Assad's Human Rights Abuses
In October 2020, Representative Wilson (R-SC-2) introduced House Resolution 4868, titled the Stop U.N. Support for Assad Act of 2019. The bill, referred to to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is one of the latest pieces of legislation to acknowledge dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s alleged human rights abuses. It also refers to several cases in which his regime and its associates may have exploited or hindered humanitarian aid projects in Syria. The regime is largely responsible for the challenges in Syria necessitating foreign aid. It has also cultivated intricate ties to businesses and entities used by the United Nations and related regional NGOs. This has resulted in procurement contracts that are financially advantageous to the regime. H.R. 4868 has spotted this cycle in which the Assad regime benefits from the very problems it has created. The bill hopes to install mechanisms to prevent the corruption of foreign aid.

Humanitarian Response in Syria

The United Nations Humanitarian Response in Syria is a multinational project. Currently, the United States is at the helm as the largest donor to the cause. Since 2011, the U.S. has provided about $6 billion USD to Syria through the United Nations. The U.S. government donated $435 million USD in 2018 alone. The returns on these massive payments are less than satisfactory, however. For the past eight years, the Assad regime has maintained what the bill refers to as “weaponized access to U.N. aid.” In so doing, it extracts funds to continue the regime’s inhumane and notorious “starve or surrender” siege campaign. The regime has notably used this tactic to control entire cities.

In February 2018, the U.S. Ambassador to Syria said it was clear that the aid is “not neutral.” Instead, the Syrian government turns aid into a weapon for the government and not an edge for humanitarian groups. The U.N. Office for the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, echoed this concern. It was obvious that the Syrian government was obstructing the places in greatest need. The reality is that the Assad regime orchestrated the U.N.’s choices in terms of procurement contracts. This left the U.N. no choice but to use local companies or state-owned industries to operate. In the process, it essentially became a customer of the Assad regime business and a potential source of funding for Assad’s human rights abuses.

Interfering with Aid

A 2016 study found that U.N. operations in Syria gave $4 million USD to Syria’s state-owned fuel industry, $5 million USD to Syrian Arab Army-operated blood banks and $8.5 million to charities that Assad family members co-opted. The NGOs working in Syria with the U.N. effectively must select Assad-affiliated local partners. For example, the U.N. required its agencies and related NGOs to purchase mobile phones from Syriatel, a company that Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Bashar al-Assad, owned.

The Stop U.N. Support for Assad Act lays out a strict set of guidelines for the United States to follow. These guidelines ensure that funds reach their expected recipients without seizure by Assad-related entities. Priority, the bill says, must go to where the need for humanitarian aid is greatest, not where delivery is easiest. Potentially adversarial groups, including the Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments and any entities controlled thereof, must be actively circumvented in the funding process. While extremely necessary for the delivery and use of humanitarian aid, procurement contracts have become the doorway groups like the Assad regime enter to interfere and profit from the donated funds.

According to the Stop U.N. Support for Assad Act, an organization must set up a separate, strong and impartial mechanism to police the procurement contract procedure. With such a mechanism, the act would ensure that no Assad-backed companies or any other associated entities will benefit. The Secretary of State, the bill says, has a limited time period to investigate potential procurement contracts. Then, they must report their findings to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, or any other relevant committee.

Aiding the People, Not the Government

Foreign aid to Syria must make it there impartially, adhering to the U.N. Supplier Code of Conduct by avoiding all possible links to record human rights abuses. If the bill passes, the United States will likely be the creative force in the conceiving and operating of a procurement contracts vetting mechanism. It will be the latest creation in the fight against poverty. Such a step would ensure that no government or entity profits from humanitarian aid, but instead that the aid goes wherever it is most necessary.

Stirling Macdougall
Photo: Flickr

Elderly poverty in Armenia
Armenia is not a country at peace. For the past three decades, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have increased. As the border dispute turned deadly in September 2020, rumors emerged of potential involvement from outsider countries, such as Turkey and Russia. However, the country struggles with a concurrent problem. Elderly poverty in Armenia is a stifling issue in the country, which needs just as much attention.

The Current Crisis

In addition to a looming war, Armenians have suffered a vast diaspora. More Armenians live outside Armenia than inside the country. Armenians who live outside the country total anywhere from double to quadruple the number of those living within Armenia. The older generation is the main group still residing within the border. One reason is that older groups have fewer professional opportunities outside of Armenia, so they often stay put. This affects a large portion of society. Over a quarter of Armenia’s population is over 54, one half of this demographic is over 65 years old.

The global recession of 2008 led to increased poverty rates across all demographics in Armenia. At that time, the rate of extreme poverty among Armenians above the age of 65 was 2.0%, and the rate of non-extreme poverty for this group was 29.5%. By 2017, the rate of extreme and non-extreme poverty had fallen, for Armenians over 65, but either increased or remained the same for Armenians between the ages of 50 and 59.

All of these crises leave the elderly in Armenia underserved. However, there are organizations fighting on behalf of this group.

Armenian Caritas

Armenian Caritas, a community-based NGO, operates in Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik, Ararat, and Yerevan. Over a third of its staff are volunteers, and the organization’s goal is to provide “social inclusion and care of the elderly.”

Armenian Caritas uses a comprehensive method to address elderly poverty in Armenia. Since 1995, the NGO has taken a long-term approach to anticipate the needs of its clientele. Thus, it recognizes that by 2050, a quarter of Armenia’s total population may be between the ages of 60 and 64.

Armenian Caritas focuses on providing “rehabilitative items,” like crutches and moving toilets, to elderly patients. Similarly, they offer psychological and physical health care to patients with chronic diseases. These tactics are part of a larger strategy of social inclusion.

Elderly Armenians represent a large and growing percentage of Armenia’s domestic population. As such, Armenian Caritas works to ensure that elderly Armenians are never marginalized. The organization shares its methodology of elderly care with Armenian medical colleges and institutions. In this way, elderly care is woven into an Armenian practice — the tradition of caring for its vulnerable and aging populations.

An End to Elderly Poverty

A solution to the border skirmish between Armenia and Azerbaijan will hopefully be resolved through international mediation and earnest peace talks between the belligerents. Since the economy is still recovering and has continued to focus on growth, the government must address the diaspora by providing opportunities to draw the younger generations back to the country. In the midst of all of that, the country must not forget about older Armenians. There is hope for an end to elderly poverty in Armenia. However, it needs concerted, sustained efforts to address it.

Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous communities in Canada

The Canadian Constitution recognizes three Indigenous communities — First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Here are five of the many Indigenous-led organizations in Canada, collectively working to create success and prosperity for Indigenous communities.

5 Canadian Organizations for Indigenous Prosperity

  1. First Nations Information Governance CentreThe First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) is working to achieve data sovereignty. With support from regional partners and a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009), the FNIGC collects and uses data to “build culturally relevant portraits of the lives of First Nations people and the communities they live in.” Their motto, “our data, our stories, our future” reflects their vision of Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
  2. IndspireIndspire is using the gift of learning to help provide academic success and long-term prosperity with support through financial aid, scholarships/bursaries, awards, mentoring and physical resources.
  3. Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada – Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA) is creating a community of Indigenous professionals by supporting successful self-determination through “improving the management skills of those responsible for the stewardship of Indigenous resources.” This includes aid in management, finance and governance.
  4. Reconciliation CanadaReconciliation Canada facilitates the engagement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with meaningful conversations on reconciliation and the lived experiences of Indigenous people. They aim to inspire positive change and understanding. At present, the programs and initiatives offered by the charity are Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy, Reconciliation Dialogue Workshops, interactive community outreach activities and Reconciliation Canada.
  5. First Nations Child and Family Caring SocietyThe Caring Society supports First Nations children, youth and families. The organization has been able to provide 250,000 services and products to Indigenous children by putting Indigenous children and families first.

These five organizations are just some of many who are working to support success and prosperity for Indigenous communities in Canada. Their work helps blaze a path for a brighter future for Indigenous people and the country alike.

– Jasmeen Bassi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in PanamaPanama — the narrow bridge of land that connects North and South America. The tropical country is renowned for its natural beauty and diverse plant, animal and bird life. Yet, all that sparkles, is not glitter. Panama’s economy is highly unequal and there’s a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Poverty in Panama is as much of a prominent feature of the country as its landscape.

Rural Poverty

Ethnicity and geographic location determine one’s poverty in Panama. Panamanians who live in rural areas do not have adequate access to resources, such as hospitals and schools. This is a result of the lack of professional doctors and teachers or mentors in rural areas.

Panama is the second worst in income distribution in Latin America, which leads to sector-specific poverty. Unpaved roads in the country make it are especially difficult for farmers. Accordingly, they do not end up selling their crops in big cities where they can earn a large income. Thus, begins a chain of poverty in Panama that devolves into poor hygiene, sanitation, child labor, malnutrition and eventually yet another generation submerged in loans.

Child Poverty

About 27.7% of Panamanian children live in poverty and 12% experience malnutrition. Failure to register children at birth causes many to go without citizenship. Thus, the government is ignorant on its exact child population and cannot justly allocate money to the “nonexistent.”

Around 15% of children are victims to early marriages. The legal age to marry in Panama is 16 for boys and 14 for girls. However, most of these children are not registered with the government, so kids are married off at ages as young as 10.

The minimum age for working in Panama is 15. Even with this being the case, 5-year-old children can be seen carrying bricks in construction sites. Severally underage workers — child laborers — even appear in big cities like Panama City and Tocumen. To earn a few dollars more, families force their children to work. However, it’s at the cost of children being mentally and physically exploited.

The Rays of Light

Panama has done much to fight poverty. From 2015-2017, poverty in Panama declined from 15.4%  to 14.1%. In the same time span, extreme poverty decreased from 6.7% to 6.6%. Additionally, there are currently multiple NGOs working to help poverty and other problems in Panama. One is to Educate Women in Panama. The organization’s goal is to help lower poverty in the future through more women and girls getting their education. Education will help these women find jobs easier, lowering the poverty rate.

The country, with aid of NGOs and the government, has the potential to bridge the income inequality gap and make itself an equitable society for all, regardless of class, region or ethnicity. Panama can be as bright and colorful as its beaches for not only the urbanites but also the rurals.

Riddhi Bhattacharya
Photo: Flickr

 Amref Health Africa
Amref Health Africa is a NGO based in Kenya that works to empower young Africans. They provide people with the skills necessary to become innovative and ethical leaders of Africa. The group created several leadership programs and research programs to renovate Africa. Their new program, LEAP, is a mobile phone training platform designed to train employees and students about health precautions and safety outside of the classroom setting.

Who is Amref Health Africa?

Amref Health Africa is an African led organization that works to train African workers. The NGO works to improve health care from the people in Africa while also strengthening health care systems. They partner with different organizations around the world to promote power and unity. Amref Health Africa currently collaborates with 22 global offices and 35 different programs in Africa to bolster health care efforts.

Through Amref Health Africa’s partnership with Accenture, Kentan Ministry of Health, M-Pesa Foundation, Safaricom and Mezzanine, LEAP — the mobile health learning application — was created. The application has allowed health care workers and students to work effectively outside of a classroom setting.

LEAP during the Pandemic

Recently, LEAP users employ the site to train in order to craft a COVID-19 response. The program instructs community health workers on how to raise awareness about the virus. LEAP also provides information on the best precaution methods for the community. Thanks to LEAP, health care workers have learned to take the necessary steps to promote safety and awareness in Africa. So far, over 78,000 community health workers and health workers have been trained and are using their education to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In response to the pandemic, LEAP launched a two-month campaign in Kenya. Through the campaign,  health care workers were trained to identify, isolate and refer suspected COVID-19 cases. Participants were also taught how to identify high-risk areas and suppress the transmission of the disease.

