Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Ethiopia faces many struggles, but the land where coffee originated has many accomplishments as well. The continuous progression made for gender equality in Ethiopia is one of them. Gender-based roles constitute a significant part of the Ethiopian culture. It is also the primary reason for many families’ extreme poverty. However, through policy reform and promoting women’s political participation, there has been a noteworthy change in bridging the gaps between women and men.

Policy Reforms Encourage Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Thanks to two reforms, research suggests that promoting gender equality in Ethiopia has become very feasible.

One reform is the Family Code, which was revised in 2000 with new developments. The re-evaluated version of the Family Code states that women receive equal rights throughout the marriage. This pertains to the entire term of their marriage, the duration of the divorce, and after the finalization of the divorce. The revisions also note that the individuals must equally split all assets. As a result, the report states that women were less likely to involve themselves in domestic work. Instead, women found more sustainable employment outside of the household, which encourages their independence.

The second reform is the community-based land registration, which was initiated in 2003. Ethiopia’s population has strong gender norms that tend to favor men and subordinate women in power roles. Research results have shown that as women migrate from the north of Ethiopia to the southern region, they tend to lose societal and household status. Women also have their “bargaining power” revoked from them, which can relate to property rights and ownership. However, this reform emphasizes the implementation of property rights for married women by creating “joint certification.”

A significant sign of independence in Ethiopia is property. However, men typically have land ownership in marriages. This reform opposes that gender-based norm in Ethiopia and allows women to access economic and political opportunities. When women own land, it increases their chances of earning money and controlling their own life. Rules set by their husband no longer have to confine them. They are also less likely to be victims of domestic violence. Ethiopian women who own property are significantly less likely to experience domestic violence within their marriage than women who do not own property.

Women’s Political Participation Rises

Women currently make up 37% of congress in Ethiopia. Considering only 22% of women represented congress in 2010, there has been significant progress ever since. However, the Ethiopian government’s accuracy and trustworthiness will remain in question until women account for at least 50% of the parliamentary seats.

The country also needs to make political careers more accessible to women. The “motherhood penalty” requires women to attend to constant family duties and responsibilities, such as breastfeeding and always being present for the children. Endless motherly duties can hinder their potential political career due to the amount of time it takes. This is especially true if a women’s marriage is based on strong religious beliefs. Certain religious beliefs in Ethiopia tend to prohibit women from having the independence they deserve and hinder their decision-making abilities.

DCA

In Ethiopia, women are perceived as those to be led, not to be the ones leading. However, recent years’ progression contradicts that idea. The organization DCA (Dan Church Aid) emphasizes the idea of women empowerment. They hold and spread the belief that every woman deserves fundamental human rights “economically, socially, and culturally.”

DCA was created in 1995 to promote gender equality in Ethiopia. Since then, the organization has helped over 3.2 million people in the world’s most impoverished countries deprived of everyday opportunities. Due to the continuous contribution of DCA and recognition from Ethiopia’s government regarding the encouragement of gender equality, the women of Ethiopia can seek more political positions and close those gender gaps within communities.

Montana Moore
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Taiwan 
Taiwan is an island off the coast of China. Globally, it has received praise for its exceptionally low household poverty rate, which is under 1%. While child poverty in Taiwan is rare, further reducing it is a priority for the Taiwanese government.

Measurement Methodology

Taiwan uses an absolute threshold to calculate the poverty rate. The country uses estimated monthly living expenses calculated in each province for its measurement. For example, residents in Taipei, a highly urbanized city, must earn over $337 for them to be over the poverty line. On the other hand, residents only need to earn above $171 monthly on the small island of Kinmen County. Such geographically-adjusted measures help ensure that Taiwanese families in expensive areas can afford basic necessities, including food, clothing and shelter.

Successful Tactics

Economic downturns do not render Taiwan helpless, such as the one in 2013. Instead, the Taiwanese government quickly raised welfare spending to help people who lost their jobs when factories relocated to China. Additionally, Taiwanese banks gave out microloans with extremely low-interest rates to help families start businesses. To this day, organizations outside of the government also participate in the fight against child poverty in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) is an NGO dedicated to eradicating child poverty in Taiwan. This fund sponsored 48,601 children in Taiwan, and 66, 417 children abroad. TFCF began helping children in Taiwan in 1964 by building orphanages. It has since introduced Family Helper Programs and other programs to deliver donations to families in need of assistance. Similarly, TFCF has provided thousands of families with cash, supplies, emergency relief, vocational training and house repairs or reconstruction. Already, the TFCF appears to have helped successfully alleviate child poverty in Taiwan.

The global community can learn from Taiwan’s anti-poverty programs, which have almost completely weeded out child poverty in Taiwan. A recent study found that only 6% of Taiwanese children living in poverty — an already smaller group comparatively — experienced persistent poverty compared to 13.8% in the U.K. and 15.9% in Canada.

Room for Improvement

Child poverty in Taiwan is incredibly low due to effective country policies. However, there are a few areas where the state could improve. One problem is that many citizens make just above the poverty rate and are struggling to get by. Some of these families could earn more if they found lower-paying jobs and went on welfare.

Another problem is that a lot of immigrant families, particularly Southeast Asian immigrant families, primarily find low-skilled jobs and experience persistent discrimination. Similarly, many Aboriginal Taiwanese are also victims of racism, which can make it difficult to find jobs. This led to an approximated 60% poverty rate for Indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Every country, Taiwan included, could improve its anti-poverty strategy. Fortunately, the Taiwanese government is actively trying to help many of the groups that experience high levels of poverty.

Taiwan is one of the few countries in the world that retains a low poverty rate, particularly such a low child poverty rate. Taiwan can implement further improvements, but the country is a model for the international community in eradicating poverty.

Madelynn Einhorn
Photo: Flickr

Female Health Care in KenyaPoverty affects genders differently, with women often being more disadvantaged than men. Meeting the strategic needs of those living in poverty must be accompanied by fulfilling practical gender needs. This will ensure equal access to economic progress for all. One NGO is working to fight gender discrimination by providing female health care in Kenya.

Girls in Danger

In the wake of COVID-19, mass closures of schools and businesses have further hindered the economic development of remote Kenyan districts. The strict COVID-19 guidelines implemented by local authorities have resulted in the closing of safe homes and centers for girls. The preoccupation with COVID-19 regulations led authorities to produce minimal effort to stop the violence against women and girls. On top of the pandemic, the country has fallen victim to other disasters. Extreme droughts and flooding, as well as a locust invasion, have lowered the food supply for rural areas.

These desperate circumstances have left low-income families with limited financial options. Some families have resorted to employing their young children and marrying off their daughters in exchange for money and cattle. This incites increased gender-based violence as child marriages leave girls vulnerable to sexual and physical violence.

Dr. Esho, who works on-site for Amref Health, said, “Including community systems in the prevention of and response to FGM/C (female genital mutilation and cutting) and child marriage is more important than ever. More women and girls are now at risk of harmful practices and gender-based violence.”

Centering Women in Health Care

Amref Health Africa is an NGO based in Nairobi, Kenya. It has been a crucial part of introducing health care services and technology to Sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1957, the organization has a long history of bringing modern medicine to rural African communities.

Amref Health Africa is proving how female empowerment isn’t a silly social movement but a crucial factor in women’s livelihoods. The NGO dedicates much of its work to improving female health care in Kenya. Women often lack education on their sexual health, which impedes prudent, informed decisions regarding their futures. Advancements in female health care in Kenya can empower women to take control of their bodies and pregnancies. Additionally, it can offer better support to these women in their chosen paths.

Amref also aids women suffering from violence. Organization members, such as Dr. Esho, work jointly with local activists and health workers to construct a plan of action. The community members have firsthand knowledge and experience working with survivors of FGM/C and other cruelties, which Amref acknowledges and utilizes. Therefore, the NGO ensures victims are getting proper care and refuge from their abusive situations.

What We Can Do

Amref strives to bring awareness to gender-based violence and the positive effect of proper female health care in Kenya. With the hashtag #EndFGM, Amref is trying to engage international activists through social media. The organization is also accepting direct donations through its website.

One may feel powerless during times of international emergencies. However, that must not stop everyone from doing their part. Those who want to help can contact their congressmen and congresswomen as well as other representatives to protect the U.S.’s foreign aid budget. This will benefit NGOs, similar to Amref Health, that work closely with poor communities to identify unique problems and solutions.

Lizt Garcia
Photo: Flickr

Dominica, a small country in the Caribbean, has a population of about 72,000. Currently, general taxes are what finance healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven healthcare centers and 44 clinics around the country that provide primary healthcare at no cost.

 9 Facts About Healthcare in Dominica

  1. Dominica spends equivalent to $418 per capita on healthcare. As of 2011, healthcare costs were 4.2% of the GDP. Those healthcare services are provided by the Ministry of Health. Also, as of 2017, there were 1.1 doctors per 1000 people in Dominica.
  2. There are five hospitals in Dominica. Four of these hospitals are government-owned, while the other one is privately owned. The Princess Margaret Hospital has one small intensive care unit, meaning it is most equipped to deal with emergency situations. However, the other three, the Marigot hospital, Grand Bay hospital and Portsmouth hospital, are not as prepared.
  3. Dominicans generally have somewhat long lifespans. For men, life expectancy is 74.4 years, and for women, it’s 80.5 years. Therefore, the total average life expectancy is 77.4 years, exceeding the global average of 72 years. However, as of 2019, 30.9 infants died out of 1000 live births, which is a rate of about 3.29%.
  4. There are both primary and secondary healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven health districts in which primary healthcare services are provided by clinics. These clinics serve about 600 people each within a 5-mile radius of the district in which they are located. Princess Margaret Hospital provides secondary healthcare to the people of Dominica.
  5. Some individuals are exempt from charge for medical treatment. Those who are considered poor or needy, pregnant women, children younger than 17 years old  are exempt from the medical care charges. People who may also have an infectious and contagious disease that can spread through multiple ways (such as bodily contact, contact with bodily fluids, or breathing in the virus) are also exempt from the charges that arise from medical care.
  6. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 0.75%. About 506 people out of a population of 72,293 people in the Dominica have HIV/AIDS. Countries that have a prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS that exceed 1% are considered to have Generalized HIV Epidemics, so Dominica is currently below that even though its rate is higher than places like the U.K. 70% of those infected by HIV/AIDS are male. In 2019, only 95 adults and children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in Dominica.
  7. The Citizenship By Investment program in Dominica helps rebuild medical buildings and infrastructure, as well as provide treatment abroad. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the CBI program helped fund the rebuilding of six hospitals and three healthcare centers in Dominica. Similarly, the program also sponsored 16 children to receive treatment abroad in 2017-2018. The treatment was critical for the of health of the children in Dominica.
  8. The Order of St. John is an NGO project working to improve healthcare in over 40 countries, including Dominica. This international charity has over 300,000 volunteers and staff and provides multiple services such as healthcare, first aid and other methods of support. This organization, registered as an NGO in 1964, had an income of 1.44 million pounds in 2018. Its mission is to help improve the health of people around the world and alleviate worldwide sickness. Additionally, St. John works to provide volunteers with disaster preparedness training in Dominica in the case of tropical storms or other natural disasters. The organization accepts donations, 100% of which go to their programs.
  9. Another NGO, EACH, also works in Dominica to provide healthcare communication. EACH works to promote healthcare communication that is concentrated around patients. EACH also works to provide healthcare communication research, skills and tools. They strive to ensure that patients worldwide receive specialized care with regard to autonomy and safer, efficient healthcare, as well as ensuring that patients are more likely to recover from diseases. EACH became a nonprofit and charity organization in 2014.

Many organizations and hospitals are working to provide effective healthcare in Dominica. The general public can help assist these organizations through donations or volunteering. Learning more about healthcare in Dominica, as well as in different countries around the world, can help one understand both the domestic and global situation of healthcare today.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

NGOs Save Thousands in the Philippines
Just a few weeks after Super Typhoon Goni made landfall on the morning of November 11, 2020, Typhoon Vamco hit the Philippines. These tropical storms have destroyed homes, lives, livelihoods, essential infrastructure and families. Without a doubt, the results of these storms have been calamitously tragic. However, NGOs provide inspiration and hope in their work for the victims of these tropical storms. NGOs have saved thousands in the Philippines.

 VAMCO and Goni’s Destruction

 On November 1, 2020, super Typhoon Goni made landfall on Catanduanes’ island before moving north-west over Manila with reported wind speeds of 140mph. Goni – locally referred to as “Rolly”- is one of the most powerful storms to hit the Philippines in over a decade. A few days after the storm hit the Philippines, the damage was staggering: reports determined that the storm killed 16 people, demolished thousands of homes, destroyed tens of thousands of farmers’ crops (estimated damage of $36 million to crops alone) and affected over 2 million people.

