helping farmers in povertyAbout 78 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and rely heavily on agriculture. They had to turn to farm, livestock, aquaculture and other agricultural methods to place food on their plate. For millions, agriculture is the starting point to get out of poverty. But, out of the 78 percent of people who rely on agriculture, only a mere 4 percent receives official development assistance. And, for those who do manage to get out of poverty, they will face a competing market for organic goods.

Farmers Struggle to Meet the Rising Rates of Consumption

With the rising rates of consumption to an ever-growing world, farmers are struggling. In order to meet the increasing demand and multiply production, farms have to increase the efficiency and productivity of the existing farmland. WWOOF shares in the same philosophy and helps farmers in poverty by providing workers to those existing farms.

Since 1971, WWOOF has been connecting sustainable farmers and growers with visitors through an exchange of education and culture for a hands-on experience to help create food and other agricultural products—a key part of how WWOOF is helping farmers in poverty. The visitor picks the country they would like to be working in and WWOOF connects them to an available farm that will provide them with room and board. The guests can stay in the country while learning about its culture.

Working on the Farms with WWOOF

As for working on the farm, visitors normally stay from two to three weeks but farms are open to shorter or longer stays. Usually, they work from four to six hours a day and have afternoons and evenings free. Currently, WWOOF has farms in 95 countries all around the world. The organization proposes that the search for authenticity and local food, such as items from a farm shop, has the potential to enhance the visitor experience by connecting consumers to the region and its perceived culture and heritage.

Organic Farming

WWOOF focuses on organic farming, an agricultural method that involves not using pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. It helps by reducing the level of pollution and human and animal health hazards by reducing the number of residues in the product. Organic farming keeps agricultural production at a higher level. But, it is more labor intensive. Although organic farmers love the independence and the hard day-to-day work, most find themselves overloaded. Organic systems require 15 percent more labor but the increase of labor may range from seven percent to 75 percent. The WWOOF program offers a satisfying experience to the visitors whilst addressing the additional labor burden on the farming family.

The WWOOF program realized that organic farming has a vital role in helping farmers in poverty. As the years pass, organic farms will earn a higher income than those of the conventional farms due to the increasing awareness of pesticides and the ability to charge higher premiums. Not only that, organic farms have the potential to improve local food and nutritional security because of diversified production and resistance to weather variables. Because of the diversified production, organic farmers live a healthier lifestyle when using their own crops for food. The organization gives a small part that makes a big difference for those organic farms.

– Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

Ecological Approach to Diminish Poverty in ChinaUnder the leadership of President Xi Jinping, many successful efforts have been made in recent years to diminish poverty in China, such as taking an ecological approach. One such effort is the approach of creating jobs for impoverished citizens through the implementation of land protection programs. Poverty in China and environmental sustainability issues are being treated simultaneously. As designated by the Chinese government, impoverished people are those earning approximately $1.10 per day. Comparatively, the International Poverty line, established by the World Bank in 2015, rests at earning $1.90 per day.

This ecological approach to reduce poverty in China resulted in a decline since 1978 by more than 800 million people who were previously living below the national poverty threshold. In the year 2018, President Xi Jinping and his administration enabled 13.86 million people to rise out of poverty. In 1990, China rose from a 0.502 human development index value of 0.752 in 2017.

Rural Poverty in China

For Chinese citizens living in rural and remote areas, poverty mitigation has become much slower. Currently, 16.6 million rural citizens continue to live in poverty.

President Xi Jinping and his administration are combining the impending issues of rural poverty with another pressing matter, environmental decline. The Chinese government was among the first to incorporate the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals in a national action plan. One of the United Nations’ goals is to completely eradicate poverty by 2030.

Grasslands Protection as a Solution for Poverty

A significant part of China’s sustainable development plans is the protection and development of grasslands within the nation. Grasslands comprise 63 percent of China’s green vegetation but 70 percent of these areas are moderate to severely degraded. The decline of Chinese grasslands is attributed to erosion by both wind and water as well as the changing environmental conditions. Additional damage is done by the uncontrolled grazing of livestock. The deteriorating grasslands largely overlap with impoverished rural communities within the same region of western China.

