Seven Facts About Girls' Education in Peru

Girls’ access to education is a topic that has rightfully garnered a lot of attention in recent years. With organizations such as Girl Rising, which began as a 2013 film documenting girls who faced obstacles in receiving education and has since become a renowned advocacy group, the circumstances prohibiting girls from receiving proper education have come under scrutiny. From societal pressures to financial hardships, there is a variety of reasons as to why millions of girls can’t reach their potential through education.

Like in many countries around the world, girls in Peru are at a disadvantage when it comes to their educational opportunities. While there are girls around the Western South American country who are able to complete primary and even secondary schooling, education beyond that is often not accessible, especially for girls in rural areas. The following seven facts about girls’ education in Peru explain how the girls in Peru are at a disadvantage for their education.

7 Facts about Girls’ Education in Peru

  1. There is a 6 percent gap in literacy rates between genders in Peru. An estimated 97.2 percent of males 15 years and older can read and write, while 91.2 percent of females 15 and older are literate. While this difference is not huge, it is still significant.
  2. With 45 percent, and still rising, of the population under 25 years old, Peru’s education system is faltering. The government is being forced to spend more on education than is allotted in its budget in order to provide free education to children between 6 and 15 years old. While this free education is meant to be mandatory, many students, male and female, are still unable to attend. In fact, only 36 percent of girls in rural areas of Peru end up graduating from secondary school.
  3. Of Peru’s 31 million citizens, 22.7 percent live below the poverty line; that’s more than seven million people in less than liveable conditions. Many families living under the poverty line also live in rural areas, creating more obstacles for girls wanting to go to school. These girls would have to walk to and from school, and in cases where only afternoon classes are offered, many would be forced to stop attending out of fear for their safety.
  4. In 2001, a law improving access to education for girls in rural areas was passed. However, the results have been more surface-level than actually yielding tangible progress. Mainly, the law has resulted in activism on the subject of girls’ education. While more awareness is always helpful, active change in education opportunities is the ultimate goal.
  5. Because Peru’s population is largely made up of young people, there is a disproportionate ratio of students to teachers available to work. These scarce and largely underqualified teachers are unable to provide adequate learning environments to students, let alone give guidance to further propel students’ education opportunities. Some teachers are not even fully versed in the subjects they are meant to be teaching.
  6. Organizations such as Peruvian Hearts are working to make tangible differences. Working directly with Peruvian girls and young women living in rural areas, Peruvian Hearts not only offers quality educational opportunities but also one-on-one guidance and community involvement to create well-rounded young women.
  7. Basing their selection on the girls’ financial needs and display of ambition and willingness to learn, Peruvian Hearts gives their selected girls financial scholarships, college tuition and room and board. Their 100 percent success rate with girls completing secondary school means that more girls can continue their education in college. Additionally, the organization provides the girls with English lessons to further prepare them for higher education.

These seven facts about girls’ education in Peru highlight the setbacks many young girls face regarding their access to education. However, these facts also shed light on the progress made both in legislation and through organizations. Ultimately, despite the obstacles, more girls are slowly gaining the education they deserve.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Frost Season in Peru

While Peru is known for having a pleasant climate in most regions, this isn’t always the case all year round. In the winter months of the frost season in Peru, a wave of freezing weather strikes the communities in many areas of the Andean region.

These freezing temperatures are not your average winter. In 2010, freezing weather in the Andean South went below -20 Celcius, causing pneumonia and hundreds of deaths — with children being the most impacted demographic. In 2017, a wave of freeze killed around 180,000 alpacas on the farthest areas of Ayacucho, where the people heavily depended on the breeding of alpacas for sustenance. Since the affected regions are in extreme poverty, the people living there do not have enough resources to prevent tragedies such as the ones mentioned above.

Each frost season in Peru brings a new wave of adversity and problems, and unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable people that are the most affected by the weather. However, help comes even during the most troubled times. Here are three initiatives that have helped those affected by frost season in Peru.

3 Initiatives To Helping Those Affected by Frost Season in Peru

  1. Demos Calor a Los Hermanos de Puno- After the southern Andean regions were in a state of emergency in 2010, the Peruvian Radio Program and Solaris Peru Association joined forces to create these campaigns. Their main objective was to collect enough warm clothing and blankets for children between the ages of 1 to 5. The campaign was successful; by the end of 2011, it delivered more than 3.5 tons of apparel and other necessities to the victims.
  2. Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan- In 2017, with a new frost season approaching, ex-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski began the Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan. Their main objective was to take the necessary steps to prevent the fatal damage caused by the frost on the highland regions. The program spent around $30 million to repair damaged infrastructure. The benefits did not only include monetary help but also the delivery of blankets, prefabricated classrooms and provide essential pneumonia vaccines. Small children and the elderly are the most affected during the frost season, so the delivery of pneumonia vaccines saved their lives
  3. Abrigando Esperanzas – The Oli Foundation- The Oli Foundation helps and assists Peru’s most vulnerable sectors. Beginning in 2011, the foundation has successfully managed several initiatives. “Abrigando Esperazas” specifically focused on the victims of the frost season. Their principal goal was the collection of warm blankets and other first-aid necessities and delivering them to the affected zones of the Peruvian Andes in Arequipa, Cerro de Pasco, Cusco, Puno and Tacna. In June 2019, their campaign “Contra el Frio por Los Nuestros,” has the main goal of building 20 warm safehouses in the town of Kusamayo, Puno. These safehouses will help keep vulnerable populations warm during the challenging frost season.

Peruvian frost season is not an easy season to overcome. Luckily there is even more being done to fight against the hardships of the winter. This year, for example, a new type of potato was developed, called Wiñay, that can tolerate freezing temperatures and maintain its nutritional value, making it possible for farmers to produce crops even then the ground is covered in snow. Through the efforts of organizations like the three mentioned above, Peruvians are being given the resources they need to survive and thrive throughout the frost season in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

Venezuelan refugees in PeruFor the last decade, Venezuela has seen a severe and damaging economic recession. As of 2018, inflation hit 130,060 percent. There are severe shortages of food and medicine and an increase in crime that has made life in Venezuela a battle for survival. Considering these factors, including President Nicolás Maduro not leaving power anytime soon, many Venezuelans have decided to pack their bags and leave their beloved homeland. In the past four years, approximately 10 percent of the population fled the country. Thankfully, shelters have opened to provide aid for Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

At first, many governments were willing to cooperate, but as more Venezuelans left, many countries established specific immigration requirements, such as having a valid passport. Even though this sounded fair for many, it closed the door to many of these refugees, as the cost of processing one visa is around 7,200 bolívars ($115); that is four times the local minimum wage.

Peru is one of the few nations that kept an open border policy for many years. However, that changed when President Martin Viscarra established that as of June 15, Venezuelans would need a passport and visa to enter Peru. That day, 5,849 people arrived at the border Peruvian border, and while some arrived just in time, others were left behind. These grim situations may make it seem that all hope is lost, but there are still many Peruvians who receive these migrants with open arms. These three shelters have given shelter and hope to Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

Casa Don Bosco

This Lima home directed by Salesian Missionaries takes part in integration projects that help newly arrived Venezuelans adapt to an entirely different culture. While it used to be an old vocational training facility, it now accommodates the needs of the refugees, by providing necessary guidance on finding housing and educating them on their fundamental workers’ rights. Casa Don Bosco also has ties with The Food Bank of Peru, allowing them to feed all the migrants that knock on their doors.

A Power Couple and Their Shelter

In June 2018, Raquel Vásquez and Ernesto Reyes, a married couple, bought an old house in the middle of the Comas district. Their mission was to provide refuge to any Venezuelan refugees that arrived in Lima. Once installed, Venezuelans are allowed to stay for up to one month for free, giving them time to find a job and better housing. Vásquez and Reyes said that opening the shelter was a necessity, especially after seeing all the refugees sleeping on the streets, penniless after spending all their money just to get to Lima. The shelter operates thanks to the couple’s own money and local donations.

