10 Charitable Subscription BoxesFrom comics to coffee, there is a myriad of subscription boxes on the market today. Whether it is the theme or the surprise inside, it is all part of the fun. But, what if purchasing a subscription box could benefit people in need. This article will focus on 10 charitable subscription boxes and how they are giving back to people in needs around the world.

10 Charitable Subscription Boxes

  1. The Bookworm Box: Founded by young adult author Colleen Hoover, the Bookworm Box boasts “good deeds, great reads.” Depending on the subscription, the box includes one or two autographed books, bookmarks, pens, journals, keychains, coffee cups and more. The best part is that the proceeds from each box are donated to charities that focus on supplying clean water, disaster relief and more to nations in need. It costs between $29.99-39.99 per month.

  2. Anchor of Hope: Refugees, survivors of human trafficking and others in unsafe situations are crafting items for Anchor of Hope. Each month, the curators meet with women, teach them a new skill and pay them for their work. The artisans are from around the globe, including India, Asia and Haiti. Anchor of Hope includes two to four handmade items, such as jewelry and ceramics. The proceeds go directly towards the artisans and their families. It costs $33 per month.

  3. Happy Rebel Box: Happy Rebel Box is a seasonal subscription box directed toward women with an edgy sense of style. Besides fashion, Happy Rebel Box also includes beauty and lifestyle pieces. With each purchase, 10 percent of the proceeds will go toward non-profit organizations that specialize in helping women across the globe. These organizations provide women with access to healthcare and education as well as relief for those affected by abuse, poverty and trafficking. It has a quarterly subscription of $100 or an annual cost at $380.

  4. BuddhiBox: Founded by yoga teacher Maxine Chapman, BuddhiBox is designed to complement the “yogi lifestyle.” Containing cruelty-free and ethically sourced products, BuddhiBox is intended to enhance the practice of yoga and the spiritual lifestyle. Each month, BuddhiBox selects as a different global charity and donates a portion of their sales. The cost $16.95 per month to $49.95 every three months.

  5. KirillsTea: Love tea? KirillsTea offers a variety of loose-leaf teas in three different monthly subscriptions. Using only fresh ingredients and whole herbs, KirillsTea supports enjoying a cup up tea while giving back. With each purchase, KirillsTea donates to global humanitarian aid organizations, such as The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It costs $21.66 to $47.08 per month.

  6. My Be Better Box: My Be Better Box is exactly as it sounds. This subscription box is targeted for ambitious individuals looking for self-guided improvement in their daily lives. Through wellness products and the Be Better Movement campaign, My Be Better Box encourages buyers to complete challenges. With each completed challenge, My Be Better Box will donate to Every Mother Counts. Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization that focuses on making pregnancy and childbirth safe around the world. It costs $39.95 every two months.

  7. The Wordy Traveler: Love to travel? The Wordy Traveler is a quarterly subscription box dedicated to adventurous explorers. The box contains carefully selected travel books, limited edition artwork and even tea. With each subscription, a portion of the proceeds will go to supplying women and children with healthcare and education. This box costs $38-$89.99 for three months depending on the package level.

  8. GlobeIn: GlobeIn is discovering “the soul of craft” by traveling around the world in search of craftwork that is disappearing. Working directly with artists around the world, GlobeIn offers a variety of different items in their boxes, such as woven baskets and coasters. Each month, an artisan, or a group of artisans, is featured within the box. By supporting these artisans, not only are they receiving aid to fight poverty but also a better future through the use of their skills. In 2018, GlobeIn invested $3.5 million into artisan communities and provided nearly 2 million hours of work. This box costs $43-48 a month.

  9. Pura Vida: Pura Vida or “pure life”, was founded by two friends, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman. After falling in love with Costa Rica and its struggling local artisans, the two were determined to make a change. Today, Thall and Goodman have teamed up with many Costa Rican artisans to create unique handcrafted bracelets. Pura Vida has expanded and now considers more than 650 artisans their family. Pura Vida has donated nearly $2 million to charity. The Pura Vida Bracelet Club contains three unique and colorful bracelets. Each month costs $14.95 or $132 per year.