In Qumalai, a county in China’s western Qinghai province, the grazing of cattle and sheep, which constitute the region’s largest industry, is being constrained as a side effect of grassland protection efforts. In response, the Qinghai Forestry and Grassland Bureau has assisted in creating jobs in the form of grassland guardians for approximately 49,000 registered impoverished people within Qumalai. Each member of this workforce has the potential to earn around $260 per month. A more permanent solution with a larger potential comes in the form of establishing a Chinese herb plantation in Qumalai’s Maduro township.

In 2005, the restoration of grasslands in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region improved grass coverage to 100 percent, which enables the survival of animals on lands designated for grazing. For locals in the region, subsequent animal products added the addition of 300 yuan to the average annual income per person. The region is additionally able to replenish the local economy with more than four million yuan annually through the harvest of dried hay.

Since 2016, China has been working with its 13th Five-Year Plan to address poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. Present efforts focus heavily on the impoverished rural fraction of Chinese citizens. Between 2018 and 2020, about 31 billion dollars are set to be used for remedying poverty in China.

– Bhavya Girotra
Photo: Flickr

Education Development in Tajikistan

Education development in Tajikistan has increased in recent years through the assistance of UNICEF, the European Training Foundation (ETF) and other organizations. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan (MoES) introduced key reforms, such as the National Strategy on Education Development 2020, to improve its lacking education system. The reasoning behind efforts in education development in Tajikistan is to attain useful skills so that citizens may gain employment and a steady income. As a result, the declining but high poverty rate of 31.5 percent in Tajikistan can be reduced.

Education in Regions of Rural Poverty

The European Training Foundation found that 600,000 Tajikistanis are labor workers that work in Russia. About 57 percent of these workers are unskilled, poorly paid and work in hazardous conditions.

Since 73 percent of the country lives in rural areas, the main focus of the ETF, UN agencies and nonprofit organizations are regions such as Khatlon and Soghd. Over 70 percent of the poor live in the Khatlon and Soghd Regions. Both regions are emphasized to reduce poverty in Tajikistan and improve the quality of education.

The government’s goal is to double its GDP and reduce poverty in Tajikistan to 20 percent by 2020. To achieve this, the European Union and the ETF have identified three priorities: Health and vocational education, training and rural development.

These priorities have a total cost of around $275 million. The ETF is providing support in the following areas: contributing to international donor cooperation active in professional training, providing thematic expertise to support EU projects, articulating policy dialogue methods and practices and involving key national stakeholders in initiatives.

The World Bank’s Progress

The World Bank financed the $16 million Fourth Global Partnership for Education Fund Grant. The grant was created to improve Tajikistan’s preschool and general education. Additionally, it was meant to strengthen the system’s ability to withstand continued reforms in the education sector.

Marsha Olive, World Bank Country Manager, signed the act in 2013 and said, “This comprehensive project aims to ensure that the children of Tajikistan, especially the most marginalized including girls, ethnic minorities, rural children, and children with disabilities, are afforded the opportunity to achieve their education goals for future development and success.” The fund built off of the success of previous projects that began in 2006 from the Global Partnership for Education Fund.

The grant ended in 2017. It resulted in 18,978 students benefiting from infrastructure improvements against a target of 7,900 students. The grant also trained 5,395 primary teachers. Furthermore, it provided supplementary books to all schools. About 160,000 primary students are enrolled in schools with upgraded learning conditions, against a target of 100,000.

Looking to The Future

With the help of organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF and other nonprofit organizations, education development in Tajikistan will continue to progress. Consequently, the poverty rate will decline. Although the government’s goal to reduce poverty in Tajikistan is slow, progress is being made through coordinated efforts. Progress in the education sector shows that positive change is occurring in the country.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Rural Poverty in ChinaSince the 1980s, China has experienced rapid economic growth and increased average income, a far cry from rural poverty. After opening up to international trade and foreign direct investment, the East Asian nation has grown to become one of the world’s largest economic superpowers with a nominal gross domestic product of $12.01 trillion, second only to the United States.

Though China’s rapid development has benefited its citizens who live in highly industrialized urban centers along the eastern coast, it has simultaneously left many rural and agricultural communities behind. These rural communities have little food, limited access to clean water and insufficient means to dig themselves out of poverty. However, rural poverty in China is something that the Chinese government is actively working to combat.

Hannah Adkins, a university student who recently studied abroad in China, commented on the poverty disparity between its rural and urban communities. “Though ecotourism, for example, is a growing industry in China due to the country’s natural beauty and expansive landscape, rural communities have a difficult time jumping on those opportunities. They simply do not have enough expendable money to put toward money-making industries like ecotourism, meaning that they must receive help from the government or NGOs. Otherwise, these poor rural people will be stuck in cyclical rural poverty,” Adkins told The Borgen Project.

