Pest ControlAgriculture is often crucial to the economies of lower-income nations. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60% of the population is smallholding farmers and about 23% of the GDP comes from agriculture. Because of the importance of this industry, pest control can become a major issue in a lot of countries.

Influence of Pesticides

When pests are not properly handled, produce is damaged, which leads to reduced yields and profits. If crops are drastically damaged, it can lead to a decrease in food supply and an increase in prices. When pesticides were first introduced to farmers in Africa, it seemed to be a quick and easy form of pest control to fix their infestation problems. Pesticides increased yields, which led to higher household incomes and more trading. However, pesticides present their own set of obstacles. When mishandled, pesticides can be very dangerous. Many farmers lack the proper knowledge and equipment to safely administer the chemicals. This can cause health problems among farmers, contaminate soil and water sources, and result in pesticide-resistant insects.

Pesticidal Pollution in Kenya

A study conducted in 2016 that tested the water quality of Lake Victoria in Kenya revealed the negative impact pesticides had on the environment in the area.In May 1999, the European Union imposed a fish import ban on all fish from Lake Victoria when it was discovered 0rganochlorine pesticides were being used to fish in the lake. This ban resulted in an estimated $300 million loss for Kenya.

Organochlorine pesticides are mostly banned in high-income nations, but they are still used illegally in East Africa. Sometimes organochlorine pesticides are also used in East Africa for “public health vector control,” meaning to control the population of pests that spread diseases. The continued use of these pesticides is cited as a reason why pesticidal pollution was still found in Lake Victoria in 2016. Testing the water revealed that the pesticide concentrations in the lake were higher during the rainy seasons compared to the dry seasons. This led to the conclusion that the pesticides were entering the lake from contaminated runoff from surrounding farms. Those conducting the study concluded that the lake contaminations presented an immediate danger to the animals and humans relying on the lake as a food and water supply, due to the pesticide bioaccumulation entering the food chain.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Cases such as Lake Victoria’s are why the government, academic and public agricultural agencies have been promoting the use of IPM. IPM is a system that aims to decrease the need for pesticides by “incorporating non-chemical techniques, such as pruning strategies or soil amendments that make plants less inviting to pests, using insect traps that monitor pest populations so growers can be more precise with chemical sprays or adopting pest-resistant crop varieties.” The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have all supported the IPM process. Still, IMP has been slower to spread to the low-income nations of the world.

Whereas pesticides are made to be harmful and heavy-handed, IPM requires more finesse and care. IPM requires farmers to possess significant pest management knowledge in order to be effective. They must closely monitor their crops and keep detailed records. This is a difficult change for a farmer to make, especially when failure can have dire consequences, as they rely on their farms for food and income. However, with proper training and knowledge, IPM can present a good alternative for pest control to farmers who lack easy access to pesticides or can’t afford them.

The FAO has been using the Farmer Field School program to try to teach IPM and other sustainable farming practices to farmers in low-income nations. Programs like these are likely the most effective way to teach farmers about alternatives to pesticides. They may be able to help farmers in low-income nations find the resources necessary for safe and successful pest control.

Agriculture is often very important to the economies of lower-income nations. Improper use of pesticides, due to a lack of resources, can end up negatively impacting the environment in those areas where people are trying to grow crops. Programs like the Farmer Field School Program may be able to help lower-income nations transition to safer pesticide methods, such as IPM.

– Lindsey Shinkle
Photo: Flickr

Development Assistance Committee
The Development Assistance Committee is an arm of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Founded in 1961 by the OECD to better organize and execute its agenda, the Development Assistance Committee also has the duty of innovating and monitoring future and ongoing development projects.

These projects target sustainable economic growth in countries who seek the committee’s aid. It also monitors how members of the committee and the OECD use development aid. The Development Assistance Committee is made up of 30 member nations, as opposed to the OECD’s 35 members.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UNDP are all observing members of the committee. The members, along with the observing members of the Development Assistance Committee form the world’s leading forum for bilateral economic development and cooperation. It is known for its neutrality.

