Information and stories about poverty reduction.

Quotes on the Family by Nelson Mandela
Poverty has a tremendous, and mostly negative, impact on the behavior and health of families across the globe. Spouses in impoverished families are more likely to use violence against their partners, develop addictions and engage in criminal behavior. Parents in impoverished families often face a conflict between their role as a parent and their role as a worker. Children in impoverished families tend to have lower birth rates, struggle with behavioral disorders and perform worse in school. Additionally, they find it more difficult to find employment than those in wealthier families. Because of the negative impact poverty has on the family, impoverished families do not experience the joys and comforts of family life that wealthier families experience. However, Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, knew how essential a happy family is for both enduring life’s hardships and participating in political activism which his quotes on family display.

Mandela was a political leader and philanthropist. Throughout his life, Mandela created a large family of six children, two wives and 17 grandchildren. As he suffered in the prison on Robben Island from 1964 to 1982, Mandela’s meditations on his family were what gave him the comfort and motivation to endure his struggles and continue his life of activism. Below is a list of five quotes on family by Nelson Mandela.

Quotes on Family by Nelson Mandela

  1. “From experience I have found that a family photo is everything in prison and you must have it right from the beginning.”
    -From a letter to Winnie Mandela, written on Robben Island on June 22, 1969.
  2. “I have often wondered whether a person is justified in neglecting his own family to fight for opportunities for others.”
    -From an unpublished autobiography manuscript, written on Robben Island, 1975.
  3. “I like relaxing at the house, reading quietly, taking in the sweet smell that comes from the pots, sitting around the table with the family and taking out my wife and children. When you can no longer enjoy these simple pleasures, something valuable is taken away from your life and you feel it in your daily work.”
    -From an unpublished autobiography manuscript, written on Robben Island, 1975.
  4. “Our families are far larger than those of whites and it’s always a pure pleasure to be fully accepted throughout a village, district or even several districts any time, completely relax, sleep at ease and freely take part in the discussion of all problems, where you can even be given livestock and land to build free of charge.
    -From a letter to Mrs. N. Thulare, written on Robben Island, July 19, 1977.
  5. “A happy family life is an important pillar to any public man. Few people are essential or dangerous to the success or downfall of a politician than a good wife or play-girl.”
    -From a letter to Winnie Mandela, written on Robben Island, May 6, 1979.

Family and Global Poverty

These five quotes on family by Nelson Mandela reveal that healthy families are essential for a good life and a healthy society. One of the primary ways humans can make it easier for everyone to have a good life and form healthy families is by ending global poverty.

When people eradicate global poverty, spouses around the world could be less likely to use violence against their partners or develop addictions and engage in criminal behavior. Fathers and mothers should also be less likely to face any conflict between their role as a parent and their role as a worker. Also, children should have high birth rates, be less likely to have behavioral disorders, perform better in school and find it easier to find employment than those in impoverished families. As organizations around the world work tirelessly to reduce global poverty, the joys and comforts of family life that wealthier families enjoy may no longer be something the poor can only dream of, but a reality they can experience.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Wikimedia

Cryptocurrency and Poverty Reduction
An increasing number of nonprofit organizations are looking to cryptocurrency to help reduce global poverty. The immediacy, inclusivity and stability that cryptocurrency promotes could be invaluable for those who are in crisis, lack access to a bank or struggle due to hyperinflation. Here are four examples of how cryptocurrency and poverty reduction are coming together:

GiveCrypto

GiveCrypto is a nonprofit organization that links cryptocurrency and global poverty reduction. Since founding members currently cover operating fees, 100 percent of the funds GiveCrypto accumulates goes to the recipients. While Bitcoin is the most recognized cryptocurrency GiveCrypto uses, this nonprofit also transfers money through Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, XRP and Zcash. GiveCrypto emerged on June 20, 2018, and has raised $4 million so far. The founders hope that GiveCrypto will improve the well-being of individual people struggling in their communities. However, they also intend for GiveCrypto to build up the economies of these communities. For this reason, the ultimate goal of the organization is “to help spark economic growth by giving access to property rights and financial services on an open network.”

CareBit

The founders of CareBit specifically designed the CARE coin for charity purposes. Unlike GiveCrypto which is merely a platform to distribute several different types of cryptocurrency to those living in poverty or financial crisis, CareBit is its own cryptocurrency. The purpose of creating the CARE coin is to link cryptocurrency and poverty reduction more directly. Currently, CareBit is the only independent charity on blockchain, a technology that documents and decentralizes transactions. By directly implementing a charity model into blockchain, CareBit is able to trace transactions to ensure that 100 percent of each donation reaches its intended recipient. The ultimate goal for CareBit is to increase transparency and to decrease fees, corruption and fraud in any given transaction.

BitGive

BitGive emerged in 2013 and is Bitcoin’s first nonprofit charity. BitGive partners with international relief organizations and local charities such as The Water Project, Medic Mobile and Save the Children. Just like CareBit, BitGive implements its charity directly into blockchain in order to effectively track donations and increase its efficiency. Additionally, BitGive uses the blockchain technology GiveTrack to publicly track financial information and share this information in real-time. With GiveTrack, donors can track funds and ensure donations reach their final destination. The other benefit of BitGive is that processing fees are considerably less. On average, 3.61 percent of donations go towards processing fees for the average nonprofit. On the other hand, BitGive spends less than one percent of donations on fees.

Binance Charity Foundation

The Binance Charity Foundation (BCF) is the philanthropic extension of Binance Exchange. BCF uses Binance Coin to integrate cryptocurrency and poverty reduction. In contrast to the nonprofits mentioned above which focus on financial poverty reduction, BCF specifically focuses on improving the overall health of women in developing countries. For instance, BCF has recently partnered with 46 other organizations to provide a one-year supply of sanitary products to approximately one million women. Women will receive these sanitary products by using the Pink Care Token (PCAT), a redemption-only token on the Binance blockchain.

Uniting cryptocurrency and poverty reduction initiatives demonstrates the increasing demand for improved donating systems in response to a lack of trust in how charities spend their funds. Thus, the increased transparency that cryptocurrency offers through blockchain’s traceability feature could potentially reassure donors and encourage them to donate. Whether or not cryptocurrencies will become influential enough to directly strengthen the economies of the developing world, however, is still unclear.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Unsplash

Five Facts About China’s Poverty Alleviation ProgramChina has contributed to more than 70 percent of poverty reduced globally, making it one of the countries with most people lifted out of poverty in the past four decades. China has also recently become one of the leading nations in poverty reduction efforts by implementing a poverty alleviation program. Here are five facts about China’s poverty alleviation program.

Five Facts About China’s Poverty Alleviation Program

  1. Main Goals: China’s main goals for this program are to address issues such as food security and clothing, compulsory education, basic medical care and housing. It wants to solve these issues by 2020. Additionally, by 2020 it wants to have a zero percent poverty rate in rural areas. Furthermore, the government wants to increase the income growth rate for farmers while also solving the regional poverty problem.
  2. Implementation of the Program: In order to achieve its goals, the government has focused on developing the economy through local industries, combating corruption within the poverty alleviation efforts and making changes to the education and healthcare systems as well. The Chinese government has registered the poor population in order to target the specific regions that need help the most while also tracking the progress being made. By targeting specific regions and having the entire poor population registered, the Chinese government can provide assistance to certain households or individuals. There are five parts of the poverty alleviation program which are being implemented to raise more people out of poverty and those are industrial development, relocation, eco-compensation, education and social security.
  3. Progress being made thus far:  As of 2019, more than “700 million people have been lifted out of poverty” according to the country’s national poverty line of $1.10 a day, which is more than 70 percent of the world’s poverty reduction efforts. When using the poverty line of $1.90 a day more than 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty between the years of 1981 and 2013. In 2016, more than 775,000 officials were sent out to different rural areas within the country in order to further development and aid the poor-stricken people living in the less-developed parts of China. This has proven successful given that, after this tactic was employed, the population living in rural areas that were still affected by poverty dropped to 30.46 million people. Additionally, the poverty incidence was also reduced to 3.1 percent. Although great progress has been made far ahead of the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, China must still raise an additional 10 million people out of poverty in order to reach its 2020 goals of zero percent poverty.
  4. Citizens’ living conditions: China has worked closely with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to improve its citizens’ living conditions. It has done this by providing a better social security and welfare program which covers unemployment, pension, medical care, employment injury and maternity for urban employees. Additionally, this program includes what is known as the “Dibao,” the minimum living guarantee program, which ensures that even the poorest residents in either urban or rural areas would be supported by the government.
  5. Global impact: China’s poverty alleviation program is not only a domestic policy but also an international policy. It has benefitted many developing countries around the world. The Chinese government has provided about 400 billion yuan ($59 billion) in aid, which has benefitted 166 countries and international organizations. Additionally, more than 600,000 aid workers were sent overseas to contribute to the poverty-reduction efforts. China has also pledged $2 billion to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation in order to support developing countries to reach the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result of China’s poverty alleviation program, people countrywide are overcoming the challenges of poverty. Not only is the percentage of poverty globally declining because of China’s efforts but people are also thriving. China is the only country worldwide to have improved its citizens’ living conditions to such an extent in such a short period of time.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in LithuaniaCurrent political changes in Lithuania have brought many people hope over the current concerns of increases in immigration, income inequality and poverty in the country. The newly elected President, Gitanas Nauseda, has vowed to touch on these issues and tackle poverty in Lithuania. In 2018, around 650,000 people or 22.9 percent of Lithuanians lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. The poverty line stood at 307 euros a month per capita or 644 euros a month for a family of two adults and two children under 14.

Furthermore, 17.3 percent of city residents earned disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in 2018. This percentage stood at 34.4 percent for rural residents. The year 2019 has shown no improvements so far. In fact, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold increased by one percentage point making it the highest among the Baltic states.

Research has shown that inequality of income is hampering the development of society and the state. Although Lithuania has made remarkable progress during the independence period and is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, the income inequality in the country is currently one of the largest in the European Union. In 2016, the income of the richest 20 percent and poorest 20 percent in Lithuania varied seven times and has not improved.

The Main Challenges of Poverty

  1. Barriers to the Minimum Income: In Lithuania, people in need of social support often face a lot of bureaucratic barriers which greatly complicates their receipt assistance. Moreover, the prevalence of stereotypes and the stigmatization of beneficiaries causes them to refuse to apply for the minimum income. In 2017, about 2.7 percent of the country’s population received minimum income and this number is decreasing.
  2. Debts: Debts are also a primary cause of why many Lithuanians are living in poverty. According to the Ministry of Justice on October 2017, 292,612 people had debts that passed to bailiffs. Almost 10 percent of the total population of Lithuania is in debt. For a long time, the country could deduct up to 50 percent of a person’s minimum wage, and 70 percent of the amount exceeding the minimum wage. As a result, people experiencing poverty are less likely to seek legal employment, which helps deepen the poverty trap. Also, even if they did work, they would be unable to retain a sufficient amount of income to live on. In almost 60 percent of the cases, they owe debts to the state, while in 37 percent of cases, they owe to private companies and in three percent of the cases, they owe other individuals. As a result, Lithuanians who are in debt often fall into the social assistance system, work illegally or seek help from their relatives.
  3. Education: The report of the National Audit Office states that the results of the pupils in smaller schools, most often in rural areas, are lower in Lithuania as well as the European Union. Specifically, 30 percent of the audited schools had joint classes. Furthermore, around eight percent of children are unschooled, and Lithuania does not guarantee children’s right to education.
  4. Energy Poverty: In Lithuania, the law does not precisely define the concept of energy poverty. However, 29 percent of Lithuanian residents face difficulties in paying their heating bills. In 2016, 18 percent reported living in housing affected by dampness, draughts and leaks. These numbers are among the worst across the EU and show that many suffer with energy poverty in Lithuania.
  5. In-Work Poverty: Finally, the in-work poverty rate in Lithuania varies every year and is similar to the EU average. In 2017, 8.5 percent of persons were at risk of poverty. However, it is important to note that this indicator may be low partly because the average income of the employed is low. It is fairly easy to find a job for minimum wage in Lithuania, however, a minimum wage paying job in Lithuania is not enough to live.

The New President and His Plans

Gitanas Nauseda, an economist, was an independent candidate and won the second round of elections in Lithuania on May 26, 2019, with 65.8 percent of the vote. He took office on July 12, 2019, after President Dalia Grybauskaite’s second five-year term came to an end.

Many believe that newly elected President Gitanas Nauseda, a specialist in the field of banking and economic analysis, owes his victory to his emphasis on social issues, including tackling poverty. He also announced that he would increase the protective role of the welfare state and that the president’s office would supervise the introduction of controversial reforms to education and health care.

Although Lithuanian presidents do not directly craft economic policy, Nauseda plans to seek cross-party deals to bridge the gap between the rich and poor and decrease regional differences. “We will not have a welfare state if we care only about ourselves while social inequality increases,” stated Nauseda in parliament after taking the oath of office.

Another objective for the new president is to strengthen cooperation with the Baltic area. He has announced regular meetings with the leaders of the three Baltic states, as well as the coordination of regional cooperation at the highest level. Moreover, on foreign policy, Nauseda said he would seek deeper relations with both the EU and the U.S. and plans on strengthening Lithuanian defense.

Hope for the Future

While President Gitanas Nauseda has certainly made promising plans for the future of Lithuania, other associations, such as the European Anti-Poverty Network Lithuania (EAPN Lithuania), are also working to fight poverty in Lithuania. EAPN Lithuania emerged in 2006 and works to strengthen the institutional capacities of Lithuanian non-governmental organizations and encourage their cooperation with national and local governmental institutions to reduce poverty and social exclusion in Lithuania. The association comprises 42 anti-poverty organizations working to reduce social exclusion throughout Lithuania.

Furthermore, UNICEF’s country program in Lithuania has made progress in decreasing child poverty and increasing children’s rights. Lithuania declared 2004 the year of children’s health and since then increased attention and resources to children-focused national health services and programs. Moreover, UNICEF has helped strengthen the effectiveness of the National Public Health Service and lent technical support to the creation of a national database of young people’s health indicators.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

Countries That Escaped From PovertyEradicating poverty from a country can be a difficult and daunting task, but it is not impossible. Some countries are able to develop solutions that bring their economy and their people out of disastrous living conditions. Here is a list of five countries that escaped from poverty and created a better future for their citizens.

5 Countries that Escaped From Poverty

  1. Ghana: In 1990, this small West African nation had a GDP per capita of $1,900 with a poverty rate of 52 percent. By 2018, their GDP had reached an all-time high of $4,211.85 and their poverty rate was cut to 21 percent. Their extreme poverty rate also dropped from 35.6 percent to 18.2 percent within the same time. How were they able to do this? The country focused on educating its citizens to be a well-educated workforce. This allowed them to industrialize and put people in charge that had the knowledge and resources to succeed. Agriculture was the main area of employment back in 1990, but with a diversification of the economy, they were able to boost other sectors to create more jobs. This included the manufacturing and exportation of technological goods and mining that helped them become one of the top producers in gold in the world.
  2. Norway: Having the highest standards of living in the world is not an easy feat. The GDP per capita of Norway as of 2018 is sitting at $8,1807.20, the highest in the country’s history. But they haven’t always had this success. Norway was once one of the poorest nations in the world. During the turn of the 20th century, the Northern European nation’s economy was reliant on agriculture and fishing industries. When these began to fail, hundreds of thousands of Norwegians began to leave the country to escape from poverty for economic opportunity elsewhere. It wasn’t until after World War II that Norway’s economy began to trend upward. The United States provided aid to the country that was ravaged by the fighting and they used the aid help kick start their battered economy. Once oil was discovered off their shores in the North Sea in the 1970s, their economy flourished and they have been consistently trending upwards ever since.
  3. Singapore: The small city-state of Singapore gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965. It was a rough start for the people and their economy. The country’s GDP per capita stood at $516 and more than 70 percent of the people lived in the slums with half of the population unable to read or write. Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister at the time and he installed reforms that were very successful for the people of Singapore and their economy. He began by revamping the education system and creating a workforce that was highly skilled and well trained. To bring in foreign investment, Singapore developed an attractive tax system that is one of the lowest in Asia. This would bring in shipping and manufacturing businesses to their shores. With the influx of money and a rise in the economy, they were able to improve the infrastructure and housing of the country that gave a boost to the standard of living. The country’s escape from poverty has been a success, as Singapore’s current GDP per capita is $57,714.30 as of 2017.
  4. Bolivia: Once regarded as one of the poorest nations in South America, landlocked Bolivia is now a rapidly growing economy. The country’s poverty rate plummeted from 59 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015, while at the same time extreme poverty dropped from 38 percent to 18 percent. The recent success of Bolivia can be contributed to the policies of the current leader Evo Morales installed to fight poverty. He implemented price controls over the products being sold in Bolivia such as food and gasoline so the poor could properly afford these items. While this didn’t create jobs, it did increase spending and allowed the economy to grow. Morales also created a pension of $258 to go towards those aged 60 and up to allow the elderly to escape from poverty.
  5. South Korea: After years of Japanese occupation and the end of the Korean War, South Korea’s economy was suffering in the 1950s. South Korea was not an industrialized nation and the main focus of its economy was agriculture. In 1960, South Korea’s GDP per capita was $79, which changed once General Park Chung-hee took charge of the country. Chung-hee implemented a five-year plan in 1962 that industrialized South Korea, creating jobs for the people. Companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG would receive economic incentives, such as tax breaks, to help grow their businesses. South Korea also took advantage of U.S. economic assistance in exchange for letting the United States military keep troops in the country. Today, South Korea is a thriving economy, and as of 2017, enjoys a GDP per capita of just under $30,000. In addition, the country now accounts for $56 billion of U.S. exports, indicating a strong return on the $5.6 billion of aid invested decades ago.

Being able to rid a country from the grips of poverty involves a certain level of risk and ingenuity. Whether it’s by using the resources in their country, receiving foreign aid from other countries or changing their economic system, these countries that escaped from poverty show it is possible.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

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

Bangladesh’s Food Processing IndustryBangladesh, a small country in South-East Asia about the size of Arkansas, has the seventh-largest population in the world. With over 1,115 citizens per square kilometer, Bangladesh is also one of the most densely populated and poorest countries. Like many overpopulated nations around the world, Bangladesh has experienced a huge spike in poverty over the last thirty years. Lack of resources and capital causes a decrease in food production and sales. However, there has been a breakthrough in Bangladesh’s food processing industry.

Bangladesh and Agriculture

Bangladesh is a country heavily-reliant on agriculture to boost the economy and support the people. The agricultural sector makes up 30 percent of the total GDP and 60 percent of the total labor force. As a result, agriculture is the largest source of capital in Bangladesh.

Even with a large value, the agricultural sector alone wasn’t enough to fully support the economy and alleviate high levels of poverty. This is particularly due to the fact that farming is dependent on the climate. Heavy rains and flooding lead to a poor harvest of rice, tea and jute, Bangladesh’s greatest exports. To prevent an economic crisis from agro-production failure, farmers and officials came together to revolutionize Bangladesh’s food processing industry to increase production and overall profit.

Transition to Agro-Processing

The Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA) has been dedicated to establishing a sustainable agro-processing and food exporting system to improve harvests and monitor financial trends throughout the region.

Established in 1998, the BAPA began as a small nonprofit organization with few members. The organization has a goal of increasing food production and export value in the agricultural sector. By training local farmers to use advanced technology and techniques, the BAPA could see improvement in the amount of crops harvested. Additionally, they could see the reduction of crops lost to insects and weather.

The process was a slow start. The beginning of the 21st century was mostly spent training farmers to adopt modern agro-processing techniques, conducting experiments and gathering data. Studies show that, without agricultural reform, poor farmers only had food security during the good harvest years and even less in the bad ones.

With productive agro-processing training and innovation local farmers were able to increase their market output throughout the region. In fact, profits also increased. Poverty was decreasing now that the food and labor industry was increasing. Within ten years, the benefits began to spread.

Improvement of Bangladesh’s Food Processing Industry

By 2013, Bangladesh’s’ food processing industry was generating over 150 million dollars in revenue from food exports each fiscal year, with no signs of slowing down. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, this number sky-rocketed to 372 million dollars. Consequently,  Bangladesh’s economy became one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

With the economy improving, citizens of Bangladesh are earning more money and seeing prosperity even in the poorest neighborhoods. The food processing industry has had a significant impact on the level of poverty in South-East Asia. For example, the number of people living below the poverty line in Bangladesh dropped from 44 percent in 1991 to 13 percent in 2017.

With the agro-processing industry striving to generate $1 billion by 2021, there is hope to completely eliminate poverty in what was once a seemingly hopeless community. With improvements being made every day, there is a bright future for Bangladesh’s food processing industry.

– Becca Cetta
Photo: Flickr