Poverty and Corruption in LiberiaIn 2022, Liberia had a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 26 on a 100 scale, making it the fifth most corrupt country in Africa. Corruption has several links to poverty. Forbes explains that “poverty invites corruption, while corruption deepens poverty. Corruption both causes and thrives upon weaknesses in key economic, political and social institutions.” Considering the connection that exists between poverty and corruption in Liberia, several organizations are taking action to address corruption in the country.

Poverty and Corruption in Liberia

Corruption impacts the distribution of resources in a country, stiffens economic growth and slows down poverty reduction rates. On top of this, corruption “reduces the state’s ability to provide quality public services.” It is also one of the causes of decreased spending on the pro-poor plan rolled out in 2018 when current President George Weah took office.

As it stands, Liberia notes a high poverty rate. About 44% of Liberians lived below the poverty line in 2020, according to the United Nations Development Programme, and a quarter of the population suffered severe multidimensional poverty. High rates of poverty in Liberia are the result of two deadly civil wars the country observed from 1989-1997 and 1999-2003 and are compounded by low levels of education along with corruption, among other issues.

The people of Liberia feel that the police force is the most corrupt institution, followed by the government. However, these perceptions decreased between 2015 and 2019. Corruption in Liberia has in fact reduced. From 2015 to 2019, the overall bribery rate decreased from 69% to 53%. Public educational bribery dropped by 5% in this period and public health bribery dropped by almost 10%.  Among the police force, bribery declined from 60% to 42%. These improvements are in part due to the work of organizations aiming to address corruption in Liberia.

2 Organizations Addressing Corruption in Liberia

  1. Student Unification Party (SUP). “Twelve years later and its legacy is corruption.” These are the words of a Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) member on July 21, 2022, during a rally announcing upcoming plans to halt corruption in Liberia. SUP is a political ideology group that gained prominence in the late 1970s following Liberia’s historical rice riots. The student-led organization is born out of the University of Liberia and has made headlines for its bountiful demonstrations, petitions and pleas to the state. Last year, SUP arranged a string of protests disputing rising food, transportation and gas prices — an incident that uncannily resembled Liberia’s past events. SUP’s “Fix The Country Campaign” is a recent attempt to address corruption in Liberia. As SUP celebrated its 52nd anniversary on December 9, 2022, SUP stressed the importance of implementing new strategies that could eradicate corruption once and for all.
  2. Liberia CSOs Anti-Corruption Coalition. The Liberia CSOs Anti-Corruption Coalition (LCACC) was founded in 2019 with the help of USAID. LCACC aims to increase accountability for corruption and create a more transparent government. More than 60 young emerging leaders from West Africa participate in the Anti-Corruption Ambassador Training Program where they receive mentoring from other activists working to eradicate corruption in Liberia. Grassroots advocacy is used to foster fiscal transparency, political advocacy and natural governance.

In Liberia, corruption impacts several aspects of society and deepens conditions of poverty. However, the overall rate of corruption in Liberia has the potential to significantly decrease as these organizations continue to take action.

– Dorothy Quanteh
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Iraq
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the poverty rate in Iraq reached 31.7% in 2020. Oil and gas production dominate many countries within the Middle East and gas production and Iraq is no different. The World Bank claims that Iraq is “one of the most oil-dependent nations” in the world, with oil revenues accounting for “99% of its exports, 85% of the government’s budget and 42% of Iraq’s GDP.” Unlike other oil-rich countries, Iraq has failed to turn the abundance of natural resources into profit and benefit the average Iraqi’s life. Corruption and conflict have decimated Iraq, displacing 1.2 million Iraqis and leaving 2.4 million people in need of food and livelihood assistance, according to WFP. Here is everything to know about poverty in Iraq.

Iraqi Civil War

Iraq has long been a divided country. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) believes increased “levels of violence, sectarian and ethnic divisions, population pressure, religious extremism and intervention from outside states” as key contributors that empowered ISIS and helped lead Iraq to civil war.

“In 2014, the Islamic State advanced into Iraq from Syria” and took control of most of northern Iraq. The terrorist organization proceeded to use horrific acts of violence whilst it controlled major Iraqi cities such as Mosul. The U.S. “formed an international coalition that now includes nearly 80 countries to counter the Islamic State,” Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) states.

Whilst ISIS was eradicated from Iraq in 2017, the damage had already been done. Iraq is yet to fully recover from the conflict. CFR reports that “more than 2 million people remain internally displaced and 9 million remain in need of humanitarian assistance” following the conflict.

Many major cities face huge reconstruction due to the complete devastation caused by the war. The total reconstruction could cost at least $88 billion. This is a price that the Iraqi government simply cannot afford. Thus, much of Iraqi infrastructure is still not functional and many Iraqis are still yet to return to their original homes.

Oil and Corruption

According to Transparency International, Iraq ranks 157th in the Corruption Perceptions Index, having a score of 23/100 in 2022. The National Interest stated that Iraqi officials stole money that the country could have used to fight ISIS and rebuild the nation.

Estimates vary on how much money has gone missing in Iraq, but some suggest that the country has lost as much as $300 billion since 2003. This money could have helped rebuild Iraq after the conflict with ISIS, whilst also helping to tackle the ever-growing poverty crisis in Iraq.

With the majority of revenues generated coming from oil exports, the corruption in Iraq has significantly impeded the development of non-oil business sectors. Resulting in continual dependency on high oil prices.

Average Iraqis never seem to see the benefits of oil profits due to the ongoing corruption. The Iraqi government has seemingly failed to provide adequate basic services for the Iraqi population. Protests in 2019 appeared to engulf major cities such as Baghdad due to the failure of the government to provide jobs and life improvements to young people despite an increase in oil production.

According to AP News, overall unemployment in Iraq is 11% whilst “one-third of Iraqi youth are without jobs.” This is all while the World Bank expected Iraq’s GDP to grow by 4.6% due to increased oil exports.

Poverty and Unemployment

The World Bank stated that in 2021 Iraq’s unemployment rate was “more than 10 percentage points higher than its pre-COVID-19 level of 12.7 percentage points.” It also states that unemployment amongst the “displaced, returnees, women jobseekers, pre-pandemic self-employed and informal workers remains elevated.”

With the government’s decision to devalue the dinar against the dollar by 20%, as Iraq produces very little, the public has little choice but to buy imported goods which are now more expensive.

NPR believes that due to the government’s over-dependency on oil, it is imperative for Iraq to diversify its economy and increase its private sector. The result would be that many livelihoods would no longer be dependent on the state. Currently, when oil prices drop, unemployment and poverty increase.

Looking Ahead

Despite large oil profits generating substantial wealth, the money never appears for ordinary Iraqis who struggle to make ends meet. The failure to rebuild Iraq, large unemployment and violent conflict against ISIS have held Iraq back from becoming a more prosperous nation. A lack of action from the Iraqi government alongside systemic corruption has not helped the ever-increasing poverty epidemic in the country.

Although the future does not look too bright for the Iraqi people, the government has announced a reform plan. Finance minister Ali Allawi unveiled a plan to encourage investment by improving Iraq’s infrastructure, bumping up tax revenues and stimulating agriculture, NRP reports.

If the government has the will and determination to see through the reform plan instead of relying on oil money, there is a chance that the government can improve the livelihoods of many Iraqis. This could significantly reduce poverty in Iraq and many of the displaced people could return home.

– Josef Whitehead
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Venezuela
A 2021 study found that three in four Venezuelans are living in extreme poverty. With the rise in inflation along with the political climate of the country, many Venezuelans had to flee the country. Inadequate living conditions and the authoritarian style of government have exacerbated poverty in Venezuela.

Extreme Poverty

Food insecurity significantly increased in Venezuela following the COVID-19 virus. In 2021, 88.2% of Venezuelan homes were worried about not having enough food to eat. With prices rising as the country tries to recover from the economic downfall due to the pandemic, citizens are unable to afford basic necessities. Inflation, along with the absence of available jobs, has made it nearly impossible for individuals to overcome the rising poverty rates.

Political Climate

Venezuela is currently under the rule of Nicolas Maduro, who many people view as a dictator. Maduro leads a corrupt government that has led to a disruption 0f peace. The Venezuelan president does not have public approval and neighboring countries, including the U.S. do not recognize him as a president. Despite this, a military unit that uses force to maintain control supports and backs Maduro. Through mass incarceration and corruption, Maduro has instilled fear in Venezuelans that has enabled him to continue leading the country. During 10-year Maduro’s presidency, the country has fallen into its worst economic decline. To improve the economic crisis, Maduro has set price controls that have led to a decline in available goods, further increasing poverty in Venezuela.

The Good News

A foundation that is contributing greatly to improving the lives of Venezuelans is Cuatro Por Venezuela. The name translates to “four for Venezuela,” as four women, Gloria Mattiuzzi, Gabriela Rondón, Maria Elena Teixeira and Carolina Febres, founded the organization. Cuatro Por Venezuela originated in October 2018 as these women wanted to positively impact poverty in the nation. With the goal of improving healthcare and nutrition, Cuatro Por Venezuela’s nutrition program is a great relief to struggling families. The program fills food pantries with goods as well as partners with schools and orphanages to ensure children are not hungry. Cuatro Por Venezuela also aids families who have lost their jobs and are struggling financially. By establishing micro businesses, Cuatro Por Venezuela is enabling individuals to establish a form of income. From 2017 to 2022, Cuatro Por Venezuela has been able to provide 116 tons of humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

Organizations such as Cuatro Por Venezuela have contributed to the progress in Venezuela’s poverty. Since 2021, the number of individuals living in poverty has reduced by 14.7%. The economic recovery has allowed more families to be able to afford food and housing. Venezuela’s GDP has also increased by 36.03% from 2020 to 2022. Further economic improvements could lead to an even more significant decrease in overall poverty within the country.

– Micaela Carrillo
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022 and has resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties on both sides. The attacks left 8 million people displaced in Ukraine by May 2022 and 7.8 million Ukrainians fleeing the country as of November 2022. With more than 250 days of the invasion, Ukrainians are likely to live with a blackout until at least March 2022, the EU will give a further £2.2 billion to help with the reconstruction of the country and the Word Health Organization (WHO) warned that Ukraine’s health system is “facing its darkest days in the war so far.” All of the factors have undoubtedly increased the poverty rate in Ukraine to 25% and future estimates it could be rising to 55% or more by the end of 2023.

Increase in Poverty

The damage that the war inflicted on infrastructure and the economy has obviously increased Ukraine’s poverty. The unemployment rate has increased and is currently at 35% and over months some workers have seen their incomes reduced by as much as 50%. World Bank Eastern Europe Regional Country Director Arup Banerji stated that “As winter really starts biting, certainly by December or January, there may be another internal wave of migration, of internally displaced persons.” As a result of the displacement of more people from their houses and fewer jobs available, the poverty rate in Ukraine will worsen as Russia’s invasion continues.


The WHO and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health announced that 22% of people in the country are struggling to access essential health care and COVID-19 spreading with 23,000 new cases reported since October 2022. With a low vaccination rate minus booster, millions of Ukrainians are not immune to it which has therefore led to an increase in cases. UNICEF delivered 2.3 million doses of the vaccine through the U.S. government for distribution in 23 regions of Ukraine. Recently, the Biden administration wrote a letter to Congress requesting $38 billion to help Ukraine with efforts, with $9 billion going towards COVID-19 vaccine access and long-term research.

Infrastructure Damage

Within recent weeks, Russian missiles and drones have struck 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure that have created blackouts across the country. Eighty percent of Kyiv residents have been deprived of water and 350,000 homes have lost all power. The World Bank believes that Ukraine needs $349 billion to reconstruct the country. The process of cleaning and clearing explosive remains of war will need $11 billion in the next two years and $62 billion in the next 10 years. Other costs such as the rebuilding of roads, schools and hospitals will need more funding and could take away from the government supporting residents then lead others into poverty, increasing the rate after the ending of the invasion.


Ukraine has received military assistance from other countries, the U.S. is the largest provider having committed $19.3 billion since the start of the Biden Administration. The Disaster Emergency Committee has helped 248,000 people in six months with food aid and opened 200 centers for displaced people. Similarly, the British Red Cross launched its appeal and described how it would use people’s donations. For example, £20 “could provide five blankets to families taking shelter.” Since its launch, the organization has helped 5 million people with emergency relief and 8 million with access to clean water.

Looking Ahead

The poverty rate in Ukraine has worsened significantly as it faces the impact of war. The country will need a complete rebuild that could cost more than $500 billion and leaves people in life-altering situations without homes and jobs. Russia’s invasion does not have an end date, it will continue to damage the economy and more importantly ruin the lives of Ukrainians.

– Mohamed Hassan
Photo: Flickr

poverty level in IndiaThe measurement of the poverty level in India has been the subject of much debate over the past decade, especially because of the lack of reliable figures and data. This year, following two articles on poverty in India published by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, a new debate on poverty in India emerged — the “Great India Poverty Debate 2.0” in reference to the “Great India Poverty Debate 1.0” that existed after the liberalization of India in the 1990s.

Difficulties in Assessing Poverty in India

Since the Indian government has not published any National Sample Survey (NSS) results since 2012, which includes the national statistics regarding poverty in the country, researchers began studies to determine the amount of poverty within India, particularly extreme poverty.

The studies employ different methods to measure the poverty level in India in order to provide more recent estimates. Both studies, the first by Bhalla, Bhasin and Virmani and the second by Roy and van der Weide, arrive at “dramatically different conclusions.” Although each approach has its shortcomings, Ideas for India says the studies “highlight that the real poverty that lies behind the Great Poverty Debate 2.0 is the poverty of data.”

When it comes to assessing poverty in India, despite the lack of official recent statistics on poverty rates, one may consider elements that link to poverty, such as literacy rates or food insecurity, to paint a picture of a country’s overall poverty conditions.

Illiteracy and Food Insecurity as Indicators of Poverty

Indeed, illiteracy is linked to poor financial conditions as poverty often means low-income families are unable to afford quality education for their children. In India, according to 2017-18 data from the National Statistical Office (NSO), the latest literacy rate in India overall stands at about 77.7%. This means the national illiteracy rate stands at 22.3%, which means, in a population of about 1.4 billion people, a significant portion of people cannot read or write. Such a high illiteracy rate correlates to high poverty rates in India.

Regarding food insecurity rates in India, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 2022, India has regressed by six positions since 2021, ranking 107th out of 121 countries in terms of hunger levels. India scored 29.1, which equates to a “serious” level of hunger. According to data from 2019-2021, 16.3% of India’s population suffers from undernourishment. Furthermore, around 35.5% of Indian children under 5 suffer stunting, a form of malnutrition with detrimental consequences.

End Poverty

End Poverty is an Indian NGO established in 2009 to develop innovative and creative solutions to address poverty in India. Though mandated to work across India, End Poverty currently works in seven Indian states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa.

End Poverty directly supports and empowers the poorest by providing them with opportunities to attain an education, develop skills and secure employment opportunities in order to rise out of poverty. End Poverty has three core programs in place: rural development, dairy development and sustainable agriculture.

The rural development program is important because about 68% of India’s people live in rural areas, according to 2011 data, and poverty is more pronounced in rural areas. The rural development activities include establishing infrastructure and schools, providing opportunities for income generation, strengthening access to education and providing water, hygiene and sanitation services.

Despite the lack of official recent statistics on poverty in India, one can use other indicators, such as the illiteracy rate, to assess the poverty level in India. Moreover, the important work of researchers contributes to a better understanding of the country’s socioeconomic conditions. But, regardless of the precision of statistics, the efforts of organizations help counter poverty by improving the standards of living among the most disadvantaged people.

– Evan Da Costa Marques
Photo: Unsplash

Being Poor in Sri LankaExtreme poverty rates in Sri Lanka are low compared to other countries in the region. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 0.2% of the employed population lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2021. However, the quality of life in Sri Lanka remains low as more than 13% of the Sri Lankan population lived on less than $3.65 per day in 2016. Estimates indicate that, by 2019, this rate may have reduced to about 11%, meaning more people were escaping poverty and capable of fulfilling their most basic needs. However, the struggles from the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis have caused a regression in poverty rates in Sri Lanka, thus, being poor in Sri Lanka is a new reality for many.

Sri Lanka’s Impoverished

According to the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI), of every six people in Sri Lanka, one suffers from multidimensional poverty. However, being poor in Sri Lanka is more probable in certain areas and among specific age groups.

In Sri Lanka, there is a significant difference in poverty between rural and urban districts. More than 80% of the multidimensionally deprived are living in rural areas, which makes this group a priority.

Plantation communities in Sri Lanka face significant impacts of poverty. Although these communities make up 4.5% of the national population, according to data from 2019, plantation communities make up 14.4% of Sri Lanka’s poor. Plantation communities are vulnerable to poverty due to a history of oppression and marginalization. Many plantation workers face modern slavery conditions and do not earn a living wage. Children living in plantation communities are exposed to harsh working conditions and lack opportunities to prosper in life as access to quality education is lacking, among other issues.

Children, in general, are at risk of being poor in Sri Lanka. UNICEF reports that 42.2% of Sri Lankan children between 0 and 4 years old suffer from multidimensional poverty, according to the Child Multidimensional Poverty Index (CMPI). These deprivations include a lack of nutrition, inaccessible education and inadequate access to clean water sources. About 33% of poor children suffer from a form of malnutrition. However, there are no real differences between boys and girls in terms of exposure to poverty, which means there is no gender disparity in relation to poverty among children.

The Effects of the 2022 Crisis

Despite the country’s efforts to move away from poverty and the numerous improvements during the last decade, Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis has shaken the country. The World Bank estimates that poverty rates could double in 2022, rising from 13.1% to 25.6%. This would mark the highest poverty numbers in Sri Lanka since 2009.

The BBC explains that the COVID-19 pandemic marked the onset of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis as the tourism sector faced severe impacts. Then-President Rajapaksa’s “economic mismanagement” and poor financial decisions also played a significant role — Sri Lanka ran out of foreign currency and fell into immense financial debt.

Sri Lanka’s inflation rate stood at more than 50% by July 2022 and citizens faced “daily power cuts and shortages of basics such as fuel, food and medicines,” the BBC says. The Russia-Ukraine war has further exacerbated inflation across the world.

The situation affects poor households more severely as purchasing power becomes even lower. The economic recession also caused about 500,000 job losses in industry and service sectors between 2021 and 2022, the World Bank says.

Other Impacts

Russia is the third-largest exporter of Sri Lankan tea, but these exports drastically dropped since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. Furthermore, Sri Lanka banned imports of fertilizer in April 2021, which gravely affected agriculture as farmers had no alternatives. In fact, the 2021/2022 planting season noted a 50% drop in production. This has affected food security in the country and the livelihoods of about 2 million farmers and 40% of the population deriving income from agriculture.

According to ReliefWeb in November 2022, 6.3 million Sri Lankans are enduring moderate or severe food insecurity. Furthermore, severe acute food insecurity affects 66,000 Sri Lankans, 18,000 of whom come from plantation/estate communities.

Deteriorating conditions have led to nationwide protests that concluded with the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Therefore, toward the end of July 2022, Sri Lanka imposed a state of emergency due to political and economic stability collapsing at the same time.

Taking Action

In September 2022, the IMF offered Sri Lanka an initial bailout loan of almost $3 billion. The funding looks to “stabilize the economy, protect the livelihoods of the Sri Lankan people and prepare the ground for economic recovery and promoting sustainable and inclusive growth.” Furthermore, an IMF loan may encourage other lenders to reestablish trust with Sri Lanka, which currently has $50 billion worth of debt as of July 2022.

Due to the unprecedented inflation rates, the government reacted by increasing direct financial assistance. Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe implemented the Welfare Benefit Fast Track Programme ‘Leave No One Behind’ to assist low-income households in Sri Lanka. By October 12, 2022, the program had received 2.3 million applications for assistance. The program is projected to benefit about 3.9 million Sri Lankans.

Because Sri Lanka’s social safety nets have limitations due to the country’s lack of finance, foreign aid to Sri Lanka is crucial amid the country’s economic crisis.

– Carla Tomas
Photo: Unsplash

Ethical food consumption
Many food industries exploit workers and degrade the environment to produce cheap, low-quality food. Ethical food consumption reduces poverty by limiting support for food companies that do not prioritize human rights or environmental sustainability. With the proper knowledge and motivation, people can adopt a wide range of healthy, affordable, ethical and sustainable food practices.

7 Ethical Food Consumption Practices

  1. Try a plant-based diet. In an interview with The Borgen Project, David Julian McClements, a food scientist and professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts, said that plant-based diets can reduce pollution and biodiversity loss, as well as land and water use. Environmental disasters and degradation often hurt impoverished communities because local governments lack the funds and resources to bounce back. Plant-based diets can help impoverished communities by reducing environmental degradationwhich can be complex and costly to address. Plant-based diets can also combat food shortages, water shortages and water contamination. The meat and dairy industries deplete large amounts of water to hydrate animals and clean up waste, contaminating water supplies worldwide. Water contamination can be fatal to impoverished communities lacking proper health care and technology to ensure a clean water supply. Pursuing a plant-based diet reduces support for particular meat and dairy companies that degrade the environment at the cost of human health, especially in impoverished communities.
  2. Shop locally. Buying food from local businesses and farmers’ markets has several social and ecological benefits. When well-managed, small local farms preserve soil health, nearby water sources and plant biodiversity. Small farmers often plant a wide variety of crops compared to large monoculture farms that only grow one or a few crop varieties and ship their produce to grocery stores situated thousands of miles away. Shipping and driving food long distances reduce the freshness and taste of food and contribute to global warming. Local food can also be healthier than imported food because farm-to-table food loses fewer nutrients in the transportation process. Imported food may sit in warehouses, trucks or planes for long periods, during which the food can lose nutrients. Additionally, local, ethical food consumption reduces poverty by supporting small businesses and boosting local economies.
  3. Shop organically. Organic farming involves growing food without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Organic farms can reduce pollution, improve water and soil quality, increase biodiversity and limit human and environmental contact with toxic substances. Therefore, consumers help preserve their local environment and human health by purchasing organic food products. Organic farming can be especially beneficial to impoverished communities because of its environmental benefits. Organic farms improve public health and soil fertility, which benefits people, the environment and the economy. Due to socioeconomic and ecological benefits, one can view purchasing organic products as a form of ethical food consumption, which in turn, reduces poverty.
  4. Shop from businesses that pay workers ethical wages. When at the grocery store, taking a minute to glance at the label on a food product before buying it can make a significant difference in ethical food consumption over time. Identifying labels like Fair Trade can help support programs and businesses that pay workers fair wages and ensure safe work conditions. Supporting local food businesses and farms is another way to reduce support for large, corporate brands that exploit workers and degrade the environment. For example, buying products from local farmers’ markets supports small farms that prioritize ethical wages and sustainability more than large corporations. However, in places where farmers’ markets are unavailable, simply reading and researching the labels on food at the grocery store can help support fair wages and environmental sustainability.
  5. Grow a garden. Even if it is just a few plants in a small garden, growing one’s food can be a great alternative to large-scale, exploitative agriculture. Home-grown, ethical food consumption reduces poverty by minimizing support for corporations that do not pay workers fair wages. Sourcing food from a garden can also improve health and benefit the environment. Gardeners know precisely where their food came from, how they grew it and what they used to grow it, leaving no ethical or health-related issues up for question. Maintaining a large garden may be unrealistic for people who have limited free time, but even planting something small, like an avocado plant, can make a difference in the outcome of one’s food consumption over time.
  6. Consume less single-use packaging. Reducing one’s consumption of single-use food packaging benefits both people and the environment. People can reduce the single-use packaging they consume by utilizing reusable bags, containers, straws and more. Zero-waste stores are emerging as more interest circulates zero-waste living. While a zero-waste lifestyle may seem impractical to the average person, any steps in the direction of zero-waste living can make a difference. Reducing one’s use of solid, single-use products factors ethical food consumption because single-use packaging is abundant in the food industry. Ethical food consumption reduces poverty by lessening support for exploitative brands and initiatives, including the plastic industry.
  7. Avoid wasting food. Much like plastic waste, food waste can be detrimental to the environment, especially for impoverished communities. According to the World Wildlife Fund, people could reduce up to 8% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions if they stopped wasting food. Meal planning, purchasing food mindfully, utilizing one’s freezer and making good use of leftovers are all simple ways the average person can reduce the amount of food waste she produces.

By adopting ethical, sustainable food practices in daily life, consumers can make a significant impact in reducing global poverty and food insecurity while conserving the environment.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Unsplash

The Four Pillars of the Graduation Approach to Poverty Reduction
After years of successful poverty reduction, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause 150 million people to return to severe poverty. Poverty is “a cyclical pattern where the multidimensional causes of extreme poverty prevent people from acquiring the resources to escape it.” However, the graduation approach to poverty reduction has proved successful in overcoming the multifaceted obstacles of extreme poverty.

What Is the Graduation Approach?

In 2002, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) established the graduation approach to poverty reduction. The graduation approach is a way of attacking extreme poverty from multiple angles. A “set of interventions designed to address the” complexity of the issue are implemented to provide the “’big push’ people need to escape the poverty trap long term.” Since 2018, the graduation approach has reached almost 14 million people in 50 different countries. And, it is being used by more than 100 organizations. 

BRAC pioneered the approach in Bangladesh in 2002. There, it had a 95% graduation from poverty success rate. Its success is attributed “to a combination of consumption support and asset/cash transfers, followed by up to two years of training” and mentoring. The program can last anywhere from 18-36 months per household with an average cost of only $1,400.

The Four Pillars of the Graduation Approach

Over time, the graduation approach to poverty reduction has been broken down into four main pillars.

  1. Social Protection – Social protection means meeting the basic needs of participants before pushing ahead with the program. This includes providing cash stipends, consumption support and access to health care.
  2. Income Generation –  At this point in the program, households are provided with productive asset transfers that help them maintain sustainable incomes. This could be in the form of equipment, seeds or livestock. The participants are also given vocational and farm-based training in order to improve their technical skills. 
  3. Financial Support – This pillar focuses on providing training to participants on how to manage their incoming and outgoing finances. Participants are taught that savings help circumvent difficult times. They are introduced to community savings groups and mentoring that help generate income. When a household completes the graduation program the participants are connected with more conventional financial institutions to provide them with long-term support and growth.
  4. Social Empowerment – Throughout the graduation approach, participants learn many new life skills through mentoring, peers and coaching. These new skills provide participants with confidence and opportunities to become more integrated with their communities. 

Graduation Success Rate in the Philippines

From June 2018 to September 2020, 1,800 households in the Philippines participated in a pilot of the graduation approach to poverty. Findings showed that 71% of households met all the “criteria under the four pillars of graduation” and saw improvement in their life skills and financial management. The participants greatly improved their hygiene, nutrition and health practices as they retained at least 80% of their life skills training. At the start of the program, 74% of participants had access to a sanitary toilet. By the end of the program, everyone had access to one.

Despite the program taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants were still able to initiate livelihoods and earn income. As of September 2020, around 60% of individual livelihoods remained fully operational and 73% of group livelihoods remained intact. The graduation approach to poverty reduction also taught participants how to react to changing trends in the market due to the pandemic. In turn, participants were able to stay above the food poverty threshold.

The Impact

Overall, the graduation approach to poverty reduction has proved extremely successful. It provides the “big push” that individuals living below the poverty line need in order to escape the cyclical trap. With new knowledge, resources and savings, individuals that have been through the graduation program are set up for long-term success.

– Trystin Baker
Photo: Unsplash

How Can $4 Billion Help Education in Underdeveloped Countries?The 2021 Global Education Summit raised more than $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and 19 world governments pledged to allocate a minimum of 20% of their budgets to education. The GPE provides for education in 90 countries and territories, aiming to raise “at least $5 billion over the next five years.” Reaching this goal will allow education in underdeveloped countries to thrive, safeguarding the education of 175 million children and enabling the learning of 88 million additional children by 2025.

The Importance of Education

In developing countries, there is a significant gap in learning and schooling. Roughly 53% of all children in these countries “cannot read and understand a short story by the time they” complete primary education. This rate of learning poverty could potentially rise to 63% without immediate global action. However, despite these statistics, more children are in school globally than ever before.

Equality in education is critical for the development of individuals and societies. Education in underdeveloped countries helps assist with poverty reduction, improving health and gender equality. With education, more people will be able to secure higher-paying, skilled employment and health outcomes will improve across nations. With more girls in school, the rate of global child marriage will reduce.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, education is suffering, but the United States commits to efforts to improve education for all.

How the United States is Helping

In the past, although the U.S. has made efforts to advance global education, considering its status as a global powerhouse, many view these efforts as insufficient. Realizing the need for improvement, the U.S. is advancing its focus on education in underdeveloped countries.

At the recent Global Education Summit, the United States pledged $305 million to the GPE for 2021. The Let Girls Learn Initiative was started in 2015 by former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative invested millions of dollars while partnering with the private sector to improve education for girls in more than 50 countries.

On Sep. 8, 2017, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act was signed into law. The Act ensures that the United States uses its resources to improve global education through programs focusing on literacy skills, mathematics and basic fundamental skills.

The International Basic Education Caucus was launched in 2015 with the ultimate goal of alleviating global poverty through education. Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Mike Quigley began this bipartisan caucus with the belief that education is the unrivaled way to promote freedom, peace and stability around the world.

When the United States invests in worldwide learning, it brings benefits not only for other countries but for the U.S. as well. Education can improve global and national security and it can contribute to better global health while providing more economic safety.

What Does This Mean for Poverty?

Education not only provides children with the necessary tools to learn and develop but also has significant impacts on poverty. Education paves the road to successful careers, allowing individuals to earn an income and break cycles of poverty.

Each additional year of education an individual receives provides “a 9% increase in hourly earnings.” This increase in earnings allows an individual to contribute more to the economy, affecting entire societies as health improves and others are inspired to look to education to provide a brighter future.

The recent contribution of more than $4 billion toward global education is one major step toward ending poverty. Advancing education in underdeveloped countries will lead to immense progress in countries around the world by breaking cycles of poverty.

– Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr