Information and stories about poverty reduction.

2019 Indian electionsThe 2019 elections in India represent the largest displays of democracy around the world. Because of the number of eligible constituents, more than seven phases of the election took place throughout the country. The same rules that apply in America apply in India; you have to be at least 18 years old and register to vote. The casting of votes ended on May 19, and the counted votes were revealed on May 23.

There were two primary candidates in the running for the elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won the 2014 elections, ran as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The opposing candidate was Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Congress Party.

Narendra Modi

“Together with All, Progress for All” was Narendra Modi’s campaign slogan for the 2019 elections in India. But, what does this statement mean for the country as a whole? India is one of the poorest countries in the world, even though its economy is rapidly growing. According to Forbes, “The GDP per capita of Delhi, the National Capital Territory with a population of 20-25 million, is roughly equal to that of Indonesia at around $4,000.” Although some provinces come in even lower.

The wealthiest territory in India is Delhi, and the poorest states are Bihar and Uttar. The disparity is so great that Delhi’s GDP per capita is over four times that of each of the poorest states in India. So, what does Modi plan to do with such variety within one nation? He plans on reducing internal trade barriers between states and constructing a highway that would connect most of the country.

Modi also plans to continue the reform of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that was implemented to reduce complications between different state taxes. The goal of the GST is to level the playing field for businesses, bringing about a common rule of taxation.

Reducing the internal trader barrier, implementing the construction of a national highway and continuing the reform of the GST will all help move India toward a reduction in national poverty. Uniting a scattered and diverse country through general taxation and a major roadway could help diminish chaos and confusion.

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi is part of the National Congress Party and has spent much of his life in politics. The Congress Party’s slogan for the 2019 elections in India was, “Now, There will be Justice.” Gandhi claimed that, if elected, he could assure the people of India “truth, freedom, dignity, self-respect, and prosperity for our people.” Gandhi believes the injustice that ruled during Modi’s previous regime has left the countryside of India scattered and depraved.

He his plan was to create job sustainability throughout the country by deferring application fees for government jobs and other work. He also hoped to bring growth to the manufactoring businesses and to encourage people to take up entrepreneur endeavors through the Enterprise Support Agency.

Furthermore, Gandhi planned to push for incentives for businesses to hire women and broaden diversity among the workplace. He wanted to abolish the law that states women are unable to work night shifts and to reinstate the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, which demanded men and women have equal pay.

The Election

The votes for the 2019 elections in Indian were counted on May 23. The nation reelected Modi who must continue to address the issue of regional disparity between states. If the government focuses on unifying its nation and bringing the people to one comprehensive understanding of law and regulation, India’s economic gain could be substantial.

Hannah Vaughn
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

nonprofits in ArmeniaSince Armenia has only been an independent country for less than 30 years, its economy has been slow-building. As of 2017, Armenia has a 29.8 percent poverty rate. The landscape of nonprofits in Armenia is a good example of how diverse strategies can contribute to the reduction of poverty. Here are the top five nonprofits in Armenia.

Top 5 Nonprofits in Armenia

  1. AGBU
    • What they do: The Armenian General Benevolent Union works to promote Armenian heritage around the world.
    • Who they serve: AGBU serves all Armenians by bringing attention to the country for its unique culture. At the same time, AGBU fundraises for causes, like Artsakh. Moreover, AGBU organizes women empowerment programs, work to improve medical care and support local farmers.
    • For more information, read about AGBU here.
  2. Eevah
    • What they do: Eevah aims to feed 33,000 hungry children around the world by 2020. The sale of handmade jewelry funds Eevah’s presence in Armenia. By combining creativity, fashion and charity, Eevah exemplifies how to utilize local talent to enact change.
    • Who they serve: Eevah serves children suffering from hunger around the world.
    • For more information, read about Eevah here.
  3. World Vision
    • What they do: World Vision identifies and eradicates root causes of poverty to benefit the lives of children across. To do so, World Vision empowers communities to become self-sufficient and sustainable.
    • Who they serve: To date, World Vision has helped over 200 million children in poverty. In Armenia, they focus on ensuring children live happy childhoods through programs enriching home and school life. Additionally, they put together clothing drives to provide warm clothes to families in need during the winter.
    • For more information, read about World Vision here.
  4. Air Serv International, Inc.
    • What they do: Air Serv provides safe transportation for people escaping vulnerable and dangerous areas. Accordingly, Air Serv transports them to humanitarian organizations for help.
    • Who they serve: In April 2019, Air Serv transported 1,061 passengers into relief spaces. They are present in Armenia and surrounding countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Georgia. Moreover, they have worked with the World Food Programme to provide food to Armenia and its neighbors during times of war and conflict.
    • For more information, read about Air Serve here.
  5. ACDI/VOCA
    • What they do: ACDI/VOCA fights to implement capacity-building projects across the globe. Specifically, they focus on economic advancement to help communities thrive through local programs.
    • Who they serve: In Armenia, ACDI/VOCA has supported innovative growing projects for 60,000 farmers. As a result, these programs benefit local efforts and bolster the agricultural industry. They also supported programming to provide $7 million in loans to Armenian farmers.
    • For more information, read about ACDI/VOCA here.