Official Development Assistance is the or ODA is the term used by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to define all assistance rendered by member nations that target sustainable economic development. Due to the fact that the Committee is dedicated to furthering bilateral relations between member nations and nations it deems in need of assistance, ODA is not the only form of aid.

Member nations foster development in areas that are important to their national agendas. For example, Canada, which is a member of the DAC, will focus its foreign aid towards girls’ and women’s rights over the next five years. Denmark, another member nation, will be spending much of its aid in combating the refugee crisis.

This is not the only difference between member nations. Because there is no legally binding agreement holding a nation to the amount of money it must spend each year, there is a wide range in the percentage of assistance money spent. The DAC uses a percentage of a nation’s gross national income.

In 2014, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark all donated more than 0.07 percent of their GNI, a target set in 1974 by the DAC. Germany spent 0.04 percent of its GNI on foreign aid and South Korea spent just 0.01 percent.

The OECD agenda is mostly economic. They focus on economic stability within nations. Currently, it is focusing on re-establishing confidence in markets, promoting public financing as a strong driver of economic growth, developing green strategies for economic growth and ensuring job growth and security for people of all ages.

In 2016, saw the appointment of a new chair of the DAC, Petri Gornitzka, who was the former head of the Swedish Foreign Aid Agency. Gornitzka is pushing for reform within the DAC and she hopes to bring smaller member nations into the fold when making decisions about future projects and funding. She also plans to make the private sector a more viable partner.

In the 2016 DAC Global Plan, the DAC also states that it wants to survey nations who receive aid linked to the DAC on what can be improved. The DAC also plans to bring the smaller donors into the fold by helping them improve the effectiveness of their aid. This is also one of the incentives that the DAC boast to countries who wish to become members.

The last members who joined the committee were Iceland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland and Slovenia in 2013 and Hungary in 2016. The European Union has made it a goal of all member nations to work towards joining the DAC.

Although the DAC does not do much direct work, its work behind the scenes promoting cooperation greatly benefits the world. The continued growth of the organization will also benefit the world. 

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr


Poverty in Mexico

Poverty in Mexico, and crime as a result of that poverty, are well-known problems. In Mexico, there is a rising level of violence as well as stagnant wages and declining purchasing power.

In 2014, 53.2 percent of the country lived below the national poverty line by the broadest measure of poverty. This means they lack sufficient income to meet basic needs including food, health, education, clothes, housing, transport and more.

On average, Mexican laborers worked a total of 2,246 hours in 2015, the most of the 35 members countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, those workers earned on average a total of only $14,867, the lowest in the OECD.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Mexico received $338 million in aid that was broadly classified as economic development and military assistance in 2015.

The amount of foreign aid to Mexico varies each year but it has been about 0.7 percent of overall U.S. foreign aid since 2010. Overall foreign aid represents about 1 percent of the federal budget.

There are several initiatives that address poverty and seek to help those living in poverty in Mexico. Three organizations running initiatives like these are:

  1. Freedom from Hunger
  2. Un Techo para mi País (TECHO)
  3. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Freedom from Hunger

Freedom from Hunger uses microfinance as a self-assist support tool to help the poor reduce the day-to-day uncertainties of cash management. It also promotes the delivery of integrated financial services to increase economic and food security of the poor in Mexico and Central America, especially for women and girls.

Freedom from Hunger also developed and promoted “value-added” or “integrated” microfinance programs that pair financial services with education and health protection.

The education programs engage women during microfinance meetings with practical skills to promote better health, nutrition, business and money management through the use of dialogue, story, song, demonstrations and pictures.

The organization has six specially designed e-learning courses to build the skills of microfinance institutions and to create a frontline group who can provide better financial training to their clients.


TECHO is a youth led non-profit organization present in Latin America and the Caribbean. They seek to overcome poverty in slums through the collaborative work of youth volunteers with families living in extreme poverty in Mexico.

TECHO aims to have society as a whole recognize poverty as a priority and actively work toward overcoming it, doing so through three strategic objectives:

  1. The promotion of community development in slums to drive thousands of families to generate solutions to their own problems. 
  2. Social awareness and action, with emphasis on having committed volunteers and involving different social entities.
  3. Political advocacy that promotes structural changes to decrease poverty. 


ECLAC, also known in Spanish as CEPAL, is a U.N. regional commission encouraging economic cooperation. It works toward economic, social and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also reinforces economic ties to other countries and nations around the world.

With efforts toward eliminating poverty in Mexico, there can be a pathway toward a stronger, flourishing country.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

Global Agricultural Market
In July 2017, the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the 2017-2026 OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook. The report predicted many positive developments in the global agricultural market for the next decade. Most important among these were lower food prices, increased productivity and reduced malnutrition.

According to the report, recent government initiatives and market changes are likely to create higher availability of nutritious food; stable food prices; high production rates of maize, meat and dairy; and lower demand for food. This high level of production can be achieved through significantly higher crop yields, using only slightly more land. As demand in developed countries lowers and crop yields increase, developing countries will be able to attain higher-calorie, nutritious diets.

While these predictions suggest a decade of stability for the global agricultural market, they can only be achieved with constant government upkeep and a continued focus on developing nations and environmental impact. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, about one in nine people globally were suffering from chronic undernourishment from 2014 to 2016. Additionally, many of the production techniques in developing countries are beginning to deplete natural resources. Consequently, creative and sustainable production and trade practices need more attention in order to improve food access and alleviate pressure on natural resources.

Although the Agricultural Outlook report focuses on the global agricultural market, the end of the report looks particularly at sustainability issues in Southeast Asia. The region had a significant amount of economic growth in the past few years, primarily due to the booming agriculture and fish sectors. This growth helped address undernourishment in the area.

However, such immense growth in these sectors put a significant amount of strain on the environment. Because of this, the next decade will require a scaling-back of the fishing and palm-oil exports from the region. According to the report, “improved resource management and increased [research and development] will be needed to achieve sustainable productivity growth.” For example, the report suggests expanding the rice industry to promote diversification.

Essentially, the report states that while the global agricultural market is looking towards a period of stability and low cost, maintaining this requires a watchful eye. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stated, “unexpected events can easily take markets away from these central trends, so it is essential that governments continue joint efforts to provide stability to world food markets.”

Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

Economic hardships in Mexico have been on the rise for many years. As of 2014, nearly half of Mexicans were living in impoverished states due to increased inequalities among social classes within the country.

Economic disparities are prevalent between Mexico’s upper-class and lower-class citizens. According to research done by Business Insider in conjunction with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the country’s richest 10 percent earn more than 30 times what the poorest 10 percent make. This places Mexico as the most unequal of the organization’s 34 countries. In 2014, the bottom 20 percent of workers in Mexico averaged only $12,850 for the year. As a result, these workers were unable to adequately supply the needs of their families.

The large gap in wealth between the rich and the poor has been a long-standing problem, with the current minimum wage rate for lower-income individuals set at $4.50 per day. Because the top one percent owns nearly half of the country’s total wealth, increased economic hardships in Mexico have resulted in longer workdays for lower-class citizens who try and compensate for their extremely low wages.

For example, according to the OECD, the average American works slightly more than 1,700 hours in one year, while the average worker in Mexico works over 2,300 hours. However, despite this substantial increase in the average hours worked per year, it has not been enough to overcome the burden of economic hardships.

Concerned citizens have begun to voice their discontent over the rising wealth of the rich at the expense of the poor. Further, they have urged Congress in Mexico to develop policies and social programs that would help to rectify the situation.

Among the suggested solutions to help in the fight against wealth disparity and resulting poverty include raising the minimum wage amount, tax transparency and changing fiscal policies to provide for better public spending tactics. Furthermore, a petition by Oxfam has urged Congress to “end the vicious cycle of inequality by prioritizing public spending on education, healthcare and other basic services.”

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

San Marino, a small, independent republic inside Italy has had its fair share of economic struggle. The Great Recession’s effects on San Marino began in earnest during 2009 and has had a major impact on the tourism drive in the Republic of San Marino. Since San Marino heavily relies on tourism as an economic stimulus, the drop in traffic increased the poverty in San Marino.

As a measure to boost the economy, the Italian government began cracking down on people who had been using San Marino’s banks as tax havens. Italian celebrities and other non-residents of San Marino took advantage its low tax rate of 17 percent and the secrecy policies implemented by San Marino banks. This allowed them to hide their money, thus avoiding their home country’s taxes.

Multiple members of San Marino’s most important bank, Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino, were arrested on laundering charges. San Marino has signed several transparency agreements with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is reported to have displayed dedication to the OECD’s standards.

While the elimination of tax havens is positive for global economic growth, it had a negative immediate impact on poverty in San Marino. The San Marino economy relied heavily on its status as a tax haven.

The Republic has made economic improvements in recent years. The GDP has grown by about one percent primarily due to an increase in the demand for domestic goods. The International Monetary and Financial Committee reports that unemployment rate in San Marino dropped from 9.3 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent at the end of 2016. To put things into perspective, the U.S. had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent at the end of 2016.

The Republic plans to implement a freeze on the 2017 budget which is estimated to save 2 million euros as well as the addition of value-added tax in 2019.

Although much more progress has yet to be made in the Republic of San Marino, its cooperation with the OECD and the steady growth it has made in the past few years promise economic strength for the tiny republic. It is hopeful that poverty in San Marino and the unemployment rate will decrease in kind over the years to come.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

Cyprus is one of the largest islands in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, situated 283 miles off the Turkish Coast. It has a vibrant history, troves of archaeological treasures, wild landscapes and abundant mineral wealth. Since 1974, the country has been partitioned between Turkish and Greek-Cypriots. As a result of this artificial division, evaluating government services like education in Cyprus is problematic.

Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) while the EU recognizes the Republic of Cyprus. A U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) patrols the demilitarized zone between the populations to provide security in a buffer known as the Green Line. On May 19, Cyprus reunification peace talks stalled over Turkish-Cypriot demands for oil and gas exploration rights and Greek-Cypriot requests for territory concessions.

Because of the reunification problem, education in Cyprus is difficult to quantify, but here are five facts.

  1. Primary education is compulsory for six years. Students then attend secondary school for six years, comprised of lower and upper levels lasting three years each.
  2. According to the 2015 PISA, the international student assessment of math, science and reading skills among 15-year-olds, Cyprus falls below average in all three areas. The nation’s results in the newest category — collaborative problem solving — has not been released.
  3. Technical and vocational education in Cyprus lasts for two years after secondary school. These pathways are not well-supported compared to university programs.
  4. Cyprus is known for the percentage of students graduating from colleges and universities. The government recently created an Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation. At present, there are three public and five private universities.
  5. PISA, as administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), measures student well-being as well as academic skills. The results of the 2015 PISA indicate that Cypriot secondary school student life satisfaction is lower than average.

Gathering statistics on education in Cyprus is difficult given the reunification problem. This rift has made it difficult to remove the deadlock which impedes socio-economic growth. Moreover, the efficiency of public spending has remained an issue for the nation’s development — particularly in education. At present, there is no single statistical office which represents all of the Cypriot people.

Hopefully, organization and unification will soon be established and improve the quality and seriousness of education in Cypress.

JG Federman

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Luxembourg
The combination of national wealth and low poverty rates have led to Luxembourg’s lack of hunger within its population base. As Trading Economics reports, only five percent of Luxembourg’s population was undernourished in 2011.

The country’s high standard of living limits hunger in Luxembourg, specifically its low poverty rates. As the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports, Luxembourg maintains one of the lowest rates of poverty. This can be credited in part to the country’s wealth; a 2016 Business Insider report ranked Luxembourg second worldwide in GDP per capita, at close to $102,000.

Furthermore, not only has Luxembourg limited hunger within its own borders but is taking measures to end hunger worldwide. Luxembourg strengthened its aid to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) since 2006, when the country funded school meals for approximately 100,000 students in the Sahel region of Africa.

In 2009, a report by ActionAid ranked Luxembourg first among developed nations in its contribution to ending world hunger. Since then, from 2012 to 2016 Luxembourg has donated approximately $9 million to $13 million to WFP, affecting mainly countries within the Middle East and Africa.

Most recently, Luxembourg signed an agreement with the WFP confirming its commitment to ending world hunger through continued funding. WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin said, “With this support from Luxembourg, WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to families in Africa and elsewhere around the world.”

Ideally, Luxembourg will aim to decrease the percentage of its own population facing undernourishment to zero. The nation clearly appears to have strong aims of limiting hunger in Luxembourg as well as worldwide, efforts that deserve serious recognition.

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr

Technology in Global Education
The fifth annual Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2017 held in Dubai on March 18 and 19 addressed the question of how to create ‘real’ global citizens. The forum is a Varkey Foundation initiative where leading figures from public, private and social sectors around the world convene to discuss the future of education.

A number of discussions centered around educational advancements in the digital age and how technology in global education could affect students.

In his speech on March 18, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) education and skills director, Andreas Schleicher, emphasized the need for new and creative ways to prepare future generations to become global citizens.

“The more diverse our children’s interests and experiences, the more they are encouraged to work with their peers to address problems in new ways, the better prepared they will be for the new digital age,” he explained.

Schleicher listed the most pertinent areas for growth as student inclusion, curriculum, teacher quality, school organization and accountability.

“We are very good at ranking human talent but not very good at developing it,” he said. “We need to focus on all students, all the time and move away from constantly testing to find the best. We should be developing everyone, not looking for those already doing well.”

Schleicher went on to say that while today’s digital age can be prosperous for those who know how to capitalize on it, those without the right education are more susceptible to vulnerable working situations.

Speaking at the GESF to Xinhua in an exclusive interview, Ms. Yang Boya, a former fellow at Harvard SEED for Social Innovation, headed multiple master classes at the forum.

She asserted that the spread of computer devices among children globally bears both positive and negative consequences. While promotion of technology in global education allows students to recognize technological progress, Yang emphasized the need for human interactions within the classroom.

“An IT device can never replace the human teacher, but support his work,” she declared in an interview with Xinhua.

GESF concluded with what is regarded as the Nobel Prize for teaching, the third annual Global Teacher Prize 2017. Maggie MacDonnell, an educator residing and teaching in Salluit, an Inuit village deep in the Canadian Arctic, was awarded the title and one million dollars.

Casie Wilson


financing-for-developmentTax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), convened at the Third International Conference On Financing For Development back in July, is a joint operation between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme.

TIWB will play a vital role in unlocking billions of dollars over the 15-year course of the Sustainable Development Goals.

TIWB’s strategy has evolved out of the revelation that every year, roughly $3 trillion in government revenue goes uncollected due to tax avoidance.

IMF researchers estimate that developing nations lose $213 billion each year for those reasons. Finding a way to get their hands on that money could help those governments invest more in education, health, energy, infrastructure and the like.

Tax law can be dense, confusing and hard to follow, especially when multinationals make it that way on purpose. For this reason, TIWB will send in highly trained tax accountants and audit specialists that will work with national tax agencies. They will strengthen tax audit capabilities and help design smarter tax policies.

The details are less exciting than the results.

Pilot projects are underway in Europe, Latin America and Africa, all of which are helping national governments increase revenue stream that will be vital for financing the Sustainable Development Goals. The numbers speak for themselves. From 2011 to 2014, tax revenue in Colombia increased from $3.3 million to $33.2 million.

TIWB is extending the hard work of previous initiatives including the Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation and the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

They all arose in an environment where multinationals are gaining in power and influence and governments around the world are strapped for cash. In trying to rebalance the scales, they are looking for everyone to pay their fair share.

The money that will come from more effective regulation will be crucial for funding the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the expertise and training that the TIWB will provide to developing country governments around the world is an extension of the philosophy embodied in the SDGs themselves.

This form of technical training and capacity building will lead to more professionals in developing countries and their skills will become necessary to help their countries develop.

John Wachter

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, OECD 1, OECD 2, UNDP
Photo: TaxLinked