Rene Cobeña’s Shelter and Business

The owner of this shelter is textile businessman Rene Cobeña, who bought an old hotel and transformed it into a safe haven. The house not only offers Venezuelans breakfast, lunch and dinner but also operates as a small business, employing the same refugees. Using his money and some donations, Cobeña buys ingredients to make arepas and donuts that the refugees sell. He has also sold some of his textile machines to fund better ingredients and transportation. Thanks to these efforts, the refugees were able to start building their savings, helping themselves and their families, and eventually leave the shelter to begin anew.

These shelters are not on alone in their efforts; despite the lack of legal assistance, the owners and many other Peruvians are giving what they can to help. Venezuelans are escaping one of the most brutal dictatorships of the last century, and all they need is a helping hand through this difficult time as Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Wikimedia

Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing CountriesIn countries with poor economies, there’s often no way for people with low income to get access to essential amenities or conveniences. Whether the lack of electricity, water, or basic information regarding crops and harvest times, problems are widespread and varied. But people continue to find solutions that are simple and affordable when it seems there are no options. Here are some examples of simple, useful technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries and communities.

9 Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing Countries

  1. Sproxil provides an online, easy to access verification method for pharmacies and drug sellers. Counterfeit drugs are a big problem in developing countries, with few ways to check for quality. Sproxil works with factories, providing easy to check codes on genuine shipments. A seller can simply verify the code through Sproxil’s app to ensure the quality of delivered drugs.
  2. EthioSIS is an information gathering and mapping system devoted to soil quality. It has mapped out soil quality in several areas in Ethiopia with the intent to provide accurate information to farmers and government officials. This is accomplished using satellite technology.
  3. BRCK is a compact, low cost, durable router. Built by a company operating in Nairobi, there have been several iterations of this technology in order to bring the internet to every corner of the continent. The same company has created Moja, a free wifi platform accessed through a BRCK and the KIO tablet.
  4. An effective solution to a localized problem, UTEC created a billboard that filters and cleans polluted air. Located near its campus in Peru, it stands in an area where air pollution is a constant, extreme problem. The billboard does the work of many trees, many times over, the billboard itself advertises an engineering education.
  5. Of these nine technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries, GravityLight may be the most universally useful. GravityLight is a simple concept for providing light to houses that don’t have electricity. A generator attached to a chain holds weight. The weight winched up on the chain turns the generator as it descends, providing electric power to a small light, usually enough for 20 minutes. Easy to use and re-use, it can be hung from a wall or ceiling anywhere.
  6. The SeabinV5 (version 5) is the brainchild of the Seabin project. This trashcan has a built-in pump, designed to filter out trash from ocean water. The floating SeabinV5 adjusts to oil-absorbing pads and requires easy cleaning.  The electrical cost of maintaining the pump is equivalent to $1 a day.
  7. The Beacon app acts as a search and rescue in local areas. Rescue agencies launch a unique platform, kept up to date about their area of coverage. In areas without a consistent or fast ambulance presence, it can organize and bring together first responders quickly, which is invaluable for smaller communities.
  8. The Hippo Water Roller does not actually take the shape of a hippo. Rather, the water container is cylindrical with a large handle for rolling, either by pushing or pulling. In many smaller communities, getting fresh water often means traveling several miles and carrying it back with a bucket. The Hippo Roller’s ability to transport water easily is invaluable to these communities.
  9. The Bandicoot is a robot designed for sewer cleaning in India. The hazardous waste it is designed to clean and dispose of is very harmful to humans. Also, it takes a human worker two hours to properly clean an area the Bandicoot can cover in forty-five minutes. The robot is so simple to operate and maintain, that those whose job it was previously to clean the sewers can now operate the Bandicoot.

Technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries must be simple, affordable and able to spread easily. These are only a few examples of evolving tech that brings the world closer to ending global poverty. Creative thinking towards a small scale problem can lead to massive changes on a global scale.

– Mason Sansonia
Photo: Flickr

Five Soap Brands that Give BackAccording to the CDC, nearly 2.5 billion people lack access to clean water. Without a sanitation system, diseases can spread at a disastrous rate. Each year, more than 800,000 children die due to the lack of sanitation in communities across the globe. This article focuses on five soap brands that give back to those without access to clean water.