  10. CauseBox: CauseBox is a seasonal subscription box created for women. Each item is carefully selected with the intent of creating jobs or empowering artisans. CauseBox has partnered with numerous organizations, such as Freedom Firm, Speak Your Silence and Trees for the Future. For example, in the Summer 2018 box, the Symbology Kimono was crafted by artisans in Jaipur, India. Through this partnership, more than 150 women were given jobs. It is not just the box that is giving back, but the products inside of the box. It costs $49.95 quarterly or $199.80 per year.

There’s a variety of subscription boxes on the market today, but only a select few give back to those in need. By supporting charitable subscription boxes, more than just one person benefits from the purchase, and the effects can last a lifetime.

Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

solve global povertyAccording to the World Bank, living in extreme poverty means living on less than $1.90 per day. Although the number of people living in such conditions has been cut in half since 1990, now at less than one billion people, strategies to solve global poverty are still needed. The World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) think the answer can be found in trading.

A developing country’s increased participation in trade has a positive correlation with its decline in poverty. Developing countries now make up 48 percent of world trade, a rise from 33 percent in 2000. Trade has also shown to stimulate economic growth, improve productivity and increase the number and quality of jobs in developing nations.

The joint report provided by the World Bank and the WTO, called “The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty,” provides several examples of the increase in economic growth directly related to an increase in trade. It has also found five areas of focus to solve global poverty:

  1. Lower trade costs
  2. Improve the enabling environment
  3. Intensify integration policies
  4. Address risks faced by the poor
  5. Better understanding to inform policy

Lowering trade costs for deeper integration of markets would allow simpler means for deconstructing barriers restricting economic growth. With these barriers gone, growth and poverty reduction would surely follow.

The organizations assert improving the enabling environment. The environment can be strengthened through policies related to human and physical capital, access to finance, governance and institutions and macroeconomic stability. Solidifying the qualifying environment can be done through pioneering policy contexts that improve discussions with the poor, and target their needs more carefully.

Intensifying the poverty impact of integration policies would help bring greater focus on facing inaccessibility of markets. Reforms to challenge costs created by a lack of competition and other sources of domestic costs are another integral aspect of integration. There is also a key focus on the aspect of women’s challenges in smaller, poverty-driven communities as opposed to those faced by men.

The report tackles managing and mitigating risks faced by the poor. Those within global poverty are already at a higher disadvantage when trade risks arise than those of wealthier, developed countries. By addressing these issues, the report sets forth prioritizing resilience for the poor in order to strengthen the prospects of economic growth and make gains to solve global poverty.

Improving data and analysis to inform policy is requested in order to better understand and implement design and effective policies to maximize the poverty reduction gains from trade. The understanding of global poverty and the nature of the informal economy is essential to address trade-related restrictions.

Though all these assertions are quality actions, there is an overriding theme omitted. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports how global poverty creates environments of ill-health due to inadequate sanitation. For this reason, the WHO’s work includes global advocacy, regional initiatives and direct support to ministries of health in developing countries.

With all these actions put into motion to the fullest extent, the work to solve global poverty can have great success.

– Richard Zarrilli, Jr.

Photo: Pixabay


One of the most innovative technologies used to combat poverty, particularly in places where climatic conditions and rising sea levels impair local agriculture, are floating gardens. Areas such as Bangladesh, which are now below sea level in many places, do not have the land to grow crops; thus, floating gardens allow farmers to grow crops in the absence of arable land. Here is how floating gardens can tackle poverty.

Floating Gardens

Floating gardens were first used by the Aztecs in Tenochtitlan, and consisted of a raft woven from water hyacinth on top of which soil and manure were placed. From this structural orientation, farmers have been able to grow crops without the need for adequate farming land.

Today, farmers in many countries, such as Bangladesh, suffer from poor growing conditions due to flooding from monsoons and rising sea levels. It was reported in the New York Times that “the country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people.”

When water saturates soil and air — which plants need for nutrient uptake — growing and cell division are restricted; this process is referred to as waterlogging and is a major concern for farmers in Bangladesh.

Mitigating Obstacles

Farmer productivity is also weakened by lengthy dry periods. According to Practical Action, an organization that fights to mitigate these obstacles for farmers, “Growing conditions are already challenging as the clay soil becomes hard during the dry season (November to March) while prolonged rain during the monsoon (June to October) causes flooding.”

Floating gardens are a way for farmers to adapt to climate conditions and gain control over the production of crops for selling for both their productivity and for their own families. In this way, floating gardens can tackle poverty because they are economically beneficial to farmers who would otherwise have great difficulty doing their jobs.

Practical Action

Practical Action works on aqua-geoponics — special contraptions that combine floating gardens and fish farming — to help secure income for poor families in Bangladesh.

These contraptions increase efficiency and raise income levels for farmers. In addition to raising household incomes, floating gardens also save households money by reducing amounts spent on vegetables as households can now grow their own. According to the Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC-Davis, one floating garden provides a family with pesticide-free vegetables for a year.

Food Security

Another benefit of floating gardens is food security. According to the Independent, thanks to the efforts of the Practical Action residents of rural villages in Bangladesh now get at least 1,800 calories per day. In this way, floating gardens have reduced hunger and by growing their own crops, households now have pesticide-free vegetables.

A flyer published by Penn State asserted that potential effects of long-term exposure to pesticides include birth defects, tumors and blood or nerve disorders; in mitigating these effects, there are also health benefits to growing a floating garden.

Floating Gardens Tackle Poverty

There are numerous ways in which floating gardens can tackle poverty, including increased income and efficiency for farmers, and improved health for consumers of the crops. According to the World Bank, agriculture has been a key step in fighting poverty in Bangladesh. Poverty dropped from 48.9 percent to 31.5 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Additionally, over 87 percent of rural people receive some income from agricultural activities. In this way, finding a dependable method of crop production will be key in fighting poverty in countries such as Bangladesh.

– Olivia Booth

Photo: Flickr

solutions to global povertyNearly half of the world’s population lives at or below the poverty line; out of the 2.2 billion children in the world, one billion of them live in poverty. Though this issue may not be as prevalent or visible in the U.S., it is an issue that affects everyone. Small steps can be taken to better this problem, leading to possible solutions to global poverty.

  1. Properly Identifying Issues
    One of the largest issues involving poverty is the inability to properly identify contributing factors at the micro and macro level. Many organizations assume that local aid alone will better the problem, but it is only with the combined efforts of local, state and national governments that poverty will lessen.
  1. Allocating Proper Time and Resources
    Preventable diseases such as pneumonia claim the lives of nearly two million children per year. Without proper planning, which includes allocating enough time, money and volunteer work, global poverty will continue to exist. Currently, the U.S. spends only about one percent of the federal budget on foreign aid. By creating detailed plans and projects aimed at helping other nations, global poverty will begin to lessen.
  1. Creating organizations and communities to work locally
    Enacting policy is not the only solution to global poverty, as policy often does not affect those suffering directly. As previously stated, efforts must come from both local and federal domains. Essentially, while policy is created to change legislation, local organizations enact the changes, directly helping those in need. On top of that, working with entire communities instead of specific individuals has been proven to be more effective.
  1. Creating Jobs
    Creating jobs in poverty-ridden communities allows individuals to pull themselves out of poverty. This solution to global poverty is arguably one of the most effective. Federal governments can achieve this by rebuilding their infrastructures, developing renewable energy sources, renovating abandoned housing and raising the minimum wage.
    By raising the minimum wage in existing jobs, companies would combat recent inflation in both developed and developing countries. This change in the states (in places such as Seattle and Washington) has been shown to reduce poverty.
  1. Providing Access to Healthcare
    Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Having access to free or affordable healthcare would allow families to allocate the money they would normally spend on healthcare elsewhere.
  1. Empowering Women
    Female empowerment in developing countries often comes from organizations that work to reduce poverty by allowing them to take leadership positions and advance socially and economically.
  1. Microfinancing
    Microfinancing provides improvements to socioeconomic status by providing access to more, larger loans, providing better repayment rates for women, as they are less likely to default on their loans than men and extending education programs for loan-payers’ children. It can also improve health and welfare by providing access to clean water and better sanitation, create new jobs and teach developing countries to be more sustainable.
    Microfinancing continues to prove that even the smallest amounts of credit can be one of the many solutions to global poverty.
  1. Provide paid leave and paid sick days
    Paid maternal and paternal leave allows families to save money after childbirth, as having a child is a leading cause of economic hardship. Furthermore, giving workers paid sick days allows them to properly get over their illness without worrying about missing a paycheck or receiving a paycheck with fewer funds than normal.
  1. Supporting equal pay for men and women
    Closing the wage gap between men and women would reduce 50 percent of poverty experienced by women and their families. This would also add money to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Global poverty has proven to be an unruly, frustrating cycle, but eradicating it is within our means. These solutions to global poverty can and should be implemented to begin the end of poverty.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr

How to Solve Poverty in 10 Steps
The fight against global poverty can be a discouraging one. The number of people suffering is hard to imagine for most middle-class families. While there is a multitude of poverty-stricken individuals, things are not entirely bleak. Poverty rates have been falling in recent years, and the word is getting out. People can make a difference in this fight with the right approach. There are answers on how to solve poverty, and time is showing us just how effective they are.

  1. Improve the training of farmers
    It is so important for developing countries that their agriculture is not only thriving but is sustainable. Teaching sustainable techniques to farmers is one of the ways that demonstrates how to solve poverty, because when a country’s natural resources are at their top potential, so is its economy. Teaching methods to sustain agriculture, investing in proper equipment and instructing farmers on more efficient practices will also improve the quality of life for the farmers themselves.
  2. Establish gender equality
    When asking how to solve poverty globally, a trend keeps popping up: many poverty-stricken countries lack gender equality. The fact is that when women are allowed to participate in the economy through new laws, social acceptance and proper child care for their family, the country thrives. Since roughly half of any country’s population is made up of women, it is not only arguably a moral obligation, but a practical solution for how to solve poverty. Gender equality can mean getting religious leaders involved, spreading awareness through the country’s media with women depicted as capable and even educating the women themselves on their rights.
  3. Ensure clean water
    Having access to clean water is a huge factor in a country’s welfare. Not only does it need to be safe to drink, but it needs to be closer to people’s homes. While most middle-class citizens can just turn on a tap for clean water to pour out of, many poor families spend hours just trying to find water, and it is not always entirely clean. Investing in clean wells and water systems can not only ensure the safety of a country’s citizens but can free up their time, allowing them to better participate in the economy
  4. Reinstate good healthcare
    When a person is healthy, they can go to work, participate in community events (like voting or meetings) and can better contribute to society. Making sure a country has good healthcare is essential to alleviating poverty. This involves widespread vaccinations, investing in better hospitals and resources, training medical professionals and improving hygiene on a national level.
  5. Make education a priority
    A huge factor in how to solve poverty involves education. Lifting a country out of poverty means educating its citizens not only on basics like math and science, but on proper hygiene, gender equality, educating females equally, economic factors and investing in resources for schools. To better the school system in developing nations, not only do the resources and school building need to be improved, but the teachers need to be trained properly and paid. Encouraging school attendance and teacher certification will create a more conscious society, more jobs and better-equipped citizens in the fight against poverty.
  6. Make international aid a bigger part of legislation
    Not all countries can lift themselves out of poverty without help. Most will need aid from wealthier nations. Making that happen through legislation will ensure that funds go towards the struggle against poverty and will improve the global quality of life.
  7. Involve all sectors of the government in the developing country
    When it comes down to it, a nation struggling with poverty needs all hands on deck to resolve it. They need to have educators, businessmen and lawmakers all involved. This will help identify problems in a range of areas and will ensure that as much support as possible is being given.
  8. People abroad and domestically need to speak up
    People in struggling countries need to vote if they can for initiatives to help solve poverty (things like education funding and gender equality laws), and those abroad need to vote to make poverty a focal point of legislation. The government looks to the people for what is important, and if enough people vote on something such as international aid, then it will become a focus.
  9. Direct aid needs to be given
    Throwing money at a problem will never solve anything. Funds need to go to a direct cause. Rather than giving a foreign government money for clean water, fund a well-building project. Rather than giving money to a country to hire more teachers, send teachers in to train some. Do not give money for a solution; give them the solution. This helps sidestep corruption and delay.
  10. Keep the national market open to trade
    Ensure that the governments abroad are staying open to trade with developing countries. This will help fuel the struggling nation’s economy and create more jobs for that country. In the end, the wealthy country gains a new trading partner, and the developing country gains a sustainable way to grow its economy.

While the questions revolving around how to solve poverty are complex and face dead ends at times, there are solutions to the problem. Making sure that a solution is not only effective but sustainable is a priority that always needs to be met. The fight continues and will continue to be fought until all necessary steps are taken.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

Beginning in the late 1980s with resistance to the military government, armed conflict and social disorganization have marked the lives of nearly two generations of Somalis. Because of the ongoing conflict, thousands of Somalis left their homeland due to the fighting and settled in expatriate communities around the globe. In recent years, however, a fragile stability has returned that sees locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together.

While this remains good news, the return of Somali nationals who were raised or spent upwards of two decades abroad has generated new conflicts. Local Somalis often have a perception that they are entitled to more rights in their native land than those who have spent their lives abroad. Returning nationals often feel that their education and experience position them better to contribute to future peace and stability for Somalia. These preconceptions fuel disagreements regarding prime positions in government and other employment conflicts.

There is a significant culture gap between returnees and local Somalis, but efforts have begun recently to bridge this gap in the name of improving their war-torn country. A symposium was held in June 2017 to bring these groups together and foster an ongoing dialogue about incorporating all Somalis in the nation’s future. These new efforts hope to see locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together.

One local participant explained, “It was an important workshop in that it brought together diaspora returnees and the locals. The engagements were amicable as the diaspora returnees and their local counterparts held discussions so as to get to understand each other.”

Returnees are a big part of rebuilding Somalia. One United Nations program in recent years has arranged for dozens of short-term positions in Somalia for expatriates with expert qualifications. Some returnees are keenly conscious of the problems incurred by bringing in outsiders. One American returnee who hosted a legal summit with Somali experts and politicians in 2015 was proud to have completed the project with a minimum of international interference.

Vocational and education programs that support returnees are opening opportunities for Somalis no matter their personal history. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees reported in December 2017 on a program in Mogadishu that is providing training through the country’s Returnee Support Center. Their training programs are increasing the quality of life in the Somali capital for both returning nationals and those who stayed through the wars.

Regional organizations are supporting efforts to integrate the diverse Somali population as well. AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, is participating in the talks to unite local and returning populations, and has endorsed their continuing work.

“One of the reasons AMISOM is supporting this great initiative is because cooperation and partnership between Somali Diaspora Returnees and Homeland community is critical for the stability and long-term development of Somalia,” said Dr. Walters Samah, AMISOM Political Officer to ReliefWeb.

Despite the fragility of the current situation, Somalia’s prospects have been improving for years. With luck and dedication, this trajectory will continue with locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together for a better future.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

Cardiovascular diseases cause a large number of deaths around the world. Unfortunately, treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries can be difficult. In the African country Cameroon, there are only about 50 cardiologists for about 20 million people. The Cardiopad is an innovative technology that aims to alleviate this problem.

The location of doctors throughout Cameroon tends to disadvantage those who live in rural areas. In the villages around the suburbs, there are general practitioners who treat the villagers. A large number of these practitioners do not have a specialization, so they cannot do much beyond recommending patients go see a specialist if they believe they need one.

If a patient is experiencing chest pains, or shows symptoms of a cardiovascular disease, they make an appointment to see a cardiologist in the city. Because there are so few cardiologists, it can take months before they are seen, and many will die before seeing a specialist.

Arthur Zang, the inventor of the Cardiopad, noticed this issue and set out to fix it. Zang understood that going to see a doctor from the Cameroon villages was difficult, so he invented a way to lessen the need to make a trip to the city. He created the Cardiopad, a tablet device with electrodes that can give a 97.5 percent accurate reading of the heart. Essentially, it is a mobile electrodiagram (ECG).

Although Zang provided general practitioners with the tools to perform a heart scan, they still do not have the proper training to interpret the scans themselves. The information gathered from the Cardiopad is actually sent to the national data center, and it is then received by the cardiologists in the city. Once the cardiologists receive the heart scan, they can interpret the results to see what kind of treatment is needed and can send treatment recommendations back to the general practitioner. The process that would ordinarily take many months can now be done within 20 minutes.

This is a phenomenal step forward for diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries. Now, even in rural Cameroon, local practitioners can work with cardiologists and can properly diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, the technology eases the economic burden of traveling and medical expenses for patients. The Cardiopad only costs $29 a year to use, compared to the staggering costs of going to see a specialist. In this way, the Cardiopad saves time and money for patients in need.

Treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries has become much easier with the Cardiopad. It allows rural residents to get the proper diagnosis they may need in order to save their lives. The Cardiopad is being distributed in Cameroon, India, Gabon and Nepal, and more countries are sure to follow. The Cardiopad can potentially save millions of lives that would have been taken from cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

Refugees SheltersThere are about 59 to 67 million refugees and asylum seekers around the world, forced to leave their home to pursue freedom and security. In this journey, shelter alternatives are short; the only real options are refugee camps that organizations have helped establish. In addition, given the geographic and demographic conditions of some camps, the facilities are not adequate to maintain minimum safety requirements.

To resolve this issue, different architecture companies have begun designing modern refugee shelters that can fulfill important needs in tough environments. The following companies have invented innovative shelters that provide basic services such as water, power and protection from extreme weather.

The Better Shelter

Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) developed the Better Shelter in 2015. It is a safe, long lasting and efficient home that can be built with just four people.

The Better Shelter’s base is made from a galvanized steel frame. The roof and walls are made of polyolefin panels, to protect refugees from strong sunlight exposure. An innovative feature of the facility is the PV System, which is a solar panel installed on the roof that charges an LED light inside of the shelter. The power that the PV obtains during the day can be used for a total of four hours at night. In addition, thanks to a USB port located on the LED light, refugees can charge their cellphones and other electronics with renewable electricity.

The adaptable characteristics of the Better Shelter redefine the space in refugee shelters since it can be placed in different locations. Sections can be added and removed in order to create longer structures or even hold medical equipment.

In 2015, 16,000 units of the Better Shelter were deployed for humanitarian operations world-wide, especially in Nepal and Iraq where there are a considerable number of refugees.

SURI

SURI is a refugee shelter that is easy to ensemble with a low-cost architecture modular system. These features make it faster to transport in many types of emergencies. Suricatta Systems, the creator of the shelter, defines SURI as a Shelter Unit for Rapid Installation.

One of the most important characteristics of the shelter is that each unit can be joined in different directions, providing flexibility in order to create distinct building forms. Moreover, SURI is lightweight, as its walls are designed to be refillable with local materials like sand or debris. Like the Better Shelter, SURI also employs solar panels that provide light inside the home.

An essential advantage of shelter for refugees is the water recollection system. SURI can store rainwater in a tank after it has passed through a filter, in order to convert it in drinkable water. It is expected that SURI will be used in emergencies such as earthquakes and flooding.

Shigeru Ban Architects

Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect that uses principally recycled materials for his constructions. In 1992, when Rwanda fell into a violent civil war, Shigeru developed a refugee shelter made of cardboard to host Rwandan families that were affected by the war. The structure was convenient given its reusable features, as the buildings made from paper can be easily removed from certain places, and can be easily built again.

After the events in Rwanda, the architect has focused his research on creating facilities built by low-cost materials that can be used in emergencies. Shigeru’s shelters have been implemented in disasters such as the 2011 earthquake in Japan.

With continued philanthropic advancements from companies like these, it may be possible to completely reinvent the space within refugee shelters. In the near future, perhaps all refugees around the globe will have access to clean water, running electricity and a warm shelter.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

Singapore's Poverty SolutionSingapore’s poverty solution is KidStart, a pilot program now authorized as a permanent action to give children from low income families equal opportunities. KidStart will also develop early intervention programs for at-risk youth and adults.

KidStart is a three-year pilot program that launched in 2016. The program encourages early childhood education and supports families earning less than $2,500 a month with the additional skills and resources to develop their children’s potential. KidStart monitors children’s academic attendance and progress, and it also holds parenting workshops for parents.

While the nation’s Gini index shrank slightly from 2015 to 2016, 0.463 to 0.458, developing countries still struggle against poverty. The Singapore government plans to adopt KidStart as a permanent program to alleviate poverty and help families know the signs of financial struggle. Last year, nearly half of the applications for short-to-medium-term aid were granted, and some had higher cash quantum or the aid extended if the recipients could not find jobs.

KidStart, among several other actions, is Singapore’s poverty solution. The nation also plans to address inequality and family dysfunction.

Singapore Children’s Society lead social worker Gracia Goh believes that preventative work “requires moral courage to invest resources before a social problem gets worse, or even starts.”

The government hopes that implementing programs such as KidStart will prevent social issues from becoming ingrained in the country’s framework. Preventive actions are the first step to progress and strengthening existing ideals.

According to Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, “For certain family circumstances, we know it is challenging, and the probability of perhaps poorer outcomes for children as they grow up will be higher. So we want to make sure we intervene.”

Mr. Tan wants to expand KidStart beyond its five locations before the pilot ends. Last year, the program helped 1,000 disadvantaged children up to six years of age, and it will reach increasingly more as the government adopts KidStart and it expands to new locations. As Singapore’s poverty solution, KidStart will not only help children, but at-risk youths, adults and families struggling financially.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr

Local, Sustainable SolutionsThe Equator Initiative, an organization dedicated to encouraging communities to envision creative, local, sustainable solutions to problems, recently announced the winners of the 2017 Equator Prize.

The 15 winners include grassroots projects located across Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. They range from a campaign to secure management of a community Mangrove forest in Thailand to the Mali Elephant Project, which protects endangered elephants while working to reduce violence in a war-torn area of Mali.

However, these 15 winners are only the beginning. Across the globe, communities have created local, sustainable solutions to preserve their homelands. These solutions also help feed and educate children and promote peace and justice in their society.

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the Equator Initiative launched a database that includes 500 of the local, sustainable solutions nominated to receive the 2017 Equator Prize. Here are seven of the most creative and impactful initiatives that local people developed in answer to the challenges they face:

  1. Whales of Guerrero Research Project: The Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP) started in a small fishing village in Mexico in 2013 to increase local interest in protecting the endangered humpback whales. The project teaches children ages 9-13 about marine life and lets them adopt and name whales. It also created an extensive whale-spotting network and runs a program that pairs high school students in Mexico and the U.S. for scientific projects. The WGRP hopes that these workshops will strengthen the community’s pride in the natural environment and inspire them to make choices that will protect the local marine life. The project also advocates that tourist whale watching may become an important source of revenue in a place where the fishing industry has suffered.
  2. Barefoot Solar Initiative: The Barefoot Solar Initiative works to provide lighting systems that run on solar energy to people in rural villages in India. Since its founding in 1972, the Initiative has illuminated more than 15,000 homes. The new lighting improves air quality, saves money and enables children to study longer in the evenings. The initiative also teaches women how to construct and manage the solar equipment for the homes in their village, giving them a valuable skill set. The organization recently announced a new program that is providing solar lighting to many of the Pacific Island nations.
  3. The Nubian Vault Association (AVN): The AVN builds environmentally friendly homes in Burkina Faso that are inspired by the techniques of the ancient Nubians. The houses are built from sun-dried mud bricks, which are sturdy and emit less carbon than the iron roofing sheets traditionally used. The houses have thermal insulation, so they stay cool during the day and warm in the evenings. By teaching farmers how to build these homes, the AVN also created a new economic activity that helps them earn income during the dry season.
  4. Elevated Honey Co.: This initiative aims to bring economic growth and care for the environment to the mountainous areas of Southwest China through beekeeping. The villagers work with Apis cerana, the honey bee native to their region, using traditional beekeeping methods as a way of sustaining both their environment and their culture. The honey made from this bee is lucrative, worth up to 8 times as much as that of European honeybees.
  5. Comuna Ancestral Las Tunas: This project, established in 1998, helps a community in Ecuador receive the numerous benefits of recycling. Children become empowered to make a difference in their communities as they earn money collecting plastic water bottles. The number of tourists in the area increased by 15 percent, a result of the now clean beaches, and the community is watching over two species of sea turtles. Women are able to turn the plastic bottles into crafts and earn money.
  6. Abolhassani Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy: In an area of Iran that is rich with diverse animals and plants, the Confederacy developed local, sustainable solutions for coping with drought and sustaining both livestock and crops. Two of these are the revival of the hanar system, which conserves water by giving the animals water only once every two days, and feeding the animals with crops rather than natural vegetation, allowing the land to recover. The Confederacy shares its innovations with other tribes in the area.
  7. Nakau programme: Loru Community Conservation Project: Founded in 2011, this program established a legally protected patch of rain forest on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. The indigenous landowners are able to sell conservation credits, or tax credits for donors, as well as market agricultural products of the rain forest (i.e., certain types of nuts). The project meets several of the Sustainable Development Goals that were a key criteria for the 2017 Equator Prize.

The winners of 2017 Equator Prize have received more than a reward. They have created local, sustainable solutions that have transformed their community. Consequently, their successes can serve as examples and inspiration for future projects.

Emilia Otte

Photo: Google