Byrraju Foundation
India used to be one of the world’s poorest nations in the past century. However, the country has experienced exponential growth since the turn of the 21st century and is now one of the fastest-growing economies. In the last 20 years, their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has skyrocketed from approximately $469 billion in 2000 to 3.17 trillion in 2021. Accordingly, the GDP per capita quintupled from $444 in 2000 to $2,277 in 2021. However, this does not necessarily reflect decreased inequalities among citizens. According to the State of inequality in India Report issued in 2022, the top 0.1% and 1% respectively earn 5% to 7%, and 6.82% of national income; while the bottom 50% hold 22% of total national income. Not surprisingly, this disparity affects India’s rural areas the most.

Conditions in Rural Areas

Although there have been significant improvements in living conditions in urban areas in India, there still remain pressing challenges across rural areas in the country. Poverty rates are high, while literacy rates are low. Basic infrastructure for health and education is lacking in addition to transportation methods, which ultimately leaves these regions disconnected from the outside world. Still, people are dying due to diseases due to poor water quality. Regarding the gender gap, one can see the inequality between men and women in the clear disparity in their respective literacy rates: 82.14% of men are literate while that number is almost 17 percentage points lower for women at 65.46%. Moreover, unemployment remains a challenge for rural areas. Increasingly, more young Indians are emigrating from these regions to find employment in urban areas, causing an outflow of talent in these regions.

The Byrraju Foundation

The Byrraju Foundation originated in 2001, in memory of the late Shri Byrraju Satyanarayana Raju, a philanthropist and agriculturist who believed that enhancing the quality of the lives of citizens in rural areas could aid in the development of villages. The Foundation rapidly expanded its operation to cover 200 villages, running 40 diverse programs, touching all aspects of rural life and impacting more than 2 million people. Its mission is “to create and operate a collaborative platform dedicated to rural transformation by systematically leveraging global knowledge, technology and infrastructure,” while doing all it can to involve people and apply knowledge, in order to ultimately make things happen.

Social Impact

The Byrraju Foundation’s social impact programs cover a wide array of sectors. They range from helping in agriculture and farming to providing health and education services. The environmental department provides safe drinking water to villages and helps with sanitation and waste management. Over the course of three years, it is aiming to provide 8.9 million people with 100% access to safe drinking water. Moreover, the organization is placing a focus on disability and women’s empowerment. The latter occurs by promoting young women entrepreneurs by granting them financial assistance and market connections while advising them on how to set up profitable and sustainable enterprises.

What makes Byrraju Foundation stand out is also its investments in technology. Examples include banana fibre extraction units, coconut tree climbing robots or even core rope-making machines. The Foundation is also attempting to bridge the digitalization gap by preparing villages for the reality of the global technological revolution. It is accomplishing this through its DEEP program, otherwise known as its Digital Empowerment and Education Program.

– Alexandra Piat
Photo: Flickr

Surjer Hashi NetworkBangladesh is a country in South Asia with a population of 163 million people. As a developing country, Bangladesh struggles to provide adequate healthcare for such a large number of people. The problem particularly brings challenges for people from rural and marginalized communities, who often cannot access quality health services. To combat this issue, the Surjer Hashi Network has been established. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it is a network of hundreds of health facilities throughout the country. The facilities bring free or reduced-cost healthcare to low-income populations in Bangladesh while simultaneously bringing the country closer to achieving universal healthcare.

Healthcare in Bangladesh

Despite Bangladesh’s current struggles to provide a reasonable level of healthcare for its citizens, the country has made significant progress over the past few decades. Certain indicators have seen improvements such as maternal and infant mortality. Furthermore, the rate of vaccinations for children has increased dramatically, with the percentage of tuberculosis vaccinations for children under 1 increasing from 2% in 1985 to 99% in 2009. While the developments are a good sign, Bangladesh still faces many challenges in maintaining its healthcare system. For instance, the country suffers from a severe shortage of healthcare workers. As of 2009, only about one-third of the country’s facilities have at least 75% of qualified staff working in healthcare and 36% of health worker positions are vacant.

The ineptitude of Bangladesh’s governmental structure and the inability of its institutions to carry out its policies cause problems. The healthcare system is concentrated in urban areas even though 70% of the population lives in rural areas. Meanwhile, careless management obstructs the allocation of resources. Healthcare workers suffer from high turnover and absenteeism while maintenance of facilities is poor. Meanwhile, rural Bangladeshis often forego formal healthcare due to a lack of access in the communities. As a result, only a quarter of the population uses public healthcare.

The Surjer Hashi Network

USAID backs the Surjer Hashi Network of health clinics aiming at serving low-income and other underserved communities in Bangladesh. With 399 facilities nationwide, the network serves at least 16% of the population. In just a five-year period, USAID helped the Surjer Hashi Network prevent 2,000 maternal deaths and 10,000 child deaths. The facilities provide communities with proper healthcare in remote and underserved areas. Rural women, in particular, have benefited as the Surjer Hashi Network of clinics provides for reproductive health and child care.

Universal Healthcare in Bangladesh

In 2018, USAID started the Advancing Universal Health Coverage (AUHC) program, which has allowed the Surjer Hashi Network to remain operable in the long term. The program has consolidated the hundreds of clinics in the network into a centrally managed organization and it has introduced new business models aimed at keeping costs down and expanding health services. The efforts will ensure that clinics in the Surjer Hashi Network will be financially independent while providing high-quality and affordable healthcare for the disadvantaged.

As its name suggests, the AUHC’s goal is to achieve universal healthcare in Bangladesh. Through the Surjer Hashi Network, USAID is ensuring that Bangladesh can provide healthcare coverage for as many people as possible with healthcare facilities that are accessible in rural areas as well.

Nikhil Khanal
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in HondurasHonduras is one of the many countries in Central and South America that has begun using a variety of different forms of renewable energy. In 2012, the government passed reforms to help the country adopt renewable energy at a faster rate. Before the reformations, 70% of the energy produced in Honduras was from fossil fuels while only 30% came from renewable energy. Now, Honduras believes that by the end of the decade it will be able to use renewable resources for 95% of its energy needs.

Types of Renewable Energy

The two particular renewable energy resources that Honduras will be able to use is its hydropower and solar power. As of 2018, most of the renewable energy being produced in Honduras has been from hydropower—it makes up 34% of country’s renewable energy. The country is estimated to be able to produce 5,000 MW with its hydropower alone.

Solar power is also another dominant form of renewable energy which makes up 10% of energy consumption. Honduras’ solar market is now the second largest in all of Latin America, with Chile being the first. Honduras is also one of the first non-island countries that has been able to use 10% of its solar energy for electric generation.

Other forms of renewable energy include biomass at 10%, wind at 7% and geothermal at 1%.

Honduras has switched to renewable energy as a means of being self-sufficient. This is especially important considering that it was the second poorest country in Central America as of 2017. Thankfully, the country can reach the energy self-sufficiency it desires with its abundant renewable energy sources.

Private Sector

One way renewable energy has helped Honduras has been by allowing private companies to be more efficient with their energy usage. One such company is the Invema Plant. The Invema Plant is the primary plastic recycler in Honduras. The company installed solar panels on its buildings and reduced their electricity usage by 30%. As a result, the company reinvests the monetary electricity savings to further recycle plastic.

Where it Stands

The transition to renewable energy has also been beneficial to impoverished rural communities. These communities are receiving electricity that they previously had no access to. Under the Honduran Renewable Energy Project for Rural Development, solar energy projects have been implemented in rural communities where there is limited access to electricity. The project has already benefited 1,075 communities spreading across Ocotepeque, Lempira, Copan, Intibuca, Santa Barbara and La Paz. This type of improvement in rural communities is especially helpful considering many impoverished Hondurans live in rural communities.

While it is impressive that renewable energy efforts have been made in Honduras to improve people’s quality of life and stimulate the economy, much work remains to be completed. Hondurans still do not have universal access to electricity. Only 87% of the population had access to electricity in 2016, which largely compromised of Hondurans living in urban cities. For citizens to feel the full benefits of renewable energy in Honduras, everyone must have access to electricity.

Regardless of the challenges that still face Honduras, that country has been able to make a good deal of progress in building energy self-sufficiency since the reform implementations.

—Jacob Lee 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Alleviation Schemes in India
Poverty is a multidimensional concept that encompasses the various deprivations that poor people experience in their daily lives. The first goal of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. India has witnessed a decline in poverty through lifting 271 million people out of poverty from 2006 to 2016, according to U.N. reports. The Government of India has launched various poverty alleviation schemes to address poverty in rural areas and to ensure rural development.

4 Poverty Alleviation Schemes in India for Rural Development

  1. National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) was launched in 2011 by the Ministry of Rural Development and aided by the World Bank. NRLM aims to create an efficient and effective system for the rural poor to access financial services. To that end, the objective is to create sustainable opportunities by empowering and enabling the poor to increase their household income. In addition to income-generated assets to the poor — they would also be facilitated to achieve increased access to rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment. The mission aims at harnessing the innate capabilities of the poor and complements them with providing them the capacity to participate in the growing economy of the country. In 2015, the program was renamed to Deendayal Antayodaya Yojana (DAY-NRLM).
  2. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA). To ensure the security and livelihood of people in rural areas, this act guarantees a minimum of 100 days of wage employment. These measures apply to households whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled, manual work. All districts in India have coverage under MNREGA. Under this scheme, every person has the right to a job. If the state is unable to provide a job within 15 days of application, then the worker receives an entitlement to a daily unemployment allowance. To ensure social inclusion, women gain priority — such that some 33% of the beneficiaries under this scheme are women. Moreover, the robust institutions for grievance redressal and social auditing guarantee accountability and transparency.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). Due to the gaps in the earlier scheme for rural housing, titled Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) — it was restructured in 2016 to PMAY-G. Through this scheme, the government commits to realizing housing for all, by 2022. The aim is to provide solid and permanent housing with all the basic amenities including toilet, LPG connection, electricity connection and drinking water.
  4. Public Distribution System (PDS) aims to manage food scarcity and distributing essential food commodities at affordable prices. The Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) launched in June 1997, to allocate food resources to the poor. The primary goal is to distribute essential food commodities like rice, wheat and kerosene at highly subsidized rates to the people living below the poverty line. This poverty alleviation scheme helps in addressing the issue of food insecurity in rural areas of India.

Empower the Rural Poor to Alleviate Poverty

According to the 2019 U.N. Human Development Report, 27.9% of the population in India is multidimensionally poor. With proper implementation of the poverty alleviation schemes, India can reduce poverty by empowering the rural poor with optimal use and management of resources. These schemes focus on targeting the multidimensional deprivations the poor face by providing them with food security, employment, housing and wages. Finally, the driver of these schemes is the objective to create sustainable mechanisms leading to rural development.

Anandita Bardia
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Quingyuan's Agricultural Sector
With the ability to connect people faster than ever, 5G has transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector from an impoverished community to a thriving online agricultural production center in less than a year.

How can 5G Alleviate Poverty?

5G is better than 4G for three main reasons: higher bandwidth, lower latency (lag time) and much faster speeds. The implications of 5G are endless for these reasons. Specifically, 5G can alleviate poverty by driving economic growth. The Imperial College of London found that a 10% increase of mobile broadband, or more commonly known as wireless internet access, is associated with a 0.6-2.8% increase in economic growth.

Installation of 5G in Quingyuan

Quingyuan is home to over 3 million people. It is a city located in northern Guangdong, a coastal province in South China. Quingyuan became China’s first administrative village to be covered by 5G networks, two months ahead of schedule. Citizens in Quingyuan began using 5G last fall with the installation of two 5G base stations.

Guangdong’s Goals for 5G

According to the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Department of Guangdong Province, Guangdong will use 5G to further assist the country’s rural revitalization strategy. The overall goal of the rural revitalization strategy is to provide rural areas with the necessary tools so the citizens can have pleasant living conditions, thriving businesses and prosperity. Guangdong plans to focus on building both a 5G smart agricultural pilot zone and, ultimately, a 5G agricultural industrial cluster. 5G would allow farmers to utilize technology to monitor their crops and host webcasts to sell them.

Intelligent Agriculture

In the Lianyi village of Quingyuan, farmers are using an intelligent agricultural base to increase labor input while alleviating poverty. The intelligent agricultural base is a targeted poverty reduction project from Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. There are 10 planting areas in the agricultural base, which covers an area of more than 16 acres. The agricultural base uses advanced technology to manage and monitor the crops, which increases the traceability of agricultural products. The system has irrigation pipes and a weather station to monitor the environment as well.

After the execution of the project, the land rental income of villagers increased by around $6,298. The working income of poor households and villagers also saw an increase of about $57,109 after the implementation of the project.


Another way 5G has transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector is allowing farmers to host live-streaming promotions, which substantially increase the number of customers that local farmers can reach. Lu Feihong, secretary of the Party branch of the Lianzhang village in Quingyuan, noted that “5G not only facilitates access to the Internet, but also establishes good conditions for [farmers] to develop smart agriculture and e-agricultural businesses through live streaming promotions.”

According to Feihong, watermelon farmers sold their entire harvest, totaling more than 55,000 lb, in May 2020. A yam farmer experienced a similar situation when he was able to sell his entire harvest of 16,000 lb worth of Chinese yams after an online webcast that attracted more than 400,000 viewers.

5G transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector and helped farmers in the city maintain, and even increase, their incomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Araceli Mercer
Photo: Flickr