Information and stories about poverty reduction.

poverty in Tanzania
Many know Tanzania, located in East Africa, for its beautiful landscape and its coastline along the Arabian seashore. Three of the largest lakes on the African continent are in Tanzania. Though this country succeeds in attracting much tourism, it is one of the world’s least developed countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). Accordingly, poverty in Tanzania is a significant challenge.

Current Economy

Although the country’s economy is growing, it has had little impact on widespread poverty in Tanzania. Growth resulting in gold production and tourism has increased Tanzania’s wealth per capita by 92% over the last 20 years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the economy’s growth rate was 7% in 2018 and around 6.8% in 2019. Its real GDP growth rate fluctuates between 5% and 6% over the medium term. However, this steadily increasing GDP did not have a significant impact on Tanzania’s poverty reduction. Around 50% of the total Tanzanian population lives on less than $1.90 per day. Overall, Tanzania has only achieved a 2% poverty reduction over the last decade.

Currently, one out of three Tanzanians is self-employed. Around 80% of Tanzanians do not have access to a formal bank within 2 km of walking distance. Moreover, only 4% of the rural population has a bank account, while 70% of the population earns income through agriculture.

Food Insecurity and Agriculture

People in urban areas are 11 times more likely than those living in rural areas to have access to the minimum amount of food required for a living. Food insecurity is therefore common as another impact of poverty in Tanzania. In addition, around 35% of children in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition. Poor utilization of the budget for agriculture is one reason for this widespread food insecurity. Furthermore, agricultural policy in Tanzania stands in the way of its growth. Though Tanzania’s growth depends a lot on agriculture, its lack of education, infrastructure and market access also cripples the country. However, the government is taking the necessary steps to address this conflicting policy problem in the hopes of improving food security in Tanzania in the future.

Environment and Health Changes

Despite 40% of the total Tanzanian land area being marked for parks and forests, deforestation is still a major concern in Tanzania. Deforestation rates have increased significantly since 2000. For example, a goldmine left 2,000 tons of toxic waste out in the surrounding environment without any regard for communities living there in 2009. This is yet another consequence of poverty in Tanzania.

The Road to Eradicating Poverty in Tanzania

Capital-intensive sectors concentrated in particular regions have driven growth in Tanzania. As a result, this contributes to uneven progress in the country’s economy, which is one of the key challenges in the land of Tanzania. By focusing attention on household income, labor and land productivity, the government can support the next generation of Tanzanians and help them get out of poverty. Tanzania’s government has already taken action to improve basic education in Tanzania, which will contribute to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Though the road to poverty eradication in Tanzania is likely long, a combination of policies focusing on equalizing economic growth, reducing food insecurity and protecting the environment will help the country get there in the future.

– Narasinga Moorthy V
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Morocco
Within a decade, the Moroccan government was able to lower the country’s poverty rate to 9%, previously 16.2%, from 2000 to 2010. According to a World Bank report, the rate decreased even more with the national poverty rate at 4.8% in 2018. In 2018, the unforeseeable natural obstructions halted the process of poverty eradication in Morocco. Nevertheless, the strides that some have made in poverty eradication in Morocco serve as examples of the importance of investing in foreign aid. Here are five ways Morocco has successfully helped its citizens with poverty reduction.

Progressive Taxing and Better-Targeted Public Spending

Despite adopting a new constitution in 2011 that granted universal public services, such as free education and healthcare, Morocco still faced some adversities. For one, the Moroccan government was not able to meet the needs of its surging population. The state budget disproportionately benefited cities with larger populations. As a result, it left rural areas with resource shortages. To efficiently reallocate public spending, the country set aside funds for local-level organizations such as NGOs.

NGOs are single-issue driven and avoid any political alliance. NGOs target anything from the distribution of resources, such as water and electricity, to literacy campaigns for their communities. A Carnegie Endowment for International Peace publication concluded that “[d]espite NGOs’ limited resources, case studies have shown that their actions have made a real difference in the lives of people at the local level.” The World Bank study predicts that social spending will increase with the 2020 Budget Law that is under development.

Access to Education

When accessible, education encourages free and critical thinking. ChildFund International believes that knowledge breaks the cycle of poverty because education fosters the power to dream of a better future. Additionally, it purports that education presents employment opportunities. Upon state independence, Moroccan policymakers prioritized free education. A 2019 article estimated that Morocco spent about 5.26% of GDP on education which is “considerably higher than the world average.”

Slowed Down Population Growth

A lower population growth rate means more sustainable resource allocations. Morocco is able to meet demands for resources, such as food and housing, with slow population growth. The Carnegie Endowment report claims that “access to education and fewer opportunities in the labor market delayed the average age of marriage… and slowed down population growth.”

Moroccan citizens are waiting longer to start families, which is allowing them the time to enable economic prosperity as well. By securing their financial stability first, parents are guaranteeing desirable circumstances for raising future children and wealth to inherit. The research also supports that “inheritance is an important channel through which some people in Morocco have moved out of poverty.” Generational wealth gives future generations a financial head-start when they begin to participate in the economy.

Investing in Infrastructure

In decentralizing government spending, Morocco made accomplishments in basic infrastructure programs. These programs tackled the drinking water supply, electrical networks and road systems. For example, the program known as PAGER increased access to drinking water for rural areas by 29.4% in 2009.

The program PAGER has worked to reduce health risks in communities so that there is less strain on healthcare resources. Additionally, the program has removed the responsibility of girls having to carry clean water home from distant drinking wells. Other advances in rural electrification have led to readily available information. Meanwhile, new road constructions make it easier to reach schools and jobs located outside of small towns.

Controlling Inflation

The World Bank estimated that inflation in Morocco had a Consumer Price Index (CPI) of about 0.6% in 2019. Forecasts estimate that inflation will only reach 1.7% in 2021, which is relatively low for neighboring countries. In addition, the World Bank attributes the low inflation rate to “sound monetary policy and ample supply of fresh food.”

Low inflation is important for keeping prices for goods competitive in the world market. Competitive prices are attractive to countries seeking affordable exports and tourists. Additionally, contained inflation protects the income of Moroccans as citizens will not have to pay inflated prices for everyday goods.

Although the country’s hardships are still ongoing, there are many efforts towards poverty eradication in Morocco. Morocco’s efforts prove the efficiency of state intervention when combined with smaller local governments and respond accordingly to the demands of the most vulnerable. 

– Lizt Garcia
Photo: Flickr

African Continental Free Trade Agreement Increases Economic Growth

Uniting 54 countries in the African Union, The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will create the largest free trade area in the world since the World Trade Organization formed in 1994. The implementation of the treaty was originally supposed to occur on July 1, 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Over 1.3 billion people with a cumulative GDP of $3.4 trillion will come together to further economic expansion. This effort will push Africa into a competitive spot in the global economy. The treaty outlines a reduction of tariff restrictions and of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) as well as a trade facilitation agreement (TFA). The AfCFTA will make vast improvements in catching intra-African trade up with the numbers of the rest of the world. 

Currently, continental exports across Africa clock in at about 19% of total exports, comparatively lower to intra-Asian and intra-Europe exports which make up around 60% of their total exports. AfCFTA looks to encourage a higher level of intra-African trade by cutting all tariffs between countries in the zone by 2035, expected to increase intracontinental exports by more than 81%, as stated by the World Trade Organization in its 2020 report.  According to CNBC, this could mean a $2.8 billion per year rise in net income in the area.

Overall, the UN Economic Commission for Africa expects African trade to increase from 15% to 25% by 2040, translating to a GDP growth of over $2 trillion. Expectations also determine that intra-African trade will encourage globalization and technology advances. Africa’s adoption of e-commerce and other electronic advantages into its economy will further those goals.

Poverty Reduction Effects

AfCFTA projects that an additional 30 million people will emerge out of extreme poverty, reducing the headcount ratio without the deal from 10.9% to 9.3% with it. The World Trade Organization also expects that 67.9 million will rise out of moderate poverty by 2035. The largest change in income will be for unskilled workers and women. Still, most social groups will see a 10% increase in income.

A key factor in poverty reduction is the growth of industries, which creates new jobs. Energy-intensive manufacturing will grow as African trade and other markets develop. Total exports related to the manufacturing industry should rise by 110% in intra-African trade and by 46% worldwide. The production of the manufacturing industry will see a $56 billion increase. As a result, a number of countries are looking to provide larger foreign direct investments to the continent. 

Growth in the agricultural sector will work alongside manufacturing to pull people out of poverty. The AfCFTA will cause the industry to see a loss of $8 billion. However, agricultural employment will see a rise in 60% of the countries involved in the deal. Expectations determine that agricultural exports (only second to manufacturing) will grow 49% in intracontinental trade and 10% in worldwide trade.

Overall income will also grow as a result of the AfCFTA. A higher quality of life will close the gender gap and the gap between skilled and unskilled workers. The full implementation of AfCFTA could cause a 7% growth in real income ($450 billion) by 2035. Still, it is important to note that this growth will not occur equally over all the countries involved.

Mitigation of COVID-19 Economic Effects

Due to COVID-19, the implementation of the AfCFTA terms is on hold indefinitely. Officials expect to start again Jan 1, 2021 but are unable to continue negotiations at this time. Poor internet connections and language barriers amongst different officials also pose challenges. Nevertheless, the AfCFTA will act as a stimulus plan for countries in the region that lack economic or fiscal means to distribute a large relief package.

While economic growth has been steadily increasing at about 2.4% in 2019, the World Bank expects it to drop from anywhere between -2.1% to -5.1% in 2020. This means a loss of between $37 billion to $79 billion during 2020. The economic drops could cause less food security as food prices rise in many areas.

The losses come from a combination of sources. Shutdowns reduced exports and imports, and many African countries are reluctant to open borders. The shutdowns caused welfare losses of up to 14%. In addition, reduced tourism and commodity prices have taken their toll.

Connecting Countries

The AfCFTA will look to open up borders between African countries in order to encourage free trade once again. As a larger market, African countries can obtain necessary medical instruments and food resources at a cheaper price. The agreement will double or triple exports in Cameroon, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia. The countries will see the largest benefits, although almost all of the other countries will see growth.

The introduction of AfCFTA will shift the global marketplace significantly. China has been the center of manufacturing in recent years, but there may be a shift to Africa, as China’s investment in the signing of the AfCFTA has shown. Major powers, such as the U.S., European Union and India, have shown an increased interest in African foreign development as they see the rise in this cohesive market. Although COVID has taken its hit on the world, the AfCFTA might encourage a quick bounce back, lifting millions out of poverty and increasing jobs for many.

– Nitya Marimuthu
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities and Global Poverty
Many organizations focus on eradicating global poverty, which remains a persistent and important problem. Two-thirds of the world population lives on less than $10 per day, and one in 10 people live on less than $1.90 per day. One organization working to address this issue is the Global Poverty Project (GPP), which has partnered with other organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations to create a movement aiming to eradicate global poverty by 2030. The GPP’s initiatives have helped increase global poverty awareness, and many celebrities fighting global poverty have supported the cause. Here are some campaigns that the GPP has headed, along with some of the celebrities that have helped fund them.

The Global Citizen Festival

The Global Citizen Festival is the project’s annual event, which draws over 60,000 people in attendance and over 20 million people tuning in via livestream. It is a music festival that raises money and awareness of global poverty issues, with the ultimate goal of removing global poverty by 2030. Through the festival platform, patrons (or “Global Citizens”) are able to learn about the causes of global poverty, as well as the part that they can play in reducing it.

In 2012, the festival helped the GPP raise over $1.3 billion in pledges toward the fight against poverty, in conjunction with other charities. Music stars such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes and Rihanna have all participated in Global Citizen concerts over the years, cementing their status as celebrities fighting global poverty.

Becoming a Global Citizen

Global Citizen is the GPP’s individual campaign movement that allows people to engage with both the organization and its embedded community. Through an app, Global Citizens are challenged to make small actions, commitments and announcements about global poverty, which add up to significant change in areas such as education and sanitation. These actions come in the form of contacting leaders and signing petitions. The Global Citizens site also helps to inform people about the leading issues in global poverty.

Global Citizens’ actions help to influence policy and political leaders. Participants have taken over 25.2 million actions through the app, committed $48.4 billion to fight poverty and impacted more than 880 million lives thus far. Music artists and bands such as Clean Bandit have also held concerts to promote awareness and increase monetary commitments to these issues.

In addition to musicians and artists who contribute to the GPP, famous actors have funded anti-poverty causes and become representatives for certain issues. Idris and Sabrina Elba have spearheaded campaigns to help African farmers, raising awareness about the harmful impacts of climate change. By supporting the Elbas’ cause and contacting world leaders, fans are able to help over 100 million rural farmers.

Other celebrities fighting global poverty who have supported GPP’s campaigns and contributed to fundraising include The Weeknd, Usher, Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson.

A Global Impact

Overall, the work of the GPP has impacted over 800 million lives across the world so far. By including celebrities fighting global poverty, the GPP has seen astonishing results, and the organization stands ready to help achieve the international goal of eradicating global poverty by 2030.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Wikimedia

Poverty Reduction and Forest Protection
Over a quarter of the world’s population is dependent upon forests for their livelihoods. Forests provide important sources of food, fuel and income for developing countries. Therefore, the relationship between forests and vulnerable communities must strengthen in order to pursue both poverty reduction and forest protection. Two ways that these goals have proven achievable are through conditional cash transfers and community-based forest management systems.

Conditional Cash Transfers

Conditional cash transfers’ success in both reducing poverty and preserving forests is evidence that the goals of ecosystem preservation and poverty alleviation do not have to be at odds with one another. This is accomplished by providing poor families with cash transfers if they meet education and health requirements, raising them above the poverty line if accepted. This has been proven to lessen the burden on the forests to provide fuel and other products for the inhabitants. It also decreases deforestation and the emission of greenhouse gasses in the process and strengthens the bond between impoverished families and their land.

An example of this is the “Family Hopes Program” which provided cash transfers to 266,533 families across 7,468 rural forested villages in Indonesia. Indonesia has incredible amounts of tropical forests and biodiversity. However, people are cutting its forests down at some of the highest rates in the world. Paul Ferraro and Rhita Simorangkir analyzed the effects that conditional cash transfers had on deforestation in this area. They found that over four years, tree cover loss in rural villages’ surrounding forests had decreased by 30%. These are very encouraging results for the future of the simultaneous pursuit of poverty reduction and forest protection.

Community-Based Forest Management Systems

Community-based forest management systems also display the link between poverty reduction and forest protection. Unlike conditional cash transfers, which target poverty and indirectly reduce deforestation, community-based forest management targets environmental protection specifically. This gives communities control over their forests and addresses the conservation of natural resources through community ownership.

A study led by The University of Manchester examined 18,000 community-based forest management systems across Nepal.  The study determines how successful national initiatives were at achieving both poverty reduction and forest protection. The result shows a clear link between communities that manage their own forests and simultaneous reductions in deforestation and poverty. It concludes that community-managed forests were 51% more likely to experience both lessened poverty and decreased deforestation.

Community-based forest management and conditional cash transfers are just two examples of how programs promoting strong relationships between impoverished communities and their neighboring forests can alleviate poverty. Additionally, these programs can also protect the resources needed for subsistence, agriculture and fuel. The World Bank lists existing projects in China, India, Tanzania and Mexico that also aim to protect communities who rely on forests through conservation and local management. These initiatives are essential to poverty reduction and forest protection and should undergo pursuit internationally to provide sustainable solutions for poverty.

Eleanor Williams
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Albania
After the fall of its communist government in 1991, significant political, social and economic challenges confronted Albania. Albania is a country that lies on the Mediterranean Sea and borders Greece. The fall of the Communist Party left the country with high levels of extreme poverty that it needed to address quickly. As the government has transitioned to a constitutional republic and the centrally-planned economy has shifted to an open-market structure, it has also implemented considerable economic plans and reforms. These reforms partially alleviated the severity of the poverty much of the population faced before 1992, but poverty in Albania continued to be a challenge as the country moved forward.

Understanding Poverty in Albania

  • Privatization and a new legal framework were some of the key reforms the government implemented in 1992 that helped to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and strengthen the economy. The privatization of agriculture, which employs 40% of the population, particularly helped alleviate poverty in the rural areas where it is most prevalent. The new legal framework lowered poverty in urban areas by encouraging the private sector activity necessary to an open-market economy.
  • Consistent low-income levels and low administrative capacity are limitations to the success of economic reforms in Albania. The low-income population is particularly susceptible to price fluctuations and unemployment. For this reason, inflation in 1996 and 1997 caused a downturn in the economic growth the country had experienced earlier.
  • Fluctuations in the global economy impact the level of poverty. Remittances – money that Albanians working mostly in Greece and Italy sent back to the country – are a significant component of economic growth. After the 2008 financial crisis, remittances decreased from 15% of the GDP to 5.8% by 2015. Simultaneously, the poverty level in Albania increased from 35.8% in 2008 to 38% in 2017. This definition is the percentage of the population living on less than $5.50 per day, the poverty threshold for upper-middle-income countries. The World Bank classifies Albania as an upper-middle-income country.
  • Low-skill occupations, including agriculture, require lower levels of education and offer little job security yet employ the majority of the working population living in poverty. Those workers then have limited skills relevant to other types of higher-income labor and have constrained potential for social mobility.

Efforts to Alleviate Poverty in Albania

  • Recent growth in labor-intensive sectors has increased the number of potentially higher income jobs available to Albanians and raised the GDP. Available jobs in textiles, tourism, trade and administrative services have been on the rise since 2013 and contribute to greater economic stability. Tourism, for instance, is one of the fastest-growing industries in Albania. In 2019, the number of foreign visitors increased by 8.1% in comparison to 2018.
  • International investments and donations have grown in recent years. The government has attracted international interest by taking the initiative to encourage economic growth through improving roads and rail networks and introducing plans of economic and legislative reform. These reforms primarily focus on strengthening tax collection and increasing public wages and pensions. They have been successful thus far and the World Bank estimates that the poverty rate has lowered to 37% as of April 2020.
  • Public debt remains high and a potentially significant barrier to the constant growth necessary to sustain Albania’s economy and keep the poverty level steadily decreasing. Although the debt requires a strong fiscal policy response by the government to avoid economic shocks, it has shown a promising 3% decline rate from 2015 to 2018.

Albania’s Partnership with International Organizations

Although not yet a member, Albania received E.U. candidacy status in June 2014 and officially adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Furthermore, Albania’s government released its National Strategy for Development and (European) Integration 2015-2020 in 2016. It also partnered with the U.N. in Albania to release the Programme of Cooperation for Sustainable Development 2017-2021, a comprehensive plan for sustainable development and alleviation of poverty.

The U.N.’s work in alleviating poverty in Albania and its partnership with Albania’s government has proven to be successful as it has helped achieve sustainable economic development through various reforms. The poverty rate in Albania has shown steady signs of decrease since its peak in 2014. The international community is also supporting the government’s steps to combat poverty in Albania. After a devastating earthquake in November 2019 hindered ongoing efforts of infrastructure improvement and other reforms, Albania’s government received €1 billion in assistance from several international donors during a conference in February 2020.

The U.N. in Albania is just one of the organizations working to fight poverty in Albania through collaboration with the government and other civil society and private sector organizations. Among its goals are Albania’s integration into the E.U. and the achievement of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which should stabilize the country’s economy and ultimately lower the poverty rate.

Looking to the Future

The onset of COVID-19 could strain the government’s resources and ability to continue with these reforms to alleviate poverty in the immediate future. However, the U.N.’s work in Albania, support from international donors and stronger commitments from the government to lower the poverty rate point to an optimistic future of long-term development. This should subsequently lead to economic growth and a steady decrease in the rate of poverty.

Isabel Serrano
Photo: Flickr

In the past few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have stepped up to address poverty reduction and promote the well-being of women and children in Kyrgyzstan. The U.N. has worked with Kyrgyzstan youth representatives to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and has partnered with youth who are passionate about using IT solutions to fight domestic violence. In addition, youth are raising awareness about human trafficking and investing in their own wellbeing in conjunction with local governments.

Youth Promoting SDGs

Between 2019 and 2020, the U.N. began an initiative allowing Kyrgyzstan youth to step up and spread awareness amongst their generation about implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include things like “no poverty” and “zero hunger.” Through this program, 34 Kyrgyzstan youth have partnered with U.N. campaigns to advance the SDGs and show others what steps can be taken to achieve them. Each SDG is assigned to two youth representatives. Participants are passionate about the chosen SDG, as it often relates to the representative’s area of study in school or experiences growing up.

As Aibek Asanov, a youth representative for Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) said, “I believe that youth can change the future. This is why I became the SDG Delegate.”

Youth Against Human Trafficking

Kyrgyzstan youth have also taken a stand against human trafficking. Through Kyrgyzstan’s 2017-2020 State Program against Trafficking in Persons, 80 youth ambassadors have represented 30 youth groups across Kyrgyzstan. These youth ambassadors work with local government and media groups, and gather for a yearly conference to discuss the goals and developments of the program. The program focuses on eliminating child marriage and forced marriage. It also provides access to resources for victims of human trafficking. In 2018, the program had positively influenced more than 600,000 people and utilized the work of 5,000 youth activists.

Youth Spearhead IT Campaign to Fight Domestic Violence

In 2020, the UNDP partnered with youth coders and designers to develop IT solutions that fight domestic violence against women and children. These solutions are especially needed for those trapped in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In cooperation with the Spotlight Initiative, UNDP organized a two-day hackathon that addressed solutions in 4 areas:

  • Violence against women
  • Violence against children
  • Migrant children in difficult situations
  • Those with disabilities in difficult situations

Within two days, over 50 developers came up with 18 IT solutions to aid people in these four areas. Of these projects, the three winners created very different but useful solutions. One addressed recognizing domestic violence and connecting people to the necessary resources. Another focused on victims’ access to online psychologists. The third winner used fairy tales to track children’s mental health.

Youth Partnership with Local Governance

Since 2017, UNICEF has encouraged Kyrgyzstan youth to take initiative in advancing their own wellbeing by partnering with local governments. So far, the Youth and Child Friendly Local Governance (YCHFLG) program has reached 24 rural and 18 urban precincts to place importance on services for young people and ensure that local governments prioritize the needs of Kyrgyzstan youth. The program encourages the involvement of youth in decision-making and politics. Youth can share their insight and preferences, which are then taken into account by local governments when plans are put into place.

In just a few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have taken initiative. They have impacted poverty reduction by addressing the SDGs, raising awareness about human trafficking, using creativity and innovation to end domestic violence and becoming involved in the political process. Passionate, poverty-aware youth will continue to be instrumental to future progress in Kyrgyzstan.

– Anita Durairaj
Photo: Wikimedia

Unemployment in SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities everywhere. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself, but also from the indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs and struggle to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan are able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. In particular, poverty and unemployment in Spain are among some of the highest rates in Europe even before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those who are unemployed in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, face masks and other necessities to those in need. The following article contains information concerning unemployment in Spain as well as how people are being helped amid this global outbreak.

Rising Unemployment in Spain

Now more than ever, unemployment has been on the minds of Spanish men and women during this pandemic. A study conducted by the Center for Sociological Research (CIS) in January 2020 showed that the majority of Spanish citizens consider “unemployment” and “economic problems” to be the most critical issues in their country. The people’s concern about financial hardship is legitimate considering past rates of unemployment in Spain. In the fourth quarter of 2019 (which was before COVID-19 greatly impacted the country), the rate of unemployment in Spain was already incredibly high at 13.78%. It was more than twice as high as the EU’s rate. In particular, young people in Spain have been showing notable unemployment rates: the National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Unemployment in Spain is usually high, but COVID-19’s halting effect on many Spanish businesses has worsened rates in a matter of months. Following the country’s emergency lockdown in March, Spain’s unemployment rate rose to 14.8% in April 2020.

3 Spanish Organizations Helping Those in Need

COVID-19 affects those suffering from poverty or unemployment. In response, charities and social organizations in Spain are rallying behind the poor to soften the pandemic’s impact. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis.

  1. Cáritas: Cáritas Española was instituted in 1947 by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Its objective is to carry out the charitable and social actions of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19 which includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided include face mask-making workshops, hotel rooms for the homeless and disinfection services for assisted living homes.

  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) is an NGO founded in 1996. The organization works to combat hunger and poverty through the reduction of food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families throughout Spain who are not able to easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.

  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The “Alberto y Elena Cortina” Foundation is a Spanish nonprofit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets. This was after a state of emergency was announced in Spain. 

Moving Forward

Most volunteering and social work have been stymied by travel restrictions. However, there are still many ways to help from home. People with internet access and a few dollars can greatly contribute to organizations in Spain assisting those in dire need. Quarantine orders and social distancing may have separated people from one another physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. People can still help by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that work toward a better future. 

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Laos
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. One of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the country has halved its poverty rate in the past 20 years. This is an impressive feat for the import-heavy country given that less than 5% of its land is suitable for agriculture. Poverty in Laos, however, remains a formidable issue. Laos faces a significant wealth gap between its capital Vientiane and poorer rural areas. Foreign aid and international efforts strive to reduce poverty in Laos.

The World Bank and the Poverty Reduction Fund

Created in 2002, the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) linked Laos to the international community through the World Bank, aiming to reduce poverty in Laos. The goals of the PRF have progressed over time, reducing poverty at a grassroots level and helping the Laotian poor achieve self-sustainability.

PRF has positively impacted more than 10,000 Laotian women and their families – self-help groups in different villages provide microloans, monthly household income has increased exponentially over the years and nutrition centers, roads and schools are constantly improving and serving Laotian villagers.

In December 2019, the World Bank approved additional funding of $22.5 million as a soft loan to Laos. This loan supports the Laotian government’s National Nutrition Strategy, which seeks to improve rural conditions by developing agricultural infrastructure.

The Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) grants loans, technical assistance and equity investments to promote development in Asian countries. The ADB has assisted poverty-reduction operations in Laos since 1968 and still finances assistance to the country. As of 2019, it has provided Laos with a total of $2.91 billion.

The ADB generally focuses on sustainable development in Laos but also funds education to achieve social and economic development. Because of its early involvement in Laos, the ADB’s efforts have yielded impressive results, having connected more than 20,000 households to electricity and water and providing education facilities to more than 100,000 Laotian students.

The United Nations Development Program’s Brand Laos Initiative

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) fights global poverty, seeking sustainable development and global equality. The UNDP has several ongoing projects in Laos supporting gender parity and government transparency. One notable initiative is a project it calls Brand Laos – a mission fighting for a unique Laotian brand and niche.

Brand Laos researches Laotian economic niches in order to create a unique marketable perspective for the country, finding viable products for farmers, producers and service providers. This economically benefits Laos, raising income for agricultural workers and producers. A Laotian niche could reduce poverty while bringing spurring development.

In particular, these types of projects seek high-quality products for international markets where consumers pay extra for ethically produced foreign products. Brand Laos has looked into products and services such as tea, silk-based clothing and ecotourism.

Conditions in rural Laotian households have improved drastically in recent decades, thanks to these international efforts. The Laotian national poverty rate was 46% in 1992 and fell to 23% in 2015. Additionally, households have greater access to electricity, water and even extraneous symbols of development like smartphones. With continued work, the poverty rate in Laos should continue to go down.

Maggie Sun
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in Chile
Like many other countries, Chile has struggled to ensure its citizens remain out of poverty. Luckily, the country has experienced economic growth over the past few years, now one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America. This success can be seen by looking at how much of the population was impoverished in 2000 compared to 2017. In 2000, 30% of the population was impoverished. By 2017, the country was able to cut that number all the way down to 3.7%. As a result, Chile has grown its economy, helped those in poverty and reduced the poverty rate.

3 Things to Know About Poverty Reduction in Chile

  1. Free-Market: Much of the reason there has been poverty reduction in Chile is due in part to its decision to become a free-market economy in the mid-1980s. This resulted in increased trade with other countries. From 1985 to 1989, Chilean exports doubled. That trend has only continued for the country up into the modern day. By becoming a free-market economy, the country set itself up for a healthier economy.
  2. Chile Solidario: The Chilean government has implemented a multitude of programs to bring aid to those in poverty and bring about poverty reduction in Chile. The Chile Solidario was the first large-scale version of such programs. The program continued throughout the years 2002 and 2009. One of the ways the program met the needs of impoverished people in Chile was by actually sending case workers out to meet with Chilean citizens in poverty and rectify the problems they struggle with. By doing so, the program was able to personalize the aid given to a family depending on the unique problems that family was struggling with. While Chile Solidario did not help with employing Chilean citizens in poverty or improving housing conditions, it did help them use the welfare system within the country to get them through their economic troubles.
  3. Countercyclical policy: A countercyclical policy works opposite to the business cycle rather than along with it. The country instead lowers taxes and increases spending during a periods when the market is not favorable and raises taxes and reduces spending when the market is favorable. During the early 2000s, Chile adopted a countercyclical policy. As a result, public spending remains at the same rate throughout the year. The countercyclical policy has proven effective and reliable in Chile. For example, copper is the most important export to the Chilean economy. During 2009, however, the copper industry suffered quickly and as a result unemployment increased to 10%. The excess money that Chile saved up due to its countercyclical policy was used as a stimulus to help the people. Therefore, this policy can promote poverty reduction in Chile should there be an economic crisis in the future.

Due to the Chilean government’s actions, Chile has reduced poverty and provided a better standard of living for its people. Moving forward, it is essential that the country and other humanitarian organizations continue to focus on poverty reduction and improving livelihoods. If they do, poverty in Chile will hopefully continue to decrease.

– Jacob E. Lee 
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