Denmark's Foreign Aid
When it comes to foreign aid, one of the most widely-commended countries is the small nation of Denmark. The Danes are well-known for their generous aid spending and both donor and recipient nations recognize Denmark as a highly effective partner in the fight against global poverty. Here are five facts about Denmark’s foreign aid.

5 Facts About Denmark’s Foreign Aid

  1. Denmark is a world leader in foreign aid spending. In 2019, Denmark spent $2.55 billion on foreign aid, a seemingly small figure compared to the $34.62 billion the United States spent, but Denmark’s population is only about 1.76% that of the U.S. When adjusted for population, Denmark’s foreign aid totals $447 per-capita, much higher than the United States’ $95 per-capita. In fact, Denmark is the fourth-highest per-capita spender of all OECD countries after Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg.
  2. Denmark has consistently been a world leader since the 1970s. The United Nations uses foreign aid as a percentage of Gross National Income to measure a country’s proportional spending, and Denmark is one of the few countries that has met or exceeded the U.N.’s target of 0.7% of GNI since 1978. Denmark’s foreign aid currently amounts to 0.71% of its GNI, trailing only Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden among OECD countries. However, for a brief period during the 1990s, Denmark actually increased this number to over 1%.
  3. Low-and-middle-income countries rate Denmark high for usefulness, influence and helpfulness in foreign aid. In a new study that AidData conducted, leaders from 40 aid-receiving nations ranked Denmark as a top development partner. Besides meeting the U.N.’s foreign aid target, Denmark scored second among all countries for its usefulness regarding policy advice, second for its influence in setting agendas and first for its helpfulness regarding reform implementation. Since 2009, these reforms have included promoting greater private sector expansion and focusing on social progress as a catalyst for economic growth. Denmark’s long-term commitments to implementing such policies in a small number of prioritized nations have proven to be highly effective in reducing extreme poverty.
  4. Denmark manages its foreign aid spending and implementation through DANIDA, the Danish International Development Agency. DANIDA’s top priorities for 2020 are advancing human rights and equality, developing sustainable green growth, providing humane asylum for displaced people and maintaining international cooperation in all global efforts. Denmark’s foreign aid reaches over 70 low-and-middle-income countries, but those of the highest urgency include Afghanistan, Somalia and Niger. Efforts in Afghanistan largely center around education as Danish aid provides teacher education, updated textbooks and curriculum development. In Somalia, DANIDA works to develop safety nets, human rights advancements and strengthen national and local governance. Niger receives policy advice on properly handling the irregular number of migrants in the country as well as basic delivery of living essentials to impoverished children.
  5. Denmark can still improve. While the country is one of only six to meet the U.N.’s target of 0.7% GNI in 2019 with 0.71%, this is a substantial drop from 2015 when Denmark spent 0.85% of GNI on foreign aid. Addressing this cutback, which was largely due to increased spending on refugees within the country, should be a top concern. Reverting back to 2015’s percentage or higher is a positive step Denmark can take, and such a move is all the more likely now as Denmark’s 2019 net migration was negative for the first time in almost a decade. As the country spends less on internal migrants, more of the Danish budget is available to supplement the once-highly-robust foreign aid sector.

One of the most effective ways developed governments can help to improve conditions in poverty-stricken nations is by properly funding and managing healthy foreign aid budgets. By taking Denmark’s example, more countries should seek to meet the U.N.’s 0.7% GNI target and implement this aid in a manner that best fits the needs of impoverished individuals in low-income countries.

– Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

Human trafficking in Niger
Niger has experienced slave-based exploitation due to the border crossing between it and Libya, a key launching point for human traffickers. However, the Nigerien borders are not the root issues. A Nigerien anti-slavery organization, Timidria, found that various Niger officials, who the country chose to combat human trafficking in Niger, may have slaves in their own households.

Overview

Ilguilas Weila, a Niger native, founded Timidria in 1991. Together with Anti-Slavery International, Timidria has been standing at the forefront seeking to protect more than 40,000 lost, unidentified and identified victims of inherited slavery and trafficking. This is its printed testimony:

“It clearly emerged from this review that the failure of slavery prosecutions had less to do with litigation itself than to external elements, particularly the influence of traditional chiefs and social hierarchies on judges’ decisions and disputations between customary and statutory law.”

This is a credible statement depicting the Nigerien government’s failure to identify, prosecute and convict traffickers, as it has failed to identify the ones among them.

Timidrias’ Success

In 2003, the anti-slavery organization gained much praise for its contributions to the Nigerien Anti-Slavery enacted Law 2003-25. Timidria also promoted efforts to fund a governmental 2019 Child Protection Committee in each commune in order to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. In 2019, Niger’s supreme court ruling also declared wahaya, the traditional practice of selling and trading young girls as fifth wives, an illegal act in 2019. Unfortunately, the news is yet to reach the majority of Nigerien citizens, a concern that left many victims trembling. Critics report that the government has made no efforts to identify and prosecute families who practice such practices.

What Makes Niger Vulnerable to Human Trafficking?

Niger underwent conflicts relating to the criminalization of traditional slavery that wealthy Tuaregs most invoke, some of whom serve in government seats. This includes Prime Minister Rafini who shares a Tuareg descent although no indication claims that he practices slave-ownership. The Tuareg tribe participates in various traditional and slave-based practices against children. A known practice is wahaya where little girls become trafficking victims by ending up in marriages as fifth wives or slavery. Meanwhile, talibés are young boys who traffickers place in slavery and extreme labor such as mining and cattle herding. Despite the 2003 slavery abolition, Timidria adduced that “children in {descent-based} slavery are considered to be the property of their master and face a lifetime of forced, unpaid labour and abuse.” Out of the thousand Wahaya crimes that underwent identification over the years, Timidria is only aware of one single conviction.

Government’s Role in Human Trafficking in Niger

The anti-slavery organization stated that “the implementation of the law criminalizing slavery has been inadequate and prosecutions for slavery are rare. Government alliances with the religious and political elites among the Tuareg tribes (traditionally slave-owning) is the root cause of Niger’s vulnerability.” The current President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and current Prime Minister, Brigi Rafini have both been in office since April 2011, serving 10 years as lawmakers. The 2020 Human Development Index ranked Niger at the bottom of the list caused by Niger’s late criminalization of slavery.

Similarly, reporters have described events involving seeing “women displaying the heavy brass anklets they had been forced to wear to prevent them from escaping.” Oftentimes, these women’s knowledge of laws and rights is limited in their areas, especially with no education or help in sight.

The Niger government has strained the workload of Timidria by the failure to identify government officials’ role in slavery-ownership. Despite this, Timidria is present all throughout Niger. It has over 680 offices in villages and camps, 182 offices in rural and urban communities and a growing legal team among its 300,000 members and supporters. This makes it crucially important for the organizations, with or without government assistance, to raise awareness of slavery that lingers underneath the heavy stigma of oppression.

– Ayesha Swaray
Photo: Flickr

Family Planning in ZinderZinder is a region in southern Niger with a population of more than 3.5 million as of 2012. It is one of the country’s most inhabited areas. While women in Niger give birth to an average of 7.6 children, this rate is even higher in Zinder where women have an average of 8.5 children each. Smaller families and slower population growth often correlate with a decrease in poverty. But in Zinder, where 53.8% of people live below the poverty line, large families and frequent pregnancies were associated with higher social status. Women give birth often and usually at young ages. Half of the girls in Zinder marry before the age of 15. This increases the population of a country that lacks the resources to feed, shelter and educate all of these children. Thus, there is a great need for widespread family planning in Zinder.

Global groups are implementing programs in Zinder to help normalize family planning and slow the population boom. Here are some effective programs that have been established to spread ideas and reduce the stigma surrounding family planning in Zinder.

UNFPA Schools for Husbands

Niger ranked last in matters surrounding gender equality in the 2013 Human Development Report. It is men, not women, who primarily make decisions surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. However, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an international organization that focuses on maternal and reproductive health, has dedicated itself to changing that. It has started more than 137 Schools for Husbands in the region since 2004 in order to improve family planning in Zinder.

These “schools” lack official lessons and schoolwork; rather, they are safe spaces for men to discuss possible solutions to reproductive health concerns. The men who attend them help each other understand the importance of family planning. Together they brainstorm ways to encourage “pregnant and breastfeeding women to attend Integrated Health Centers” in their area. These men, all of whom are married, also bring this information back to their wives, encouraging not only maternal health for the women in these relationships but also better communication among couples.

This program has been wildly successfulーthe use of maternal health resources has tripled in areas where these “schools” operate. Rates of prenatal doctors’ visits and safe births have increased. With these successes, the program has recently spread to several other regions in Niger.

The USAID and PSI Partnership

Population Services International (PSI), a family planning organization, has partnered with USAID to research reasons behind the lack of family planning in Zinder. It has made two important observations: the fact that Islam, the dominant religion in Niger guides many decisions around childbirth and pregnancy, and that families often fail to consider financial implications before having children.

Using this information, PSI created a series of programs in Zinder. These included a financial budgeting tool to help men calculate the cost of having multiple children. This initiative also urged religious leaders to speak with their communities about reproductive health. Another program that PSI created was a poster campaign that encourages family planning using verses from the Quran. These programs, which included more than 200 community members in nine villages, normalized family planning from both a financial and religious standpoint. They also encouraged open conversations around pregnancy prevention.

While the childbirth rate in the region remains remarkably high, many are making progress in normalizing family planning in Zinder. Organizations are working together to emphasize reproductive health in the region and slow the population growth rate.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and income diversification The World Bank estimates that 78% of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Most individuals who reside in these areas depend on farming and agriculture not only for sustenance, but also for household income. There is consequently a correlation between poverty and having one, dominating occupation. Yet according to researchers, there seems to be a solution to this relationship through increased income diversification.

Farming

There is an issue of volatility that is inherent in farming. Variability in conditions can adversely affect crop yield, which ultimately impacts the income received by farmers. According to Farm Europe, competition can also be problematic. If all the poor in a given region take up farming as a means of earning income, then at some point, the supply outweighs the demand. When that happens, either crop prices will either decrease or crops will waste away in storage. This effect is further amplified when governments are unable or unwilling to offer adequate compensation for farmers’ excess crops.

Even in the United States, abundant in resources and well-developed in agricultural techniques, farming is a constantly changing industry. The USDA reports a wide fluctuation in income earned by a typical commercial farmer between 2000 and 2014. As a result, there is a need for income diversity worldwide, and this is particularly illustrated by some of the success stories in impoverished countries.

Vietnam

Since the 1990s, Vietnam has experienced high rates of economic growth. Researchers with the IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) assert this is due in large part to income diversification.

Vietnam’s highest concentration of poverty is located in the Northern Hills. An analysis of the region suggested that those able to earn income by way of agricultural production, as well as non-farming activities, experienced the highest spike in their earnings over time. However, where does that leave those solely reliant on farming?

Residents limited to farming only managed to earn a living by applying the principle of diversification to their crops. They deviated from the typical crop grown, rice, and added cash crops, like coffee and tea, to their output. The cash crops yielded a much higher profit per unit of sale and required less land, labor and resources to grow and maintain. Even so, their spike in income did not match that of those who participated in both farming and non-farming activities. Nonetheless, the practice of diversification provided a much more stable source of income overall.

Niger

Niger currently ranks as the fifth most impoverished country in the world, and it is actively striving to end its poverty issue. People are seeing positive results attributed to the dynamic between poverty and income diversification.

A study conducted on over 600 smallholder rice farming families in Niger revealed that those who also participated in non-farming wage employment were better off than those who strictly farmed or were self-employed in some capacity related to farming. An important effect of a second stream of income was the ability to maintain the size of a given farm. The ancillary job could generate enough profit during a poor season to cover overhead costs for the following season.

Conclusion

The relationship between poverty and income diversification has become a central focus for policymakers across the globe. It is an effective way for individuals to mitigate the impacts of poverty. Empowering impoverished families to earn steady income can solve many issues embedded in poverty. If a family can individually afford food and water, they can pay to keep their lights on or go for a visit to a doctor. Moreover, the idea of attaining an education or further developing their current form of income becomes a realistic possibility. Diversifying income creates a pathway to not only sustaining livelihoods, but lays the groundwork for prosperity.

Christian Montemayor
Photo: Flickr

“Every Last Child” Save the Children believes that children have the right to grow up healthy, educated and safe. Since its beginning in 1919, they have worked in over 100 countries. In 2019 alone, the organization reached over 144 million children globally. One of their newest campaigns, “Every Last Child,” has allowed them to increase their reach to especially vulnerable populations of children around the world. Below are four facts about the campaign and its efforts.

The Start

The world was introduced to the global campaign on April 26, 2016. The campaign strives to reach children who do not have adequate access to health care, education and protection. It works to end deaths among children from preventable causes. The specific goal is to prevent at least 600,000 preventable child deaths. Another facet of the campaign is aiding children in receiving a basic quality education. The quantified objective for this goal is helping 50 million more children gain access to education. A 15-year time frame, 2030, was the basic idea for these missions. So far, the campaign has helped 15 million of the world’s “excluded children” have access to life-saving health care and quality education.

“Excluded Children”

“Every Last Child” focuses on “excluded children“, defined as those “not benefiting from recent global progress in social well-being, particularly in health and learning, because of a toxic mix of poverty and discrimination.” The campaign did research to establish the extent of exclusion associated with certain groups of children. It found that persecution and discrimination for beliefs occurred to 400 million children with ethnic and religious backgrounds. Further, children with disabilities are four times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect when compared to their peers.

Three Guarantees

The campaign calls on leaders across the world to make three guarantees for all children. The first guarantee is the establishment of fair finance. The “Every Last Child” campaign describes this as, “sustainable financing of and free access to essential services.” This includes escalating public investment in high-quality health and educational services to increase access for all children.

The second guarantee is to establish equal treatment by putting an end to discriminatory policies and norms. This is to help eliminate bias that negatively impacts minority groups.

The third guarantee is to increase the accountability of decision-makers by amplifying the voices of excluded groups in policymaking. This will ensure the allocation of community budgets positively impact excluded groups of children. These three promises help contribute to the mission of the “Every Last Child” campaign.

Tailored Strategies

The campaign customizes its efforts to fit each country’s needs. While many countries experience similar issues, not all of them are equal in the amount of impact needed. In order to reach these vulnerable populations of children, the issues addressed by the campaign are varied in each country.

For example, in Niger, the “Every Last Child” campaign advocates for the adoption of policies that outlaw early child marriage and support access to quality education. In Yemen, they fight for the protection of children affected by conflict. In Kosovo, they promote access to quality services in the education and health industries for children, particularly those with disabilities.

The goal is to make these services and information about them available to parents and families in the country to create greater access. Customizing their goals allows the “Every Last Child” campaign to focus on the most pressing issues affecting each country.

Since their beginning in 2016, Save the Children’s “Every Last Child” campaign has made it their mission to put an end to the exclusion of vulnerable populations of children. Through their research and advocacy efforts, they have helped to address the need to increase access to life-saving health care and quality education for children worldwide to ensure that no child is left out of the advancements of the social world.

Sara Holm
Photo: Flickr

Efficacy Through Conditionality
During a summit in 2005, the G8 nations committed to increasing aid for Africa from $25 billion to $50 billion a year by 2010. This was a great change in the trend from previous years when foreign aid was in decline. Often, disappointment related to the effectiveness of foreign aid had caused a decrease in donors’ commitments, but recent studies have tried to prove how they can improve foreign aid’s efficacy through conditionality.

Aid Conditionality as a Way to Improve Democracy

Foreign aid can influence democratic development through three methods: first, promoting democratic institutions and the balance of power, and empowering civil society organizations; second, strengthening channels that contribute to democracy, such as the income per capita and education; and third, conditionality.

Aid conditionality is “the use of pressure, by the donor, in terms of threatening to terminate aid or actually terminating or reducing it, if conditions are not met by the recipient.” Therefore, donors can perform aid conditionality in different ways:

  1. Potential donors can require the fulfillment of ex-ante conditions regarding the requirements of democracy, governance or human rights before coming to a formal agreement or forming a relationship with the country they have the intention of donating to.
  2. They can impose ex-post conditions in a contractual relationship or legal instrument that the donor country should fulfill.

Moreover, a positive and negative conditionality exists. A positive conditionality means that the aid provider can reduce, suspend or terminate the aid if the government does not follow the conditions, while a negative conditionality consists of provisions that the donor can give as rewards when the government fulfills the requirements.

Some have provided a general critique accusing negative conditionality as ineffective, because sanctions that countries can impose due to conditionality may affect the poor more rather than the government it is targeting. Moreover, the government of the recipient country may easily obtain alternative funding sources. In contrast, the application of positive conditionality does not often experience dispute.

When Can Aid Conditionality Work?

Some argue that the efficacy of aid conditionality relies on the democracy levels of the recipients. Since governments’ primary goal is to maintain power, in an environment of open political competition, they must spend the aid they receive to the level that it allows them to comply with donors’ conditions and also stay in power, whereas autocracies can stockpile as much aid as they receive while maintaining power.

The European Union, for instance, had set aid conditionality elements when it comes to its provision for sub-Saharan countries. After 1977’s Uganda crisis, the E.U. decided not to remain neutral in situations where there are massive violations of human rights and democracy. Therefore, it imposed human dignity as a precondition for the provision of aid and, consequently, human development. Moreover, in 1995, the E.U. decided to declare the respect of democratic principles, rule of law and good governance as essential elements and that it could withdraw aid disbursements if recipients did not comply with its parameters.

The Case of Niger

With the return to power of President Tadja after the coup d’etat of 1999, Niger was able to normalize its relationship with the European Union and have a relatively successful political situation from 2005 to 2009. During those years, the government’s opposition operated through the official channels and institutions and Niger experienced great levels of political and social stability.

Despite this, after President Tadja’s efforts to remain in power caused an escalation of the political and social tensions, the E.U.-led talks failed and the party in power began to harass the opposition and media. In 2009, the E.U. decided to withdraw its support, which the coup d’etat of 2010 later followed. The return to a democratically-elected government in 2011 led to the return of the support that the E.U. gave as aid disbursements and, therefore, the effective use of the donor’s ex-post aid conditionality that later contributed to Niger’s democracy development.

After the new political transition, Niger received a consistent rating as a democracy based on the Polity IV scale. Since then, the country’s political situation remains stable although tensions remain palpable. Now, although the country’s most recent president, Mahamadou Issoufou, has had authoritarian tendencies, he is willing to step down from power and allow a new transition of government.

The Utility of Aid Conditionality

Studies have shown foreign aid’s efficacy through conditionality regarding producing democracy development under certain situations. Regardless, donor countries and organizations should not be so quick to abandon these policies as they can positively impact a country’s social and political environment. Therefore, all donors must understand in depth the different ways aid conditionality could affect policy outcomes in recipient countries based on highly complex situations where donors give foreign aid.

– Helen Souki
Photo: Flickr

Combatting Child Marriage in NigerBoarding in between the African countries Algeria and Chad, Niger is ranked the world’s poorest country. Considering the country is home to a 16.3% urban population and 83.7% rural population, the lack of resources for those living on rural land is a primary reason for the severely high child marriage rate. This article will list why combatting child marriage in Niger continues to be a prevalent topic today.

High Birth Rate and A Young Population

Niger has the second-highest birth rate globally, which is caused by a high infant mortality rate. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the current infant mortality rate is 80.4 per 1,000 live births. Malnutritionment plays a vital role in children’s health and the lack of proper food and clean water contributes to the mortality rate.

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, Niger is ranked the lowest at 189 out of 189 countries. More than 50% of the Niger population are under the age of 15, and approximately 89% of young girls marry prior to reaching the age of 18. Less than 30% of those children receive an education, which is an even more prevalent issue among girls. One of the main reasons children aren’t attending school is the extreme poverty within the country.

When a child is sick or suffering from starvation, they become malnourished, which makes them incapable of attending school, and the more often it happens, the less likely they are of going back to school. Combatting child marriage in Niger is seemingly difficult due to the extreme poverty and it makes human development, especially for children and women, extremely challenging to achieve.

A Lack of Independence With a Lack of Education

Niger has the second-highest birth rate globally, which is caused by a high infant mortality rate. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the current infant mortality rate is 80.4 per 1,000 live births. Malnutritionment plays a vital role in children’s health and the lack of proper food and clean water contributes to the mortality rate.

According to UNICEF, married women become dependent on their husbands because their sense of independence is taken away. However, women are, more often than not, engaging in marriage during their teenage years before they are even fully mature, which would explain why their sense of independence is stricken away so early on.

Education plays an important role in child marriages in the country of Niger because the lack of knowledge makes a woman more vulnerable to risky decisions. According to UNICEF, “The link between education and the prevalence of child marriage is particularly evident in Niger: 81% of women aged 20-24 with no education and 63% with only primary education were married or in union at age 18.” The lack of children attending school is a primary reason for combatting child marriage in Niger.

Unstable Government

Niger lacks the ability to properly control and patrol its borders, making it more unprotected and defenseless to possible terrorism and criminals. The government lacks accountability in this area, making it the perfect hideaway for terrorists and drug traffickers. The more unstable the government is, the more vulnerable, yet welcoming it is to child marriages.

Although child marriage became illegal by law in 1999, it is still prevalent today and is plummeting young girls’ social and economic standing. However, with the continuous help from the organization Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), child marriages in Niger and all African countries will soon come to an end. Five female ministers in the education field created the organization in 1992 and are working toward combatting child marriage in Niger. According to FAWE, the goal is to strengthen young girls’ minds in multiple countries in Africa by increasing access to education and ensuring the caliber is up to par for them to benefit from its resources.

FAWE has expanded over the years by remaining in close contact with 34 national chapters to ensure female education grows substantially and it “relates to long-term economic development and its centrality and urgency in education sector planning.” With FAWE’s progression, among other organizations, and the government of Niger taking accountability for flawed areas within the system, young girls in Niger and in other African countries will become more educated and free of potential threats to their personal growth.

– Montana Moore
Photo: Flickr

Empowering women in NigerIn Niger, the agricultural sector employs more than 80% of the nation’s population. Despite making up approximately 40% of Niger’s GDP, agriculture faces poor management of natural resources and lack of access to markets. This restricts economic growth in Niger. Importantly, women make up 49.75% of Niger’s population but face a lack of access to resources like quality seeds and soil. With poor education and gender inequality, women in Niger have a difficult time gaining financial independence. In this situation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Niger Compact is key to empowering women in Niger and securing a stable economic future.

Challenges for Niger’s Agricultural Sector

Some of the main issues facing the county’s agricultural sector include a lack of reliable access to irrigation, water for crops and livestock as well as a lack of access to markets. The climate in Niger is hot and dry, but only 10% of crop fields have proper irrigation. As a result of frequent droughts, many people struggle to subsist on revenue from crop production and animal agriculture.

Further, the intense variability of the annual amount of rainfall causes drastic changes in crop yield each year. In addition to environmental factors, farmers in Niger are often unable to access quality seeds and fertilizers. Pests like locusts also often destroy crops. All of these factors work together to create challenges to achieving economic stability and food security in Niger.

Addressing These Challenges

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)  aims to address these challenges in Niger through agricultural grants. Its Niger Compact program focuses on encouraging sustainable use of Niger’s natural resources improving market access. To do so, MCC invests in irrigation systems, improved roads, resource management and climate-resilient crop production. As of June 30, 2020, MCC has given more than $74 million in grants to agricultural enterprises. The organization has also successfully helped fund the renovation of the Konni Irrigation System, Niger’s largest irrigation system. In the future, the improved irrigation system will help boost the economy and improve food security in the nation.

Empowering Women in Niger

As a part of the Niger Compact, MCC commits to empowering women and young people through its grants. Experts believe that if Niger could close its gender gap in the agricultural sector alone, more than 25,000 citizens would escape poverty. While men invest only 35% of their income in their families, women invest 90%. Thus, when women have greater income and spending power, a community’s health and education improves. For example, women who have higher incomes can provide their children with higher protein diets that include more meat and fish. Although the Niger Compact focuses on all entrepreneurs and small business owners, MCC believes that poverty reduction requires empowering women in Niger.

Between October 2018 and March 2020, MCC gave $2.3 million in grants to 25 different agricultural production groups. Women owned or ran 13 of those groups. Beyond financial support, the MCC is empowering women in Niger by providing them with educational opportunities. Along the perimeter of the Konni Irrigation System, the organization is offering free literacy courses for farmers. Of the more than 4000 participants in the course, 56% are women.

The MCC’s Niger Compact is an important step in raising the socioeconomic status of women in Niger. Investing in women allows them to become more active participants in their country’s economy. Accordingly, empowering women in Niger is an important step toward reducing poverty nationwide.

Maddi Miller
Photo: Flickr

sanitation during covid-19COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is often spread through airborne droplets released by breathing or talking and by touching infected surfaces. Good hygiene is therefore an initial line of defense in preventing viral infection. However, hand washing requires access to clean water and effective sanitation. While COVID-19 has changed the way people think about hygiene, the lack of access many people in developing countries have to sanitation during COVID-19 remains the same.

Water Crises and Sanitation During COVID-19

More than one half of people around the world do not have access to high-quality sanitation facilities. Furthermore, COVID-19 has exacerbated this already tenuous water and sanitation situation in many parts of the world. Areas with hotspots, like Cairo and Mumbai, are often crowded with restricted public services.

To manage the immediate effects of COVID-19, governments in developing countries have turned to various short-term solutions. For example, Rwanda has installed mobile hand washing stations, while South Africa has begun to use water trucks. The Chilean government has also suspended water and sanitation charges for citizens. In a pandemic, automated water management systems are especially helpful in reducing loss, expanding access and preserving social distancing. In addition to these governmental reforms, many companies have used technology to shore up water and sanitation during COVID-19 in developing countries. Here are five organizations looking to improve sanitation during COVID-19.

Five Companies Improving Water and Sanitation During COVID-19

  1. Wonderkid: This start-up delivers smart solutions to the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The organization supplies water management software to utility companies to help address customer problems, billing, payments and running water meters. Wonderkid’s smart water meters track non-revenue water that does not reach the customer or leaks out of faulty pipes. Thus, Wonderkid allows water utilities to function more effectively and service more people. As of 2018, Wonderkid had expanded to help 36 utility companies in Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi and Liberia.
  2. CityTaps: This organization provides poor families in Niger access to water at a much cheaper price than water vendors. Its smart water meters give water utilities more financial stability. Importantly, they can then expand their services to more poor families. This allows companies to meet the current needs for effective hygiene to fight COVID-19.
  3. Drinkwell: Impoverished people in Dhaka, Bangladesh often rely on illicit or expensive water sources. The social enterprise Drinkwell, a brainchild of American English Fulbright fellow Minjah Chowdury, provides water through ATMs. Drinkwell works with mobile service provider Robi Axiata and Dhaka WASA, a local water utility, to do so. It is also collaborating with Happy Tap, a mobile hygiene provider, to provide hand-washing services to people in Bangladesh.
  4. Sangery: Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) like Sanergy are an up and coming sanitation alternative for people in low-income areas. These systems are simpler and cheaper than sewer systems, but they are also cleaner than latrines and open defecation. CBS systems use a container to capture waste, which then turns into fertilizer. Sanergy uses this technology to resolve the sanitation crisis in Nairobi, Kenya. Run by three M.I.T. students, the company provides Fresh Life Toilets that fit into cramped urban dwellings and empty safely. The ability to have a private toilet is essential in practicing social distancing during the pandemic. During COVID-19, Sanergy has also provided 18 hand-washing stations that allow residents to practice good hygiene.
  5. Mosan: Similar to Sanergy, Mosan is a sanitation project based in Guatemala that provides container-based system toilets to people’s homes. The toilets have a durable, urine-diverting design, which keeps urine and feces in separate containers. They cover feces with dry materials like ash instead of water and eventually recycle them into usable fertilizer material. Such innovations make it more likely that people will stay at home during the pandemic. Additionally, Mosan is providing contactless pickup of containers to encourage people to stay home and social distance.

