People who Fight Poverty
Poverty is a global issue that affects at least 80 percent of the world’s population. The number seems frightening and can intimidate any person who might want to help. Some come together to fight as a united front and tackle the worldwide issue due to the sheer magnitude of the dilemma. Either way, every solution starts with a single person and a single idea. Below describes the top five people who fight poverty today, who they are and what they do (or did) to combat poverty.

Top Five People Who Fight Poverty

  1. Suzanna Mayo Frindt Empowers Rural Communities
    She is the current President and Chief of Staff of The Hunger Project, a nonprofit organization which aids countries in South Asia, Latin America and Africa. The organization provides aid through the establishment of self-reliance within the community. The Hunger Project begins by encouraging women to take active roles within the locale by training them to obtain leadership positions. Then, it enforces self-reliance. It does this by having individuals mobilize their peers through local government to take action and improve the conditions of the area. Finally, The Hunger Project works closely with these governments to ensure it is aiding the people. This system helps bring entire communities out of poverty. As President, Frindt is in a powerful position to fight poverty. She earned her position through 25 years of experience in the field as she worked in impoverished areas, like Peru. Additionally, she co-founded the firm, 2130 Partners. The firm is another organization that dedicates itself to guidance and education. Though these are just a few of her accomplishments, these key points showcase why Frindt is one of the top five people who fight poverty.
  2. Ellen Gustafson Feeds the Hungry
    This woman is an entrepreneur, activist, author and speaker whose primary cause is to work to eliminate world hunger. She focuses on hunger of particularly impoverished areas where the problem is most prominent. Gustafson co-founded FEED Projects, a charity which provides food for people around the world. As of 2019, it has provided 60 million meals to schools around the world. She has also tackled the issue of obesity through educational activism. Overall, Ellen Gustafason’s goals may center around food, but her work has improved the lives of impoverished people in places where they often need help the most.
  3. Bono Advocates Against Poverty
    He is an American musician and frontman of the popular music group, U2. Bono’s infamy stems not only from his musical persona but also from his philanthropic efforts. The singer is the founder of ONE, an advocacy organization that works to raise awareness of poverty and fight against the issue. Similar to The Borgen Project, ONE addresses its cause through legislation and lobbying of governments. ONE focuses on reducing poverty in Africa’s poorest areas. It is just one of the few organizations Bono supports with a target against poverty. This fact showcases the musician’s dedication to both his art and beliefs.
  4. Anthony Lake Leads UNICEF in the Fight Against Poverty
    He has been the director of UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) since 2010. He earned his role through a longstanding career as a foreign policy advisor to various presidential candidates and officers of the United States. During the office of President Bill Clinton, Lake served as National Security Advisor. His political career prepared him well to undertake the leadership position of UNICEF, the organization responsible for a significant amount of the world’s humanitarian aid. Specifically, it focuses on the needs of children in over 190 countries. As Lake has taken directorship, his prominence in the fight against poverty has risen immensely.
  5. Bill Gates Shares His Financial Success with Developing Countries
    People primarily know Bill Gates as a technological innovator and a record-breaking billionaire. Through the creation of Microsoft, he has amassed substantial financial benefits. People also know Gates as an impressive philanthropist who gears his saving towards aid programs. Specifically, he has established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a joint project between him and his wife. The program receives a significant amount of his donations. Since its establishment in 2000, the foundation has “spent more than $36 billion to fund work in global health, emergency relief, education, [and] poverty,” as reported by Business Insider. The organization is using some of that money to fight malaria and ebola outbreaks in developing countries.

From political professionals to celebrities, these five people who fight poverty show that stepping up for the world’s poor does not require a designated hero. Anyone, with the right drive and ambition, can make a change for the better. The list features only a few prominent people who fight poverty, though it does not have to end there.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

Rising World Hunger

According to a recent report regarding world hunger trends in 2018, titled “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, ” over 820 million people worldwide are undernourished, up from 811 million in 2017. This is continuing a fairly recent trend of rising world hunger since 2016 when the number increased for the first time in over 10 years. Prior to that, world hunger had been decreasing at a fairly consistent, slow rate since 1992. This marked a trend of over 20 years.

History of Rising World Hunger

Overall, this is not the first time there has been an increase. From 2000 to 2005, numbers began increasing for the first time since 1992, before decreasing again. That trend continued for about ten years, decreasing at a solid rate until 2015. In 1992, the number of individuals undernourished in the world was just over one billion.

In 2015, the number was 784 million. Likewise, over 200,000 people were freed from hunger during this time. This is about a 22 percent decrease in the number of hungry people. This was all accomplished over the span of 25 years.

Why Rising World Hunger Is a Cause for Concern

Considering the history of overcoming an increase in world hunger, is this recent increase cause for concern? According to the UN report, it is still a cause for alarm.

The report details that world hunger is rising due to multiple supplemental factors. For one, the global economic downturn of 2008-2009 caused uneven recovery. It has also led to unstable GDP growth. Reliance on global commodities, which were disrupted around that time, has caused volatility and unpredictability in the economies of those countries. Due to these events, households often experience a decrease in purchasing power. As a result, they cannot purchase as much food.

What Can Be Done?

Economic stability would alleviate hunger for many people, so what can be done to increase economic stability in these countries? According to the UN, this has much to do with socioeconomic inequalities. In the report, economic growth is not always enough to ensure the reduction of poverty and hunger. Even if a country’s GDP is rising, inequality means that those of lower socioeconomic standing will not see nearly as much of the positive impacts.

The report ultimately calls for countries experiencing severe hunger problems to implement policy change in protecting the income of those living in poverty. Additionally, it identifies the need for diversification of economies to avoid over-dependence on global commodities. Reliance on more unstable commodities does provide massive short-term profits and boons for the GDP. However, that reliance damages the integrity of those economies in the long-term run.

Overall, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN believes there are ways to fight rising world hunger. Tackling inequalities via effective policy and strengthening the consistency of individual economies will be the keys to reversing this trend.

A Number of Efforts

Other nonprofit organizations such as Rise Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, and Heifer International are also taking the approach of targeting long-term stability in order to reverse the trend that world hunger is rising. For instance, Rise Against Hunger has initiatives in countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. Each initiative focuses on giving impoverished communities the tools to become more economically stable. All of these organizations have their own similar initiatives which follow the UN report.

Ultimately, with the continued effort on the part of the UN, nonprofit organizations and individual action, world hunger can be overcome. Though world hunger is rising, the trend is still reversible. The fight is far from over.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

How to Help North Korean Refugees
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea, remains one of the most severe dictatorial regimes in the world, and about 24 million people live under the control of its secretive and repressive government. Since the creation of North Korea in 1948, many have fled the country for political, ideological, religious, economic or personal reasons. As the country has become an important piece in East Asian politics and the dire situation in the country has continued, here are some facts about its situation as well as how to help North Korean refugees.

North Korean Refugees

People also call North Korean refugees “North Korean defectors” because of the political weight the cold war between North and South Korea caused. This other term, “defectors,” is important to know, as there is a constant stream of articles and news stories about North Korean defectors. As of 2017, some sources estimate that over 1,000 North Koreans escape every year.

From the end of the 20th century to today, one of the main causes of North Korean defection has been the lack of food. The drastic lifestyle change from North Korea to their new countries often shocks refugees. One refugee living in Seoul was so hungry as a child that he could not even find the words to describe it, but today has almost any food imaginable available with a quick online order.

Reports in 2017 showed that 85 percent of North Korean refugees were women. Women made up 71 percent of refugees in South Korea, a very common destination for North Korean refugees. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, there have been about 31,000 North Korean refugees that have fled to South Korea’s capital city of Seoul and the surrounding region of Gyeonggi.

However, the majority of North Korean refugees go to China. Some sources estimate that between 50,000 and 200,000 North Korean refugees are currently living in China. For some refugees, China is the first stop of their journey to other Asian countries. After all, China is North Korea’s main ally, and the Chinese border is much easier to cross than the heavily-monitored DMZ with South Korea. However, under Kim Jong-un’s heightened border security and crackdowns on smugglers, the number of refugees successfully escaping the country has decreased in recent years. While there were 2,706 defections to South Korea in 2011, this number dropped to 1,127 in 2017.

Challenges of Leaving North Korea

Sex trafficking is a big issue for female North Korean refugees in areas such as China, South Korea and Russia. In China, traffickers traffick about 80 percent of female refugees through black markets for the purpose of becoming North Korean brides. With the vast majority of refugees being female, entering a new country when going to the police or other authorities likely means repatriation back to North Korea, these women are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking and abuse.

Leaving North Korea is incredibly hard. Even travel within the country receives strict regulation, and leaving the country is an act of treason, with the punishment being a minimum of seven years at a North Korean concentration camp. These concentration camps, with estimated 80,000-120,000 prisoners, systematically starve, torture and work people to death. The journey of a successful North Korean defector is extremely hard and takes a great number of risks.

In 2016, approximations determined that up to 30,000 half-North Korean children living in China were the result of forced marriages between North Korean refugees and Chinese men through sex trafficking. Many mothers end up arrested or dead, and the often poor Chinese fathers struggle to provide resources to support their children. These children, struggling to survive in their own unfortunate circumstances, are vulnerable to abuse without any immediate family to care for them. Organizations, such as Crossing Borders, work to help these children gain a stable life.

Organizations Helping North Korean Refugees

Crossing Borders is a Christian nonprofit based in China, which commits itself to helping refugees live a better life by securing safety and stability for them. Refugees’ delicate legal status leaves them in a position to suffer exploitation, trafficking and even murder, but Crossing Borders is determined to provide support to them. Crossing Borders has two main programs to help North Korean refugees: Refugee Care and Orphan Care. These have provided safety, medicine, financial aid and counseling to North Korean refugees in China.

Liberty in North Korea is an organization committed to getting North Koreans to safety through charitable donations. It has gathered information about escape routes throughout China and Southeast Asia and has formed relationships with individuals that will help move refugees safely across borders. It has rescued 1,000 refugees so far. Its team includes individuals located in the U.S., South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Based on the Korean peninsula, Helping Hands Korea works to raise awareness of North Korean refugees and help refugees in crisis. Helping Hands Korea has delivered food, medicine and clothing to vulnerable groups in North Korea and has assisted children separated from their mothers by providing foster care or money to grandparents to help care for them.

While fewer North Koreans are successfully escaping the country today, their desperate situation continues to draw concern and aid. For those who want to know how to help North Korean refugees, supporting and donating to organizations such as Crossing Borders, Liberty in North Korea and Helping Hands Korea will help ensure that these people are safe and living in stable conditions.

Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Fieldwork NGOs Fighting Global PovertyFieldwork NGOs are non-government organizations that fight against global poverty directly within areas of need. Whether it be by building wells, establishing schools or educating local farmers, fieldwork NGOs take a hands-on approach to improve poverty-stricken communities worldwide. While there are countless organizations doing amazing work to fight against global poverty, this list highlights just a few. Here is a list of five fieldwork NGOs fighting global poverty.

5 Fieldwork NGOs Fighting Global Poverty

  1. The Water Project
    The Water Project provides clean drinking water to communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Importantly, the group focuses on creating reliable sources of clean water that are easy to access in terms of proximity. This includes building wells for groundwater, constructing dams to create larger local deposits and other similar processes. Once a resource is built for a community, the Water Project also makes sure to do maintenance checks to keep that resource functional. Currently, the Water Project is maintaining 1,294 clean water resources across sub-Saharan Africa. Today, the organization’s efforts are impacting 462,000 people worldwide.
  2. Child Empowerment International
    Child Empowerment International brings education to wartorn areas of civil unrest. This NGO makes its intent clear on its website: “Our Mission [is] to reduce poverty through education and empowerment.” To achieve this mission, Child Empowerment International establishes schools in areas of need, teaching leadership skills and ways to contribute to their local communities. Child Empowerment International primarily focuses on children in areas traumatized by war. So far, its efforts have been stationed across Sri Lanka and Uganda, with the intention of spreading aid elsewhere as the NGO grows. In Sri Lanka alone, there are 80 CEI schools and programs teaching more than 6,800 children in need. In Uganda, CEI programming provides 300 students with quality education services.
  3. Build Health International
    Build Health International is an NGO that builds health infrastructures in impoverished communities worldwide, all within the constraints of locally available resources. Build Health International creates architectural plans for hospitals, designing them to be cost-efficient while still high quality. In addition, this NGO focuses on using renewable resources, such as solar panels, to keep facilities energy efficient. While Build Health International primarily focuses on building hospitals, it also aids local workforces by providing short-term construction jobs. Build Health International emphasizes the importance of maintaining close relationships with assisted locals, adjusting health infrastructures to best suit community dynamics. Today, Build Health International has completed over 50 major projects across African, Haiti and Latin America.
  4. One Acre Fund
    One Acre Fund addresses the irony of a global phenomenon — that the majority of the world’s hungriest people are farmers. In remote communities across sub-Saharan Africa, the One Acre Project has a multi-step process in eradicating hunger and empowering rural communities. One Acre Fund not only provides seeds and tools to communities in need but also educates local farmers on agricultural techniques and market facilitation practices. This hands-on approach builds up communities for long term success, setting them on a self-sustaining path for sustenance and a chance for economic prosperity. Through the One Acre Fund’s aid, 809,900 rural families were assisted in 2018; as for 2019, the project number of families assisted is 925,000.
  5. Mercy Corps
    Mercy Corps is an NGO that applies an array of fieldwork to in-need communities all over the globe. This NGO was originally founded as the Save a Refugee Fund, determined to assist Cambodian refugees fleeing from the nation’s war and genocide. Over the course of nearly four decades, Mercy Corps has assisted over 220 million people worldwide. Mercy Corps educates farmers about agriculture and self-sustaining methods, helps local communities start and maintain viable businesses, provides programs to decrease inequality between women and men, and many, many more outlets for assistance. Mercy Corps provides these services to over 40 countries across the globe, from the islands of the Philippines to the war-torn regions of Iraq.

With thousands of NGOs providing fieldwork aid to communities worldwide, these five mentioned are just a small fraction of the overall picture. Improving one’s quality of life is a multi-faceted effort, as seen by these fieldwork NGOs fighting global poverty.

– Suzette Shultz
Photo: Wikimedia

zero extreme poverty
The Philippines ranks on the top twelve list of the most populous countries in the world. Yet, in 2015, the number of Filipinos living under the poverty line made up over 21 percent of an already large 100 million people. While this rate indicates improvement, in 2006 the rate was 5 percent higher, NGO leaders such as Armin Luistro and Reynaldo Laguda knew that more could be done.

Specifically, operational changes for NGOs Philippine Business for Social Progress (BSFP), Habitat for Humanity Philippines and Peace and Equity Foundation had to be made. These NGOs rolled out plans dedicated to special and long-term interventions that targeted extremely impoverished Filipino families. The focus of these plans centered on rural fishing and agriculture communities, as well as marginalized indigenous peoples.

The Zero Extreme Poverty Goal

In 2015, 17 NGOs unified to form The Philippines’ Zero Extreme Poverty Goal (ZEP PH 2030). Together, they strive to lift at least one million Filipino families from extreme poverty by the year 2030. This is the year that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are due which adds momentum to the cause.

Beginning as a coalition of a handful of NGOs, ZEP now houses corporations who wish to join the Filipino fight against poverty. Indeed, ZEP prides itself in maintaining a diverse team made up of groups with unique strengths. Different members and partners of the coalition are organized into eight different clusters. They are as follows:

Various Programs

  1. Education seeks to ensure that youth have access to education and employment opportunities. ZEP aims to ensure that two million youth are employed by 2030.
  2. Health supports the health of Filipinos in impoverished communities. The program conducts awareness campaigns on maternal, child health and nutrition in target areas to promote health policy advocacy.
  3. Livelihood is led by the Peace and Equity Foundation within ZEP, and with fellow committee members, ensures the coalition’s ability to provide assistance to the extremely poor.
  4. Environment works to maintain and improve upon ecosystem services within The Philippines in order to sustain healthy communities. They aim to guarantee a number of benefits to the country, like a 10 percent increase in agricultural areas by 2028.
  5. Agriculture and Fisheries seeks to bring complete self-sufficiency to small fisheries and farms by 2030, through initiatives such as market empowerment and accessible support services.
  6. Housing and Shelter provides safe and sufficient homes with basic facilities to extremely impoverished families. Involved organizations within the cluster, including Habitat for Humanity, also work with local governments to implement social housing programs and projects.
  7. Partnerships for Indigenous Peoples helps build self-sustaining indigenous peoples communities, whether it be through advocacy means or by establishing community-based plans. Implemented programs include promoting women and children’s rights.
  8. Social Justice serves as the overarching cluster and theme of ZPH, in which the coalition’s diverse private and public groups align in the Filipino fight against poverty. By engagements with local governments and through policy programs, ZPH aims to end conditions within the Philippines that prevent the poor from finding self-sufficiency.

A Personal Approach

A primary strategy used by ZEP in order to maximize their efficiency is community consultation. Participating NGO programs employ a personal approach. They ask local Filipinos for their experiences and stories to truly understand the needs of poor communities. Organizations within the community can then easily refer to other member organizations of ZEP, whether they be businesses or NGOs, who specialize in the community’s needs.

In one case study, ZEP assisted an indigenous father of two in the foundation of a basket business. His business has since expanded, employing dozens of workers. ZEP reports that 63 families have benefitted in the process. In another case, ZEP assisted a single mother of seven children in improving her family’s living conditions. Moreover, the education cluster is supporting the families oldest child to pursue her academic career. Stories like these illustrate the promise of the ZEP goals.

Hope for the Future

By December of 2018, the coalition had implemented poverty-reduction programs in 109 cities. 10,000 families were provided with aid and assistance. However, ZEP’s Filipino fight against poverty is far from over. They continue to relentlessly assist communities in need as well as work to further expand themselves as a coalition. Nevertheless, the Zero Extreme Poverty goal coalition always stays true to its core values of social justice, service and diversity.

Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr