Slovak Republic Foreign Aid
According to the World Bank, the Republic of Moldova oversaw a reduction of extreme poverty in 2011 from 7% to a rate of 3.1% in 2013. Although the Republic of Moldova has made remarkable progress in reducing extreme poverty, the republic remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. However, the Slovak Republic’s foreign aid is helping communities in Moldova garner clean drinking water and more.

About the Republic of Moldova

The problems facing the Republic of Moldova in reducing poverty include a domestic economy that is highly dependent on agriculture and remittances, a severe drought in 2020 that obstructed agricultural production and the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside the problems, Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has put further strain on Moldova’s administrative capacity as the country is quickly approaching a point in which Moldova can no longer safely accept more refugees. The Republic of Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita asked the U.S. on March 6, 2022, to send more humanitarian aid assistance in response to  Moldova taking in more than 120,000 displaced people as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

According to the United Nations 2020 Voluntary National Review on the Republic of Moldova, the country is working towards clean water access for the population. The road towards clean water for Moldova requires addressing the insufficient investment in the management of wastewater. It will also require renewed efforts in water resource management. The problems remain in part due to the lack of institutional reforms and how 54% of the drinking water samples do not meet the sanitary and chemical norms for drinking water quality.

The Republic of Moldova has increased its population’s access to water sources by 9%, to 82.1% at the end of 2018. Furthermore, the proportion of the rural population with access to water supply sources leaped from 56.9% in 2014 to 71.2% in 2018. One can credit this achievement in ensuring access to water sources for the Moldovan people to the continuing combined efforts of the Republic of Moldova, the Slovak Republic and the United States.

A Brief History

The Slovak Republic’s foreign aid programs warrant attention because this government recently joined the fight in eradicating poverty in developing countries. The Slovak Republic initially implemented its foreign aid programs in 2007 with the establishment of the Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation. The commitments of the programs were expanded upon when the Slovak Republic joined the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in 2013.

Slovak Republic’s Foreign Aid Today

The scope of the foreign aid programs varies. The Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation (SAIDC) lists three ‘Programme Countries’ including Georgia, Kenya and Moldova. The government also has several ‘Partner Regions’ in which the cooperation provides foreign aid assistance including Eastern sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and the Western Balkans.

In 2020, the Slovak Republic provided $140 million in foreign aid, which represents 0.14% of the 2020 gross national income (GNI). This is a marked increase in foreign aid spending for the country. It places the country as the 26th largest Development Assistance Committee country when comparing the official development assistance it provides to its GNI.

To understand the work that the Slovak Republic’s foreign aid is doing, it is important to take a look at the programs the Slovak Republic is implementing in the Republic of Moldova. The problems that the Republic of Moldova is facing range from a stalemated conflict to complex political, economic and social developments, as well as emigration causing social problems, particularly in rural areas.

Additionally, the problems have compounded due to what SlovakAID deems as development challenges including most of the working-age population going abroad to work, long-term problems with the quality of water resources and drinking water supply, inefficient waste management, the existence of environmental burdens and weak development of the business community. Several of the problems facing the Republic of Moldova today result from inadequate infrastructure, especially water supply and treatment infrastructure which consequently further strains the agricultural sector of the economy.

Goals of SlovakAID in the Republic of Moldova

The three objectives of SlovakAID in Moldova encompass sharing Slovakia’s transition experience supporting a democratic stable Moldova, improving the quality of life and health of citizens via sustainable water management and improving the performance of the business sector.

How is the Slovak Republic Addressing These Problems?

The Slovak Republic employs a range of developmental tools varying from the provision of grants and financial contributions provided by the embassies of the Slovak Republic, Sharing Slovak Expertise programme activities, projects for the deployment of volunteers and expert volunteers, government scholarships and financial contributions.

Progress Towards Prosperity

SlovakAID is leading a project that seeks to improve the quality of life for people in the Ialoveni municipality in Moldova through improving access to clean drinking water and raising awareness about water management. SlovakAID initially started this project in January 2020 with a deadline of March 2022. SlovakAID’s project will support the provision of quality water and sanitation infrastructure, which includes the rehabilitation of 1,035 meters (3,395 feet) of the water connection system to ensure access to reliable drinking water. SlovakAID is also raising awareness regarding water management and environmental responsibility through education campaigns.

The Slovak Republic and its foreign aid recipients have already seen success in similar programs it has completed. In September 2021, the Slovak Republic, in collaboration with Shingala Azad NGO, successfully installed two water wells and a water reservoir that now supplies sufficient water to the people living in the municipalities of Shekhka and Hasan Ava in Iraq. This program’s success was due in part to educational programs raising awareness on water management similar to how SlovakAID is running in the Ialoveni municipality in the Republic of Moldova.

Exciting Developments in Development

According to USAID Administrator Samantha Powers, the Slovak Republic is a foreign aid success story in its own right, joining the EU in 2004 and becoming an international development donor after receiving USAID support between 1990 and 2000. On February 3, 2022, Administrator Samantha Powers and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Ivan Korčok held a meeting and signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

This memorandum calls for an additional three years of collaboration between SlovakAID and USAID. Through the previous MOU the Slovak Republic and USAID jointly supported community development in Moldova, enabling North Macedonia to continue making progress in its path towards joining the European Union and helping those without housing in Belgrade access clean water, sanitation and essential health care.

With this new MOU implemented, the Slovak Republic alongside USAID has renewed its continued commitment to eradicating extreme poverty around the world. Investment in the Slovak Republic via U.S. foreign aid and USAID has shown continued returns on investment. The Slovak Republic has since affirmed its place in the fight against global poverty as the country recently became the 26th highest donor of foreign aid on a GNI per capita basis. Among other returns on investment, the Slovak Republic has been able to branch out its developmental efforts in the neighboring Republic of Moldova and assist far from home in municipalities in Iraq. The Slovak Republic has made great leaps in foreign assistance, but there is much more progress that needs to occur, hence the new MOU is an exciting development for further development.

Chester Lankford
Photo: Flickr

moldova's-battle-against-alcoholism
Despite only having a population of roughly 2.6 million people, alcohol consumption in Moldova has consistently been among the world’s highest. In 2016, the country was number one, with a per capita consumption of 15.2 liters among people ages 15 and up. Focusing only on the members of the population who drink, the per capita consumption was 22.8 liters. Yet, countries like Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, which consumed 27.9 liters and 24 liters respectively, passed Moldova’s consumption.

WHO reported that Moldova also had the highest percentage of deaths from alcohol-related causes – 26.1% of total deaths. About one in four deaths have a link to alcohol compared to the world average of one in 20. To put the matter in greater perspective, the population of Moldova was roughly 2.8 million in 2016, while the crude death rate was 11.45 deaths per 1,000 people. That means there were about 32,060 deaths, around 8,368 of which occurred due to alcohol-related causes.

About Alcohol Consumption in Moldova

To better understand the heavy alcohol consumption and the high number of alcohol-related deaths in Moldova, it is important to ask how and why drinking became such an issue, even when compared to countries notorious for drinking like Russia, Ukraine and Germany. One of the main contributing factors is Moldova’s wine-drinking culture and the prevalence of homemade wine. In 2016, wine made up 56.6% of the recorded alcohol consumed. Beer accounted for 16.2% and spirits made up 25.2%, according to the WHO report.

A WHO report shows that 60% of the total alcohol that people consumed in Moldova was unrecorded, compared to Russia, which had an unrecorded consumption of 24%, and Ukraine, which showed that 36% of its alcohol consumption was not on record. The majority of the unrecorded alcohol Moldovans consumed was homemade wine. However, if one bases alcohol consumption in Moldova strictly off sales data, an entirely different narrative unfolds.

According to Moldova’s official sales data from 1970 to 2015, wine consumption appears to have peaked at more than 50% of total consumption in the late 1980s. Following the 1980s, wine consumption experienced a rapid decline until 1995. After this, consumption rose slightly before falling to its lowest point in 2005 when wine consumption made up about 10% of the total. From there, it rose to just below 20%, as a study published in the European Journal of Population showed.

Understanding Wine Consumption in Moldova

The sales data makes it appear as though spirits have dominated alcohol consumption since the 1980s, it is on the decline while beer is on the rise. Meanwhile, the data implies wine consumption has accounted for the lowest share of consumption since before 2000. However, further research states that most of Moldova’s alcohol consumption is unrecorded, wine consumption is the main type of unrecorded consumption and that Moldova has a wine-drinking culture. This demonstrates how significant the issue of homemade wine really is.

There are a few significant points about the fact that people are making, buying and consuming so much homemade wine is significant. Firstly, there is the issue of the circumstances when people consume wine instead of beer and spirits. People generally consume beer and spirits for leisure, like when someone is at a party or goes out with friends, usually in the evening or at night. On the other hand, they often consume wine with meals anywhere from the afternoon onward. In addition, people also consume it at celebrations, according to the previously mentioned study.

A wine drinker could easily consume wine every day at dinner and think nothing of it. A social drinker who likes beer or spirits might at most only go out and drink with friends once or twice on weekends. In wine-drinking cultures, wine is practically a necessity with certain meals, so people in countries that have such cultures drink wine ritually. Chronic conditions like cirrhosis of the liver frequently occur due to the regular wine-drinking Moldovans engage in. The same study shows that since homemade wine is unregulated, it is unknown what all could be in it. As a result, it could be more harmful than legally distributed wine.

Anti-Alcohol Measures

Although alcohol consumption in Moldova has been significant, the situation has improved as the government and NGOs make efforts to reduce consumption, alcohol-related diseases and deaths. For decades, Moldova did not take any anti-alcohol measures after experiencing the increased life expectancy benefits of measures the Soviet Union took in 1985. Without measures in place, alcohol consumption rose to more than 23 liters per adult in 1997. By 2004, it was above 21 liters.

Efforts to Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Deaths

In 2012, the government adopted the National Program on Alcohol Control that would be in effect until 2020. A few of the measures within the program were raising the age requirement to buy alcohol, reducing the legal blood-alcohol level for drivers and raising the price floor on certain alcohol products. The first and third measures, however, could simply drive people to consume cheaper, homemade alcohol.

In a low-middle income country, heavy alcohol consumption can slash deep into many Moldovan’s budgets. Homemade wine that is cheaper than milk is alluring to drinkers living in poverty. It is satisfying and worsening their alcohol addictions, which in turn leads to spending more money on alcohol. This is why the charity Mission Without Borders has provided regular food packages to 500 families struggling with alcoholism. However, according to Time, people sometimes exchange these packages for alcohol.

In 2014, Dr. Andrei Usatîi, Moldova’s Minister of Health, initiated a nationwide alcohol awareness campaign to inform Moldovans about the dangers of alcohol abuse. The automobile club “Automobil Club din Moldova” conducted a survey of 9,000 drivers as part of its 2015 anti-drunk driving campaign. Only 15% of Moldovan drivers knew the legal blood alcohol content for drivers. However, 16.75% of respondents claimed they were used to driving after drinking heavily. In 2012, WHO found that 69% of Moldovan drinkers are unconcerned about future alcohol-related health problems. Also, 81% do not plan to start drinking less.

The Future of Alcohol Consumption in Moldova

With alcohol-related causes accounting for 26.1% of deaths in Moldova, a country that at times has consumed more alcohol than anywhere, serious changes must occur. WHO projects that alcohol consumption will only be down to 15.1 liters from 15.2 in 2025. However, government and NGO efforts can bring consumption down further. Informing the people and taking measures against alcohol, particularly homemade wine, is essential for reducing casualties and chronic diseases.

Nate Ritchie
Photo: Flickr

internet access in MoldovaMoldova is among the European countries with the highest poverty rate. However, it has made significant progress in reducing poverty since becoming independent from the Soviet Union, with the national poverty rate decreasing “from 28% in 2010 to 13% by 2018.” Furthermore, over the past two decades, Moldova’s GDP has risen by an annual rate of roughly 4.6%, largely due to consumption and the significance of remittances. Although COVID-19 has stalled progress in poverty reduction, potentially even reversing progress, there is hope for Moldova to get back on track to economic growth and advancement. Widespread internet access in Moldova may help the country strengthen and recover.

Small Country, Vast Internet

Despite the tiny country’s high poverty rate, internet access in Moldova ranks among the best in the world. Roughly 90% of Moldova’s population enjoys “superfast gigabit internet access.” While “the United States is twice as urbanized as Moldova, its gigabit coverage” reaches only 18% of the population. Only South Korea and Singapore, both much wealthier and more urbanized than Moldova, boast better coverage. The rest of the top 10 countries for gigabit coverage rank among the world’s 40 wealthiest nations globally. Meanwhile, Moldova ranks as only the 98th wealthiest nation in the world.

Since the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991, the international community has provided Moldova with grants and loans aimed at spurring economic growth and reducing poverty. The privatization of telecoms was a prerequisite in a developmental assistance offer from the World Bank in the late 2000s. To fulfill the condition, “a fiber optic cable was laid across” the Dniester River in 2009. Thanks to the new infrastructure, internet access became widespread as 99% of Moldovan communities were able to connect to the fiber optic network. Fiber optic cable also connects Moldova directly to Frankfurt in Germany, a major European digital hub.

Emigration and the Benefits of Connectivity

Moldova has high emigration rates —  as much as a quarter of the population live and work in Russia and other European countries, often illegally. As a consequence, Moldova is highly dependant on remittances. Many Moldovans working abroad purchase computers and send them to their families in Moldova for communication purposes. These communication methods require internet access, boosting the demand for internet access in Moldova even further.

Thanks to Moldova’s excellent internet speeds and connectivity, many countries have begun outsourcing IT and call center jobs to Moldova. Italy, in particular, outsources many jobs to Moldova because many Moldovans speak Italian as a second language. These outsourced jobs serve to ignite economic growth in Moldova, providing citizens with employment opportunities and a way out of poverty.

Internet Access and Poverty Reduction

The internet is recognized as a tool that contributes to the social and economic development of a country. Internet access aids in the “delivery of essential services such as education and healthcare.” Through the internet, people have access to remote job opportunities that were once out of reach. Furthermore, the internet not only expands people’s access to job opportunities but also creates a demand for jobs in the technology and engineering sectors.

According to the World Bank, increasing “internet penetration to 75% of the population in all developing countries” would contribute up to $2 trillion to their combined GDPs. Furthermore, this rate of penetration would generate “more than 140 million jobs” globally.

Widespread internet access in Moldova may help the country to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the added assistance of international powers already investing in the country, Moldova can pick up where it left off and continue its trend of poverty reduction.

Courtney Roe
Photo: Flickr

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, health care 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 the lack of private business. Aside from ensuring fiscal responsibility from the government, government retirement plans and debt were swallowing the country’s 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 increasing 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.

The Impact of Changes in Moldova

These changes were to undergo implementation 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 the ups and downs that the most impoverished nations experienced. Moldova’s commitment to attaining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 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 that organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF laid out.
  • 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 necessary 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 disappear.

– 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