5 Soap Brands that Give Back

  1. Hand in Hand
    After reading a startling statistic about the number of people affected by water-related illnesses, Bill Glaab & Courtney Apple founded Hand in Hand. Together, they partnered with My Neighbor’s Children, a non-profit organization based in Haiti focused on impoverished children. Through this partnership, all of Hand in Hand’s donations go toward these children. In 2013, Hand in Hand opened their first well in Onaville, Haiti, which now serves over 240 families daily. Through their “Buy a bar. Give a bar.” program, Hand in Hand has donated more than 1 million bars of soap. With every bar purchased, Hand in Hand provides a child in need with a bar of soap and a month of clean water.
  2. Pacha Soap Co.
    After a large flood in the Peruvian Andes, most families lost work and communication with the world they once knew. They depended upon the “pacha” or “earth” in Quechua. In 2011, Andrew and Abi founded Pacha Soap Co. with the mission to create a product that would help others as well as the earth. Since then, Pacha Soap Co. has supplied 14 communities with clean water wells, served more than 4,000 people clean water for the first time and have funded eight independent soap shops in Africa. Through all of this hard work, Pacha Soap Co. has donated more than 3.8 million bars of soap to schools in developing counties, provided over 74,000 children with hand-washing education and has created over 250 careers.
  3. Soapbox Soaps
    Founded in 2010 by Dave Simnick, Soapbox Soaps has made it their mission to empower consumers “with the ability to change the world through everyday, simple purchases”. Partnering with the Sundara Fund, a non-profit that recycles soap from hotels, Soapbox Soaps has been able to supply 30 women with a reliable job. With each purchase, Soapbox Soaps donates a bar of soap and proper hygiene education to someone in need. The proceeds also go toward research and development in reducing trachoma infections, an infection in the eye that could lead to blindness. Today, more than 3 million lives have been impacted through Soapbox Soap’s mission and over 6,000 lessons on hygiene have been taught. Soapbox Soaps is just one of the five soap brands that give back and partner with Sundara Fund.
  4. B.A.R.E. Soaps
    Another soap brand that partners with Sundara Fund is B.A.R.E or Bringing Antiseptic Resources to Everyone Soaps. This is a volunteer, all-natural and socially conscious company. All of the profits are either reinvested back into B.A.R.E Soaps or non-profits. In 2012, B.A.R.E Soaps partnered with Children’s Hopechest & Point Community Church to supply children with soap and vitamins in Kaberamaido, Uganda. When the Hepatitis B outbreak hit, B.A.R.E Soaps quickly diverted funds to support vaccinations. In 2016, B.A.R.E. Soaps funded a local research center where they could donate sanitary products. That same year, B.A.R.E Soaps partnered with Sundara Fund in Kalwa Slum, India. Every month, 500 school children living in the slums receive a bar of soap and basic health care and hygiene training.
  5. Lush
    Lush is known for its bright and colorful bath bombs and sweet-smelling shampoo bars. Using the freshest ingredients, Lush lives by six core philosophies to fight against animal testing. 100 percent of their products are vegetarian and more than 80 percent are vegan. All of its products are handmade and sold “naked” or without packaging to reduce the amount of waste in landfills. Lush advocates for those without a voice. Through their body lotion, Charity Pot, Lush donates all of the proceeds to “small grassroots organizations working in the areas of human rights, animal protection and environmental justice”. Since 2007, Charity Pot has helped Lush donate more than $33 million to over 2,450 grassroots charities in 42 countries. In 2010, the Sustainable Lush Fund was created. Since then, over 44 projects in 21 countries have been created.

These five soap brands that give back, are more than just charitable. They have given many people healthier and cleaner lives. Despite how simplistic a bar of soap can be, many people lack access to hygiene products and even clean water. Even the smallest gift can cleanse generations of detrimental conditions.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

childhood anemia in peruAnemia has always been a problem for the most vulnerable sectors in the Peruvian population, where access to basic needs, such as nutritional food and good healthcare, is scarce. These realities hit hard on the Peruvian Andes, where around 40 percent of families live in extreme poverty, and 30 percent of their children are severely malnourished, causing them to develop anemia.

The illness can be very damaging, especially for children. Fortunately for them, the 25-year-old, agro-industrial graduate Julio Garay, came up with a simple, yet very efficient solution: a cookie.

How A Cookie is Beating Childhood Anemia in Peru

Garay was born in a rural area located in the province of Ayacucho, where, due to the poor living conditions, one out of three children developed some anemic condition. He even had the illness at age five, which caused him growth and developmental problems later in life.

Luckily, he had the chance to fight back at the illness when he began to study agro-industrial engineering at the Saint Cristobal of Humanga University. For his final thesis, he decided to develop a nutritional cookie that will not only combat anemia in his hometown in Ayacucho, but all of Peru.

The Miracle Components

The cookie is a mix of different ingredients that are known for their high nutritional value: quinoa, bovine blood, kiwicha, chia and cacao. Coming to this final mix was not an easy task for Garay, since the first set of trials were unsuccessful in their mission of raising hemoglobin levels. They also had a sour taste due to the bovine blood that made it very difficult for a child to like.  To improve its taste, Garay decided to add cacao to the mix, improving the flavor significantly. The use of eggs mixed with bovine blood helped to raise the amount of iron supplement in the cookie to 20 mg, the highest in the market.

First Success

In the small community of Mollepate, in Garay’s native region of Ayacucho, the levels of childhood anemia are alarming. It was the perfect place to see if the cookie, later named Nutri Hierro, would significantly raise the standards of hemoglobin in the kids. The parents were instructed to give their kids one packet of Nutri Hierro per day for 30 days, to increase their chances of beating anemia. In the end, their children will go through another medical diagnosis to see if there was any improvement.
The results were favorable; the kids who at the beginning had 10 levels of hemoglobin raised those levels to 15 by the end of the month trial.

What Comes Next: Addressing Childhood Anemia in Peru

Many Peruvian laboratories and business enterprises had their eyes already set on this miracle cookie. However, despite many offers, Garay wanted to start his own company, especially after seeing Nutri Hierro was in high demand. Although he would have to sell his cookies at 50 cents for profit, he reduced the price to 25 cents, making it accessible to impoverished families. Other countries, such as Bolivia and Ecuador, have also requested the product.

Garay does not want to stop here. He is currently developing other dietary supplements that will help brain development in small children, as well as developing vegan options. Safe to say, there are high hopes to not only to eradicate anemia in the most impoverished provinces but also in all Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

A Solution to Poverty in Peru
Peru’s location in the dense tropics of the Amazon is contentious. While the environment offers the water and sunshine needed to efficiently grow crops, frequent natural disasters destroy the very lands Peruvian farmers cultivate. The destruction of the cacao bean is a primary concern among rural agriculturists. Voted as the provider of the best dark chocolate in the world in 2017, it is imperative that cacao beans thrive as they provide a solution to poverty in Peru.

Poverty in Peru

The Peruvian government recorded a poverty rate of 21.7 percent in 2017, 1 percent higher than the previous year. This is the first time in sixteen years the poverty rate has risen in Peru, leaving 6.9 million individuals in conditions of economic instability and future uncertainty. Those living in rural areas are most affected because the urban setting acts as an energetic palette for new job opportunities and activism.

Cacao Farming in Peru

The cacao bean offers a solution to poverty in Peru, particularly for the impoverished individuals who have access to vast growing valleys. The South American country is ranked as one of the world’s most biodiverse. This makes for rich soil content that provides a promising potential for high-quality cacao growth. Furthermore, Peru’s climate is one of few that supports the growth of a variety of cacao species. Some common varieties include the Trinitary, Amazon foreign and Creole cacao beans.

Peruvian farmers have taken advantage of these environmental accolades, as it has become one of the world’s prominent cacao producers. Cacao exported from Peruvian growing sites rose a substantial 424 percent from 2001 to 2007. Within these same years, exporting profits rose from $0.2 million to $11 million. This number does not include the Peruvian profit margin of products made from cacao, including cacao butter, liquor, paste, husks, and cocoa powder.

The Peruvian government has recognized the considerable benefits reaped by cacao production. National policy crafted after the 2017 increase in poverty levels illustrate that the government is specifically mindful of cacao production and hopes to bolster its distribution as a solution to poverty in Peru.

One of these policies includes the weeding out of illegal cocaine farms and offering the land to cacao farmers. The U.S has recently demonstrated its support for this strategy. In 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Peruvian Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA) as well as a multitude of private businesses in Peru. The U.S. government has connected these farmers to a new international base through which they can expect a prosperous return on their delicious beans. The renewed farmlands furthermore provide new opportunities for the jobless as countless hands are needed to carefully harvest the cacao bean.

What Does the Future Hold?

As a result of Peru’s and the U.S.’s dual effort to protect and distribute Peruvian cacao beans, USAID has predicted that Peru’s exportation of this bean will more than double by 2021. A new partnership with the U.S. also establishes Peru’s intimate access to the $35 billion American confectionery industry. These statistics will suggest that poverty rates in Peru, specifically in rural areas, will once again begin to sink.

The cacao bean will continue to put smiles on faces across the world. As long as there is a hunger for delightful Peruvian dark chocolate, there will be a job opportunity for an individual living in poverty. The value of the cacao bean can therefore hardly be underestimated, and while economic instability is an arduous and persistent problem, the production of cacao beans provides a sweet solution to poverty in Peru.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Safe, Quality Drinking Water

On May 24, 2019, thousands of residents from poor neighborhoods in Lima, Peru protested business litigation that has been obstructing their access to drinking water. The demand for safe drinking water, a necessity for any lifeform to thrive, is, unfortunately, a common obstacle in South America. Several countries struggle in providing this vital resource to its citizens, especially in rural areas with poorer communities. However, other countries are successfully paving a path to ensuring access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Here are a few facts about safe drinking water throughout South America.

Access to Safe Drinking Water in South America

  • Peru: Thirty-one million people live in Peru, but 3 million don’t have access to safe drinking water, and 5 million people don’t have access to improved sanitation. While more than 90 percent of Peruvian residents have access to improved drinking water, in rural areas, access drops to below 70 percent. Likewise, urban areas offer sanitation facility access to 82.5 percent of the population, but barely over 50 percent of people in rural communities, highlighting the drastic disparity between socioeconomic and regional populations.
  • Brazil: Similarly, shortcomings in providing safe, quality drinking water exist in South America’s largest country, Brazil. With a population of 208 million, 5 million Brazilians lack access to safe drinking water, and 25 million people, more than 8 percent of the population, don’t have access to sanitation facilities. While 100 percent of the urban population has access to drinking water, in rural areas the percentage drops to 87. The numbers take another hit when it comes to access to sanitation facilities. Eighty-eight percent of the urban population has this access, but almost half of the people in rural populations lack proper sanitation facilities.
  • Argentina: A similar narrative occurs in Argentina, where urban populations might have decent access to safe, quality drinking water and sanitation facilities, but the numbers drop off concerning rural and lower socioeconomic communities which struggle in having their needs and demands addressed by the government. Typical causes for low-quality drinking water include pollution, urbanization and unsustainable forms of agriculture.
  • Uruguay: In stark contrast, Uruguay has available safe drinking water for 100 percent of urban populations, almost 94 percent in rural populations, over 96 percent for improved access to sanitation facilities for urban populations and almost 94 percent for rural populations. The World Bank participated in the success of transforming Uruguay’s access to drinking water, which suffered in the 1980s, by offering loans to the main utility provider. The World Bank and other developers financially assisted Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE), the public utility that now provides drinking water to more than 98 percent of Uruguayans, in addition to providing more than half of the sanitation utilities in Uruguay. In addition to finances, these partners aid in ensuring quality operation standards such as upholding accountability, preventing unnecessary water loss, implementing new wastewater treatment plants in rural areas and protecting natural water sources such as the Santa Lucia river basin.
  • Bolivia: Like Uruguay, Bolivia made recent strides in improving access to safe, quality drinking water. They began by meeting the Millenium Development goal of cutting in half the number of people without access to improved drinking water by 2015. President Evo Morales, “a champion of access to water and sanitation as a human right,” leads to a path for the next step which is to achieve universal access to drinking water by 2020 and sanitation by 2025. Bolivia also recently invested $2.9 billion for drinking water access, irrigation systems and sanitation. In 2013, Morales addressed the United Nations calling for access to water and sanitation as a human right. Dedicated to his cause, he leads Bolivia in surpassing most other countries on the continent in ensuring these essential amenities to his constituents.

Unfortunately, the progress of Bolivia and Uruguay doesn’t transcend all borders within South America, as millions still feel neglected by their governments due to not having regular, affordable, safe, quality access to clean drinking water.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

children in venezuela
In a nation experiencing an economic crisis, the children of Venezuela are suffering. Poverty is on the rise, including an increase in the malnutrition of children due to limited access to resources. Families fleeing to Peru have traveled quite far. Along the way, many have faced discrimination due to their migrant status. UNICEF and Plan International have developed a strategy for aiding children who are experiencing rapid changes in their home lives. They are helping children in Venezuela find a “Happiness Plan.”

Conditions in Venezuela

At one time, Venezuela was part of a wealthier portion of Latin America. However, with new officials and underdevelopment, poverty is now abundant. A large number of resources were focused toward developing the oil industry while other developments were delayed. With the newfound prosperity that oil brought, the economic gap grew further and further apart. The consequences of such destitution can be easily seen in the adults and children of Venezuela. Food, medicine, water and other resources are greatly lacking. This leaves people desperately searching for food.

The desperation associated with poverty was significantly increased in March due to a five-day blackout. Resources like food and water were even more scarce than usual. Some resorted to collecting water from sewage pipes. Multitudes of people were left without food. People rushed to stores to find food but discovered that the stores were already stripped. Some stores were even trashed and burnt in the chaos that ensued with riots. The riots were also the cause of several deaths from untreated medical conditions to gunshot wounds. Hospitals operated under less than ideal conditions, with limited access to electricity and supplies, such as soap.

The Effects of This Crisis On Children

In a press release, UNICEF stated, “ While precise figures are unavailable because of very limited official health or nutrition data, there are clear signs that the crisis is limiting children’s access to quality health services, medicines and food.” Statistics about conditions in Venezuela can be hard to come by, and the ones that are available are often disheartening. Malnutrition is becoming a larger issue for the children of Venezuela. While the government has attempted some measures of addressing the problem, such as monthly packages of food for sale, more still needs to be done to provide for the Venezuelan people.

As a result of the continued crisis in Venezuela, many have fled the country. As of 2018, two million people had already left Venezuela; without a doubt, numerous others have left since. For those who are awaiting refugee status or to be reunited with lost family members, UNICEF has created a safe place to help children with this difficult time.

The Happiness Plan

The “Happiness Plan” is a safe space for children that has been set up in a tent in the country of Peru. Filled with games, coloring pages and books, this tent provides an outlet for children to be children while awaiting their official entry into Peru. In addition to the fun activities, the “Happiness Plan” offers psychosocial support from professionals for children struggling with these difficult transitions they are facing.

Some of the children passing through the tent have been separated from their families. They are awaiting the chance to rejoin their families in Peru. Others are with some members of their nuclear family but had to leave the rest of their family and friends behind them in Venezuela. One survey taken by UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration stated that 73 percent of Venezuelan families in Tumbes, Peru, had to leave behind one or more of their children.

In such a dismal time for Venezuela, it is reassuring to know that organizations such as UNICEF and Plan International are implementing programs to help these children who have experienced such abrupt change. They will undoubtedly need physical and psychological support to heal from the trauma they have experienced in their home country.

Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Peru
Poverty in Peru declined steadily from 2001 to 2016, dropping from 55 percent to 21 percent. In 2017, the poverty rate rose slightly to 21 .7 percent. The relative success Peru has had in reducing poverty, however, is a result of economic growth along with increased and improved social programs and technological innovations. The Inter-American Foundation, which currently has 20 active projects in the nation, has made significant contributions to the reduction of poverty in Peru, having invested more than $5 million in the nation and directly benefiting more than 35,000 people.

The Situation in Peru

In Peru, poverty is defined as having a monthly income of fewer than 338 soles (equal to $105). Poverty continues to be an issue in both urban and rural areas, with 44 percent of the impoverished population living in rural areas while the remaining 56 percent are located closer to urban centers. Those who are extremely poor tend to live in rural areas or on the very outskirts of the cities. Natural disasters, inadequate education and training and poor healthcare all contribute to poverty in Peru, making it a multi-dimensional problem.

The recent increase in the poverty rate can be at least partially attributed to political turmoil in the nation. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was elected to office in 2016, and his policy decisions reflected a misunderstanding of Peru’s poverty and how best to reduce it. He resigned in March 2018, however, and his successor, Martín Vizcarra, has “declared the rise in poverty ‘unacceptable.’” It remains to be seen how new leadership will affect Peru’s poverty rates in coming years.

The Inter-American Foundation in Peru

While outside organizations cannot necessarily solve problems within Peru’s government, they can have an impact on improving the lives of Peruvians across the nation through targeted and effective investments and programming. The Inter-American Foundation, for example, has committed to investing in Peru by providing specific grants that are invested strategically to make the largest possible impact.

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) was created by Congress in 1969 to act as an independent agency of the U.S. Government. The IAF focuses its efforts on reducing poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, providing grants and creating partnerships with local organizations and governments. Rather than designing projects, the IAF invests in initiatives created by grassroots groups and communities, supporting local innovation.

The programs supported by the IAF in Peru employ a range of methods for various intended outcomes, although all are connected to efforts to reduce poverty in Peru. Program areas include leadership, education, job skills, enterprise development, agriculture, food security, legal assistance and inclusion. Most of these programs are funded by the IAF for periods of three to six years, with the amount of grant funding and the number of years the program will run determined at the outset. The IAF also estimates how many direct and indirect beneficiaries each grant will have.

Programs Supported by IAF in Peru

One of the initiatives most recently supported by the IAF, the Asociación Peruana de Productores de Cacao (APPCACAO), will receive $177,500 from the IAF and run from 2018 to 2020. This program is designed to help cacao producers, who often lack the income needed to support their families. According to the IAF, APPCACAO will help “raise their income and quality of life by improving their production of fine flavor cacao and strengthening their management and governance practices to ensure greater participation of women and youth.” This will directly benefit 1,260 individuals and another 3,900 will receive indirect benefits as this program seeks to improve agriculture, food security, leadership, education, job skills and enterprise development.

The Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is a program that also addresses the economic empowerment of women by focusing on female domestic workers. The IAF recognizes that these women are likely to have poor working conditions and low incomes. It, therefore, works to educate female domestic workers about their legal rights and helps to improve their negotiation skills, helping them find higher-paying jobs with humane working conditions. With an IAF investment of $240,000, this program will be active from 2017 to 2020, directly benefiting 2,600 individuals and indirectly benefiting 44,650.

A third program working to reduce poverty in Peru is the Asociación Kallpa para la Promoción de la Salud Integral y el Desarrollo (Kallpa), which focuses on reducing youth unemployment, including the unemployment of disabled youth. Youth is defined as anyone between the ages of 15 and 29, and the program provides the support needed for young people to “find meaningful employment or start a small business.” The IAF has invested $554,390 in this program, which is expected to benefit 1,550 direct and 5,200 indirect individuals.

Looking Ahead

These programs provide a brief look at the work that the IAF has supported, highlighting its efforts to improve conditions for women and young people, decrease food insecurity, improve working conditions and reduce unemployment, all of which are vital to decreasing poverty in Peru. Notably, however, 11 out of the 20 active projects currently supported by the IAF were scheduled to end in 2018, and it remains to be seen whether the IAF will continue to invest in as many projects in the future.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr