Energy Poverty in BangladeshBangladesh was recently promoted from a lower income country to a lower middle-income country as per the World Bank’s GDP per capita benchmark. Bangladesh’s economic growth rate remained around 6.5 percent in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2017.

The demand for electricity rose, as a result, thrusting the government into focusing on eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. However, misuse and improper management of energy contributed to the shortage of electricity and load shedding became a daily phenomenon.

Here are some additional facts about energy poverty in the country:

Only around 59.60 percent of the people in Bangladesh have access to electricity with 180 kilowatt-hours of energy per capita in use, which is very low compared to other countries. Rural areas tend to suffer more as they face more load shedding than urban areas.

Bangladesh heavily relies on natural gas and furnace oil, followed by coal, for electricity generation. As of February 2017, the installed power capacity shows the reliance on natural gas is of 62 percent.

This raises concerns over energy security due to the increasing fuel imports and high dependence on coal and gas for electricity generation. Yet, the country has been failing to meet its electricity demand. Therefore, it is trying to focus on meeting its energy needs and providing access to electricity all over the country.

Progress in Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

In September 2018, there was significant progress in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh when the country managed to meet its energy production target of 20,000 MW. Bangladesh also set a new target of generating 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.

As of 2018, the number of power plants amounted to 108, a significant increase from the 27 power plants in 2009. Bangladesh ranked 90th among 115 nations on the global Energy Transition Index (ETI) which benchmarks countries on how well they balance their energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.

Bangladesh made progress due to a strong political commitment, a stable policy regime, the use of grid expansion and generation sources and an investment-friendly environment in the infrastructure sector.

Some Upcoming Projects for Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

  • Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant – Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project, is being constructed in Rooppur, a remote village on the western side of Bangladesh in the Pabna District. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) implemented the project under the Ministry of Science & Technology. The project is apart of an intergovernmental agreement between Bangladesh and Russia. The nuclear power plant of 2,400 MW capacity, with two reactors of 1,200 MW each, is one of the major efforts in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. The project’s expected completion is by 2024.
  • Matarbari Coal Power Plant – The 1,200 MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant project, implemented by the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd (CPGCBL) and assisted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will use imported coal to generate power. The plant will have two units, each having a production capacity of 600 MW. The project will also include a deep sea-port.
  • Rampal Thermal Power Plant – This 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant in Bagerhat district of Khulna is a joint venture between India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board. It is expected to be the country’s largest power plant.

Expansion of Renewable Energy

On March 1, 2019, the World Bank approved $185 million to add up to 310 MW renewable energy generation capacity and also to mobilize around $212 million from the private sector, commercial banks, and other sources to meet the increasing demand for electricity. The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project in Bangladesh by the World Bank will build the first 50 MW segment of a large solar panel energy park in the Feni district. This project should provide better access to clean energy and cut emissions by an equivalent of 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

With the rapid economic growth in the country, Bangladesh has made some notable progress in addressing its growing electricity demand. Through increased diversification of its energy mix and more ambitious projects on the way, major accomplishments are expected in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh.

Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Creative Commons

Similarities and Differences Between a Charity, Non-profit Organization and Philanthropy
To get a better understanding of the different ways in which one can contribute to the community, it’s important to know the similarities and differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

A large part of progress in the world is due to humanitarian aid and contribution, whether it be people donating money or food to the less fortunate or people coming together to work for and promote human welfare. Charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy are important to communities because each is effective in bringing positive change and offers valuable opportunities and programs to people.

Giving USA reports that charitable donations surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, a major increase of 5.2 percent from $389.64 in 2016. This is the first time that Giving exceeded $400 billion in one year.

While charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy can be used interchangeably and are similar in that each brings positive change, they differ significantly in the way they operate.

Charities

A charity is an immediate but emotional monetary donation or short-term contribution usually intended for crisis and relief efforts and supported completely by the public.

People usually donate to a charity that they have a personal connection to or are emotionally affected by. For instance, if a person is deeply concerned about animals, he or she may give a monetary donation at a local animal shelter.

According to Score, one of the ways to understand the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is to remember that a nonprofit’s purpose is educational or religious and if its funds promote a cause that affects the general public and uses public solicitation to operate, it is most likely a charity.

Examples of donations to a charity include giving money or food to a homeless shelter, donating to an animal shelter, giving money to The Salvation Army bell-ringers outside one’s local supermarket during the holiday season, etc.

Nonprofit Organizations

A nonprofit organization and a charity are similar in that they both operate on a not-for-profit basis but differ based on whether it is tax-deductible and even in the way it operates. A charitable donation can count as tax-deductible while nonprofit organizations have to meet certain requirements and file with the IRS as a charitable organization.

A popular nationwide nonprofit organization is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross website states that a donor’s donation goes toward strengthening the Red Cross response to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, providing a safe place, food and other necessities to affected individuals and their families. In 2016, the Red Cross provided 385,000 emergency assistance services, gave millions CPR and AED training and supplied 7 million blood products to patients in need.

Philanthropy

One way to remember the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is by understanding that charities and nonprofits give/contribute while philanthropy involves action. For instance, while a charity can be a quick one-time donation to a school, philanthropy would work toward providing academic scholarships to students or funding to build a better school. Charities aim to lessen the suffering caused by social problems while philanthropists work toward ending social problems.

According to Medium, philanthropy is a long-term strategic investment and intervention dedicated to building long-lasting and successful change in individuals and communities.

While many think a philanthropist is someone who donates large amounts of money to an organization, a philanthropist can be somebody devoted to ending a certain social problem and promoting human welfare.

Impact and Importance

Although there are several differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy, the important part is that all of these are effective in building a more efficient and progressive world. It doesn’t matter if someone donates to charities or nonprofit organizations or decides to become a philanthropist, what matters is their contribution serves to help those in need and is also another step toward progress.

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

 

Retired international soccer star George Weah won the Liberian presidential election on December 26, 2017, succeeding Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The election marked the first peaceful transfer of power in Liberia since 1944.

President-elect Weah defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai, 73. Weah, internationally known for earning the African, European and World Player of the Year in 1995, has served as a senator since 2015. Weah, 51, received the most votes in the first round of the presidential election in October 2017.

Liberty Party nominee Charles Brumskine, who received less than 10 percent of the vote, delayed the final round of voting by accusing election fraud in a case that went to the Liberian Supreme Court. Multiple bodies, including the National Election Commission, found the election was fair. The U.N. Security Council and the White House delivered public statements commending the peaceful transfer of power in Liberia and praising the Liberian people and government.

Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves, has experienced decades of civil war, and the 2014 Ebola epidemic killed more people in Liberia than anywhere else in the world. The West African nation is currently facing extreme poverty and issues stemming from it.

Liberia has the seventh highest maternal mortality rate, female genital cutting affects more than two-thirds of women and girls and less than 50 percent of the population older than 15 can read and write. Moreover, 60 percent of the population is under 25. Nevertheless, the U.N. reduced its troop presence in Liberia in July 2016, and the country has the highest annual reduction rate in infant and child mortality in Africa.

In his victory speech, Weah applauded the Liberian people and said, “[T]he best way to celebrate Liberians is to improve their lives…through public governance.” He encouraged investors to come to Liberia and stressed the importance of private investment in rebuilding the economy.

Weah also thanked his predecessor, Johnson Sirleaf, who became the first elected female African head of state in 2005. “We promise to follow your footsteps in protecting the rights of Liberians and providing even greater freedoms,” Weah said.

Weah’s Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor sat next to him during his victory speech. Howard- Taylor’s ex-husband is serving a 50-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity. However, she proved to have vastly different policy ideas than her previous partner during her tenure as a senator.

While Weah certainly will face obstacles during his administration, the global community is hopeful that progress will continue in Liberia. Democratic leaders have a renewed sense of optimism for the country after this peaceful transfer of power in Liberia.

– Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

US House of Reps Passes Digital GAP ActThe U.S. House of Representatives passed the Digital Global Access Policy Act or the Digital GAP Act (H.R. 600) on January 24, just a day after the bill was reintroduced by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-39). The legislation is aimed at promoting internet access in developing countries to spur economic growth and job creation, reduce poverty and improve health while advancing U.S. interests.

In today’s technology-driven world, internet access is a major driver of economic and social improvement. However, 4.2 billion people remain offline — about 60 percent of the world’s population, most of whom are in developing countries. In these areas, internet access is hindered by inadequate infrastructure and a poor regulatory environment, stifling the potential for sustainable growth and development.

The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act seeks to promote first-time access to mobile or broadband internet for at least 1.5 billion people in both urban and rural areas of developing countries by 2020. It aims to do this is a variety of ways, including:
  • Removing tax and regulatory barriers to internet access.
  • Promoting internet deployment and related coordination, capacity building, and build-once policies and approaches in developing countries.
  • Promoting the use of the internet to increase economic growth and trade, along with democracy, government accountability, transparency and human rights.
  • Promoting inclusive internet policymaking for women, people with disabilities, minorities, low-income and marginalized groups and underserved populations.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce noted that women and girls are disproportionately affected by this digital gap. He said that “bringing 500 million women online could contribute up to $18 billion in GDP growth across 144 countries. That is how you reduce poverty; that is how you advance U.S. interests.”

In addition to Rep. Royce, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA-5), Grace Meng (D-NY-6) and Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) were also listed as original cosponsors of the bill.

The Borgen Project commends the House for making this legislation a priority in the new year and urges the Senate to move swiftly to get this bill to the President’s desk.

– Kim Thelwell

UNICEF Innovation Fund
Starting in February, UNICEF will be accepting applications for its Innovation Fund. The funding will go to companies, teams or ideas from the developing world that help empower the local youth.

To be eligible for funding, the recipient’s project must use open source technology. This means that it is open to the public and can be modified by anyone.

UNICEF’s Innovation Principles stresses the importance of open source tech. According to UNICEF’s website, open source technology permits a global community of developers and designers to tweak and improve the code and design elements.

This allows the latest and most effective methods to be applied to the tech at no additional cost. It facilitates the creation of a public good by a global community.

In addition to the open source requirement, the tech must help local youth through the Innovation Fund’s three portfolio areas:

The first is that the project must be for people under the age of 25. Technology for this group can help break down the barriers that restrict access to information. It can also allow youth to connect with each other to share and scale their own solutions.

The second portfolio area of the Innovation Fund is real time information. With constantly updating data, decision makers will be more informed. Inefficiencies, disparities and restrictions can be resolved quickly.

The third area is infrastructure. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund aims to increase access to information for youth by improving infrastructure like connectivity, sensors and transport.

The open source requirement and the three portfolio areas represent the fund’s overall theme of access. The Innovation Fund desires that all children have unrestricted access to information.

According to its website, UNICEF believes “access to information, particularly basic, life-enhancing information, is a human right.”

This access to life-improving information is typically much more difficult for children living in poverty.

UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead, Christopher Fabian, stressed this when he said to Panarmenian.net: “We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups.”

He went on to say, “We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children.”

So far, the Innovation Fund has raised $9 million for technology that helps young people. These funds have gone to various projects that improve the lives of children, like the U-Report project in Burkina Faso.

U-Report increases real-time access to information to help young women and girls in Burkina Faso. It connects the local girls so they can better cope with harmful traditional practices.

It also allows the girls to share information with each other, such as how to practice safe sex and improve familial practices.

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund helps empower youth in the developing world by increasing access to information through open source technology.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Innovation Fund Backgrounder, OpenSource, Panarmenian, UNICEF Innovation Fund 1, UNICEF Innovation Fund 2, UNICEF Innovation Fund 3
Picture: Google Images

The_Global_Partnership_for_Education2015 has been an active year for global education. The fourth Global Goal in the new Global Goals for 2030 focuses on education. But according to Results, The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the only international partnership exclusively dedicated to achieving education for all.

The Global Partnership for Education had five major accomplishments over the course of 2015.

1. GPE welcomed Bangladesh and the Republic of Congo as new partners.

Bangladesh became the 60th developing partner of the GPE. As a GPE member country, Bangladesh is now eligible for a Program Implementation Grant worth $100 million dollars over the course of three years. The Congo is the 61st developing country partner of GPE. The GPE is working with the Congo to give all children a basic ten-year education.

2. GPE calculated that it takes only $1.18 to pay for a day of primary to secondary education for a child in a developing country.

This calculation comes from The Education for All Global Monitoring Report and IMF figures for historical US inflation. According to GPE, 88 percent of $1.18 will be provided by developing countries themselves, making the international funding gap just 14 cents a day per child.

3. GPE received new funding from Canada.

Canada decided to double their contribution to the GPE. They agreed to donate $98 million dollars during the 2015-2018 replenishment period. More than half of GPE’s financing to countries in 2014 went to conflict-affected countries.

4. GPE allocated more than $245 million in grants and distributed more than $400 million.

GPE approved $245 million in grants fro Bangladesh, Mozambique, Nepal and Rwanda. It plans to use this money to provide imperative funding and momentum toward quality education for children.

5. GPE adopted a new strategy for the next five years.

The new strategic plan sets out contributions that GPE will make to focus on the Global Goal for education. The new results framework will be used to measure achievements and ensure accountability for results. GPE is invested in delivering the Global Goal of quality education for all.

GPE hopes to continue to make a positive impact in global education and to reach the global education goal. Their new strategy for 2016 identifies their biggest challenges to achieving quality education for children around the world.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Global Partnership for Education, Results
Photo: Global Partnership for Education