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 CameroonBy 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