Results

The app allows customization of the training content to fit the needs of the audience. It takes into consideration the skill level of the people using the app and modifications can be made to the language and audio section depending on user preference. LEAP allows personalization to ensure that the user has the best results with the program.

LEAP has strengthened the health care system in Africa by helping to stop the spread of the virus. The mobile training app also diminished the spread of misinformation on the virus. LEAP has provided Africa with the knowledge necessary to arm and defend themselves against COVID-19.

– Isha Bedi
Photo: Flickr

Encompass Reaching the Philippines
Many people know about large aid organizations like the World Food Programme, Oxfam and HOPE International. Often, young non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fly under the radar while still fostering social and economic growth. Encompass: Reaching the Philippines established in 2019. This young NGO has started several projects aimed at reducing food insecurity and improving opportunities.

Poverty in the Philippines is almost overwhelming, and certainly so by U.S. standards. The Asian Development Bank believes that roughly a sixth of the population lived below the national poverty line in 2018, while 2.9% of Filipinos lived below the international poverty line of $1.90. Poverty directly impacts food security. About 13% of the people are undernourished, with stunting affecting around 30% of young children.

Several organizations are helping the Philippines reduce food insecurity in various ways. Encompass: Reaching the Philippines is taking a sustainable approach to building economic and food resilience. Dr. Paul Helton, associate professor of Psychology at Freed-Hardeman University, started Encompass in 2019 after several trips to the country. This faith-based organization has funded several community start-ups and social development projects.

The Need for Engagement

The Philippines has a long history with the United States. Since 1946, the U.S. has aided in the development of economic growth, education, infrastructure, environmental protection, health and government in the Philippines. In 2018, the U.S. invested $275 million in aid to the Philippines. As a result, the U.S. and the Philippines maintain an important partnership in development, trade and security.

The Helton family similarly has a history with the Philippines. Helton lived there for two years as a child and has traveled back to the country several times throughout his life. After one recent trip, he noted the need for engagement. We “have to do more than wait for them to ask us” for help, he told The Borgen Project. The Filipino people “can be in dire need and still not ask you,” since their culture frowns on asking for outside assistance. He said this creates a cycle of harm, where their economic positions and health decline, and yet they refrain from asking for help.

Help from Encompass: Reaching the Philippines

In light of this, Helton founded Encompass: Reaching the Philippines to find and meet community needs. It currently operates a feeding program for children in two locations, feeding about 60 kids weekly. Helton has also helped out individual families with food, dental and medical supplies, including a full-body wheelchair for a 21-year-old suffering from cerebral palsy. His family can now take him to the beach or to church without difficulty.

Encompass also helped a family of four with the capital costs of starting a pig farm. Helton informed The Borgen Project of the success of the pig farm. Despite a virus killing a few of the animals, about a year after its inception the operation is almost self-sufficient. COVID-19 delayed its self-sufficiency, but Helton is confident it will meet that goal in the near future. This farm, he said, would provide revenue to the family and the community at large. Interestingly, manure is the farm’s most lucrative product, as locals buy it for fertilizer.

The Emotional Impact of Poverty

Commenting on the emotional impacts of poverty, Helton told the story of a family trying to send their daughters to college. As college loans are not readily available and the several hundred dollar tuition was not something the family could front at once, they turned to a loan shark. After their oldest daughter graduated, she took a teaching job in Hong Kong and contributed to her sister’s college fund, as the family eked out loan payments. Helton said existence in the Philippines, for many, is a day-to-day endeavor.

Future Plans for Encompass

Encompass has plans to further its support to families and communities. Some of its funding went to buy a piece of property, on which the locals constructed a community center and may eventually build a church. The organization is looking at assisting an aquaponics startup as well.

Again noting Filipino culture, Helton said that he founded Encompass: Reaching the Philippines not because the Filipino people asked, but because some people in the U.S. noticed the need for a “proactive organization” in the country. Its efforts have certainly been proactive and will undoubtedly continue to make small-scale, definitive progress.

– Jonathan Helton
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women in India Through SewingOver the last decade, empowering women in poor communities has become a focal point in India. That is because about 50.7 million people live in extreme poverty in India, yet, as of 2019, only 20.7% of women in India are part of the labor force. Moreover, the country has recently seen a drop in its GDP from 6.1% to 5% and is attempting to recover from its uncertain economy. As a result, one solution that many nonprofit organizations and the government have recognized is investing in the population that is living under the poverty line. Specifically, many groups are empowering women in India through sewing.

Today, being able to sew can be an acclaimed vocational skill. Over the past decade or so, embroidery has become an empowering tool for women in India, and a traditional craft. With this understanding, nonprofits have implemented many initiatives in India to empower women and help their families out of poverty.

Sewing the Seeds & Samugam Trust

Sewing the Seeds is a nonprofit organization that partnered with the NGO Samugam Trust to begin a women’s sewing initiative. The plan supports women in impoverished communities by creating economic stability using creativity and the traditional craft of stitching. Bruno Savio and Gayle created Sewing the Seeds to use sewing to empower women in India living in poverty.

Savio’s father opened the Samugam Trust in 1991 to support the educational training of the underprivileged, the rehabilitation of leprosy patients and those who are physically challenged. Bruno Savio has continued his father’s legacy as director of Samugam and partner of Sewing the Seeds. Gayle backpacked across India about 40 years ago. During her journey, she saw an opportunity to empower women in the country through vocational training.

Savio and Gayle recognized that more than 50% of women in India are illiterate, and only 29% of women in India are actively employed. Additionally, those who are employed are paid 46% less than men holding the same positions. Sewing the Seeds and Samugam Trust realize that investing in women is smart economics and essential to reducing poverty. With this in mind, the initiative provides the training, financial assistance, materials and communal space to empower women while preserving local craft traditions.

Samugam Trust has supported the initiative since 2011, with the first collection of products introduced online in 2018. Sewing the Seeds and Samugam Trust have supplied training and machines for 130 women. The importance of this initiative is to empower women in India in a way that is holistic and long term in its support.

Shakti.ism

Shakti.ism also supported empowering women in India through sewing by launching a sustainable livelihood project. The starting goal is to reach out to 10 tribal and disabled Indian women to provide vocational training. To successfully supply these resources Shakti.ism is partnering with Samugam Trust and Sewing the Seeds to empower impoverished women. Recently, they chose 10 women from diverse backgrounds including disabled mothers.

Shakti.ism continuously raises money to cover instruction fees, supplies, daily stipends for trainees and administrative costs such as quality control. Most products are crafted from repurposed saris (a traditional Indian woman’s dress) and are to be sold online. Shakti.ism is empowering women in India as a way to support families living in underprivileged rural areas of India, as well as decrease the wage disparity while increasing the trainees’ self-confidence and skills.

Usha Silai School

Included in the community-based initiative is Usha Silai (sewing) School. This initiative has reportedly set up over 15,000 sewing schools across India with the support of the Digital Empowerment Foundation NGO and Sikana. To further their reach and enhance their programs, Usha and Sikana co-created a video program to train illiterate women. The enhanced program has increased the initiative’s outreach while providing skills to gain a livelihood to women in rural India.

The Digital Empowerment Foundation supplies technological information for rural citizens to use to their advantage. For example, they supply internet-dependent tools that can provide access to training and create socioeconomic equality. Specifically, they provide internet and digital tools in rural community centers that partner with Usha Silai School.

Community-based initiatives that provide sewing empowerment for women in poverty have been essential for the growth of rural India. Sewing has become a highly desired vocational skill and is a powerful tool for those living in poverty. Recognizing the long term impact of vocational training, NGOs provide this solution-based approach across India to bring self-confidence and skills to women.

– Sumeet Waraich
Photo: Flickr

Food Waste Around the World
As the global population continues to grow, the demand for food also grows. The solution to this problem is not to produce more food but rather to waste less food. Globally, about one-third of food that people produce for human consumption goes to waste, which is about 1.3 billion tons. This number includes 45% of all fruits and vegetables, 35% of seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Unsurprisingly, studies have repeatedly shown that developed countries, on average, waste more food than developing ones. Read on to learn about food waste around the world.

Food Waste Culprits in the Developed World

The United States and Australia are the two countries that produce the most food waste in the world. In 2010, around 133 billion pounds of food went to waste in the U.S., which is $161 billion worth of food. In 2015, the USDA and EPA joined together to set a goal of cutting food waste by 50% by 2050. Despite that goal, the U.S. continues to waste about 30% to 40% of its food supply each year.

Every year in Australia, about 7.3 million tons of food goes to waste. Australia’s food waste per person is around 300 kg. Australia’s food waste costs the country’s economy an estimated $20 billion each year. As a result, the Australian government set a goal to halve its food waste by 2030.

These two countries contribute massive amounts of food waste around the world despite having the wealth to address the issue.

Food Waste Champions in the Developed World

Greece and China are the most efficient countries when it comes to limiting food waste around the world. Columbia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and France are not far behind them in terms of how other developed countries rank. The scale and reach of governmental actions to address the issue separate these countries from the U.S. and Australia in the fight against food waste.

In 2017, the Sustainable Food Movement emerged out of Athens. Greece’s immense success today results from people taking this initiative seriously and enforcing it with fervor. The country went from producing an average amount of food waste to being the most food efficient country in the world. It accomplished this feat in just three years.

Greece sets an example for the rest of the world. It proves other places could implement similar initiatives to diminish food waste around the world.

Food Waste in the Developing World

Affluent countries have the means to significantly lower their food waste. However, developing countries tend to outperform many developed countries in this particular arena. India and Brazil are two examples of developing countries displaying some of the lowest food waste levels in the world. Each year, Brazil produces almost 15 million kg of waste nationally and 71 kg per person.

Meanwhile, India wastes up to 40% of its food each year. India has one of the highest rates of food waste nationally at nearly 68 million kg. Yet, its food waste per person is quite low at 51 kg per year. To note, India’s population is nearly 1.4 billion people, showing that a gap exists between its national and personal food waste statistics.

An important distinction between developed and developing countries is the stage that people are most likely to waste food. In developed countries, the individual consumer level is where most food waste occurs. This is due to the average citizen’s ability to buy more than enough food for their family. In developing countries, the most wasteful stage of food production happens in the earliest stages of distribution. Poor infrastructure and inadequate food storage vessels contribute to the most food waste in these countries. In fact, much of the food is wasted before it ever reaches the consumer.

Food for Thought

The global population is about 7.6 billion, and 925 million of those people are starving. The amount of food wasted globally each year is enough food to feed 3 billion people. In other words, the world has more than enough food to feed the planet, but there is a huge issue of food distribution.

By 2050, estimates have determined that the global population will become around 9 billion. This means that food production will have to increase by 70% to keep up with the world’s current path. That is a near-impossible task to accomplish. It would be more efficient to refocus efforts on limiting food waste overall.

Food waste around the world is an issue that some countries have chosen to tackle with great success while other countries falter. The future of the world population depends on all countries working to decrease food waste.

A Helping Hand

Hands for Hunger, an NGO based in the Bahamas, is making significant progress in the pervasive issue of worldwide food waste. A group of students realized that restaurants and hotels throw an immense amount of unspoiled food away every day. As a result, they set out to change that.

Hands for Hunger focuses on obtaining this typically discarded food and redistributing it to the less fortunate. In addition, it educates the public on the issue itself and solutions. The organization serves around 15,000 meals to Bahamians each week by redistributing restaurant and hotel food to its 17 outreach agencies. It delivers around 4,530 pounds of food to Bahamians in need every week.

Hands for Hunger has rescued over 1 million pounds of fresh food. Through its recovery efforts, the organization is able to donate quality food to those in need. Almost 50% of all food donations in 2017 were high-need items such as dairy, proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Hands for Hunger is just one of many NGOs doing fantastic work to decrease food waste around the world. While food waste is a problem, it has an attainable and feasible solution.

Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Pixabay

Living Conditions in Myanmar
The term “living conditions” encompasses all the major necessities in life, shelter, food, safety, water and electricity. In recent years, living conditions in Myanmar have vastly improved, as shown through formal statistics and public opinion. For instance, public electricity in the nation has increased by 8% between 2015 and 2017 while connectivity also increased, with 82% of households owning phones. Public opinion polls of citizens reflect these positive statistics. Specifically, 91% of Myanmar residents believe when today’s children grow up, they will have a better standard of living than themselves. Many major organizations, including those discussed below, have helped to create such great strides.

3 Organizations Improving Living Conditions in Myanmar

  1. CARE: CARE is a worldwide organization working towards ending poverty while focusing on social justice. The organization emphasizes gender equality, with over 55% of its efforts focused on assisting women and girls. As of 2019, CARE and CARE’s partners have helped 130 million people in 100 nations through its programs. CARE has been assisting those in need in Myanmar since 1995. Currently, it is focusing on improving living conditions for Myanmar’s women and girls. Many long-term plans have been developed for the nation, such as the Rural Long-Term Program 2013-2028 and the Urban Long-Term Program 2013-2028. Both of these plans focus on protecting women from humanitarian emergencies and increasing their economic opportunities.
  2. Action Against Hunger: Action Against Hunger takes a different approach to improve living conditions around the world. It is an organization concentrated on ensuring food security and access to water. Internationally, Action Against Hunger has aided 21 million people in 2018 alone. Another focus of the organization is fighting child malnutrition by assisting in emergency food and water aid. Action Against Hunger has been bettering living conditions in Myanmar since 1994 through its numerous programs. One of its major programs works to expand safe access to water by fixing water infrastructure and making wells. Additionally, after providing access to water, the organization guarantees long-term access through training and creating groups of community members to manage their water. These Action Against Hunger programs have an expansive reach throughout Myanmar and have made a lasting change in many lives. In 2018 alone, its water, sanitation and hygiene programs reached 19,460 people and food security programs reached 23,790 people in Myanmar.
  3. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity improves lives worldwide by creating adequate and affordable shelters for impoverished people and disaster victims. In 2019, the organization improved the lives and houses of 7 million people while also training another 2.3 million people. Since its establishment in 1976, it has helped over 29 million people worldwide. The organization has been working to better living conditions in Myanmar since 2008. It began its work in the nation after a  cyclone destroyed many homes. The organization partnered with World Concern to restore 1,700 homes in the most heavily impacted region of Myanmar. On top of rebuilding houses, Habitat for Humanity successfully assisted over 950 Myanmarese families in gaining access to clean water and health centers. Currently, the organization continues to assist families across Myanmar.

As shown through these three organizations, there are many different strategies for humanitarian aid. Increasing women’s opportunities, creating safe water accessibility, providing food security and creating shelter are all essential to the development of improved living conditions both in Myanmar and across the world.

Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in HaitiHaiti has experienced a long history of natural disasters and extreme poverty. Despite these challenges, Haiti could eventually thrive through technology and innovation. Technology and innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti have set the stage for new products and ideas, but expertise and transformation have also allowed the country to improve on assets that already exist.

Foreign Direct Investment

Digicel, a communications and entertainment company headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, set up its mobile phone venture in Haiti in 2005. Until its arrival, operators Comcel-Voilà (now Voilà) and Haïtel controlled the mobile phone market. When Digicel entered the Haiti market, its economic impact was almost immediate. Within two years, Digicel contributed to more than 15% of the Haitian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Meanwhile, paired with its two competitors, the contribution of all three was more than 25% of the GDP.

During the years 2005-2009, Digicel invested more than $250 million in Haiti’s economy which led to more than 60,000 jobs. Not only had Digicel poured into Haiti’s bottom line with job creation, in a market with two telecom competitors, but it was also able to account for almost 30% of tax revenue. The company has definitely been working on poverty eradication in Haiti.

In 2012, Digicel acquired Voilà, which substantially increased its market share penetration and helped maintain its presence. All of this occurred despite the fact that Haiti had experienced a major earthquake that displaced 5 million people and killed 250,000 people in 2010 on top of the devastation of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy that occurred in 2012. Those setbacks have not derailed Digicel as of 2020. The company is still strong as it continues to provide innovations in poverty eradication in Haiti by keeping the country connected.

Education: Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Many have proven and echoed that children are the future and that they need to have exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to keep pace with the future innovative job market. Haiti’s challenge is that it lacks some capabilities and resources as an underdeveloped country.

Enter the NGO, Pennies for Haiti. This NGO’s long-term goal is to end Haiti’s series of poverty by providing sustenance and educating the country’s children. Meanwhile, its short-term objective is to equip Haiti’s children through education as a means to help them rise above their current situation. While Pennies for Haiti has several ongoing projects that serve 200 people a year, two of the projects focus on education.

The first is Haiti STEM Alliance, which is open to both boys and girls. The second is STEM 4 Girls, which places emphasis on girls. While both of these projects pour their energies into helping each participant achieve higher education and realize the vast employment opportunities in STEM, the difference is that STEM 4 Girls delves into personal growth and the benefits of higher learning. Pennies for Haiti hopes to instill in young women how STEM jobs can open the door to economic freedom.

In addition, the organization visualizes engaging an abundance of youth in the STEM industry as it will create more opportunities for technology and automation careers in Haiti. Pennies for Haiti is counting on the success of both of these programs with a focus on poverty eradication in Haiti and to boost Haiti’s image to the world and make them attractive to those companies who are looking to subcontract jobs as well as showing that they are a leader in gender equality and STEM careers.

Entrepreneurs

People may not know Haiti as a startup oasis, but over 75% of its residents operate some type of business to supplement their income. As a result, it is evident that Haiti is full of citizens who have demonstrated they can build, operate and sustain their own companies. Their startups range from fresh markets to tech platforms, and these enterprises are redefining the Haiti business culture.

One citizen, Christine Souffrant Ntim, who founded the Haiti Tech Summit (2017), has firsthand experience. She answered her entrepreneurial call as a youngster by helping her grandmother and mother sell goods in the streets of Haiti.

The Haiti Tech Summit brings together entrepreneurs, stakeholders, superstars and visionaries to address humanity’s extreme difficulties via tech and entrepreneurship. It has generated tangible results in its short existence such as helping an Airbnb sign a five-year multiple year contract with Haiti’s governmental branch that specializes in culture, tourism and the arts. Also, Facebook launched Haiti’s initial globally recognized grassroots pioneer group in 2017.

The Haiti Tech Summit’s success is based on the Ecosystem Map methodology, a vigorous arrangement of unified organizations that rely on each other for shared survival. As the Summit gains more energy and notoriety across the globe, Ntim’s focus is for the association to become the world’s next major tech innovation hub by 2030.

Poverty eradication in Haiti has made positive headway as it continues to rebuild its community and successfully learn how to navigate a technology-driven society. It has the existing tools to help bridge the gap with the main ingredient, being themselves. With the assistance of foreign aid, continued support of educational equality, especially among girls and entrepreneurs mobilizing the next generation, Haiti should be ready to move into the future with momentum.

Kim L. Patterson
Photo: Pixabay