermore, it promoted the empowerment of womens’ status in politics at the national and local levels as well as introduced a minimum 40% Parliament gender requirement in order to enact decision and electoral college processes.

Is it Enough?

Despite the implementation of these and similar protocols, the work is far from complete regarding solving gender equality issues in Moldova. Many of the changes are protocols and they do not reflect immediate, or even effective action towards gender reformation.

Flaws in gender equality within Moldova’s government exemplified the need for further action. Gender equality in Moldova is incredibly hard to achieve when there is a huge limitation on Moldovan womens’ political power, as they possess only a fraction of representation in government in comparison to their male counterparts.

Additionally, despite the passing of these legislations years ago, Moldova still ranks 23rd in countries with the highest gender gap. This gap is so pervasive that women still experience prejudice in the form of severe wage differences, segregation of economic level, finite aid for childcare and unequal partner support for childcare.

Moldova also has a continued issue with domestic violence towards women. A family study on violence against women found that 63% of women suffered from violent partners. The study also showed that one out of 10 women experienced some form of economic violence.

A Hopeful Future for Women

While much more work is necessary, hope exists for gender equality in Moldova. While many countries around the world have yet to seriously acknowledge or even pass legislation toward the issue of gender equality, the aforementioned legal efforts show a much more profound commitment to its cause. Furthermore, there have been sizable steps in executing the issue of gender equality. Parliament, though not yet at 40%, has reached 25.7% representation and 36% in local municipalities. Moreover, Moldova’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Oleg Tulea, suggests the decrease in maternal mortality rate and successful birth rates were a result of a decrease in female-directed violence.

Outside intervention has also played a role in assisting women who experience violence. For instance, the U.S. NGO Global Rights for Women taught and created manual addressing how to approach cases of domestic violence. In addition, the document covers other issues, like gender gaps, human trafficking and overall advancement. Recently, Moldova elected the country’s first female president. Maia Sandu won an impressive 57% of the vote and stands as a staunch Europeanist. This also serves as a dramatic change to the isolationist policies, previously popular in Moldova.

The path to solving gender equality issues in Moldova is a long and formidable process. However, with recent successes, the idea of profound advancement is no longer just a dream, but an ever-evolving reality.

James Hurwitz
Photo: Flickr

European Union Membership
The European Union, or E.U., stands as a pillar in Europe, promoting economic and political stability. The partner countries of the E.U. make up a thriving economic landscape. The 10 poorest countries in Europe are not members of the European Union. This includes nations such as Ukraine, Moldova and Kosovo, which stand as the three poorest countries in the continent. If these countries were to have European Union membership, would they benefit?

Anatomy of an Impoverished Country

Ukraine, Moldova and Kosovo a history of government corruption in common. In Moldova, the disappearance of $1 billion from the banking system in 2014 was due to various politicians. Losses like this, high public debt and detrimental business decisions have allowed corruption to thrive. This severely impacts growth potential.

Similarly, in Ukraine, the elite still controls the economy. The economy never healed from the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Politicians with ulterior motives have quickly hijacked any start of the national budget, such as the military budget. Competition has disappeared in multiple sectors inhibiting growth. For example, politicians frequently make pricing decisions with business in mind rather than individuals.

The preservation of the elite interests blocks agricultural reform, while the monopolization of government funds by private bank owners shuts down bank reform before it can start. As well, the Ukrainian diaspora does little to combat this.

In Kosovo, the political climate remains volatile, with former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj having resigned in July 2019. The E.U. reported that the messy election process that followed in his wake lacked “constructive political dialogue,” in part due to the lack of minimum-member requirements to make forum meetings valid.

Following this, a caretaker government remained in place under the leadership of former Prime Minister Albin Kurti until the election of current Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti. The 2019 election revealed several unsavory truths about the state of politics in Kosovo. Voter intimidation tactics underwent deployment against non-Srpska Lista (the Serb List, a minority political party) candidates and supporters.

Whether the activities of the government include explicitly skimming funds initially for the welfare of the people, or suppressing voices when the nation has the potential to change, corrupt governments are all too common in impoverished countries. The elite seeks to protect specific interests and fund individual exploits at the expense of the people.

European Union Membership

Countries that want to undergo consideration for E.U. membership need to meet three major criteria. The first requires the applying nation to have a stable, democratic government that protects human rights. The second is a competitive economy. The third is that the applicant must be willing to comply with the E.U.’s political, economic and monetary policies.

In joining the E.U., citizens of partnered countries access a market with diverse choices and stable prices, as well as a secure and lucrative economy. Moreover, the nation joins the global economy via the E.U., presenting a cohesive, prominent European identity. All of these factors lend support and power to the people, unlike when support and power are at risk under a corrupt government. However, an obstacle to E.U. membership that remains, is these formerly corrupt governments must meet a certain ethical standard.

The International Committee of the Red Cross

Fixing the main obstacles inhibiting these countries’ growth requires more than one solution.  While European Union membership could be a valuable resource and an incredible step forward for countries like Kosovo and Ukraine, they have to make several strides before they can receive membership. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) can help triage several of these issues, stabilizing the area to help get them closer to European Union membership.

For example, in Ukraine, where infrastructure has taken a hit with government corruption and negligence, the ICRC provided 850,000 people with water, due to trying to fix the sanitation sector and setting up waterboards. Meanwhile, 67 health care facilities received necessary supplies. Moreover, 120,000 obtained food, hygiene, cash aid for agricultural endeavors and grants for business opportunities.

Looking Ahead

Joining the E.U. is not a cure for poverty in Europe. Meeting the baseline criteria concerning human rights and the economy can be challenging for many impoverished countries. Additionally, E.U. membership is a partnership that does not have the intention of being a one-way deployment of aid.

For the E.U., the protection of human rights, a stable economy and a cohesive identity are important factors. The lack of these qualities often allows poverty to thrive. A weak and volatile economy leaves many citizens income-insecure, especially in places where minority groups receive poor treatment. Furthermore, corruption, like siphoning government funds, can prevent an economy from getting on its feet.

Organizations like the ICRC can help stabilize areas as it can help Ukraine and Kosovo obtain their daily needs and start growing their infrastructure. This would help them join the E.U. in which nations agree to make policies that will abide by the E.U.’s goals. This will allow nations like Ukraine and Kosovo to work more easily with other E.U. members and promote regional stability and consistency of policy and cohesion of identity.

Stronger together than apart, the E.U. provides more opportunities for individual nations inside to trade with those that lay outside the immediate vicinity.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

How Poverty Affects Everyday Life in MoldovaPoverty in Moldova is a common reality for those that live there. Many have had to leave their family, friends and homes to find a job because it is nearly impossible to find one in Moldova due to high unemployment rates. Now imagine being the ones left behind: the family members and life-long friends who are left in a politically torn country. Since Moldova gained its independence in 1991 it has struggled to fight poverty within its borders, affecting everyday life in Moldova. Moldova’s main causes of poverty are immigration due to high unemployment and governmental strife. These factors especially affect the children of Moldova.

Immigration and High Unemployment

Many of Moldova’s citizens are moving out of the country. There are simply not enough jobs for everyone. Doina Grecu, a woman born in Moldova who moved to the U.S. to further her education, said that her father had to find work abroad for several years when she lived in Moldova. Electricity was not stable and was expensive then, so people would only be able to talk to their loved ones every now and then and waited to hear that they were alright. Grecu also recounted that some people traveled from Moldova all the way across Europe to France. Poverty in Moldova has caused many people to leave their homes.

Governmental Strife

Even though Moldova has strengthened its relationship with the EU, it still struggles with poverty because of its conflicting interests in trade. Half of the country believes that they should exclusively trade with Russian because of their history together, and the other half have seen that Europe has prospered in trade and believe that Moldova should trade with them.

To further complicate things, Russia has been known to retaliate if Moldova trades with other countries. Doina Grecu stated that there were videos of Russians destroying apples from Moldova for this very reason. Moldova has uniquely rich soil that makes it an agricultural economy, so this kind of retribution is extremely harmful to these farmers. And while farming is Moldova’s main source of income, the rural areas have an almost five times higher poverty rate than Moldova’s urban areas.

Moldova’s Impoverished Children

Child poverty is significantly high. UNICEF states, “Children in Moldova remain disproportionately poor.” Some children were sent to orphanages, not because they had no parents, but because their parents were unable to care for them, as recounted by Grecu. Other children had to live with their grandparents, who may be unable to properly care for them, while one or both of their parents went abroad to find a job to send money home.

Poverty in Moldova has improved over the years. The non-governmental organization EcoVillage Farms has come up with a way to help Moldova capitalizes on what makes it special. As mentioned before, Moldova’s fertile soil is definitely an asset to Moldova. As such, the country is making the transition to the “quality over quantity” mindset when it comes to what they eat, states Grecu. Since Moldova is mainly an agricultural country, investing in farmers and small businesses will help boost Moldova’s economy and improve everyday life in Moldova. EcoVillage’s goal is to give these upcoming businesses a place to start. A furnished kitchen space will be available for rent for these business owners to practice their craft. Renters can also pay to use other renters’ equipment so as to build a sense of community and learn from each other. In addition, EcoVillage will provide counseling in finance and the logistics of how to start a business.

This NGO’s dream is still in the works, but they are more than halfway to their fundraising goal. When they are finished, this opportunity for small food businesses in the country with help reduce poverty in Moldova by building its economy on its biggest asset: a quality grounds for agriculture.

—Moriah Thomas
Photo: Flickr

Extreme Poverty in MoldovaFrom 1999 to 2015, Moldova went from a 36% extreme poverty rate to zero, effectively ending extreme poverty in Moldova. By analyzing Moldova’s poverty reduction strategies, organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank can form a blueprint to fight extreme poverty globally.

IMF Focus on Poverty Reduction

In 2000, the IMF instituted a three-pronged approach for ending extreme poverty in Moldova, which involved major reforms in governance and the public sector. Economic development, healthcare changes, educational developments and social safety nets were the primary focus to kickstart growth in the country.

  • The IMF’s focus on economic development revolved around public spending and lack of private business. Aside from ensuring fiscal responsibility from the government, government retirement plans and debt were swallowing the countries budgetary resources. The IMF advised Moldova to revise its tax system to be more equitable while strengthening its private sector by easing regulations and tax burdens on small and medium businesses.
  • Education was a foundational part of the reform process. The IMF ensured Moldova improved its education system through guidance from the World Bank. The primary focus was on improving education standards and increase the availability of secondary education to needy students.
  • The health sector developed more substantial healthcare access to reduce long-term expenses and to involve the private sector.
  • Developing better social safety nets was a key pillar for the IMF in Moldova. Most importantly, the goal of the program is to keep children out of poverty. This included food security and funding to access human development services. Also on the agenda was reforming the nation’s pension system to protect aging populations.

Impact of Changes in Moldova

These changes were to be implemented by no later than 2003 and most changes are ongoing. How well did the changes work? In 2000, Moldova’s GDP per capita was at $1,439 and by 2019 the GDP per capita rose to $3,715, doubling the nation’s economic growth. The secondary education enrollment rate was 48% in 1999 and grew to an 86% enrollment rate by 2019. Though absolute poverty remains high, these strategies were instrumental in ending extreme poverty in Moldova. Even by 2006, the extreme poverty rate was down to 4.5%.

The World Bank’s Evaluation

The World Bank processed an analysis from 2007 to 2014 using data to determine how ending extreme poverty in Moldova was effective. Compared to most of Europe, Moldova is still impoverished, but extreme poverty no longer plagued the country by 2014. There were four primary factors that the World Bank determined to be the cause of this success. Economic expansion, advanced opportunities for workers, better retirement fiscal responsibility for aging populations and international work being funneled back into Moldova’s economy, were the most effective tools for alleviating extreme poverty.

  • Despite a setback during the financial crisis in 2009, Moldova has seen steady GDP growth up until the COVID-19 pandemic. Of significant note is that Moldova showed continued growth rather than ups and downs experienced in most impoverished nations. Moldova’s commitment to attaining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and effectively using guidance from the World Bank and IMF are reasons for this growth. Responsible governance and low corruption were instrumental in ending extreme poverty in Moldova.
  • Moldova’s workforce lowered from 2007 to 2014, primarily due to migration; however, wage growth was significant in jobs outside of the agricultural sector. Growth in food processing, manufacturing and ICT industry jobs increased wages exponentially, while the agricultural sector still struggled. These higher-skill jobs are attributable to the country’s focus on improving secondary education access, as outlined by the IMF, providing upward mobility.
  • Responsible pension disbursement was a chief agent for ending extreme poverty in Moldova. The significant increase in distributions to aging rural citizens living in extreme poverty was an essential investment by Moldova’s government.
  • The World Bank also found that after the economic crisis, remittances from Moldovan migrant workers sent back disposable income. Most of these migrants were from low-income rural areas of Moldova. From 2007 to 2014, rural households’ disposable income from migrant transfers rose from 16% to 23%. In Moldova, remittances played a considerable role in poverty reduction.

Using Moldova as a Blueprint Worldwide

Evaluating the success in ending extreme poverty in Moldova helps pave the way to implement similar strategies globally. So, what is the blueprint for ending extreme poverty?

  • The most crucial aspect is government accountability and a strong commitment to attain Millennium Development Goals. Strong oversight to prevent corruption and ensure fiscal responsibility to follow through with plans laid out by organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF.
  • A commitment to make secondary education more accessible, especially in rural areas, advances what a nation’s workforce is capable of and helps create job and wage growth.
  • Protecting vulnerable populations by distributing funds where they are most needed reduces extreme poverty.
  • The success of remittances in Moldova is a necessary imperative. An analysis across countries worldwide shows the significant poverty reduction effects of remittances

Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030

The U.N. aims to end extreme poverty by 2030, and when looking at Moldova’s success, it is not an outrageously unrealistic goal. With fiscal oversight, dedication to protecting the impoverished and the world’s willingness to engage, extreme poverty can be eradicated.

– Zachary Kunze
Photo: pxfuel

Hunger in Moldova
Since its independence from Russia in 1991, the Republic of Moldova has struggled to maintain economic sovereignty and is one of Europe’s most impoverished countries. As the country is rife with poverty, rampant hunger also affects it. Hunger in Moldova is a result of an array of factors that contribute to the multilayered issues that the country faces. Some of these factors include emigration and severe weather.

Natural Disasters

Moldova’s climate creates an ideal environment for extreme weather. In 2007-2015, droughts impacted 90% of the country’s territory and 80% of its population. These natural disasters have proven to be detrimental to the country’s agriculture as they are unpredictable and hinder crop production. As 17.7% of Moldova’s economy is contingent upon agriculture, the prevalence of natural disasters endangers the country’s ability to produce for itself and compete within the international economy. This has resulted in Moldovans suffering from a lack of consistent nutrition and resources that has impacted their overall health. Traditionally, the prevalence of anemia is indicative of hunger. Currently, 26.8% of women in the reproductive stage are anemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the progress to eliminate hunger in Moldova is under threat. Developing countries are currently at risk because they lack the proper resources to contain outbreaks and stabilize affected communities. According to the UNDP, 75% of those in the least developed countries have access to soap and water. With no way to effectively sanitize, the COVID case counts in developing countries are much higher than those in developed countries. The high numbers of cases in Moldova have proved detrimental to the Moldovan workforce, thus leaving many without access to the goods and services they require. Moreover, COVID-19 is not just a health concern, it also places fundamental resources in jeopardy. The UNDP predicts that developing countries will lose over $220 billion in income and that only 45% of people in those countries will have social protection. As a result, the reversal of efforts regarding education, hunger and human rights may occur.

Solutions

While poverty and hunger have endured in Moldova since its independence from Russia, many international organizations have made efforts to improve the wellbeing of its citizens. Contrary to popular belief, efforts do not have to be particularly large scale. Some of the most effective mechanisms to lessen poverty are local, though internationally funded. Examples include improving small-scale food producers and promoting disaster-resistant agricultural practices. When implemented correctly these small changes create a ripple effect into the country as a whole. Consequently, larger organizations provide funding which strengthens the country’s ability to compete in the international economy.

Efforts in Moldova have decreased the poverty rate from 30.2% to 12.7% from 2007 to 2012, which was 7.8% over the 20% goal. This decrease is impressive because it displays the importance of community efforts in the fight against poverty and the subsequent hunger. An additional example of community outreach is that in 2013, the local government was able to support projects that contributed to helping over 100,000 people gain access to clean water sources. A specific project is the Global Humanitarian Agency’s water project, which focuses on the application of underutilized water resources like rainwater and improving sanitation. In regards to hunger in Moldova, clean water is an essential resource and is often a factor that contributes to poverty.

Additionally, local groups have also been able to train roughly 80% of their elected officials in order to identify needs within their communities. As a result of allowing elected officials to identify needs, communities can regain a level of autonomy. Different places have different needs as far as financial and food resources are concerned. Thus, training elected officials allows them to serve as educated ambassadors and make intelligent decisions regarding their respective areas. These examples illustrate the ability of small efforts to catalyze large scale development.

How to Help

There are many organizations for one to choose from if they would like to help end hunger in Moldova. USAID and UNDP are some of the most reputable.

USAID has championed a project known as the Moldova Competitiveness Project which partners with the Swiss government and focuses on the expansion of the Moldovan economy. The project emerged in October 2015 and is transparent about its objectives. The project plans to elevate Moldova’s economy by increasing productivity within Moldovan businesses and innovation as a whole throughout the country. The improvement of the products that Moldova produces would connect it to the global economy and allow it to become economically sustainable. This improvement of products will occur through the project’s support of specialized training for workers and industry excellence centers like ZIPHouse, a creativity center.

Meanwhile, UNDP seeks to lessen poverty by applying the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Effective since 2016, these goals serve as the primary mission statement for UNDP’s global outreach programs. It prioritizes innovation, sustainability and economic equality in an effort to improve the lives of those impoverished and ultimately end poverty as a whole. In response to COVID-19, the UNDP has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to aid developing countries amid the pandemic. It focuses on stopping the spread of the virus by utilizing adequate medical equipment and providing resources to bar the economy from collapsing. It has already utilized $20 million but predicts it will cost at least $500 million in order to sufficiently aid 100 countries.

– Stella Vallon
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MoldovaMoldova is the poorest country in Europe. It is heavily dependant on agriculture, yet fails to feed and employ its poor because of its highly diverse climate. In 2015, 9.6% of its citizens lived in absolute poverty. According to the United Nations, it has failed to adapt to changing weather patterns because most agricultural technology is dated to the 1970s and 80s. With these outdated technologies, poverty eradication in Moldova requires much attention to detail, patience and global aid.

Moldova has a history of famine. In 1947, under the Soviet Union, Moldova faced a drought that yielded less than half of what it harvested in 1940. While still recovering from the fallout of the Soviet Era, another devasting famine hit the country in 2007. The United Nations World Food Program claims the 2007 famine was “the most severe in living memory.” Once more in 2012, this small country suffered environmental damage and lost $1 billion of its $8 billion dollar GDP in 2011. This event struck 70% of Moldova’s cereal crops, 25% of its cattle, 50% of its pigs and 25% of all its chickens.

Moldova is heavily dependent on agriculture despite its history of drought. This sector accounts for 14.5% of its GDP and around 40% of the total employed population, with 70% in rural areas. Additionally, this sector occupies about 60% of all land. This poses serious concerns about the way the agriculture sector functions, long-term infrastructural changes and short-term technological innovations in Moldova. Here are six facts about the agricultural sector in Moldova and agricultural innovations in poverty eradication in Moldova.

6 Facts About the Agricultural Sector in Moldova

  1. Because much farming is small-scale, the country lacks the necessary robust infrastructure to feed its population or provide stable employment. Approximately 98% of farmers are small-scale and therefore lack the ability to produce economies of scale. Economies of scale are typically understood to make each unit produced cheaper through the ability to invest in more expensive, but more efficient, machinery. This increased profit margin also protects against economic shocks, such as droughts. Without these profit margins, farmers lack the capital to invest in technologies that can help them overcome poverty.
  2. Moldova is particularly notable because its patterns of migratory work do not necessarily reflect those of other nations for which remittances make up a significant portion of gross domestic product. Many Moldovans work in Western Europe, Israel and Russia while sending money to their home country. Unlike other countries, however, these workers are largely seasonal, because they do not move permanently to the nations they work in and instead send money home. In the off-season, they return to Moldova. As a result, Moldovans need critical agricultural infrastructure so citizens may make ends meet when they are not working in other countries.
  3. The government and private investors are taking tangible steps towards technological advancements and infrastructural changes. There has been a push away from crops vulnerable to climate versatility, like wheat, and towards climate-resistant crops, like the sunflower. The World Bank recommends that the country can do more, like investing in economically efficient irrigation, pest management and research for better weather forecasts.
  4. The World Bank is pushing for global contributions. Funds from the World Bank are providing measurable changes in agricultural infrastructure. In 2017, the bank helped fund more efficient irrigation systems that allow farmers to see a 40% increase in crops despite more rainy days.
  5. USAID’s High Value Agriculture Activity in Moldova, a project geared towards poverty eradication in Moldova, has created an Agriculture Innovation and Technology Transfer Fund. This fund should help popularize modern-planting along with technologies for preservation after harvesting and help critical technology meet safety standards in trade. Expectations are that sales will increase by $84 million, an additional 280 farmers with utilize new harvesting technologies and 5,000 people will receive training to use those new harvesting technologies.
  6. In 2010, The World Bank outlined long-term goals to eradicate poverty in Moldova. These include creating economies of scale, diversifying the economy and creating platforms to better coordinate and share knowledge. All of these are necessary to attract private investment, which can then lead to even greater growth and permanent opportunities. Yet, these long-term goals prove difficult to approach, because there will be little measurable effect if many poor farmers cannot afford to invest in new technology.

Investment in technological innovations in the agricultural sector should help with poverty eradication in Moldova. It should provide food for the hungry, jobs for the poor, ameliorate impacts of environmental catastrophe and boost the country’s economy. With this additional money, the country can begin to invest in the World Bank’s long-term goals.

Aid is essential to the survival of this small country. Moldova has successfully created a highly specialized elite force and researched better alternatives to current crops. Additionally, companies offering economically efficient energy have emerged. According to the United Nations, however, global investment is necessary so farmers may have access to technologies and crops that resist climate challenges.

– Bisma Punjani
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hunger in MoldovaMoldova is a small landlocked country in Eastern Europe which has a trend of increasing hunger since the late 1990s. Legal frameworks within the country support the right to food. Despite an average economic growth rate of 4.6% annually and continued decreases in the rate of poverty since the early 2000s, hunger in Moldova persists, with a relatively high percentage of the population suffering from food insecurity.

6 Things to Know About Hunger in Moldova

  1. The prevalence of hunger in Moldova is linked to insufficient productivity in agriculture and impacts national health, economic and security interests.
  2. There is a legal basis for ensuring the right to food within Moldova.
  3. Agriculture is a major source of economic growth in Moldova, accounting for 18% of the country’s total GDP.
  4. The prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under the age of five in Moldova were 3.0% and 6.8%, respectively, from 2013-2017.
  5. An average of 200,000 million people from 2017-2019 and 4% of the population from 2017-2018 qualified as severely food insecure in Moldova.
  6. Thousands of Moldovans cannot afford either an energy sufficient diet or a nutrient adequate diet.

Why Should We Focus on Hunger?

The legal basis for the right to food in Moldova is based on both national and international law. The Republic of Moldova’s constitution unequivocally guarantees food as a right of the Moldovan people. Further, the country is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which also calls on members to guarantee adequate food for all those living within the country.

In addition to legal obligations to support the alleviation of hunger in the country, there are also economic incentives and national health interests at stake. According to Dr. Rodica Perciun of the National Institute for Economic Research and Dr. Maria Oleiniuc of the Alecu Russo State University of Bălți, food security acts as a “mirror” into a country’s welfare and reveals a lot about the quality of life. They state that alleviating hunger in Moldova should be considered a priority national strategy; it is an integral component of national security.

Further, hunger can have long-term impacts on the population, directly affecting the health of the population. Malnutrition in children can lead to poor outcomes regarding development and health.

 While food insecurity in adults can lead to the development of chronic conditions. The impact of hunger can have serious ramifications for a nation’s economy. In one study on the impact of hunger in Ontario, Canada, it was found that the effects derived from hunger can potentially cost the government around $2.9 billion annually in healthcare spending.  In middle-lower-income countries like Moldova, addressing hunger is integral to the country’s economic development.

What Can be Done?

 There are a number of frameworks in place to address the level of hunger in the country including those occurring at the national and international levels. The Government of Moldova is addressing hunger alleviation through a focus on entrepreneurial activity. The aim is that by continuing to improve the economy and the agricultural sector, hunger will be alleviated.

Dr. Rodica Perciun and Dr. Maria Oleiniuc proposed a Food Security Strategy for Moldova designed to provide adequate access to resources, thereby fostering healthy lifestyles, favorable socio-economic conditions and the development of a sustainable agri-food complex. Many of the strategies embedded in their proposed action plan to focus on the agricultural sector; notably, the diversification of food production, the creation of food resource resilience to natural disasters and climate-change-induced shocks. The development and promotion of food security policies are also important to this strategy.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) also has strategic objectives for hunger alleviation in the country, which focuses on improving the capacity of the agricultural sector, especially as it pertains to the links between the development of producers, markets and suppliers. The U.S. contributions to the IFAD account for 8.7% of the organization’s total resources from 2016 to 2018. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s proposed budget for 2021 allocates $30 million in support of the IFAD. However, the president’s proposed budget allocates zero dollars to the IFAD. The Treasury Department highlights that international assistance is integral to the U.S. economy and national security. Continued advocacy in support of international assistance is integral to the realization of these goals.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Moldova
Moldova suffered through an economic collapse after achieving independence in 1991. Poverty in Moldova has remained high for decades with its previously weak economy and the added burden of multiple global recessions. The country continues to face the same issues in 2020. Here is some information about the severe levels of poverty in Moldova.

An Unstable Population

The foundation of a nation’s economy relies heavily upon its people. In the case of Moldova, however, the unstable population has led to a highly volatile economy.

The official population of Moldova is 3.5 million. However, estimates determine that the true figure is much less due to a significant level of out-migration ​with people seeking work in other countries. The World Bank stated that this “puts pressure on the pension system and limits the available labor force and the country’s long-term competitiveness.” As a result, poverty in Moldova will likely continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future.

Decreased fertility rates are also contributing to the unstable population. The total fertility rate (TFR) at which a population replaces itself from one generation to the next is roughly 2.1 for most countries. However, as of 2020, Moldova’s rate was 1.3. As women have fewer children within Moldova, the overall population is contracting, leaving the increased share of elderly people with very few young people to care for them in the future.

Natural Disasters

Many regions of Moldova are at increased risk of earthquakes and flooding. This has a significant impact on the economy because over half the population lives in rural areas and more than 40% of the economy relies on industry and agriculture.

Many citizens are at risk of natural disasters. People in areas of higher risk of natural disasters also suffer from weaker economies as a result. The province at greatest risk of floods and earthquakes is Chisinau–the region with the greatest GDP. However, since the region is also at high risk for natural disasters, this inevitably leads to a more volatile economy that takes significant hits during flooding and earthquakes.

According to the World Bank, natural disasters impact up to 3% of the region’s GDP, leading to a potential loss of $66 million. These events can damage arable land, create food shortages that leave people hungry and cause people to suffer from injury or loss. Environmental challenges can significantly impact the lives of citizens and drag the most vulnerable peoples of Moldova into poverty.

Sanitation and Health Care

Currently, millions of Moldovans must choose between their paycheck and their health as 60% of the economy in Moldova is service-oriented. The current global economic crisis that began as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue to impact Moldova significantly. According to the World Bank, it “will lead to a contraction of Moldova’s economy in 2020.” Assuming that the country can largely contain COVID-19 later in 2020, estimates determine that the nation could still suffer through an economic recession of 3.1% that could subsequently increase poverty in Moldova.

Corruption in the Government

Moldova became an independent republic in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the new nation has massive corruption within the government. In 2015, a banking scandal that “led to public discontent over high-levels of corruption and poor living standards for citizens” led to an upset in Moldova’s economy. This transgression included the embezzlement of $1 billion by government officials, accounting for around 12.5% of the country’s GDP.

Governmental instability has driven money away from programs to help alleviate the suffering of the poor and into​ the wallets of elected officials. As a result, poverty in Moldova continues without the proper economic resources necessary to combat it.

Why Hope Persists

Even in these unprecedented times, the many projects the work to improve education, entrepreneurship and welfare within the nation have given the Moldovan people a beacon of hope. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted an estimated 1 billion students worldwide, young people in Moldova have been able to engage in home-based learning both online and offline.

The Moldova Education Reform Project is supporting the nation’s education system in order to cope with the current pandemic and prepare for its upcoming recovery. This governmental effort has ameliorated a reported nine schools and given them the technology necessary to enable students to continue learning remotely despite the current quarantine. A total of 160 schools in Moldova will benefit from the program by the end of 2020.

By building resilience for the world’s challenges, students in poverty in Moldova are preparing themselves for better and brighter futures. The government acted by implementing emergency measures. These should protect businesses from immediate bankruptcies after streams of crippling demand shock, disrupted supply chains and a lockdown. These measures should also help prevent unnecessary shut-downs and layoffs by providing qualifying businesses with liquidity while supporting employee retention and improving services through e-governance reforms.

Through these programs, the government has protected many citizens from moving further into poverty. These measures should allow the economy to continue to grow after the recovery period is complete. Ultimately, when considering the current circumstances for Moldova, one sees both the adversities and the victories. As complex as the issue of poverty is, with proper projects, education and economic goals, poverty in Moldova should reduce.

– Daniela Canales
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in MoldovaThe Republic of Moldova, a small, post-Soviet landlocked country bordering Ukraine to the north and Romania to the south, currently grapples with issues of economic freedom. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Moldova ranks as the 97th freest economy in the world with Russia at 98th and Burkina Faso at 96th. With 180 countries ranked, the Heritage Foundation categorizes Moldova as a mostly unfree economy. Credit access in Moldova suffers along with its corrupt economic and political culture, affecting the most at-risk individuals in the population.

A Shift Away From the Agricultural Sector

Farming and agriculture once made up the bulk of Moldova’s domestic economy with agriculture accounting for 42 percent of the Moldovan GPD in 2000, according to a multi-national case study including USAID. The CIA World Factbook cites that in 2017, Moldovan agriculture made up only 17.7 percent of the GDP while Services took up 62 percent. In just 19 years, the Moldovan economy has experienced a rapid change. Moldova is transferring from an agrarian economy into a service-based economy, but during this transition, farmers are being left behind and their credit access in Moldova is dismal.

Farmers face the unique challenge of navigating a banking system that is new for their country. Before the year 2000, the Moldovan state owned all agrarian land. A USAID report explains how 800,000 private farmers became landowners and suddenly needed additional financial resources, yet struggled to acquire them since the amounts requested were only a few hundred dollars each–unattractive investments for local banks. The banks refused to work with the burgeoning independent farmer sector, making credit access impossible for many who needed small loans to fund and improve their businesses.

No Access to Investment

Along with the difficulties of learning a new market system, Moldovan farmers also encounter immense corruption in both government and business. The World Bank reports in its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) that “a massive bank fraud in 2013-14 enabled by political interference…led to depreciation of the currency, inflation, financial destabilization and loss of investor confidence.” Those who have no credit access in Moldova also have lower chances of receiving investment from outside the country because the risk of investing in a corrupt country carries too much risk for international investors.

The World Bank CPF explains that “limited access, inefficiency and poor quality have contributed to social exclusion, persistent poverty and vulnerability to shocks, especially in rural areas.” Rural farmers cannot rely on either the state or the banks to offer much-needed investment, and therefore are left without a critical resource essential to operating a thriving business.

The World Bank’s Moldovan Engagement

The World Bank currently sees transparency, accountability and corruption as the most pressing issues to the Moldovan economy. In an effort to stabilize the region and bring economic prosperity, the World Bank has ten active projects in Moldova. The organization cites three objectives: “strengthening the rule of law and accountability, improving access and quality of public services and enhancing the quality and relevance of education and training for job-relevant skills”. The objectives of The World Bank CPF, while broad, would allow for Moldovan farmers to either gain the credit access needed to operate their farms or expand into other sectors of the economy.

Three projects from The World Bank in particular help to solve the issue of credit access in Moldova. To help rural community members that wish to expand their horizons past farming, the World Bank has instituted the Moldova Education Reform Project, which gives out result-based specific loans to certain sectors of Moldovan education to improve the efficiency of the education sector and improve “the ministry of education’s capacity to monitor the reform”.

To help squash corruption and inefficiency, the World Bank also created the Tax Administration Modernization Project which reviews the Moldovan tax code to ensure an equal and comprehensive tax policy that supports the development of small businesses.

In an effort to help all Moldovans, the World Bank’s Moldova Economic Development Policy Operation Project (DPO) helps “to support the government of Moldova in reducing fiscal risks and leveling of the playing field for private sector development [by] strengthening oversight [and supporting] private sector development in access to business opportunities and resources”.

Lessons Learned

While credit access in Moldova is a complex issue, institutions like the World Bank that specialize in economic reform and recovery are getting involved in the country. Supporting institutions such as the World Bank helps the World’s poor help themselves by improving local economies and the governmental and business practices around them.

– Spencer Julian
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

Moldova, a country located between Romania and Ukraine, was one of the richest countries in Europe while under the Soviet Union. By 1991, when Moldova claimed independence, its economic prowess dropped to an all-time low. This drastic change caused Moldova to become one of the poorest and least visited countries in Europe. Listed below are 10 facts about poverty in Moldova and the development of the country.

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

  1. Population: Moldova’s population is not accurate because of the many citizens that have left to go to neighboring countries, like Romania and Ukraine, in search of better jobs. Within the poorest areas of Moldova, it is very difficult for the people to find available jobs that will pay them more than $2 a day. In Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the average salary after taxes is $237. This significant difference has caused around 300,000 to 800,00 people to look for work abroad. Officially the population is 4.4 million, but the number continues to decline.
  2. Shared Wells in Grozesti Cause Health Problems: Gathering clean water can be very difficult, especially for those living in Grozesti, a rural village in Moldova. There are only 12 shared wells within reach for 700 families, causing water to become scarce throughout the day. However, expert geologists proclaim that the water from these wells contains high levels of iron and fluoride, which can cause yellowing of the teeth. “Many locals suffer from stomach problems or kidney problems because of the mineral content…and there are also a lot of water-related diseases such as hepatitis.” Local doctors have also discovered that water consumption has led to untimely deaths.
  3. Inequality: The highest paying jobs in Moldova are in the country’s capital of Chisinau and the lowest pay is in the southern regions. There is also a gap in pay between men and women. Women are still receiving 12 percent less pay than men in careers dealing with “information and communication, industry, arts, leisure, and recreation sectors.” Income is not the only problem, though. Due to the small amount of access to wells in rural areas, “only 43 percent of the poor have access to clean water compared to the 90 percent located in town.” Those with disabilities are also at a disadvantage in rural communities because 70 percent of public areas do not have wheelchair accessibility. In May 2017, the OSCE Mission held lectures that informed others about the importance of gender equality and the economic life of the country, so that future generation would rise above the country’s current issues of inequality. About “900 students and teachers” attended and learned about what they could do to promote equality.
  4. Health Care Access: All the hospitals are mainly located in Chisinau, which means that many in rural areas must travel a long way to gain access to health care. In 1990, there were only 129 hospital beds and 40 doctors, and only 12 percent of the government’s budget went towards health care improvements. Today, “18 local hospitals and outpatient care in Chisinau” and “264 physicians per 100,00 people”, which is a lot more than two decades ago.
  5. Education: Although a vast majority of children attend school, many of those from rural areas find it more difficult to learn the basic principles of reading, mathematics and science. Due to the lack of skills among children, only 90 percent can attend primary school while only 85 percent attend lower secondary schools. Many organizations have donated towards the refurbishing of schools for children between the ages of three and six, which is an age group that Moldova has cared most about, but there are still children that do not have access to education. “Children with disabilities and those from Roma and rural communities are among the most disadvantaged.”
  6. Moldova Wine: Due to Moldova being one of the poorest countries in Europe, the economy relies heavily on agriculture, “featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco.” Wine, however, is what the country is known for. One of the most famous wineries in the capital Chisinau is Cricova winery. Recently, Vladimir Putin traveled to Moldova just to get a taste of the wine for his birthday. “Almost 5 percent of the country’s territory is filled with vineyards…. Nowadays, Moldova exports over 90 percent of its wines, mostly to the European market.”
  7. Trans-Dniester River: Moldova formerly used Trans-Dniester river along the Dniester region for the trade of goods. However, when the region became aware of Moldova’s ties with Romania, it began the road to independence from Moldova in 1990. Moldova does not recognize this independence, however, due to the region’s land being directly in between the borders of Moldova and Ukraine. The Dniester region’s inability to gain full independence has led to continuous fights over the previously used route.
  8. Criminal Acts: In Moldova, there have been reports of organized crime groups that mainly originate from Trans-Dniester, the breakaway territory. Many of these crimes include “money laundering…and the smuggling of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, human beings, and illegal weapons…” The government attempted to implement ways to prevent organized crimes in 2005, but there was not much success in doing so. It has caused “the dearth of public education in Moldova concerning corruption, as well as the country’s prevalence of economic and social problems.”
  9. Sex Trafficking: As it becomes harder for one to acquire employment and obtain enough money for their families, many young women have become susceptible to sex trafficking. Women and young girls have been coerced into trafficking, being exploited in countries like Russia, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates. Between the years 2000 and 2005, records identified at least 1,760 victims in Moldova, but there may have been more due to many women not coming forward.
  10. Solutions: Moldova has grown as a country economically since 2009 when there was a global economic crisis. Among many of the problems that the country faces, however, is knowing how to compete with other countries that thrive on agriculture. The World Bank Group has made it its responsibility to ensure that Moldova has everything it needs to ensure that it continues to rise from poverty. “In 2006–12, roughly 500 matching grants provided to 479 firms for international quality certification and business development. Over US$ 22 million provided as a line of business credit to 60 enterprises.” The World Bank Group has also helped Moldova improve areas like agriculture, education, energy, social assistance, health, communities and public services.

The 10 facts about the poverty in Moldova listed above are not only informative about the country’s state of poverty, but also how it continues to look towards a better future. With the World Bank and other organizations, the country should continue to rise economically and further out of poverty.

– Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr