parenting_intervention
Often it is the simple, low-resource interventions that can have the most impact in improving the lives of women and children.

In Lira, Uganda, a community-based parenting intervention has proven to be successful in supporting both child development and maternal wellbeing.

The link between maternal wellbeing and child development is important. Maternal depression can be stigmatized or regarded as unrelated to child health. However, the study implemented by Dr. Singla and his colleagues reveals that maternal and child health are related and can be addressed together.

The study selected 12 parishes in Lira; half participated in the parenting intervention and the remaining parishes served as a control group. Mothers were paired with their children in the study. The children were between 12 to 36 months old, and the mothers were selected for a background of low maternal education.

The parenting intervention group consisted of 12 fortnightly peer-led group sessions related to maternal wellbeing and caring for children. Topics discussed included increasing the involvement of fathers as well as ways to care for children in regards to playing, talking, hygiene practices and expressions of love and respect.

Results of the intervention program were assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. The endline results were collected three months after the 24-week program ended.

Children who were in the intervention group had higher cognitive scores and receptive language scores. Mothers in the intervention group also self-reported fewer symptoms of depression. These results are positive and confirm the hypothesis that maternal and child health can improve in a unique way when the issues are addressed together.

Atif Rahman, Professor of Child Psychiatry at the University of Liverpool, and his colleagues support the integration of maternal mental health into maternal and child health programs. They also emphasize that this work must connect to broader goals, such as poverty reduction and gender empowerment.

It is significant that this Ugandan program was successful with non-professional, local community members because this indicates that similar programs can be implemented without great expenses.

Iliana Lang

Sources: The Lancet Global Health, PLoS Medicine
Photo: Pulitzer Center

Wind_PowerConstruction has begun on the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, which will become Africa’s largest wind power farm. It is estimated to be finished by 2017 and the farm will produce a fifth of Kenya’s total energy. Additionally, Kenya Power has signed a contract to purchase energy from the farm for the next 20 years. The 40,000-acre farm has 365 turbines and will take advantage of a low-level jet stream known as the “Turkana Corridor Winds,” which blow year round.

Regarding the powerful wind speeds and the energy potential, Carlo Van Wageningen, director of the Lake Turkana Wind Project, states, “On average, we obtain 11.8 metres per second. Now, if you make a comparison with onshore wind farms in Europe, you’re looking at a good wind site being about 7.5 to 8 metres a second at best.”

Investors from the European Union have financed the USD $690 million project with the African Development Bank. The program is a milestone in a broader global effort to maximize Africa’s wind power production. Wind power has taken off already in many African countries, such as Morocco, Sudan and South Africa. More than two thirds of Africa’s total population does not have access to electricity. These efforts aim to provide universal access for impoverished Africans living in both urban and rural areas.

In January, a transmission line failure caused a power outage that left over half the country without electricity for four hours. It is absolutely necessary for a country of 4 million people to have a more reliable and accessible source of energy. While power interruptions are becoming increasingly less common, these blackouts can have severe implications for families living in poverty.

The wind farm’s completion is coming at a crucial time for the country. Approximately 80,000 South Sudanese have taken refuge in Kenya to escape their civil war. This massive migration has greatly increased the need for electricity, both for native Kenyans and for refugee camps. Less than 25 percent of Kenyans have access to electricity, but it is estimated that the farm’s energy will provide the majority of the population with access to electricity.

Additionally, the farm will provide temporary construction work for almost 2,500 Kenyans and will employ 200 full-time upon completion.

The outlook for the future is quite promising as well. Eight African countries have the most wind energy potential among developing world nations. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that sub-Saharan Africa alone could produce twice the energy that Africa as a continent currently consumes.

The IEA estimates that by 2040, wind power capacity in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 12 gigawatts. There are one billion watts per gigawatt and a single LED light bulb requires approximately 15 watts. For a continent that is so severely energy-deprived, a seemingly basic amenity like a light bulb can make a monumental impact.

Frasier Petersen

Sources: QZ, AFKInsider, CNBC
Photo: Flickr

global wa
With a conflict as large and diverse as global poverty, it can be difficult for people, particularly small or independent nonprofit organizations, to feel like they are making a legitimate difference in the lives of others around the world. Larger associations have been popping up recently that serve to unite all advocates, and one particular association is Global Washington.

Headquartered in Seattle, Global Washington works to strengthen “Washington state’s vibrant global development community and [increase] the impact of [its] members.” By using this approach, more areas of global poverty are covered and relief is provided through a number of outlets.

Global Washington connects businesses, companies and non-government organizations with opportunities to support numerous global development projects as well as to create engaging strategies that promote global welfare and focus on global development issues.

There are numerous benefits to having one association umbrella over the global development community. This “mutual friend” in Global Washington allows new connections to be made between businesses and fundraisers or philanthropist. Through Global Washington’s work, new partnerships have been formed that serve to strengthen smaller organizations in the fight against global poverty. Global Washington also allows every country around the world to be interconnected through the numerous businesses, organizations and individual philanthropists that take part in the work.

According to Global Washington, one in three jobs in Washington state is dependent on trade and global development, and each state in America holds similar statistics. Global Washington has over 300 nonprofits working internationally, serving to improve millions of lives, creating thousands of jobs and providing a sense of stability and hope for the future. Foundations such as World Vision and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have partnered with Global Washington to provide support and improve living conditions, health and sanitation and education.

Global Washington is ushering in a new wave of global poverty reduction by creating one association that can adopt numerous organizations, businesses and individuals. Unifying all actions against global poverty increases the rates and effects of poverty reduction. With so many vast challenges and struggles to battle, strong unity among dedicated advocates is crucial to accomplish the work of reducing poverty’s harshest realities. Global Washington is setting the bar for future businesses and organizations to work together in order to fight global poverty.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: Global Washington, Seattle Foundation
Photo: Google Plus

holiday gifts
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are projected to spend over $600 billion on holiday gifts during the 2014 season alone. A staggering statistic when compared to the fact that an estimated $40 billion would be necessary to provide clean water and sanitation, reproductive health for women and basic education, health and nutrition to every person living in a developing country worldwide.

Fortunately, many nonprofits, online marketplaces and charitable organizations are doing something to help redirect some of the money that Americans spend each holiday season to those who need it most. If you’re in the market for a gift that does double-duty this year, check out the following stores and nonprofit organizations for ample meaningful gift ideas:

1. Heifer International:

Give the gift of an animal in your friend or family’s name and help provide a family in a developing country with both food and a reliable source of income. Heifer International

2. Books for Africa:

Honor a friend or family with a book donation through Books for Africa (BFA), a non-profit dedicated to increasing literacy rates and children’s access to books in Africa. For donations of $50 or more, BFA will send a hand-written thank-you note to your honoree. $50 provides 100 books for a classroom. Books for Africa

3. Oxfam America Unwrapped:

Browse an endless array of gifts online—from goats and honeybees, to books and school meal programs for kids—and give to a family or child in need on behalf of a friend or family member. In return, a free, personalized card will be sent to the ‘gift-giver,’ along with a photo of the gift and information about how specifically it makes a difference in the lives of people living in poverty. Oxfam America Unwrapped

4. JADEtribe:

100 percent natural and ethical, JADEtribe’s bags, clothing and accessories truly embody the phrase “fashion with a conscience.” Each piece is handcrafted by women in South East Asia, and proceeds from JADEtribe purchases directly improve the lives of the female artisans who contribute to the company’s extensive selection. JADEtribe

5. Global Goods Partners:

Artisans living in third-world countries have an opportunity to sell their beautiful handmade goods on this online marketplace. Purchase a gift from this site, and a high percentage of sales will go directly back to the artisan who made it. Global Goods Partners

6. Ten Thousand Villages:

A fair-trade retailer since 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has stores across the United States, and an extensive collection of jewelry, clothing, kitchen and household items, and home décor, among many other gift ideas. The store partners with artisans around the world, in Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Cambodia and Peru, among dozens of other countries. Its mission: sustain livelihoods, empower women, preserve cultural arts, and build global relationships. Ten Thousand Villages for online purchases or to find a store near you.

7. The Little Market:

Lauren Conrad’s e-commerce site, which is filled with vibrant, handmade goods, was created to serve as a platform for female artisans living in third-world countries worldwide to reach a wider audience. The proceeds for items such as jewelry, clothing, bags and ceramics go directly back to the women who made them. The Little Market

8. Bead for Life:

Bead for Life was founded to empower women in Uganda by helping them start their own bead-making businesses. The Beading Program provides women in impoverished countries with a steady source of income, derived from handcrafted beaded jewelry. Invite friends and family to shop for the cause by hosting a Beading Party from your home; a customized inventory of jewelry will be sent directly to your doorstep beforehand. Or order beads online. Bead for Life

Whether you’re giving a life-changing gift of an animal to a family in need, or wrapping a selection of handmade bags, scarves and jewelry that will help support the livelihood and businesses of female artisans worldwide, choosing a gift from the above list automatically makes you an ally in the fight against global poverty. Why not send a feel-good present or two this year, when it’s guaranteed to touch the friend or family member you’re choosing to honor, and to alter the lives of the person, family or community on its receiving end?

– Elizabeth Nutt

Sources: The Borgen Project, Info Wars
Photo: Nugget Market

zillow
Years ago, prospective homeowners would go to local real estate agencies to look for housing. It used to be that real estate agents held exclusive knowledge of the local and national housing market and that any buyer had to go through their local agency to find and purchase a new house.

Today, companies like Zillow Inc. and Trulia Inc. streamline the process with their online platforms. They offer searchable databases of real estate data for free to any online user, and make profits on advertising and agent listings. Together, both companies dominate the online marketplace and have 68.4 million unique users as of June.

On July 28, Zillow Inc. announced it had agreed to acquire Trulia Inc. for $3.5 billion in stock transactions. The purchase comes at a time when both sites are booming with user interaction, but profit from the online platforms is not yet optimal. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff believes the acquisition of Trulia Inc. will help both companies cut costs and increase efficiency overall. As the Chicago Tribune reported, Rascoff told financial analysts that both companies “independently [have] very large rental audiences and…both [are] in the early stages of monetizing those rental audiences.”

The deal has the potential to help consumers engage with real estate data more efficiently and at a cheaper price, but the money spent on Zillow’s acquisition is substantial. If spent on advancing the interests and development of the poor, that money would have a tangibly greater social impact.

The World Food Programme (WFP,) for example, recently announced that it was unable to provide food to nearly 800,000 due to budget shortfalls. United Nations WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres urged donors to provide an additional $186 million in funding to provide food rations to nearly 800 thousand. If not, food aid would have to be cut, threatening already high levels of malnutrition and anemia among refugee populations.

If the same money that was spent acquiring Trulia Inc. went to providing food to refugees, approximately 15.1 million more refugees would benefit from food rations from the WFP. Put another way, 2.4 million refugees depend on food aid from the WFP each year. If $3.5 billion was invested, every African refugee would have his or her nutritional needs met for over six years, based on U.N. and WFP figures.

The money spent on advancing the online potential of the real estate industry is an important development to consumer interests; however, even small monetary developments can have significant impacts when invested in the poor.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: Chicago Tribune, LA Times, World Food Programme
Photo: LA Times

lake victoria treaty
Representatives from Israel, Germany and Kenya signed a treaty that will initiate the second phase of the plan to protect Lake Victoria.

The Lake Victoria treaty was signed on July 11 in Nairobi.

“Kenya committed 600,00 Euros; Germany committed 400,000 Euros; and Israel committed 200,000 Euros for training, support, and also equipment, totaling 1.2 million Euros for the next two and a half years,” said Andrea Bahm, program director at the German Agency for International Cooperation’s Food Security and Drought Resilience Program

The first phase of the treaty was signed and implemented in 2012, and aimed to improve the environment surrounding and within Lake Victoria. As the population surrounding the lake grew, the population of fish steadily depleted every year, and the treaty was enacted to prevent total depletion of fish from Lake Victoria.

Phase I involved promoting tilapia fish farming in an effort to support the community’s economy and livelihood. Phase I also included implementing a better system to manage the water waste in the Lake so the tilapia could more readily thrive.

Phase II will involve extending the project and funding and cooperation from the three countries that signed the treaty. Through this second phase, the treaty aims to ensure that the three countries will work to “enhance sustainable ways of protecting Lake Victoria’s environment but creating alternative livelihoods for the communities living around the lake.”

Plans to create lasting means of support involve building more ponds in Kenya to expand the areas in which tilapia can be raised and later used for food.

Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: Israel Diplomatic Network, Sada Elbalad, World Bank
Photo: SafariLands

Rope isolated on white background
In recent years, the issue of conflict diamonds has become a major human rights issue. A conflict diamond is a diamond mined in the war zones throughout Africa to fund the recurring civil wars there. Despite the attention given by the media and the increase in the awareness of this issue, conflict diamonds are still being produced and distributed at an alarming rate.

Since the 1990s, conflict diamonds have funded wars in areas such as Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rebels in these areas typically gain control of necessary natural resources, such as oil, wood, diamonds and other minerals, to attain more weapons and influence over the surrounding communities. These military factions oppose the governments in place, and so they wage violence in their struggle for power. According to Amnesty International, wars in these areas have resulted in the loss of more than 3.7 million lives.

Along with unjust violence, poverty also plays a central role in this issue. According to Brilliant Earth, diamond mining communities are impoverished because the one million diamond miners in Africa earn less than a dollar a day — a wage that is below the extreme poverty level. Since much of this work is unregulated — no labor standards or minimum wage laws are ever enforced — it contributes to the dangerous and unjust nature of this work.

Not only do miners acquire unfair wages, but they also work in dangerous conditions, sometimes without training or the proper tools necessary, and face health problems, such as HIV and malaria. Entire communities are exploited through these mining practices, and as a result, many of these communities lack the ability to develop economically while workers lack fundamental provisions, such as sanitary running water.

Despite the decrease in violence and the recent attention brought to this issue through media coverage and the 2006 film “Blood Diamond,” conflict diamonds are still in existence. These diamonds are sold in the diamond trade to fund rebel militia, and as a result, millions are suffering from both violence and poverty. To help combat this issue, the Kimberly Process was founded in December 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Through the establishment of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), participating countries now have the opportunity to ensure that all imported diamonds are ‘conflict-free’ and do not support the rebels in those parts of Africa. With 54 participants representing 80 countries, the Kimberly Process has been an important element in the struggle to address this human rights issue.

Even though the Kimberly Process works to halt the trade of conflict diamonds, it cannot stop the violence and poverty that result from these unethical mining practices. Those are two issues that can be addressed separately and efficiently. Unfortunately, poverty is such a huge and central element in many of the human rights issues we face today.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Amnesty international, Brilliant Earth, Kimberly Process
Photo: Al Jazeera

half_the_sky_Female_Education
The book “Half the Sky” introduces an idea that education is the key to ending global poverty worldwide. The title of the book comes from the founding father of the Republic of China, Mao Zedong, meaning “women hold up half the sky”; unfortunately, millions of these women are living in poverty.

Women make up half of the world’s population, yet more than half of these women are more likely to have an unequal place in society. These women are more likely to be poverty-stricken in these communities than men and are excluded from the public domain which leads to domestic violence.

Because of the inequality placed on women living in poverty in developing nations women tend to not have access which is a key aspect of society. Humans need to have access to healthcare, job opportunities, and basic human rights like clean water and food. In order to fight global poverty, an emphasis of education and access is key to bring an end to poverty and the pain these communities suffer from on a daily basis.

Accordingly, Ph.D. student Katie Conrad at the University of Tennessee believes that women need access to resources in these developing countries where there is also a lack of education for these women. Conrad is a teaching associate for child and family studies at the university, and has based her research in Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender as well as family studies.

Furthermore, Conrad’s area of interest is creating courses for first-year students on campus designed to educate not just women, but men, about sex, dating violence, alcohol and rape culture awareness. She feels as though teaching women in society cannot be done without reaching women globally and stated “education is the major form of empowerment and is a good place to start.”

In particular to teaching women’s studies courses in these devolving countries, Conrad remarks that “being educated on their culture and maintain cultural sensitivity to understand what issues they face” would be a good place to start to bringing education to women in those areas. Conrad believes that women in developing countries need not just access to basic resources but access to support when in an abusive situation. In particular, community support systems are needed to help cope with domestic violence in their society.

In addition, both Conrad and the authors of “Half the Sky” understand that bringing access to resources like female education can help improve all corners of the world and drastically reduce poverty. Therefore the book introduces three steps to bring access to these areas. The first step would be a $10 billion effort over five years to educate girls around the world and reduce the gender gap in education.

The second step would be for the United States to sponsor a global drive to iodize salt in poor countries to prevent tens of millions of children from losing approximately 10 IQ points each as a result of iodine deficiency while their brains are still being formed in the uterus; finally, the third step would be a 12-year, $1.6 billion project to eradicate obstetric fistula while laying the groundwork for a major international assault on maternal mortality.

The need to stress issues like female education are indeed crucial to develop of not only developing nations but our own nation at home.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: Vialogue, University of Tennessee
Photo: Staci Jae Johnson

Chinas_Water_School
Life as we know it owes a great debt to water. We ourselves are comprised of nearly 70 percent water and can’t live without a regular dose. However millions around the world still live without a reliable, clean water source.

As it turns out, our most precious resource is not nearly as abundant in potable form as human demand requires.

In fact, water is so scarce that 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water. In some cases, as with China’s Yangtze River, the poor quality of the water is in part caused by human activity and waste.

Fortunately China is investing in its water security by bringing school children out of the classroom and to the Yangtze in order to promote conservation and sustainable practices.

Since 2008 this experimental school program has focused on education for sustainable development (ESD). The so-called “Water School” is designed to get China’s children active in the protection and safe treatment of their water resources.

UNESCO and other international organizations are praising the program as a revolutionary and fundamental step for the protection of our vital resources. These organizations hope to sponsor similar programs across the globe by spreading awareness of the positive effects China’s water school has produced.

The program has already involved approximately 130,000 students and 200,000 community members, creating a new intellectual base that is deeply in touch with issues of conservation and water treatment.

Part of the program is to build children’s sense of responsibility to the Yangtze’s natural resources, and also to provide them with experiential learning. Tasks like monitoring PH levels and the health and biodiversity of local ecosystems aim to create a more secure future not just for the water, but also for the wildlife and vegetation that also rely on the river.

According to the project website, “The Water School for a Living Yangtze provides opportunities for young people living in different parts of the Yangtze River Basin to link their learning with the indigenous knowledge, traditional practice, and belief systems of local and more distant communities.”

The other major development for the water school is the way it uses the Yangtze, which cuts through the interior of the continent, as a unifying structure between the variety of cultures that live beside its waters. In that sense, the river acts as a vehicle for social development and promulgates shared responsibility for such a critical natural resource.

– Chase Colton

Sources: UNESCO, Water School, UN Water
Photo:

fracking-in-the-us
With the expansion of the American natural gas industry, hydraulic fracturing—commonly referred to as “fracking”—has been utilized to extract natural gas from shale rock formations deep within the earth. The Eagle Ford Shale in particular is a 400-mile long sedimentary rock formation in Texas that has been one of the most heavily exploited areas for natural gas in America. It has also accounted for one of the most significant energy booms in the country.

However, the practice of fracking has come at cost for the population living within the vast expanse of the Eagle Ford Shale. Fracking has been frequently linked to causing environmental harms such as contaminating water supplies with harmful chemicals and releasing toxic chemicals into the air.

Moreover, the people on the receiving end of environmental repercussions from fracking in the Eagle Ford Shale are mostly members of low-income communities. Impoverished families living in the area commonly complain of “asthma, splitting headaches and other health concerns, all attributed to the air quality.”

The Texas legislature has also failed to be responsive to the environmental concerns of the people. Most of the communities are far from developed areas containing suburbs and cities—which give them very little political influence. An investigation by InsideClimate News found that 42 of the 181 state legislators of Texas have a personal financial stake in the natural gas industry of the Eagle Ford Shale.

As a result, the environmental problems that have arisen for low-income families have been perpetuated by a legislative system that has failed to represent their needs.

An eight-month long investigation carried out by the Weather Channel, the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News has found that air quality throughout the 20,000 square mile region of the Eagle Ford Shale has only five permanent monitors installed—most of which are far from where chemical emissions are highest.

Furthermore, companies that exploit natural gas through fracking have not been held accountable for breaking the law. From January 1, 2010 to November 19, 2013, Eagle Ford residents have filed 284 oil and gas industry complaints, and 164 of those complaints have translated into documented violations. Nevertheless, only two of them resulted in fines, with the largest fine being a mere $14,250.

The expansion of the natural gas industry has received extensive support for its ability to allow for American energy independence and economic prosperity. However, the benefits have come with significant harm to many low-income families who have been unable to remedy their environmental problems.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: InsideClimate News, Salon, The Huffington Post
Photo: Empower Network