When most people think of China, they undoubtedly think of the nation’s rise to economic prowess and its many industrial centers. However, China is an enormous country geographically, consisting of 3.7 million square miles of land area. Many, though, are unaware of its impoverished rural people who live in its expansive central and western provinces. Here are 10 facts about rural poverty in China.

10 Facts About Rural Poverty in China

  1. China’s rural population makes up roughly 42 percent of the nation’s total population, meaning more than 580 million Chinese citizens live in rural areas.
  2. According to the CIA World Factbook, approximately 3.3 percent of China’s population lives below the poverty line.
  3. Based on a report by the Wall Street Journal, upward of 90 to 99 percent of China’s impoverished population either lives in or comes from rural areas, such as the nation’s mountainous villages and arid landscapes.
  4. Only 63.7 percent of China’s rural population has regular access to improved sanitation facilities, compared to 86.6 percent of its urban population. This is just one example of the rural-urban disparity that results in rural poverty in China.
  5. The combined income of households in China’s eastern coastal regions, where a large majority of the country’s urban centers are located, is more than 2.5 times that of inland regions’ households. This disparity is another contributing factor to the issue of rural poverty in China.
  6. In an effort to improve its rural and long-distance infrastructure, China introduced a 2014 plan called the Pledged Supplementary Lending program. The program works with the Agricultural Development Bank of China “to better support rural infrastructure and development projects in funding to improve residents’ living conditions in rural areas.”
  7. Much of China’s rural population relies on agriculture as a source of sustenance, as well as income. However, approximately 40 percent of land in China has fallen victim to land degradation in the form of salinization, desertification or soil erosion. This makes it so that farmers and landowners do not have nearly as much access to fertile and farmable land, thus contributing to the rural poverty in China.
  8. On top of China’s land degradation, the country has about 19 percent polluted land. As a result, the contamination of food and water has become increasingly common due to the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as other pollutants.
  9. The International Fund for Agricultural Development’s projections estimate more than 12 million rural Chinese citizens will move to urban centers annually over the course of the next 10 years. Though this continued urbanization will decrease the amount of crop production in agricultural communities, it will also place poor families in urban centers with more job opportunities and more sufficient living conditions, thus potentially aiding the issue of rural poverty in China.
  10. Though rural poverty in China is still a problematic issue, the Chinese government has put forth a plan to eliminate all poverty in China by 2020. President Xi Jinping’s 13th Five-Year Plan aims to identify, register and assist every impoverished Chinese citizen, especially those in rural areas, in order to guide them out of poverty and lower the overall poverty rate. This is just one of the ways by which China plans to decrease its poverty issue in the coming years.

While rural poverty in China is a paramount issue, there are movements to make improvements. China’s Pledged Supplementary Lending program and President Xi Jinping’s 13th Five-Year Plan will be sure to improve rural living conditions and help Chinese people in need.

– Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

Urban and Rural Poverty in EgyptWhile the North African nation of Egypt has experienced substantial economic growth in recent years, it still grapples with the issue of poverty. With an overall poverty rate of approximately 28 percent, Egypt still struggles with more than a quarter of its population living in poverty. However, like many other developing countries, there is a poverty divide in Egypt between rural and urban people that is highly problematic for the nation. Specifically, reports completed by the World Bank indicate that the highest share of the nation’s poor population lives in upper rural Egypt. The inequality and poverty divide in Egypt between wealthier urban families and poorer rural families are issues that the North African nation must look to correct if its goal is a more stable and evenly-distributed domestic economy.

Urban vs. Rural Poverty in Egypt

There are some explanations for the poverty divide in Egypt. Like many other countries, those living in rural communities tend to rely more heavily on industries such as agriculture and livestock as a means for sustenance. Agriculture accounts for approximately 27 percent of the total Egyptian workforce and 55 percent of employment opportunities in rural upper Egypt are related to agriculture. This means that as Egypt continues to modernize its economy in its urban centers, those in more rural, agriculturally-focused regions such as upper Egypt and the Nile River valley will inherently be forced to find more reliable and modern sources of employment in urban centers. Agriculture constitutes too small a percentage of Egypt’s economy (11.7 percent of the total GDP as of 2017) for the government to significantly invest in such an industry and, as a continuously urbanizing nation, it seems as though this trend will continue. There are simply more opportunities for employment and financial prosperity in bustling urban centers like Cairo than in secluded rural villages throughout poorer regions.

However, several factors may be quietly contributing to the poverty divide in Egypt, one of which involves the illiteracy rate. As of 2017, of Egyptians aged 15 years and older, about 28 percent of that population is still illiterate. Many of these illiterate people live in rural areas where education is much less accessible. In fact, a 2017 report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) found that the rural illiteracy rate in Egypt stands at about 32 percent, while the urban illiteracy rate is approximately 17.7 percent.

Hannah Adkins, a university student who visits family in Egypt, commented on the issue of illiteracy in Egypt. “Illiteracy is definitely higher in rural areas because they simply have more limited access to schools and teachers,” Adkins told The Borgen Project. “Urban areas have a large concentration of wealth so that people with more privilege can afford to send their kids to private or international schools.”

According to statistics reported by the Education Policy and Data Center, 25.5 percent of rural Egyptian children do not receive secondary education, compared to 14.5 percent of Egyptian children in urban areas. The lack of wealth distribution between rural and urban areas has led to a steep poverty divide in Egypt. As a result, many Egyptians find themselves stuck in a cyclical process of poverty and illiteracy with little opportunity to emerge.

Though the poverty divide in Egypt has been accentuated by many factors like illiteracy, there are still groups and organizations focused on resolving such issues. In fact, Egyptian agencies like CAPMAS have set goals to eradicate the poverty rate by half by 2020 and fully by 2030. CAPMAS plans to do so by implementing different programs aimed at benefiting poorer families, especially in rural areas and villages throughout Egypt. In fact, a 2015 program called Takaful and Karama (Solidarity and Dignity in English) in an effort to provide poor families and elderly Egyptians with income support, education and healthcare assistance. This program was launched with the support of a $400 million World Bank program. Egypt’s government has made it clear that eradicating its crippling poverty divide is a top priority, and as long as the nation can keep up with its plans in the coming years, impoverished Egyptians will hopefully be able to dig themselves out of their desperate situations.

– Ethan Marcetti
Photo: Flickr

 

transportation impacts poverty
Transportation impacts global poverty in ways that are both obvious and subtle. If the job market is centered in an urban area and potential workers live in a distant, rural area, their immediate survival depends on access to transportation. On a larger scale, the ability for a developing country to transcend poverty and become productive and prosperous depends a great deal on the transportation systems that are implemented with the help of foreign aid. This article analyzes five ways transportation impacts global poverty.

Five Ways Transportation Impacts Global Poverty

  1. Rural isolation arguably deserves its own list of ways transportation impacts global poverty because it has so many consequences that perpetuate continued destitution. For example, farmers in isolated rural environments often fail to reach their economic potential because they cannot easily access marketplaces that offer seeds, fertilizers and other tools for agricultural success.
  2. Other casualties of rural isolation are the elderly or otherwise infirm. Healthcare services are usually in centralized urban locations. Even if the poor and sick or even the old, pregnant or injured can afford the costs associated with health services, they are often unable to get to where the providers are if they live in rural communities. World Bank has helped to address this in developing regions of India, Georgia and Vietnam by subsidizing travel costs and making health professionals available in more remote areas.
  3. Investing in basic infrastructure is often one of the most significant ways in which transportation impacts global poverty. The building of roads, trails and bridges creates greater accessibility even for those who can only travel on foot. Jobs are created to facilitate these developments, and there are often new modes of public transportation implemented to make use of newly created roads or railroad tracks. This helps to minimize the travel time between rural and urban regions. Bill Gates asserts that while domestic resources can and should be utilized for infrastructure investment, global aid is a critical component as well. An investment in a developing country ultimately benefits the entire world, including the wealthiest nations.
  4. It stands to reason that the more easily a population can access educational facilities, the more educated that population is likely to be. People living more than an hour’s walk from the main road in Papua New Guinea were shown to be experiencing twice as much poverty as those living closer to the road. Building new roads and providing greater access to transportation resulted in an increase in education enrollment and literacy as well as an overall decrease in poverty.
  5. A theory known as “spatial mismatch” describes a phenomenon in which those who can easily pay for transportation, whether by automobile or public means, move away from congested urban regions. This creates a problem for the poor because the market often follows the wealthy as do the jobs. In developing countries, this is especially problematic since it feeds a cycle of poverty in which cheap housing options are only available in areas where there are few amenities, poor transportation options and limited jobs.

Writer Wilfred Owen asserts, “Continuing global prosperity is contingent on the very large volume of trade with developing countries and on the foreign investment opportunities they provide.” This will not be feasible without a short-term investment in the infrastructure and transportation systems of those developing countries. While the governments of the developing nations play a vital role in upgrading transportation options in their countries, foreign aid must also play a part. As this article shows, transportation impacts global poverty; therefore, it is not a simple matter of charity but rather a wise investment in our global future.

Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr

China
Poverty in China today primarily refers to the rural poor, as the country’s economic growth over the past few decades has led to the majority of urban poverty being eradicated. But while local Chinese governments have implemented many programs and policies in an effort to aid China’s poorest regions, there is still one major factor that researchers say China is forgetting about: language. In a lot of ways, language and its variations affect poverty in China.

Language Statistics in China

Geography plays a huge role in analyzing the relationship between spoken Chinese languages and poverty. China’s last national census reported that the nation has more than 1.38 billion inhabitants, many of whom are located in the urban areas of Eastern China. Studies of China’s urbanization trends also reveal a migration of the nation’s various ethnic groups. The main language of the most urbanized cities is determined by the ethnic group that populates that area the most. With 91.51 percent of the Chinese population being Han Chinese, standardized Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language across the nation.

The remaining 8.41 percent of the Chinese population is made up of 55 other ethnic groups. This part of the population, though a minority in terms of the general population makeup, accounts for the majority of those who are located in rural Chinese areas. The Chinese central government has identified 14 of these rural provinces as areas of concentrated poverty. These areas have their own distinct languages and cultures, speaking one of 200 dialects from five main dialectical groups, out of which Mandarin Chinese is only one. Furthermore, around 30 percent of these ethnic minorities are illiterate and unable to speak Mandarin, the main language in the country. As such, many of these ethnic minorities remain isolated from provincial opportunities that may help them rise out of poverty.

Government’s Work

There has been an increase in attention from regional and local Chinese governments in terms of addressing the education gap between urban and rural communities. One expert, Zhu Weiqun, even states that the Chinese government needs to do more to teach these ethnic groups standardized Mandarin, as this has been a primary influencer in the development and urbanization of cities like Beijing. This type of education will provide these ethnic minorities with the lasting ability to access other jobs apart from farming, that will enable them to earn enough money to feed and clothe themselves without such a strong dependency on governmental programs.

Challenges

Understandably, there is also the problem of resistance from certain ethnic minority groups, particularly Muslims, who feel that their language is integral to their cultural identity. As such, the government is tasked with encouraging the standardization of its most commonly spoken dialect in a way that does not simultaneously alienate any one ethnic group. This cycle of promotion and rejection is integral to the way that language continues to affect poverty in China.

– Jordan Washington

Photo: Unsplash

Communities in Africa, Bridge building
Poverty rates are historically higher in rural, more isolated areas, with an estimated 78 percent of the world’s poor living in the countryside. Africa is no exception. In fact, the majority of Africa’s population is rural, but infrastructural development continues to be slow. This is why building bridges in rural Africa is a much-needed, important step in reducing poverty.

Creating Safer, More Connected Communities

Despite the recent achievement of near-universal mobile phone coverage, Africa’s rural poor are still physically isolated, with many places lacking roads and footbridges, the latter of which is especially critical in servicing marginalized communities. A single pedestrian footbridge empowers a whole community; previously impassable rivers are transformed, providing villagers access to more opportunities.

Bridges in rural Africa prevent drowning, eliminate crocodile and hippo attacks, connect neighboring villages to each other, allow children to reach schools safely and greatly increase access to medical centers. In a walking world, one bridge can provide up to 72,800 secure crossings per year.

Leonard Wantchekon, a professor of politics and an associated member of the economics faculty at Princeton University, emphasizes the value of bridges in rural Africa. His maternal village, Dovi, was formerly one of the most affluent communities in the region, but the loss of the village’s bridge resulted in poverty. Wantchekon wrote, “Today, Dovi is the poorest village in the region despite the fact that the land is still highly fertile. […] the bridge that linked Dovi to neighboring villages across the Oueme River had collapsed in 1992 and the market completely disappeared soon after.” The loss of the bridge led to a loss in commerce, devastating this once thriving village.

Two Organizations Helping Build Bridges

Fortunately, there are organizations whose sole mission is to mobilize rural sectors with bridges. Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA) is an organization that assists communities in Kenya with bridge-building. BtGA involves community participation with local volunteers, collaborating with them in every phase of the building project. These phases include gathering sand and rock for the bridge footings and raising a portion of the construction costs. BtGA provides technical expertise and financial assistance throughout the process. Once the footbridge is complete, BtGA celebrates the community’s achievement with an opening ceremony wherein the bridge is officially commissioned and owned by the village.

Bridges to Prosperity is a global project that has built more than 250 footbridges worldwide. Although it is based in the United States, the organization has active programs in countries all around the world, including Rwanda and Uganda. Their outreach includes building demonstration bridges, training locals, partnering with local technological institutes and supplying recycled wire rope.

Bridges Are Improving Communities

The work done by organizations like those mentioned above has left palpable ripples. Angelique, a thirteen-year-old resident in the Shagasha community of Rwanda, states that having a safely installed bridge nearby has transformed her commute to school, and thereby her learning performance. “I used to be 30th in my class. I had repeated bad performance because I missed school. Now I’m 6th in my class – my marks have improved.” Being able to attend school regularly, thanks to the bridge built in the community, has allowed many children to improve in their studies since they have been able to safely get to their classes. 

The bridges are also helping with commerce. “Before the bridge, it would take me one hour to get to the market, and when it rained, I would have to turn back because the river was too dangerous to cross. Now it only takes me 3 minutes whether it’s raining or not,” said Dativa, a businesswoman in Gaseke, Rwanda. By alleviating the burden of walking through dangerous flooded water, Dativa has been able to dedicate more time to the success of her shop.

Bridges in rural Africa are directly correlated to a community’s economic and educational gains. They, along with other infrastructural improvements in rural sectors, are essential in alleviating poverty and achieving long-term prosperity in Africa.

Yumi Wilson
Photo: Flick

Comparing Urban Poverty and Rural Poverty
Great urbanization over the past several decades has led to the phenomenon coined as “the urbanization of poverty.”  The name generally refers to the migration of poor communities from rural areas into urban centers in the hopes of greater opportunity and increased quality of life.

Urbanization of Poverty

Numerous analyses view this urbanization as a positive for poor populations; urban areas tend to have less poverty and better access to quality jobs, schools, water and sanitation sources, hospitals, etc. Yet, several measures of urban poverty and rural poverty fail to take into account the inflated cost of living and the minutia behind general statistics.

On the whole, the poor are urbanizing at a faster rate than the general population; the share of poverty located in urban areas in developing nations rose 11 percent from 2002-2012. This has compelled some to believe that poverty is now mainly an urban problem.

So, the million-dollar question: what is the difference between urban poverty and rural poverty, and is poverty indeed an urban issue?

Issues in the City

Not only are cities more expensive for basic expenses such as housing, but poor city-dwellers have additional costs in the form of food and water.  Many rural communities grow their own food and collect their own water, which comes with its own costs — predominantly kids dropping out of schools to aid their families.

Urban settlements add these items to their monetary costs, which often leads to increased instances of malnutrition and hunger. This also means that urban families are more vulnerable to pricing shifts. While it seems logical that individuals would be closer to certain resources in urban settings, quality access remains an issue for poor, urban households.  Many city slums have a latrine shared by as many as 50 households.

Such facilities are overused to the point of water source contamination. Less than 10 percent of the population in most African cities have adequate provision for sanitation. As many as 100 million city dwellers in low-income nations have no toilet facilities that they can use or afford, including no access to free public toilets.

Urban Overcrowding

Overcrowding compounds many issues of poverty in urban settings.  A water tap in a rural community may be used by only a hundred persons.  In contrast, an urban tap in a poor area is often drained by over 5,000.

The rapid nature of urbanization has led to squatter towns, slums and project areas that are typically not safe, sanitary or adequate. This overcrowding also makes urban poverty populations more susceptible to decimation due to poor weather or a natural disaster, which will wipe out more people in an urban setting.

In addition to often being shanty, urban housing is also more difficult to sustain. Evictions leave hundreds of thousands desolate and on the streets.  In rural areas, generally, the communities are more tradition based and losing family housing is uncommon.

Urban Poverty and Rural Poverty

Urban poverty and rural poverty share many of the same core issues: convenient access to water and sanitation, housing, food, education and health services. Yet, aid to urban poverty takes on an entirely different form from aid to rural poverty.

The focus of rural aid ought to be on improvements such as education and water access. Urban aid, on the other hand, must take into account growth and sustainability — building quality, affordable housing, creating large-scale water and sanitation systems, ensuring safety from street violence and more.

Tough Calls

While urban poverty has steeply risen, a vast majority of the world’s poor still live in rural areas, with most analyses reporting 75 percent of the poor and others reaching over 80 percent. Thus, while urban poverty perhaps presents a slightly more complex picture, rural poverty remains pervasive.

Additionally, urban poverty is often easier to aid largely due to the crowded areas in comparison to sprawling rural locations. This presents a strange dichotomy for aid organizations: help urban poverty and thus more people per dollar, or help the area with the largest portion of the world’s poor.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Unsplash

Facts About Poverty in Cameroon
By definition, poverty is a state of being extremely poor, which includes the desperate search for food, water and shelter. Taking a look at poverty from a global perspective, the majority of the poorest countries in the world are in Africa. Facts about poverty in Cameroon is a topic that is overlooked in the media, but it remains extremely relevant to those experiencing it.

10 Facts About Poverty in Cameroon

  1. The Human Development Index (HDI) is the calculation of a country’s health, education and income. As of 2015, the most recent HDI reported Cameroon’s value at 0.518 percent. Out of 188 countries, Cameroon ranks at 153. The good news seems to be that this is progress for Cameroon. The infant mortality rate has decreased, raising the life expectancy of newborns by 2.4 years. The expected number of years enrolled in formal schooling has increased by 2.4 years, and the GNI per capita has risen by 5.5 percent since 1990.
  2. At an estimated population count of 24.68 million people, 30 percent of Cameroon’s society lives below the poverty line.
  3. In 1960 Cameroon obtained their independence while experiencing a prosperous economy that soon transitioned into a decade-long recession beginning in the mid-1980’s. Their economic prosperity was attributed to income from oil, gas, timber, aluminum, agriculture, and the mining of natural resources. While much of their profit has relied on these exports, the economy eventually fell short due to a major decline in global prices. This led to the current stagnant and inequitable per capita income.
  4. The current unemployment rate stands at 4.2 percent, which is a dramatic increase in employment since the country’s all-time high record in 1996 of 8 percent.
  5. Health care is a major struggle for impoverished citizens of Cameroon. People don’t possess the financial capacity to access decent healthcare, and the public resources available are insufficient. Although more money is spent on healthcare in Cameroon than any other sub-Saharan country, it’s only available to the wealthy regions. Organizations like The International Medical Corps are helping with preventive medicine as well as educating the citizens of Cameroon on maintaining good health. This is a major fact about poverty in Cameroon that needs to be addressed in order to prevent fatal diseases and deaths.
  6. Cameroon’s poverty level is considered a rural phenomenon, with 55 percent of the poor occupying that geography. The level of education, gender and matrimonial status reflects the poverty dynamic. Women and children make up about half of those living in rural poverty.
  7. Proper education isn’t accessible to children of Cameroon, especially in poor regions. The expected years of schooling, on average, is about 10 years. The adult literacy rate of around 70 percent is due to the lack the proper funding, infrastructure, and teachers in the educational system.
  8. Cameroonians face the challenge of obliterating malnutrition. Moderate to severe stunting affects 31.7 percent of children under the age of five. Health hazards, extreme illnesses, and death are known ramifications of malnutrition. Food scarcity has the strongest influence on the affliction of poverty. Limited income equates a limited amount of food. Organizations like The World Food Program are trying to help people in Cameroon eradicate malnutrition by 2030.
  9. The government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel, that have dented the federal budget. This affects the potential funding for education, healthcare and infrastructure. This poses concern of the government’s priority for funding and assisting with impoverished societies.
  10. Migration appears to be the most popular resolution to individuals growing up in impoverished regions Cameroon. In response to the increasing poverty, many people move out of the country to seek better living conditions. A few key factors that lead to migration are; family reunification, relocation in search of education, and lack of autonomy.

Among the many facts about poverty in Cameroon that can be discussed, these issues are the most prevalent to those living in these conditions. With assistance from other countries with greater resources and organizations like The World Food Program, Cameroon’s state of poverty could improve drastically.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Flickr