IsraAID Responds to Global Crises
Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the nonprofit organization IsraAID responds to global crises, such as natural disasters and poverty, and sends teams of volunteers to help those in need. After its founding in 2001, IsraAID responded to crises in over 50 different countries. Its expertise in crisis relief includes emergency aid distributions, pinpoint trauma support and prevention training for local government and non-government professionals. These are some of the global crises IsraAID has responded to:

Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines

IsraAID sent its first mission to the Philippines after Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. Working in collaboration with local partner Operation Blessing International, IsraAID dispatched a team of nurses and doctors to assist in the emergency medical operations. In 2013, another typhoon devastated the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people, injuring more than 28,000 and affecting over 16 million people overall. IsraAID responded within 48 hours with its medical team on the ground less than four days after the event. It spent the first three days of its efforts assisting the local health workers in one of the many hospitals the typhoon had destroyed. After that, IsraAID spent the next two years operating with the local government, instigating programs in medical support, psychotherapy and the rebuilding of the fallen cities.

Earthquake in Nepal

After a major earthquake left Nepal in ruins back in 2015, IsraAID sent a team to help the local police force locate survivors and provide emergency medical treatment. This was a relief to the local authorities and medical personnel outnumbered by the number of injuries and the chaos that ensued. Working alongside the authorities and an emergency response from the Israeli Defense Forces, IsraAID volunteers risked their lives to save and treat the survivors who the rubble had trapped. IsraAID not only provided the immediate essentials of food, water, shelter and medical aid to the Nepalese but also focused its efforts on long-term recovery via farming, fishing and a new supply of clean water. It also provided psychosocial services to the victims, helping them cope with and build resilience in the wake of the tragedy.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp and Famine in Kenya

Since 2007, IsraAID has been sending emergency relief teams to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya—the largest refugee camp in the world—to aid the victims running from violence and famine. Later in 2011, when a drought caused one of the worst famines to ever strike the Horn of Africa, IsraAID returned to Kenya with a distribution of food and relief items for the refugees and locals still suffering from hunger and chaos. It also offered that same assistance to the people of Turkana, Kenya’s poorest county. IsraAID has maintained a steady presence in Kenya since 2013, helping those in poverty and the refugee camp with medical treatment, water management and psychosocial support.

Refugee Crisis in Greece

During the refugee crisis in 2015, IsraAID responded by sending a team of volunteers to Greece. Special mobile units provided immediate medical and psychosocial aid, distributed supplies and identified particularly vulnerable groups, such as children. IsraAID volunteers also rescued refugees whose boats had capsized and provided sleeping bags to anyone who had to sleep on the ground. Throughout the crisis, the volunteers provided food, clothing, medicine and hygiene kits to the refugees, as well as psychotherapy training to the local government and non-government professionals so that it could better care for the traumatized population.

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rican population in 2017, IsraAID responded with a Spanish-fluent team of psychosocial and medical support, as well as experts in water and sanitation. At the time, the country’s poverty rate was 43.5 percent and the unemployment rate at 10.3 percent, on top of 95 percent of the populace losing electricity as a result of the storm. IsraAID provided emergency relief programs in the distribution of food, water and basic supplies, medical treatment and mental support. The team then shifted focus to long-term recovery and implemented a system to provide water and sanitation to the people of Puerto Rico.

The aforementioned countries and many others have benefitted greatly from IsraAID’s support, and IsraAID responds to global crises to this day. The organization has even established ongoing training programs for water management, psychosocial services and other relief efforts in the countries listed above, as well as in Japan, South Korea, Haiti, Jordan and South Sudan. As IsraAID responds to global crises, those in need have a chance to lead better lives.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Farming Systems in the Philippines

Lack of technological prowess has historically been one of the key issues affecting farming systems in the Philippines. But there are other issues as well:

  • The input of harvests has not been matching up to the output of harvests which is leading to a loss in profits. This problem is due mainly to farm pests that are consuming or contaminating harvests, along with diseases ravaging the plantations. The disease problem, in particular, is further exacerbated by the fact that the main agricultural product that the Philippines produces is rice.
  • Due to a lack of crop diversity, large swaths of rice plantations often suffer from the same disease. Without the proper pesticides and fertilizer, there is not much that can be done for the Philippines to combat the problem. The national government has tried to solve this problem by importing other pesticides and fertilizers from other countries, but this is much more expensive than it would be for the country to make its own.
  • Many farmers lack the necessary education, training and skills to maintain thriving businesses. Inadequate infrastructure is an offshoot of this issue and many farmers do not have access to coveted irrigation systems or milling towers which are essential for creating a sustainable agricultural system in modern society.

Business Modernization

Thankfully, organizations and programs have been created or put in place to solve these specific issues. For instance, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) has put forward long term plans to educate farmers properly on their vocation. Preserving certain types of endangered plants is also a key agenda item.

DOST-PCIEERD is focused on three core areas: cryopreservation, micropropagation and hydroponics. Of note, the agency’s SPICE program also seeks to improve access to farming tools that would allow farmers to work at a less intensive rate while at the same time boosting profits. This is crucial since most farmers in the Philippines cannot afford their own improved equipment, to assist in farming.

These improvements are much needed, especially since the country experienced a 5.7 percent drop in crop production in the second quarter of 2019 alone. This is significant because out of all of the agricultural products that the Philippines has, the crop production field has seen the sharpest decline, while other areas of agriculture such as livestock and fisheries crops have grown.

Online Learning and Management

The SPICE program won’t have to shoulder the responsibility of reviving the agriculture industry alone, however. The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) is especially focused on the training of farmers and allowing farmers to gain the knowledge to train their peers. ATI even goes so far as to include an e-learning system to give farmers a crash course on the new techniques and technology that they will be used to improve their farming businesses.

The initiative also utilizes an app that can be accessed via a computer or phone to better connect farmers and their potential customers. There is also an app that allows farmers to better manage their rice farms with crop and nutrient management guidelines. This is crucial since rice accounts for 20 percent of agricultural output in the country.

Though farming systems in the Philippines are in need of improvement the government is taking the necessary steps to equip  farmers with the tools and knowledge to remain competitive. This is necessary since more than 40 percent of the economy in the Philippines depends on the agricultural sector.

– Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

12 Shocking Facts About Hunger in the Philippines
The Philippines is an archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands located in Southeast Asia in the Pacific Ocean. Hunger is a very serious problem in the Philippines, affecting a large percentage of the population and causing many serious health concerns. Here are 12 shocking facts about hunger in the Philippines.

12 Shocking Facts About Hunger in the Philippines

  1. More than 33 percent of Filipino children suffer from malnutrition due to hunger problems in the Philippines. The problems with hunger and resulting malnutrition have long-term negative effects on children’s health.
  2. Out of the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines has one of the highest hunger severities. The only country facing a worse hunger situation in the ASEAN is Indonesia.
  3. The most recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) calculated that the Philippines ranks 69 out of 113 countries with a GHI of 20.2. Factors such as undernourishment and health statistics such as weight and mortality rates, and particularly with children, determine the GHI for a country. The higher the GHI value, the more serious the hunger situation is. A GHI value of zero indicates no undernourishment in the population. The Philippines’ high ranking displays the country’s serious struggles with hunger.
  4. With a GHI of 20.2, the Philippines has one of the most serious scores on the GHI scale. However, this score does not place the country into an alarming category. This shows that while the situation is serious, it is not unsalvageable.
  5. There are approximately 520 million malnourished people in the world. The Philippines has amongst the highest number of citizens suffering from malnourishment. The Asian region, in general, has an extremely high malnourishment rate, which includes the islands of the Philippines.
  6. During recent years, effective results against malnourishment in the Philippines have gone down. The high rate and stagnant poverty make it difficult to find positive outcomes for this problem.
  7. High rates of hunger and malnourishment in the Philippines are primarily due to high food costs and a large low-income population. Additionally, the government lacks focus on addressing the problems associated with hunger, such as regional agricultural laws. The Philippines has passed some bills to reduce the hunger problem including the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000. This law mandates “fortifying with essential micronutrients staple food items like rice, flour, oil, and sugar.”
  8. The current strategy for addressing malnutrition in the Philippines is the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN). This initiative has promoted many recent laws and bills. These laws address solving the malnutrition problem in the Philippines on specific levels or issues such as aid and security to small businesses, farmers and fishermen.
  9. The Duterte administration that currently runs the Philippines garnered an increase in foreign investments of 43.5 percent in 2018. While this brings in more money for the Philippines, a significant proportion goes toward building skyscrapers and big business centers, rather than providing methods to increase the sustainable food supply for the poor. A shift toward fixing hunger needs to become the primary focus in order to begin solving the hunger and health problems of the population.
  10. The organization Rise Against Hunger has been fighting hunger in the Philippines since 2011. Rise Against Hunger coordinates the distribution of food and aid to the most susceptible regions around the world. Rise Against Hunger hopes to end hunger in the Philippines and other countries by 2030.
  11. Feed the Children is another organization that strives to improve the lives of Filipino citizens since 1984. Feed the Children hopes to meet the immediate and long-term needs of children and their families. One of its main focuses is providing individuals with food, nutrition and clean water. It has been able to reach approximately 38 communities.
  12. Action Against Hunger has also worked in the Philippines since 2000 with a focus on humanitarian needs. It specifically looks at needs stemming from physical and emotional issues resulting from natural disasters and their consequences on family and living. In 2018, it was able to help 302,014 people with their programs of nutrition and health, food security and water sanitation.

This concludes the 12 shocking facts about hunger in the Philippines. The country has made small improvements, but there is still a long way to go. Many organizations are doing impactful work to bring real change to the Philippines. However, there are other ways to help, such as contacting congressional leaders or making a donation to one of the organizations mentioned.

Haley Saffren
Photo: Flickr

Education in the Philippines

The Philippines is a growing nation with a population of over 108 million people. The island nation is struggling to teach its young students. There are shortages and dropout rates that are the norm throughout the country and are harming the countries wellbeing. Here are some statistics about education in the Philippines.

By the numbers

The Philippines has 45,973 public schools throughout the country, of which, 38,503 are elementary schools, and 7,470 are high schools. There are a total of 27.7 million students in the Philippines with 22.9 million going to public schools and 4.8 million going to private schools. Funding for education in the Philippines as of 2018 is 672.41 billion Philippine pesos or 12.8 billion USD. This funding is among the lowest budgeted among the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) countries.

Dropouts

The Philippines currently has the highest dropout rates among all of the ASEAN countries, with a dropout rate of 6.38 percent in elementary students and 7.82 percent of secondary school students. There are a number of reasons for the high dropout rate, but the top three reasons seem to be:

  1. Hunger, students will skip class to find something to eat when there is no food at home or at school.
  2. Work, to help provide for their families students will stay at home and work on family farms or businesses.
  3. Conflict, this problem is primarily in the southern regions of the country in Mindanao where there have been insurgents disrupting life for the past 50 years.

Today, there are currently 1.4 million students who are out-of-school in the Philippines.

Shortages

There is a significant lack of supplies and teachers throughout the country. The number of students in the classrooms is a ratio of one teacher for every 31 students at the elementary level with one teacher for every 36 students at the secondary level. These numbers are down from a year ago where the ratio was one teacher for every 45 students. This has a negative impact on the students in the classroom who do not receive the attention needed to learn. There is also a shortage of supplies in the classroom. Along with the increased number of students comes the lack of chairs, textbooks and even drinking water for the students, particularly in the cities. Classrooms will sometimes have two or even three students sharing a single textbook. According to the Philippines Department of Education, the country needs 60 million textbooks, 2.5 million chairs and over 80,000 sanitation facilities for the schools throughout the country.

The Good News

The future of education in the Philippines does have a positive outlook. The Philippines currently enjoys a literacy rate of 97.5 percent, an increase from 92.3 percent in 2000. There is a program called the 1,000 Teachers Program aimed at giving scholarships to high performing, but underprivileged high school students. The program is aimed at relieving some of the pressure that the school system is facing to gain more teachers for the classrooms.

With many problems with education in the Philippines, there are significant hurdles to meet if the country wants to improve its system. More teachers, supplies and money are needed to help the students who desperately want to learn and improve their lives.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Wikimedia

The Green Revolution
Up until the early 20th century, agricultural practices in developing nations changed very little over thousands of years. Growing populations meant that these countries needed to figure out a way to feed their people. New techniques were necessary to ensure that there was an increase in crop production in places that struggled to produce proper amounts of food. These innovations were able to come to fruition by implementing what people now know as the Green Revolution.

The Green Revolution is a set of changes that occurred in developing nations that saw an increase in crop production. These changes included introducing new irrigation techniques that people could use to cultivate the land, planting genetically modified seeds that raise crops and applying chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These techniques allowed nations to produce more crops than they ever had in the past.

One of the most significant contributors to the success of the Green Revolution was an American scientist named Norman Borlaug. In 1954, Borlaug, with funding from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, developed a genetically modified high yielding variety (HYV) of wheat seeds. These seeds went to the Philippines, India and Mexico, where they were able to increase their harvest from previous years significantly. This type of seed development would lead to other HYV of seeds, including bean, rice and corn that could grow in other parts of the world. Borlaug is responsible for saving over a billion people from starvation in developing nations.

The Green Revolution and Mexico

Initially, the Green Revolution began in the 1940s in Mexico. The Mexican government received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to eventually discover ways to use dry land for massive crop production. Along with irrigation changes, the Mexican government created the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center that helped with research to discover stronger HYV of crops that can survive the arid land of northwest Mexico and produce more products. Wheat became one of the most successful crops in Mexico, and by 1960 it was able to change from importing wheat to exporting it. Mexico is now a major wheat exporter, and as of August 2019, it has exported 1 million metric tons of wheat thanks to the success of the green revolution.

The Green Revolution and India

In 1950, after the notorious famine India suffered from the decade before, the country was still struggling to feed its growing population of over 375 million. India had a problem with the number of crops it was producing; it simply was not enough. Because of the success of the HYV of crops in Mexico, the Indian government, along with funding from the Ford Foundation, was able to bring those crops to the northern Indian region of Punjab. The region of Punjab received those seeds because of its past agricultural success and access to water. The introduction of the new HYV seeds helped to avoid widespread famine and significantly increased wheat production in India. In 1960 India produced 10 million tons of wheat; by 2006 it was producing 69 million tons. Today, India’s population is at 1.3 billion and growing, so it needs to continue its success. With 44 percent of India’s current working population in the agriculture industry, there are calls by some for a second Green Revolution in order to feed the constantly rising population. In 2019, India has already set a new all-time high for wheat production at over 100 million tons, but exports are lower than previous years.

The Green Revolution and the Philippines

The Government of the Philippines created the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1960 with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation. The institute emerged to discover new strains of rice that would be able to feed the growing population of Asia. In 1966 the IRRI produced a new form of rice called IR8, or miracle rice, that was a cross between two types of rice, Peta and Dee-Geo-woo-gen. In the 20 years following the discovery of IR8, the Philippines’ annual production of rice went from 3.7 million tons to 7.7 million. IR8 was an HYV crop so successful it saw the Philippines become a rice exporter for the first time in the 20th century. Recently it was able to export 35 tons of rice after seeing the success of its crops. The country is now the eighth largest producer of rice in the world, having produced 2.7 percent of the world’s rice.

None of the successes of the Green Revolution would have been possible if it were not for the grants from charitable organizations as well as the dedication from leaders like Norman Borlaug. Through innovation and scientific research, the world saw discoveries that helped billions in developing countries. Mexico, India and the Philippines were able to overcome obstacles such as their environment and population growth to help feed the world.

Samuel Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

dengue fever in the Philippines

The Philippines Department of Health declared a national dengue fever epidemic. The southeast Asian nation is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in years with over 160,000 cases this year. This is an increase of 97 percent from this time last year. The surge in cases has caused over 600 deaths, already doubling the amount from 2018.

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes mosquito that lives primarily in tropical and subtropical regions. Once bitten, it takes four to seven days before flu-like symptoms set in. These symptoms include headaches, joint and muscle pain, rash and fever. If left untreated, some severe cases can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can lead to death. The median age of those infected in the Philippines is 12 years old. Most of the deaths in the Philippines are children between the ages of 5 and 9.

There is no known cure for dengue fever, once infected a person can only manage the symptoms until they dissipate. This is done by keeping a patient well hydrated with IV fluids and the use of pain medications with acetaminophen. Dengvaxia, a vaccine for dengue was discovered in 2016 but it is currently not licensed in the Philippines.

Philippines Hospitals Overwhelmed

With 1800 hospitals taking care of a population of over 108 million people, the Philippines struggles to deal with the rising cases of dengue fever. Of those hospitals in the Philippines, there are only 19 in the five regions that have been hit hardest by the epidemic. Southern Tagalog, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao are past the epidemic threshold. West Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Bicol Region are also three of the poorest regions in the Philippines and struggle with the cost of care for its citizens.

Over the past 50 years, dengue fever cases rose, according to the World Health Organization(WHO). In the past five years, there have been over 200,000 cases of dengue fever in the Philippines. This includes just over 1000 deaths in that same time period. The country may exceed these numbers by the end of 2019 alone.

Global Forces Rally Against Epidemic

The European Union donated 100,000 euros in humanitarian aid to help treat those already infected and to help with prevention. These funds will help the Philippines Red Cross to provide emergency medical units, nurses and wards at hospitals specific to treating dengue fever in the Philippines. It is expected that this funding will benefit 300,000 people that are living in some of the poorer and infected areas.

The WHO and the government of the Philippines are currently taking the steps needed to prevent the increase in fatal cases. The government also tries to educate its citizens on what they need to do to prevent the Aedes mosquito from continuing to breed and how they can protect themselves. This includes cleanup efforts that help reduce the stagnant water areas where the mosquitoes breed. The WHO advised the people to wear insect repellant and long sleeve pants and shirts at all times. The organization also recommends fitting every bed and crib with mosquito nets to provide protection while sleeping.

Despite the ever-growing danger imposed, the fight continues around the world to protect and prevent dengue fever in the Philippines. Simple measures can be put into place at home and around communities that can minimize those who are infected and provide a safe and healthy environment.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

Philippines' Poverty Reduction

In 2015, the poverty rate in the Philippines was at 21.6 percent, which is a five percent decline from 2006. Although poverty rates have been declining, 22 million Filipinos still live in poverty as of 2015. That makes up about one fifth of the country’s population. Here are five facts about the Philippines’ poverty reduction efforts.

Five Facts about the Philippines’ Poverty Reduction

  1. Factors benefitting declining poverty rates –Among many things, robust economic growth as well as the development and improvement of social programs have greatly benefitted the government’s efforts to eradicate poverty in the Philippines. The country has improved poverty rates by creating more jobs outside of the agricultural sector, changing coverage in health insurance programs and raising the level of compulsory education. Additionally, people are experiencing better living conditions through improved access to potable water, sanitation and electricity. These efforts have been part of the change in the last decades that have aided in the decline of the poverty rate.
  2. Factors hindering declining poverty rates  – one of the main causes for poverty is the high wealth inequality rates in the Philippines. One report showed that “the richest 1 percent of Filipinos own more than 50 percent of the country’s wealth.” Wealth being concentrated among the top 1 percent of the population limits equal opportunities. This keeps the poor in poverty. As a way for the country to move forward and reduce poverty, the government has started focusing on investment and development of the regions where poverty is more prevalent. By doing so, it hopes to mitigate the negative effects of inequality and reduce the inequality rate.
  3. Birth control for the poor – besides the programs working towards changing people’s living conditions, the government has passed a law that provides birth control to 6 million women who cannot currently afford it. This will allow families to better plan how many children they have and to be better prepared to provide for their children. This has been part of the larger plan to reduce the population growth rate from 1.7 percent to 1.4 percent. Currentlu, the population is 104 million and continuing to rise.
  4. Key programs to help reduce poverty – the government has made great progress in reducing poverty. It intends to continue by implementing programs such as AmBisyon 2040 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). NEDA aims to improve living conditions for those living in extreme poverty through job creation, improved health and nutrition and an increase in productivity. There is also a government program known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which has already helped reduce poverty 5 percent.
  5. The government’s goals for poverty eradication – by 2022, the government hopes to reduce poverty to 13-15 percent. The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 has set the goals for the country’s poverty reduction efforts. As part of these programs, the country wants to increase investment in areas where poverty is more prevalent, such as in Mindanao, in order to boost development and create more job opportunities for the population.

The government is hopeful that its goals will be achieved by 2020, given all the programs and efforts it is putting into eradicating poverty. These five facts about the Philippines’ poverty reduction efforts highlight the progress that has been made in the past decades. They also show areas that still need to improve in order to fully eradicate poverty in the country.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in the Philippines
Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes in the world. Trafficked individuals often have to do manual labor, become sex slaves or perform domestic servitude. Unfortunately, the prevalence of human trafficking in the Philippines is quite high. Experts estimate that the number of people in slavery in the Philippines totals over 780,000. Many believe that this large number stems from the Philippines’ low GDP per capita (the country ranks 118th out of 191 nations in this measure) and its high poverty rate of 21.6 percent. Listed below are 10 facts about human trafficking in the Philippines.

Top 10 Facts About Human Trafficking in the Philippines

  1. Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines.
    Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, as stated in Article 202 of the Philippine Constitution. However, many individuals in the Philippines in recent years have pushed to enact bills that focus less on punishing prostitutes and more on preventing and helping victims of human trafficking. Such bills have included The Magna Carta of Women, the Quezon City Ordinance, The Anti-Trafficking Persons Act and The Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development. Each seeks to amend Article 202 in an attempt to end the unlawful exploitation of trafficked individuals.
  2. Super Typhoon Haiyan increased human trafficking.
    The destruction from Super Typhoon Haiyan displaced more than 6 million people and left 1.9 million homeless. The typhoon hit the provinces of Leyte and Samar the hardest, two provinces that people already knew as places in which trafficking was common. The resulting chaos and economic instability have resulted in an increase in human trafficking in these regions.
  3. Human traffickers use the promise of work to lure victims.
    Traffickers commonly target individuals who are either from indigenous communities or are living in more rural areas. They usually offer jobs as maids, waitresses or entertainers to trick individuals into trusting them. This tactic preys on the desperation of many economically disadvantaged individuals.
  4. Children are the most vulnerable.
    Children are at great risk for human trafficking in the Philippines. Estimates determine that 60,000 to 100,000 children are victims of human trafficking in the Philippines. These children either go to work in child sex rings in the Philippines or work abroad as prostitutes. To combat this issue, the Filipino government has begun to work with international organizations, foreign donors and NGOs to fund prevention efforts and increase awareness about human trafficking in the Philippines.
  5. Tourism thrives on human trafficking in the Philippines.
    Much of the demand for prostitution in the Phillippines comes from tourists. Such commercial sex is popular in tourist cities such as Boracay, Angeles City, Olongapo, Puerto Galera and Surigao. While people do not advertise the locations where this prostitution occurs outwardly (due to the formal illegality of prostitution in the Philippines) the tourist prostitution system is unfortunately quite expansive and there are many individuals who have knowledge of these locations from other sources.
  6. Internet trafficking is very common.
    In some cases, relatives use children for profit and forced them to commit various sex acts in front of a webcam. The children committing these acts are typically no older than 12-years-old and each show can rake in about $100. In total, there were over 45,000 reports of online child sexual exploitation in 2017. In response to this, the Filipino government has begun to divert more funds towards helping identify situations in which people are sexually exploiting children. 
  7. Traffickers traffick people both nationally and internationally.
    Traffickers send some human trafficking victims in the Philippines to Manila, the country’s capital, while they traffick others abroad to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have done good work recently in preventing this cross-border trafficking, but people must do more to ensure that these international human trafficking rings shut down for good.
  8. Destiny Rescue is helping to assist victims and catch traffickers.
    Destiny Rescue is an NGO that works with government officials and task forces that deal with human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. It works with former victims to help them heal both mentally and physically from their experiences. It also gathers intelligence regarding trafficking and exploitation rings around Southeast Asia. Recently, Destiny Rescue helped the Filipino National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) bring down a trafficking agency, freeing 159 women in the process.
  9. UNICEF has taken steps to help fight human trafficking.
    Many NGOs around the world have taken steps to help end the practice of human trafficking, including UNICEF. UNICEF has stepped into work with both the Filipino government and local communities to report and recognize trafficking. Efforts by UNICEF include working to better monitor and collect data about trafficking and informing officials such as social workers, prosecutors and church workers about laws regarding human trafficking.  UNICEF has also aided in the rescue and recovery of trafficking victims and has worked to teach parents and communities about the typical behaviors and practices that lead to exploitation.
  10. The Filipino Government is taking the issue seriously.
    The government has taken huge steps to cut back on the amount of trafficking that takes place. The budgets of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have increased with a specific interest in fighting trafficking. In addition, various government organizations such as the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and members of the DOJ and the DSWD have worked together to create new policies in the hopes of preventing human trafficking in the future. The IACAT has also worked to increase awareness about human trafficking by hosting various events open to the general public.

These 10 facts about human trafficking in the Philippines demonstrate that trafficking remains a major problem in the country. However, many are working to help improve the situation and there is hope that, in the near future, human trafficking in the Philippines will be a thing of the past.

– Sydney Toy
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Tala is Changing the WorldShivani Siroya’s startup, Tala, is changing the world by making a better, more equitable financial system one loan at a time. Billions of people around the world do not have a financial identity, making it impossible for them to advance due to a lack of credit history, but Tala is changing this.

The Financially Anonymous

Only 30 percent of the world’s adult population has a financial identity. The other 70 percent lack a credit history or any way of applying for loans. This severely limits opportunities to financially advance because loans are often necessary for larger investments, like starting a business, purchasing farm equipment or investing in better irrigation systems.

Credit and loans are only accessible with some type of paper trail or financial history if customers are borrowing from traditional banking institutions. It would be too risky to lend money to anyone lacking credit and financial history. Siroya, Tala’s founder and CEO, realized “that there are billions of people around the world who are not ever seen and don’t even have an identity. That felt really wrong.”

How Tala Works

Tala is a smartphone application available to anyone with an Android phone. With permission from the user, the application uses data collected from smartphones to create a digital credit history that determines if the customer is eligible for a loan. It serves the same purpose as traditional credit history to create a unique financial profile for each user. It is currently serving customers in Kenya, Tanzania, the Philippines, Mexico and India with Kenya accounting for the majority of users.

Using nontraditional data, Tala analyzes each of its three billion users using 10,000 unique data points to determine a user’s risk profile and whether they would be a credible borrower. Data points come from information gathered from texts, calls, sales transactions, application usages and personal identifiers that help to create a unique profile for each user. About 85 percent of Tala users receive a loan within 10 minutes of this vetting process. The average Tala loan is $50. Users typically invest these loans in equipment or business licenses, which are important opportunities that are not available to those who cannot access credit.

Tala expects customers to repay the loan within 30 days, which 90 percent of customers do on time. Tala is a loaning service that deals in microloans, ranging from $10 to $500. Since the company’s inception in Santa Monica in 2014, it has granted a total of six million loans worth $300 million and amassed a customer base of 1.3 million. Investors like Revolution Growth, IVP, Data Collective, Lowercase Capital, Ribbit Capital and Female Founders Fund with around 215 employees around the world fund Tala.

How Microloans Change Lives

Tala is a microfinancing company, using small loans to make big changes. Siroya herself has seen how these small funds make disproportionate improvements in people’s lives. Jennifer in Nairobi, a 65-year old food-service entrepreneur, needed credit to invest in a food stall and start her business. However, she had no credit history and banks refused to invest in her business aspirations. Her son heard of Tala and introduced her to the smartphone app. After answering eight to 10 questions, Tala approved her for a loan.

Over the last two years, Jennifer has taken out 30 loans and subsequently opened three food stalls. Additionally, she now has a formal credit history and can borrow money from formal bank institutions. In fact, Jennifer has used this opportunity to take out a small business loan from a bank and begin opening her own restaurant.

There are more people like Jennifer who lack opportunity but with help from Tala, they are beginning to see changes. By developing a real relationship with their customers, Tala is changing the world by updating the face of microfinancing and the very notion of credit history. Now it is possible to identify those who banking institutions ignored and give them a fair chance at empowering themselves.

– Julian Mok
Photo: Pixabay

Dental Care in the Philippines

Dental care in the Philippines is crucial as statistics show that at least 80 percent of Filipinos suffer from dental problems. The current dental system has not been effective in reducing the number of people suffering from tooth decay or cavities. Today, the country is shifting towards adopting prevention methods. Here are three examples of how the Philippines is preventing tooth decay.

Education Programs

Statistics show that 95 percent of 12-year-olds suffer from tooth decay or cavities. Poor oral hygiene is the main reason for children with oral health problems. Building healthy habits is the key to preventing oral disease. To promote prevention measures, the Philippines is integrating oral health as part of the education curriculum in public schools.

The country’s Department of Education released the program, Fit for School as a way to address tooth decay in school-aged children. Every day, students go out to the school courtyard to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fit for School not only promotes healthy habits, but it also provides the students with access to clean water and appropriate washing facilities. Today, the Fit for School Approach has become the Essential Health Care Program, which targets about 2 million children in 40 provinces in the Philippines.

Tax on Sugar

Sugar is one of the many causes of oral health issues in the Philippines. There is an abundance of sweet treats and sugary drinks throughout the country. Coca-Cola alone is predicted to spend $5.5 to $12 billion in marketing in Asian and African countries. Obesity and diabetes are diseases have links to high sugar diets. Now, tooth decay is also associated with sugar.

To make matters worse, foods high in fat and sugar are more accessible than a toothbrush. Filipinos living in poverty-stricken regions are the most vulnerable to make poor dietary choices and suffer from oral health issues. Several countries, like Mexico, have seen a drop in sugar consumption after implementing a tax on sugary drinks.

In 2018, the Philippines implemented a sugar tax. The tax raises the cost of sugary drinks by 13 percent. As a result, the Philippines expects to lower soda sales as well as a drop in the number of people suffering from tooth decay. The money collected from the sugar tax will be used to fund health care initiatives and infrastructure.

International Impact

From the United States to Australia, foreigners are flocking to the Philippines for dental care. The affordability of treatments has made dental care in the Philippines one of the most popular dental tourism destinations in the world. Dental tourism refers to the practice of traveling to another country to undergo dental treatment such as implants or teeth whitening.

Due to its popularity, dental tourism is fostering economic growth for the Philippines. However, it has not improved access to oral care for Filipinos. A 2016 report found that Filipinos rarely visit the dentist office and over 7 percent had never been. The report also found that 98 percent of Filipinos experience tooth decay.

Some argue that dental tourism has made dental care even more limited to Filipinos. The price of visiting the dentist is low for foreigners but very costly for Filipinos. Additionally, dentist offices are prone to schedule prioritize foreign patients rather than local ones. However, foreign travelers are also bringing free dental care to the Philippines. For instance, access to quality dental care is limited in Cebu and other underserved regions in the Philippines.

Aid for Dental Care

The University of the Pacific (UOP) is one of many organizations working to increase the accessibility of dental care. Each summer, UOP sends a group of dental students to Canjula Elementary School in Cebu to provide the students with free dental care. Students unable to afford yearly trips to the dentist for cleanings, fillings or extractions now have access to get the care they need. In addition to treatment, UOP also provides oral health information sessions to promote the building of good hygiene habits.

As a whole, dental care in the Philippines has been improving with time. While it is a common critique that treatment is valued over prevention, there have been efforts aiming towards children. Additionally, tourism and higher institutions are working to increase access to dental care in the Phillippines.

– Paola Nuñez
Photo: Flickr