Although less intense, Typhoon Vamco had winds measured at 90mph when it made landfall in Patnanungan. Although hard to separate the damage from these two storms, reports stated that Typhoon Vamco – locally known as Ulysses – has killed at least 67 people, cut power to millions, caused 100,000 evacuations and destroyed over 26,000 homes.

Flooding Exasperates the Catastrophe

Unfortunately, as the government can better assess the damages and missing people, and gather an overall better understand of the situation in the coming weeks and months, the financial damage and number of people displaced and killed will grow. However, what might prove to enlarge the numbers more than a better understanding of the situation is the flooding and significant landslides.

As of Nov. 18, the flooding is the worst in recent memory and has affected eight regions and 3 million people, with 70 dead. Two-story-high flooding that has caused power outages has either separated many from their homes or trapped them on their roofs, further disrupting rescue efforts. Although flooding has receded, many villages are still only reachable through the air.

Perhaps the worst affected area is the Cagayan Valley in northeast Luzon; of the 28 towns in the Cagayan province, 24 are underwater from severe flooding. Explaining this disproportionality in flood damage is the fact that a dam in the Cagayan Valley, the Magat Dam, had seven of its gates break open following the storm, causing mass amounts of water to pour into the valley (the dam released near two Olympic sized pools of water per second). Here, over 20 people have died while affecting nearly 300,000 people as what looks like a brown sea of dirty water and debris submerges the valley.

NGOs Step Up for Thousands

In the face of all this destruction, one can find hope in the work of NGOs. NGOs have saved thousands in the Philippines who were either trapped on rooftops or in evacuation centers after losing everything they have ever owned.

For instance, CARE is an organization providing aid during the flooding. It is primarily working in Amulung and Gattaran, assisting in rescue efforts and providing resources such as food, hygiene products, shelter repair kits and sanitation materials.

The Philippine Red Cross is deploying utility vehicles to ferry thousands so that they do not become stranded in flooded towns. Stories have even surfaced of Red Cross workers treading through floodwater with torches searching for stragglers and missing people. The organization provides relief materials to those it does save including tents, generators, food, cooking equipment and tarps. Additionally, as a preventative measure, the Philippine Red Cross evacuated people and animals to evacuation centers while also prepositioning emergency response teams in vulnerable areas.

UNICEF has also done life-saving work. Just a day before Vamco made landfall, UNICEF launched “its Super Typhoon Goni/Rolly appeal amounting to $3.7 million.” With this amount raised, UNICEF has supported the most vulnerable communities in gaining access to water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, education, health and protection services.

Vamco and Goni are tragedies that have negatively affected countless lives through displacement, death and the destruction of their home and valuables. Nonetheless, the optimist can find inspiration in the fact that: NGOs have saved thousands in the Philippines.

– Vincenzo Caporale
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Iceland's Foreign Aid
Iceland is well-known for its foreign aid commitment and effectiveness, despite its comparatively small budget. Iceland’s foreign aid agency, the International Development Cooperation Agency (ICEIDA), focuses on the promotion of human rights, gender equality, peace and security, poverty, social justice, hunger and equal living conditions. Iceland partners with other countries and multilateral institutions to support the least-developed nations in the world, making it an exemplar of international development cooperation.

Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides funding for various causes. In 2019, it granted ISK 187,5 million ($1,400,000) toward 16 development projects across 11 nations, as well as ISK 213,7 million ($1,600,000) to support crises in five nations. The Ministry granted these funds to a handful of Iceland’s NGO and CSO partners, including the following organizations. Here are six of Iceland’s foreign aid partners.