A labor force migration, weak agricultural system and unemployment drive Armenia’s poverty rate. However, the creativity of local and global nonprofits help provide relief to the 29.8 percent of Armenians who live in poverty. These nonprofits in Armenia prove the many ways communities can benefit from the work of like-minded individuals who want to eradicate poverty.

Ava Gambero
Photo: Flickr

Cocoa Farmers in Côte d’IvoireCôte d’Ivoire produces 35 percent of all cocoa, making it the largest cocoa producer in the world. A majority of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, however, live below the poverty line. Within the past couple of years, a financial crisis within the cocoa sector has worsened conditions for cocoa farmers. Improving financial inclusion and increasing yields could become ways to bring cocoa farmers out of poverty.

In 2017, the cocoa crisis left many farmers without pay for their work. George Koffi Kouame, a 50-year-old cocoa farmer, told the BBC that he had delivered 1.8 tons of cocoa and had not been paid. This is the result of plummeting cocoa prices, which led up to 80 percent of cocoa buyers to terminate their contracts with farmers.

Living Conditions

However, even without this crisis, most cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are struggling. As a condition of their poverty, many lack adequate access to education, healthcare and drinking water.

Only 43 percent of farming communities observed in a study by Barry-Callebaut, a major chocolate manufacturer, had a health facility in their village. For 54 percent of the communities, the nearest health facility was, on average, 12 kilometers away, a little over seven miles.

Additionally, 25 percent of villages did not have a primary school, with 22 percent of villages having no school at all. While 87.4 percent of villages had a primary school located within five kilometers, having a school in each village ensures that education is accessible even to the most impoverished, as they may not have the means to travel for schooling.

Finally, access to safe drinking water is also a concern for some cocoa farmers. While 32 percent obtain some of their drinking water from the national water supply and 63 percent have access to pumped water, 5 percent of farming communities do not have access to either source. This suggests that they mainly drink surface water, which is more likely to be unsanitary.

Rural Côte d’Ivoire is in desperate need of better and more abundant schools and healthcare facilities, as well as access to drinkable water in certain villages. These changes would help improve the standard of living of cocoa farmers and their families more generally, potentially aiding in efforts to raise them out of poverty.

Financial Inclusion

Cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are generally excluded from formal financial services. Rates for all residents of Côte d’Ivoire are high, with 53 percent of men and 64 percent of women lacking access to financial services.

Because of this, the crop cycle generally determines the financial lives of cocoa farmers. Cocoa farmers harvest from October to January and make their money for the year during this period. Then, from February to September, farmers must make the money they earned from this harvest last, as cocoa farming is the main source of income for most farmers.

If their money begins to run out during these months, many are forced to take informal loans with high-interest rates in order to make ends meet. Then, when the next harvest begins generating income, paying back these loans reduces their profit and makes it difficult to save money for the following year.

To improve the financial health of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and help them rise out of poverty, more financial products need to be available. Access to formal loans is incredibly important, as loans through the banking sector will have lower interest rates and be easier to repay. Many farmers would benefit from being able to get formal loans for school fees, as these are due before the harvest season has begun.

Additionally, education programs to teach farmers how to best manage their money in combination with access to savings accounts can help farmers become financially sustainable over time. Advans, an international microfinance group, has been working in Côte d’Ivoire since 2015, helping farmers set aside money for the future.