The Future of Sanitation in Developing Countries

COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in global abilities to provide safe, clean water and sanitation in developing countries. Now, many people lack the water they need to combat the coronavirus. While it is not clear if COVID-19 can spread through human waste, proper sanitation also stops the spread of infectious disease in general.

By shoring up water services and sanitation during COVID-19 in developing countries, governments and other organizations in have provided stop-gap solutions to water and sanitation issues. Technologies like digital water meters, water ATMs, container-based toilets are now saving lives in a new way. Because they help people stay home and keep clean, these solutions allow developing countries to better fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Joseph Maria
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in NigerNiger, officially the Republic of Niger, is a country in Western Africa. It neighbors Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali, and it spans just over 1.25 million square kilometers of land. Niger has faced several violent conflicts in the past. Some of the battles still pose a threat to the country and its 22.3 million inhabitants. Issues regarding inadequate healthcare are one of the several socio-economic problems Nigeriens live with on a day-to-day basis. Here is what you need to know about healthcare in Niger.

Human Development Index (HDI)

Out of 189 countries reviewed, Niger ranked the lowest on the United Nation’s 2019 Human Development Report. The major contributors to the ranking were the country’s life expectancy at birth and the average number of years of schooling. With a life expectancy of 62 years and only two years of education, Niger’s underdeveloped health and education facilities significantly strain them.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

The majority of health problems stem from malnutrition and inadequate food supply. The Global Hunger Index score provides insights into the critical aspects of healthcare in Niger. The GHI comprises four categories to determine a country’s score: under-nourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality. The higher the GHI score, the more hunger and health issues within the state.

Additionally, Niger’s GHI score in 2000 was at an alarming 52.1 and steadily decreased throughout the years. Five years later, in 2005, the score dropped to 42.2 and is currently at the country’s lowest score of 30.2. A significant decrease in the overall GHI score is because of the individual declines in each category.

Over the years, under-nourishment decreased from affecting 21.6% of the population to 16.5%. Child stunting decreased by approximately 15%, and child wasting decreased by 6% and child mortality decreased by about 14% over 20 years.

Progress Throughout The Years

Furthermore, the healthcare facilities within Niger still lack investments. Through funding and continuing to struggle to provide Nigeriens with quality health, the country has come a long way. It has been almost 20 years since the start of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. With that, Niger has significantly increased the average life expectancy, literacy rate and poverty reduction initiatives.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Niger to have a life expectancy of 46, a literacy rate of 17% and extreme poverty for 60% of the population in 2005. Since then, much progress has been made in all categories. In 2019, the United Nations and the World Bank reported Niger’s life expectancy as 62, literacy rate as 30% and an extreme poverty rate of 41%.

 Overall, healthcare in Niger still lacks adequate funding and consists of several underdeveloped facilities. However, the country’s continuous work with international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID and more has led to a steady betterment and progress.

– Omer Syed
Photo: Flickr