6 of Iceland’s Foreign Aid Partners

  1. Icelandic Red Cross (IFRC): The IFRC is part of the international Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. It engages in programs for harm reduction, emergency services, first aid, children and youth, day centers, immigrants and refugees, friendship services and asylum seekers. In 2019, the IFRC donated a total of ISK 70 million ($558,000) to aid Ebola relief efforts in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  2. ABC Children’s Aid: ABC Children’s Aid is an Icelandic relief organization that provides educational opportunities for children in poverty. In its first 30 years, ABC established operations in seven nations in Africa and Asia. In 2020, ABC received a grant from Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs to electrify facilities in one of its Burkina Faso schools. School starts before dawn and ends after sunset, giving students no natural lighting by which to finish their homework. Once completed, this project will provide electricity for the near-800 day students and dormitory residents, many of whom come from families living in poverty, and strengthen opportunities for them to complete their education.
  3. Save the Children Iceland: Save the Children in Iceland emphasizes human rights for children, particularly in the realm of fighting “poverty, child trafficking, sex tourism” and homelessness. Save the Children has engaged in disaster relief projects in nearly 120 countries, and in 2019, assisted 144 million children worldwide. The Icelandic chapter also emphasizes the shaping of Icelandic policies, such as its 2020 commentary on a proposal for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
  4. Icelandic Church Aid (ICA): ICA works to combat poverty in Iceland and abroad by providing water access, food security, housing and education to those in extreme need. In 2019-2020, ICA donated more than ISK 39 million ($285,000) to Malawi, Syria, and Jordan in the form of hurricane and war relief. At least 98% of Malawi’s target group and 2,300 individuals from Syria and Jordan received nutrition packets, sanitation and potable water. Additionally, ICA repaired wells and provided grain and agricultural tools for the next harvest year.
  5. SOS Children’s Villages Iceland: SOS meets the educational and basic needs of disadvantaged families and helps them toward self-sustainability. The Icelandic chapter, supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, funds projects in Ethiopia and the Philippines. Over the summer of 2020, one of SOS’s efforts was to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on 156 Ethiopian families and provide food supplements for their 43 malnourished children.
  6. U.N. Women National Committee Iceland: U.N. Women works to abolish violence, poverty and gender inequality in developing countries. The Icelandic chapter received approximately ISK 13 million ($96,000) annually from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 2016-2019 for awareness promotion and educational resources on women’s issues in developing countries. A Lebanese woman named Ibtissam Jaber is one individual who has benefited from U.N. Women’s involvement. She received encouragement to begin selling her food products at a 10-day market in Beirut and earned $4,000 on her first work venture outside of her home. She and other women have experienced increased freedom and economic equality through participation in U.N. Women projects.

These six foreign aid partners and their respective cause areas greatly benefit from Iceland’s effective foreign aid policies. According to its government website, Iceland’s foreign aid has emerged upon the principles of “safeguarding human lives, maintaining human dignity and reducing human suffering in crisis situations.” With its model for developmental cooperation, Iceland’s foreign aid stands as an inspiration to everyone working together to make the world a better place.

– Andria Pressel
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in Cambodia
Period poverty affects women and girls around the globe who cannot afford safe, sanitary products or are unable to receive information about safe period practices due to stigma. Poor period hygiene can lead to many health risks, such as urinary tract infections and reproductive infections. About 50% of the people in Cambodia are women, but people do not talk about period poverty as they deem it a taboo subject.

As of 2019, the poverty rate in Cambodia was 12.9%. However, this number is expected to increase to around 20% due to the coronavirus pandemic. This rise in the poverty rate will leave millions of women and girls vulnerable. Here are five facts regarding period poverty in Cambodia.

5 Facts About Period Poverty in Cambodia

  1. Girls are often in shock when they get their first period. Periods in Cambodia are known as “mokrodou” or the coming season. Notably, many public schools do not teach health education or menstrual hygiene. Cambodians view periods as dirty, which makes menstruation a taboo subject within the country. Consequently, mothers pass down information to daughters, which causes the following of cultural, instead of medical norms. Girls may not shower during their period to keep their skin clean. Parents also forbid girls from swimming for fear they will dirty the water. Finally, parents forbid these girls from eating certain foods believed to disrupt the menstrual cycle.
  2. Of schools in Cambodia, 50% do not have a reliable water supply. In addition to not having reliable water, 33% of schools do not have latrines. Period poverty in Cambodia greatly affects girls in school. Even if girls learn about sanitary period practices, it is difficult to maintain sanitation when schools do not have water or toilets. UNICEF has found that a lack of sanitation facilities can increase a girl’s likelihood to skip school during their period. While at school, girls do not have access to clean, sanitary pads or private facilities to properly dispose of products. Therefore, they prefer to use a toilet and have privacy at home.
  3. Most people cannot afford proper sanitary pads. The national poverty line is $0.93 per person, per day. In Cambodia, a pack of six sanitary pads costs around $3 and they are often difficult to find. Consequently, girls and women often use rags for days at a time instead of sanitary products. This, in turn, often leads to infections, which left untreated can cause permanent health problems, like infertility.
  4. Some schools have implemented menstruation education programs. Snor Khley primary school has recognized the issue of period poverty in Cambodia. It has begun to implement menstrual health management classes to help students better manage their periods. The class encourages both boys and girls to talk openly about menstrual health to destigmatize the subject. The school has also introduced new, hygienic school facilities for girls to practice safe hygiene. Additionally, the school distributes the “Growth and Changes Booklet,” which discusses puberty, to all students. The book has helped more than 122,000 students gain a better understanding of the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty.
  5. Reusable Maxi Pads are emerging as sanitary alternatives. Sovanvotey Hok started a business called Green Lady, which makes environmentally friendly and affordable menstrual products. Apart from making affordable products, the business also employs local housewives to make the products. The reusable pads last up to three years and 1,850 pads have been sold. Green Lady’s product prevents the use of about 96,000 disposable pads, most of which contain noxious materials such as bleach.

An End to Period Poverty

Period poverty in Cambodia is a threat to women’s health as unsanitary period practices lead to infections. Period poverty also affects women’s ability to receive an education as many schools do not have the proper facilities to support menstruating girls. However, as the use of reusable period products becomes more mainstream and continued education and programs in schools develop — hopefully, the stigma surrounding periods will come to an end.

Rae Brozovich
Photo: Flickr

Diabetes and COVID-19
Africa has a total of 1,067,573 confirmed COVID-19 cases spanning across 47 affected countries. The continent has not seen a dramatic spike like the rest of the world, but COVID-19 poses a serious complication for Africa’s other prevailing pandemic — diabetes. An estimated 19.4 million adults across 48 sub-Saharan countries have diabetes. This far exceeds COVID-19 cases and persists as a problem for Africans in general. South Africa’s dual epidemics of diabetes and COVID-19 may prove to be a challenge for the country. However, the situation is not completely bleak. Effective actions are taking place to help those suffering from both illnesses.

Diabetes and COVID-19

Diabetics who are well-managed are at a lower risk of suffering from the disease COVID-19. In contrast, patients who do not manage well are more likely to experience fluctuations in blood glucose readings and an increased risk of complications related to diabetes. For those with co-morbidities, such as heart disease — the chance of becoming seriously ill if they develop COVID-19 is much higher. As with most viral infections, the body has a difficult time staving off infections. These infections can cause internal swelling or inflammation, which can exacerbate further complications.

Type 1 diabetics contracting a viral infection are at a higher risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can cause septic shock or sepsis in  COVID-19 patients. Moreover, those with type 2 diabetes share this increased risk of getting severely ill.

Impact on South Africa

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, diabetes ranked among the world’s leading causes of death. In South Africa, the number of diabetics is still unknown, as an “accurate current date on the prevalence of diabetes in South Africa is quite difficult to find as there are no recent robust studies in all provinces in South Africa.”

Since July 16, 2020, approximately 42% of diabetic patients with COVID-19 have died from the virus. While this data does not indicate that diabetes creates a higher risk of contracting the illness, it does demonstrate that a higher risk of becoming severely ill upon infection. In the Western Cape, 52% of COVID-19 deaths were diabetics. Those with inadequate blood glucose control had an increased chance of infection.

One apparent reason that many diabetics in South Africa have succumbed to the virus is due to patients delaying hospital care until becoming seriously ill.

Diabetes Action Plan

The Western Cape has taken significant measures to create more promising outcomes for people living with diabetes. The Department of Health, for instance, has committed to contacting all known diabetics and assisting with COVID-19 symptom monitoring, diabetes management and early admission into hospitals.

This intervention has proven successful. As department spokesman Mark Van der Heever stated, “out of the 63 [patients receiving government intervention], three of the admitted patients have died, 40 of the admitted patients have been discharged and the remaining 20 patients are not in clinical distress.”

Diabetes Focus

Sweet Life, is an NGO at the forefront of the diabetes epidemic in South Africa. Notably, it has amassed a following of 22,000 members in its Facebook Community. The organization aims to deliver information and guidance to those living with diabetes in South Africa. Also, it has created a partnership with the National Department of Health (NDoH) to achieve this goal.

Sweet Life works with the Diabetes Alliance to deliver training and education to those in need. The Diabetes Alliance was formed in September 2019. It has been instrumental in unifying companies, organizations and associations in the fight for effective diabetes management. The Alliance has partnered with the NDoH to create an education project to help healthcare providers and patients learn more about diabetes. Moreover, these initiatives have compiled helpful tips and information for those impacted by diabetes and COVID-19.

Prevention is Key

Diabetics living in South Africa can remain healthy during the pandemic by ensuring their conditions are properly managed and monitored. Maintaining notes of blood glucose readings, regular exercise and healthy diets should be sufficient to stave off serious complications.

South Africa’s dual epidemics of diabetes and COVID-19 have undoubtedly taken a toll on the nation. However, with effective intervention programs from organizations like the Department of Health, there is hope that the country will continue to see improvement among diabetic patients.

Michael Santiago
Photo: Flikr

Glasses for developing countries
A variety of NGOs have been working for decades to provide glasses for developing countries. Most models for this operate in similar ways, either by donating glasses or offering low-cost glasses for communities to purchase. These programs have been successful in helping people correct their vision, as well as creating more education and economic opportunity. They only lack one thing — innovation. Choosing to apply a solution designed for a developed country to a remote village is not always the best option. This is where Child Vision comes in.

The Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 80% of all persons in Africa have unaddressed vision impairment. Additionally, 33% of the world’s poor population suffers from vision impairment. There are 123.7 million people with a refractive error, which can be solved with glasses that have the correct strength. On average, glasses cost approximately $343, despite the average manufacturing cost of $10. Clear vision drastically reduced education access for children, which in turn created less economic opportunity as they moved into adulthood. Lack of clear vision loses $202 billion in global productivity each year.

The Standard

Some of the biggest names in glasses for developing countries are NGOs like Eyes on Africa, Vision for a Nation, VisionSpring and the WHO.

The WHO has been working on the Global Action Plan for eye health since 2014. The plan has one main objective — to encourage and enhance global eye health. The Global Action Plan has several initiatives. These include identifying what is causing vision impairment, understanding where the gap is in eye health access and bringing cataract surgery to developing countries. VisionSpring works by allowing those in developed countries to purchase glasses for developing countries through the VisionSpring website. VisionSpring donates those as well as letting communities purchase low-cost glasses. It also provides bulk purchase discounts and sell glasses individually and by the box. On average, one pair of bifocals in a box set costs just 85 cents. The price point is low, but still unmanageable for many villages, especially in areas with little to no internet access.

Child Vision

Child Vision is a program within the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW). The CVDW looked at the statistics of vision impairment then accepted the challenge of creating a solution that worked for the developing world. The main struggles the CVDW found in the traditional programs were a lack of optometrists and the high cost of traditional glasses. There is one optometrist per 1 million people in the population in developing nations. While 85 cents for a pair of glasses may seem affordable, it is a great financial strain for the world’s poor, many of whom survive on less than a dollar a day.

Child Vision, after identifying the root problems with getting glasses to developed countries, created a successful prototype within two months. The CVDW created an inexpensive, adjustable lens that sets into durable frames.

How the Glasses Work

The round lens is composed of two walls made of a flexible plastic membrane that the wearer fills with liquid silicone. The lens is then set into plastic frames that have dials on both temples of the glasses. The plastic frames are filled with the same liquid silicone that is in the lens. The wearer puts on the Child Vision glasses, covers one eye and using a tumbling “E” chart, adjusts a side knob to move more or less fluid into the lens until they can see clearly. They then repeat on the other side.

The wearer simply removes the knobs from the glasses and throws them away after the lens is set. They now have durable, functional, cost-effective glasses. With a $20 donation, CVDW can provide a pair of self-adjusting glasses to a developing country. A 1–2-hour training session with a local community leader to show them how to use the tumbling “E” charts to check vision and make sure the glasses are adjusted correctly is also provided. This is not only an immediate solution and innovation to provide glasses to developing countries but it creates generational empowerment of checking eyesight and promoting educational and economic growth within each community.

– Madalyn Wright
Photo: Flickr

Philanthropy in South KoreaThe Republic of South Korea carries one of the most uplifting stories of increased education and economic improvement. South Korea faces poverty among the elderly and an education gap between the rich and poor. Despite that, the country has launched effective policies for poverty reduction. These efforts expand beyond the scope of just South Korea. This article will cover advancements in national poverty reduction. It will focus on South Korea’s global poverty reduction and philanthropy efforts through organizations such as World Friends Korea and the Korean International Cooperation Agency.

Poverty in South Korea

South Korea has evolved tremendously in terms of poverty reduction and economic improvement. In 1945, around the end of the Japanese colonization, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. In the 1950s, after the Korean war, 80% of the urban population was below the poverty line. Today, South Korea’s literacy rate is 96% and its poverty rate is close to 14%. This decrease in poverty and illiteracy is largely due to extensive education policies and NGOs within Korea.

The Beautiful Foundation

In the late 1980s, democracy consolidated in South Korea. Various NGOs promoted humanitarian principles and rights, create a flow of social-political interactions and offer a voice to citizens. In 2002, estimates determined that there were 60,000 nonprofits in South Korea. While many international NGOs such as UNICEF, the Red Cross, UNDP and Planned Parenthood have had chapters and projects in South Korea, there are plenty of organizations in the nonprofit sector native to Korea. Established in 1999, Beautiful Foundation is one of the largest Korean nonprofits.

The Beautiful Foundation dedicates itself to creating an impartial society where people practice sharing by spreading wealth across society. The organization has had a great influence on philanthropy in South Korea. The 1% Sharing initiative, for example, encourages all Koreans to contribute 1% of their salary or income to any campaign or cause they believe in. These contributions are even open to individuals that do not live in Korea. The Beautiful Foundation has used these donations for disaster relief, child hunger and even social issues.

Philanthropy within Corporate Korea

South Korean corporations represent almost 40% of Korean philanthropy while the remaining 60% comes from individuals’ charity. Korean corporations such as Samsung have used social media to promote and inspire others to give through online sites. Samsung has also launched campaigns such as Samsung Hope for Children which helps children access education and medical treatment through donations of products and financial assistance.

Hyundai, another large corporation in South Korea, has launched campaigns such as the Hope on Wheels program, which helps children with cancer. Since it began its philanthropic efforts, Hyundai has given $72 million to pediatric research.

Government Role in NGOs and Philanthropy

Although these organizations are non-governmental, the government still plays a significant role. Most NGOs receive government grants. Additionally, certain government factions or ministries, such as the Korean Department of Health and Welfare, host annual conferences to bring organization leaders, government officials, corporate workers and academic scholars to discuss further development and new philanthropic strategies and ideas.

Many NGOs are also policy-oriented and must meet with government officials to achieve their goals. NGOs can campaign for a range of socio-economic issues such as income disparity and economic inequality. For instance, the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ), which is the oldest NGO in Korean history to address social welfare issues, persuaded the Korean administration in the 1990s to change housing eviction policies. It also lobbied for the construction of more homes which the government agreed to.

South Korea Gives Back to the World

South Korea has evolved from a country receiving international aid, to a flourishing economy ready to give back. The country is the world’s 12th largest economy and began its international philanthropy in the 1990s. The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), established in 1991, distributes aid to promote economic and social development in poorer countries. Worlds Friends Korea, which is similar to the U.S. Peace Corps, has worked with KOICA to reduce poverty and provide opportunities for growth. Since 1990, World Friends Korea has sent around 50,000 volunteers and has been active in 96 countries.

South Korea has also been involved in security and reconstruction efforts in developing countries such as Afghanistan. In 2010, the Korean Province Reconstruction Team (PRT) worked to strengthen local governments, administrative competence and productivity, as well as provide support for agriculture, education and medical services in the Parwan Province.

South Korea pulled itself out of poverty through strict education policies, massive technological and economic advancements and an abundance of support from NGOs. After seeing poverty worldwide, the people of Korea honed in on the values of sharing and the long tradition of giving. South Korean philanthropy was born out of “self-actualization” and the desire to accept and help others. From giving to its own people to giving worldwide, from corporate philanthropy and NGOs to government-oriented organizations, South Korea has truly encompassed philanthropy.

– Nada Abuasi
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