Crop Yields

Another solution, proposed by Barry-Callebaut, is to help farmers increase their crop yields, thereby increasing their income. Farmers sometimes do not use pesticides and fertilizers, decreasing their cocoa yields, partly due to low access to financial services. Improving access to financial services, as well as implementing educational programs for farmers to help them learn better agricultural practices, has the potential to significantly increase farmers’ yields over time.

Overall, improving financial inclusion and crop yields has the potential to help cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire rise out of poverty. Additionally, improving education, healthcare and drinking water access will improve their quality of life. As information about cocoa farming continues to be collected, this knowledge will hopefully be used to benefit impoverished farmers.

Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

How early childhood education in Kenya could combat lifelong povertyThere is no one cure for poverty and no way to guarantee that a child will have a successful future, but a good education is a solid start. Poverty is especially bad in Kenya where 42 percent of residents live below the poverty line. A new program in Kenya is testing a model that would prepare young children for school and ultimately prepare them to be successful adults. Early childhood education in Kenya may prove crucial for the success of young Kenyans since such programs have been proven to help children worldwide.

The Tayari Program

In 2014, Kenya introduced a new pilot program for children aged four to six who were enrolled in both public and private education. The program, named “Tayari” after the Kiswahili word for “readiness,” is a “cost-effective, scalable” program with three facets to prepare young children for successful educations. It includes a learning model to help children gain mathematical, reading and even emotional development skills. Teachers receive specific training, guides and materials. In addition to specific teaching styles and a rigid curriculum, children are taught about healthy eating and personal hygiene, specifically the importance of handwashing.

Understanding the actual significance of the program is crucial, which is why Moses Ngware, a senior research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Centre, conducted extensive research on Tayari. His team looked at the impact, cost and scalability of the program. Using randomized controls, they found that students had a three-month advantage over their classmates who were not part of the program. They also found that improving a student’s scores 8 percentage points through Tayari only cost policymakers about $7 per year.

The program addresses important shortcomings within the education system in Kenya, such as “ inadequate provision of age-appropriate and context relevant quality teaching and learning materials.” There is also a shortage of teachers who can guide their students in the classroom. The program was found to be so successful in Kenyan classrooms that it has the potential to change lives throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. While the research is overwhelmingly positive, more data and more time in the program is necessary to know its ultimate effects. The program, like its learners, is still very young.

Education and Poverty Reduction

Improving a child’s chance for a good education is always a good thing, but it could be worth something even more. Could early access to the skills needed to succeed in school lead to a better life in terms of income and wealth? The data shows that early childhood programs and education are already part of strategies to alleviate poverty because of its success rates.

A study in Ypsilanti, Michigan found that at-risk children who were placed in a pilot preschool program achieved greater success than the control group. By 19, they possessed a better economic potential and had better social skills. By 27, they had fewer arrests and higher incomes. The older these children got, the more noticeable their academic and economic achievements were when compared to the control group.

The Carolina Abecedarian Project is one of the oldest programs in this field.  Originally conducted between 1972 and 1985 in North Carolina, the comprehensive early education program was for young children at risk for developmental delays and dropping out of school. Not only did participants do better academically than their control peers, but as adults, they had significantly higher incomes, were more likely to have been “consistently employed” and less likely to engage in criminal behavior. The program was so successful that the organization rolled it out to other states and it is now international.

Early childhood programs are not going to eliminate poverty, but by giving children the social and academic skills needed to better succeed at life, they’re offering a real foundation upon which to build future success. Tayari, the program for early childhood education in Kenya, is cheap, easy to roll out and may really help the poorest of Kenya, maybe even the poorest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sarah Stanley

Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in South Africa
Known today as the “rainbow nation,” South Africa has a fast-paced economy with a pluralistic and diverse culture and history. However, the ramifications of the apartheid regime still continue to be an impediment to social and economic development and alleviating poverty in South Africa due to its impacts on the social structure, security nets and family life.

Poverty Statistics

Due to the apartheid legacy, income inequality remains prevalent with 1 percent of the population owning nearly 70.9 percent of the nation’s wealth. The unemployment rate currently stands at nearly 28 percent due to the recessionary conditions in the country.

According to a report by the Children’s Institute (CI) at the University of Cape Town, six million children still continue to live below the food poverty line. Despite the efforts of the organizations like Child Support grant, the administration in South Africa struggles to deal with the implementation of care arrangements for these children especially those who live in more remote and rural communities.

Failed Economic Reforms

Since the collapse of apartheid in the country, the African National Congress (ANC) party has embarked on a variety of neo-liberal and market reforms to liberalize the trade and commerce of the economy to avoid a potential poverty trap. Yet, these policies exacerbated disparities and inequalities in the economy and cast a great degree of skepticism about mainstream economics and neo-liberal policies centered around deregulation and privatization. Unregulated market approaches financial flows and capital were a breeding ground for corruption and bribery among top levels of state and private institutions in the country particularly during the era of President Jacob Zuma.

Government Actions

However, along with the continued efforts from the Child Support grant and similar outreach programs, a deeper collaboration between families and the state is being recommended as a solution to the problem. Under the policy, more than 12 million children benefit every month. Access to more information about relevant childcare arrangements and health care programs will also be effective in improving awareness among families.

Moreover, state income support is being recommended to decrease inequalities measured in Gini values from 0.69 to 0.6 and to decrease the number of people who live on a monthly income lower than $30 from 39 percent to zero. The implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) is a government agenda that aims to address poverty in South Africa by allocating budgets and improving public services and infrastructure by 2030.

Chances for Growth

Under the administration of new President Cyril Ramaphosa, the country is stepping investments on more ambitious infrastructure projects. Foreign investment from countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is expected to be worth a collective $100 billion.

Furthermore, education reform is vital to not only address poverty in South Africa but also to help townships progress from the apartheid-era Bantu education system, which was an aspect of the law that enforced racial segregation in schools. Yet, efforts to change the current situation is underway, with an increase in pre-school enrollment and the number of university graduates.

In 2011, the multidimensional poverty index was introduced to better analyze poverty in South Africa and recommend sustainable solutions toward remediating some of its associated issues. A combination of social indicators like education, health care and quality of life is now assessed. Fortunately, under this poverty index, there was a decline in poverty by over 13 percent between the years 2001 and 2011. The sample can be improved further by combining a series of other factors like financial, transport and other assets as well.

To conclude, even though South Africa continues to be a modern economically developing country grappling with problems from a complicated history, a strong foundation will yield good progress in the long run and help the country overcome its many economic and social challenges.

– Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Madagascar
Even with the 2013 election of a new president that ended a five-year political deadlock, poverty in Madagascar was still a huge problem. Electing Hery Rajaonarimampianina brought fresh hope to the people of Madagascar. However, the National Assembly voted to impeach him after just 18 months of his presidency because they did not feel that he was following through with his campaign promises. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, but the political situation remains unbalanced. Even though Madagascar has rich soil for crops and a wide variety of wildlife, it has been damaged by years of political turmoil, so poverty remains an ongoing issue.

Political and Economic Instability

If political stability can be restored, it could mean great things for Madagascar. John Stremlau, the vice president of peace programs at the Carter Center in the United States said after the 2013 election, “It has great resources, it has great promise, but it has been hurt by the sanctions that have been in place now for five years. The per capita income is very low, down to less than a dollar a day for 90 percent  of the people, so that this is a new beginning, an opportunity, but the hard work of building a democratic process has only just begun.”

The best way for Madagascar to reduce poverty is by utilizing economic growth. Multiple cities were hit by harsh weather in 2017, which affected agriculture in the areas. Rice crops, a popular trade food and export item, were ruined. The production of rice fell while the price of it increased. While working on repairing the damage from lost crops, the country has increased economically in other ways.

Besides rice, items like cloves, vanilla, cocoa beans and essential oils have flourished, increasing the performance of goods exported to other countries. Economic growth has increased from 4.2 percent to 5.0 percent from 2017 to 2018. With this growth, the country is more likely to achieve its goal of reducing the number of people living below the poverty line by the year 2020. The next step is to provide financial inclusion to those without access to financial services to further ensure the rise out of poverty.

Poverty and Malnutrition

Food poverty affects the children of Madagascar much more than the adults of the country. More than half of Madagascar’s children are chronically malnourished, creating an effect called “stunting”. They are half the size they should be, and some children will not even make it to secondary school, let alone adulthood. Malnutrition damages the body and mind, sometimes irreversibly.

Malnutrition is an increasing concern for parents. “They are seven, they should be much bigger,” says Rasoanandranson, a mother of five children. Her boys at eight years of age resemble five-year-old children. Families grow small quantities of crops rich in nutrients like sweet potato, avocado and maize, but the harvest only lasts two to three months tops. Unfortunately, mothers like Rasoanandranson are eventually forced to sell their food for other much-needed household items, hygiene items an school supplies.

There is still hope for these families and in the near future. In May 2017, the country set out to achieve their goal of reducing malnutrition from 47 percent to 38 percent by 2021. The goal can be achieved by building more nutrition centers and recruiting more volunteers to educate villages on proper nutrition. There is another player to this game that will help fight malnutrition, and that’s clean water and sanitation services.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Poverty in Madagascar has affected the water and sanitation systems as well. More than half of the people in Madagascar do not have sanitation systems or access to clean drinking water. There seems to be plenty of water in the capital city of Antananarivo and other nearby cities, but the water is severely contaminated. Trash lines the edges of rivers and streams, and heavy rains wash away street debris into the water supplies. Waste from households without proper sanitation systems also gets washed away into the water supply.

On top of contaminated water, the piping systems that were previously installed are defective and leak at least 40 percent of clean water. With the population rising, conditions will only worsen; however, volunteers are working improve the piping systems and to educate people about safe water practices and sanitation. They have even started facilities to wash clothing to prevent people from further polluting the river by washing their clothes in it.

Programs like USAID, WaterAid and WASH are trying to improve conditions by first educating the community about food security and environmental programs. Secondly, they plan to improve local, community-based governance of water and sanitation resources. Thirdly, they will roll out a program called Triggering Health Seeking Behavior Change to promote good hygiene at the household levels. The final process is access to credit for the people to microfinance products for clean water and sanitation systems. With all the issues from malnutrition and contaminated water, how is Madagascar’s healthcare?

The Healthcare System in Madagascar

In the capital city Antananarivo, there are public and private hospitals that provide basic medical treatments and small operations. However, for more complex surgeries, patients are transferred to a hospital in South Africa. Although Medical services are actually free to the community, people who can afford it are advised to take out private, international health insurance for situations involving being transferred to a larger hospital for more extensive surgeries.

The most common diseases in Madagascar are malaria, leprosy and tuberculosis. The healthcare system is working to combat these diseases and, going back to the lack of clean water, it is strongly advised that people boil tap water before drinking or using it to cook. Though most of the hospitals are in cities and towns, Christian missionaries run hospitals in rural areas in case some people can not make it to town, but they cannot reach all areas.

Nonprofit organizations and volunteers are currently working to improve access to proper education about nutrition, sanitation and financial stability. Madagascar is on its way to becoming a better country for its people. Hopefully, the political situation will improve, and the government will begin doing its part to end poverty in Madagascar.

– Kayla Cammarota

Photo: Flickr


Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated and financially significant regions on Earth, but it also has a massive issue with income inequality. Roughly one-fifth of Hong Kong’s residents are living in poverty as of November 2018, with monthly income for those people falling below the poverty line equaling $700 a month. The average cost of living for a 900 square foot apartment plus utilities in a normal area for two equals $3,885 a month. In the text below, the top 10 facts about poverty in Hong Kong are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Hong Kong

  1. The population is aging. With 7.4 million residents, Hong Kong is home to many people of older generations. The combination of changing technologies and markets has impacted those who served in more blue-collar jobs in years past. This has a dramatic effect on how they are able to pay for housing, food and basic necessities when white collar jobs are taking over the city. The government has provided handouts that have helped many in poverty, but what truly needs to be done is proper job reeducation and reassignment.
  2. Cohabitating with elderly parents is becoming necessary. As many young adults seek to explore their career paths and the vast megalopolis of the Pearl River Delta, they realize they don’t have the means to expand. In order to keep parents from falling below the poverty line and to give their future children exceptional opportunities, many young couples are forced to stay with their parents. However, this is only a temporary solution to the long-term issue of how to deal with economic struggles. Thankfully, the local and national governments are considering how to reengage the elderly through the use of their accumulated knowledge.
  3. Monthly rent is 70 percent of the median household income for half of Hong Kong. With the average monthly income of those below the poverty line not reaching the 70 percent statistic to pay for livable housing, a dark housing market has appeared. Illegal housing has entered roughly one in four structures in Hong Kong. In order to combat the rise of illegal housing and unlivable structures, the government of China must provide affordable and government subsidized housing rather than solely catering to the wealthy.
  4. Wages have not risen to meet the rise in housing cost. The average unskilled worker has to work 12-hours per day to afford a 100 square foot coffin home. In order to meet the needs of its citizens, Hong Kong must increase welfare payments in the form of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). CSSA must become more than just a safety net for basic needs and should fully encompass the needs of those in poverty in Hong Kong through food assistance and other means.
  5. Women are disproportionately affected by poverty. China has historically undervalued women. The one-child policy preferred boys and illegal sex-selective abortions were utilized. Hong Kong’s 2017 census stated that roughly 451,700 women fell below the poverty line, where only 80,800 men did. In order to fully engage society and bring skilled workers into the workforce, education and protections must be put in place for women and young girls.
  6. The poor are unfairly stigmatized. Those in poverty in Hong Kong are seen as being lazy for the position they’ve fallen into. This attitude speaks to a larger ambivalent attitude towards meaning and wealth in Hong Kong, as status and titles have unfortunately taken over humility and humanity. In order to combat this harsh attitude, people of Hong Kong must embrace the people in their society that make them uncomfortable.
  7. Cyber cafes have become havens for the poor. Hong Kongers who fall below the poverty line and cannot afford to house have taken to spending their days and nights at cyber cafes. For a low cost of entry, cyber cafes provide shelter and internet access between jobs for the poor.
  8. Hong Kong’s bureaucracy is one of the causes of the problem. The issues the homeless face could be solved, but government division has slowed progress. Separate departments cover similar issues but have no central governing body. Experts suggest that examples from New York’s consolidated Department of Homeless Services should be followed.
  9. Nongovernmental organizations could help Hong Kong. Government leasing of properties occurs in Hong Kong but leasing from nongovernmental organizations could greatly assist those in need. Government support of organizations who control these properties would allow for the poor and homeless to be taken care of effectively by trained professionals.
  10. The wealth distribution is uneven. The top 10 percent in Hong Kong earn roughly 44 times more than the lowest 10 percent who fall far below the top monthly earnings. This income divide is further pushed by wealthy business interests who influence politicians. This directly damages the ability of the poor and homeless to receive any assistance.

While poverty is a massive issue in Hong Kong, individuals and governing bodies can no longer turn a blind eye. For the sake of those in need, the country and its politicians must take notice of the damaged parts of their society, as it is shown in these top 10 facts about poverty in Hong Kong.

– Zach Margolis

Photo: Flickr

The West Bank and Gaza
The West Bank and Gaza are considered Palestinian territories that have struggled with political power since the Six-Day War in 1967. This dispute has been between Israel and Palestine and the end result of the war has left the country in political turmoil. This devastated economic opportunities, local livelihood, sanitation conditions and household food consumption. In 2017, the 50th anniversary of Israeli occupation and the 10th anniversary of the Gaza blockade were marked. This has been affecting all job opportunities and proper food aid from entering the region. All of these factors have only made it more difficult to live in already precarious conditions and more risk for the already struggling population.

Work of USAID

The U.S. government works closely with the authorities in Palestine to address the economic and humanitarian needs of the country. To improve economic growth, USAID has donated roughly $400 billion to improve in-house situations for companies and impoverished families in West Bank and Gaza. Providing basic needs like clean sanitation systems and safe work environments is essential to maximize productivity within the company and keep the workers healthy. Many companies suffer from a lack of resources and expertise for their products, so the project Compete will help business owners learn more about their product, how to maximize value for those products and increase employment within the surrounding areas. The goal is to increase competitiveness and revitalize the private sector, bringing to the table full-time jobs, part-time jobs, seasonal jobs and paid internships.

Food Sovereignty of West Bank and Gaza

Food insecurity is a huge issue in the West Bank and Gaza territory as over 70 percent of people in this area suffer from lack of food and proper nourishment. Some of the causes for this are also a global phenomenon, environmental degradation, rising food prices and Palestinian food sovereignty. With food sovereignty, a state can control its own food resources, though that state has to have a self-sufficient food source with the help of government-controlled policies.

Since the occupation in 1967, Israel has confiscated thousands of acres of farming land and then separated it with the West Bank wall. With the separation of land, farmers are struggling to keep up the health with crops due to vandalism and destruction from settlers and the military. In Gaza, 25 percent of fertile land has been destroyed by the buffer zone, a zone that borders Israel. Patrol boats in the area only allow fishermen 15 percent of their territorial waters, further reducing the areas self-sufficient food sources. With the limitations on trade, environmental issues, confiscation of land and destruction of land, food sovereignty is unachievable. This has hindered economic growth and social conditions to reduce the levels of food insecurity.

Clean Water Access

Access to clean, potable water is limited by the wall between the West Bank and Gaza. Beaches, rivers and lakes are polluted and overcrowded refugee camps create health hazards for the sanitation systems. About 26 percent of diseases in West Bank and Gaza are related to filthy water. During the winter months, household septic tanks overflow and mix with rainwater, flooding homes and streets in the area. During the summer, the heat dries the streets from the flood and the smell coming off the streets is so bad that families keep their windows shut. Mothers refuse to let their children out to play because of the rancid smell and infected water.

Diseases continue to spread as garbage continues to pile up in refugee camps. The Anera organization is working on building proper waste management systems across Palestine, improving sanitation systems in the process. In 2014, Anera reconstructed sewage lines damaged by bombs. In refugee camps, they are taking an approach where the youth take the lead. Through campaigns designed to clean and recycle, they have developed a staff to train on proper waste management and a new sorting facility. They are creating a cleaner environment for 13,000 members of their community so far and will continue to reach out and help their people.

Health System in West Bank and Gaza

The health system in West Bank and Gaza has been shaped by years of occupation, political stalemate, violence and human rights violations. The barrier placed between the two territories limits access to East Jerusalem, the closest area that has specialized hospitals. The placement of these hospitals is scattered due to the many health care providers in the country. With the blockade in place, Gaza’s health care locations are experiencing unstable power supply and recurring power cuts.

The medical equipment has been deteriorating because of inadequate maintenance and spare parts cannot reach them. The barrier has also made it difficult to transport proper medicines to treat patients. All of these factors are crushing the health care system in West Bank and Gaza, making people seek treatment elsewhere though traveling in and out of Gaza is heavily restricted. Even with these limitations, health care in these areas still thrives. With the help of the World Health Organization, technical support will be provided to health technicians and fund projects created for diseases affecting the population.

Even with all of these issues, West Bank and Gaza still work out solutions to everyday and past problems. If these areas can continue to receive the funding from developed countries and nongovernmental organizations, they can grow back into the self-sufficient economy they once had.
– Kayla Cammarota
Photo: Flickr

investing in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, is becoming an interesting area for foreign investments. China is planning on investing more than $3 billion in the country this year. Some of the projects include investments in the hospitality, steel, mining and manufacturing sectors. China has been a major investor in Zimbabwe, accounting for more than 70 percent out of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Current Economic Climate

Acting Chinese Ambassador Zhao Baogang, stated that China has strong confidence in Zimbabwe. After the efforts made by the Government of Zimbabwe, China believes that more investments will be attracting, the economy will go back to normal and the country will become prosperous and strong. Baogang is referring to the past government corruption under dictator Robert Mugabe and the hyperinflation that caused many inhabitants to struggle to afford food.

With a per capita GDP of $1,000, many Zimbabweans struggle, finding it hard to afford even the essentials. One such indirect solution has been provided by external companies and nations investing in Zimbabwe, creating jobs and bringing the country out from poor economic conditions. Zimbabwean politician Patrick Chinamasa stated that he believes working with China is necessary and wise because they have been able to take almost 300 million people out of poverty. Chinamasa is the Finance Minister and trusts China to help the poverty-stricken nation grow financially. He believes that more jobs and less government corruption will help renew business interests in Zimbabwe.

China’s Past Investing Success

China has had previous success with investing in Africa. This year is not the first time China has partnered with an African country in a business venture. Shoemaker Huajian Group had a huge financial success in Ethiopia thanks to Chinese investment. The shoemaker is set to expand to Zimbabwe, opening a $2 billion shoe factory in the country. It will be Huajian Group’s second-largest shoe factory, second to their largest facility built in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. If the deal is followed through, over 15,000 jobs will be created.

Future of Investing in Zimbabwe

According to Baogang, 2019 is an important year, as many international companies have discussed or already began their projects in Zimbabwe. Jinan Sinotruck Co. is a Chinese light truck maker that is collaborating with Quest Motors, a struggling vehicle manufacturer based in Mutare, to help them succeed again. More outside investors are seeing future financial prospects in steel, a basic component in building automobiles.

Investing in Zimbabwe is one opportunity external investors view as crucial for lithium mining. The Bikita and Kamatavi mines are seen as viable investments as the world turns to electric cars, which, such as the Tesla Model S and Chevy Volt, utilizes power from lithium-ion batteries. Pacemakers and other battery-utilized medical equipment make use of lithium batteries as well. With the future automobile industry appearing battery-powered, more companies are becoming interested in lithium mining. Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China Paul Chikawa has echoed Baogang’s optimistic statements, stating that Chinese investors are interested in projects involving tourism, manufacturing and mining.

Other International Investors

The outside involvement in the country’s lithium mining is good news for Zimbabwe. Various companies, such as Prospect Resources, founded in Australia and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, invested more than $165 million in Zimbabwe’s lithium mining industry through the Arcadia Lithium Project. The company stated that $3 billion in export revenue is feasible. Baogang mentioned that two other companies are interested in lithium mining in the Kamativi mine in Matabeleland North province and that some progress has already been achieved.

According to diplomats from Australia and China, several more investors are interested in investing in Zimbabwe. They are keen on expanding to a nation with many prospects in the mining, hospitality, steel, agriculture, rail and timber industries. With many investors interested in Zimbabwe, the nation is set to create new jobs and grow financially, providing its citizens with better living conditions along the way.

– Lucas Schmidt

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Philippines
As of 2015, 22 million Filipinos are still living in the depths of poverty. That equates to one-fifth of the population. Poverty presents itself in a vicious cycle affecting mainly the uneducated population who tend to live in large family units. These family units usually have only one head of the household who provides income for the entire family.

The Filipino government is actively trying to speed up its poverty reduction plan. Their long-term goal is to be able to provide more economic prospects, which in turn would help many of their citizens earn a higher and more stable income. A report by the World Bank shows how this economic growth helped decline the rate of poverty. Poverty in the Philippines dropped by 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015.

Key Programs to Help Reduce Poverty in the Philippines

Some factors that resulted in the drop in poverty are the expansion of jobs outside the agriculture sector, government transfers and getting qualified Filipinos to help through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. This particular program which is a government cash-handout project has helped reduce poverty by 25 percent.

Most of the Philippines are hit with massive typhoons and still have an armed conflict. These scenarios are a real struggle to the everyday worker who, even after a long day, still goes back home poor. Due to these factors, many citizens end up leaving behind farm work and go find work in manufacturing hubs in the urban areas of the country. These jobs outside the agricultural dome have accounted for two-thirds of the progress in reducing poverty in the Philippines.

One of the key strategies to help bring down poverty in the Philippines is providing birth control to the poor. In a radical move for the heavily populated Catholic country, the President made readily available birth control to nearly 6 million women who cannot afford it.

Providing birth control is a powerful tool for families who now have full control over family planning. The hope is by giving the women and family units more control, they will have fewer children. This, in turn, will mean that families can provide more responsibly.  This new policy will help the government reach its goal of reducing poverty by 13 percent by 2022.

The current Filipino population is at 104 million and continues to rise at an alarming rate of 1.7 percent each year. This new law will enable families to control how many children they want. It will also hopefully take down the population rate to 1.4 percent each year once the law is fully executed.

Government Hopeful About Achieving its Aim

Even though the Philippines have worked hard in the past to reduce their poverty and keep up with their neighbors China, Vietnam and Indonesia, they still have a long way to go. Marak K. Warwick of The World Bank believes that with a solid foundation there is a reason to be optimistic that the Philippines can achieve their goal.

The goal for the Philippine government is to create more jobs, improve productivity, invest in health and nutrition while focusing on reducing poverty. If the government is able to execute its plans successfully, it is capable of reducing poverty in the Philippines by 13 to 15 percent by 2022.

-Jennifer O’Brien
Photo: Flickr