Industrialization in Kenya
With a current growth rate hovering between 5 and 6 percent, Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Industrialization in Kenya, as part of Vision 2030, is a priority that could help transform the agriculture-dependent country into a developed economy. According to Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, its three main goals include increasing foreign investment, improving the business environment and reducing corruption. Kenya has a massive goal of reaching a GDP of $211 billion. That would be approximately the same GDP as Romania in 2017. Kenya’s GDP increased from $18 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2017. The 2017 figure was $17 billion more than expected. China is one foreign investor that sees potential in developing Kenya’s economy.

Why Develop Kenya?

One side effect of developing an economy is a reduced poverty rate. Approximately 60 percent of Kenyans work in the agriculture industry, which is typical for developing economies. A developed economy such as the U.S. involves a mostly service dependent economy.

A drought-affected part of Kenya in 2017 slowed GDP growth, increased inflation to 8 percent and harmed the economy. President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the need for industrialization in Kenya and the country’s dependence on agriculture. Vision 2030 includes increasing manufacturing from 11 percent of Kenya’s GDP to 20 percent of its GDP and focuses on developing its oil, minerals, tourism, infrastructure and geothermal sectors.

Businesses and countries investing in Kenya could add jobs for Kenyans, help diversify into a new market and improve trade between the two entities. Foreign direct investment was $1.6 billion in 2018. The United Kingdom, China, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa are the main investors. Banking, tourism, mining, infrastructure and information and communications technology are some of the investment sectors for these countries.

First Steps to Industrialization in Kenya

China is a major investor in Kenyan infrastructure. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) costs $3.6 billion and connects the capital with the largest city in Kenya. The China Road and Bridge Corporation hired more than 25,000 Kenyans to work on the railway that opened in 2017. It extended the railway to Naivasha in October 2019. More than one million people rode the SGR in 2018.

China Road and Bridge Corporation also invested in the Nairobi Southern Bypass Highway that relieves congestion through the capital city Nairobi by redirecting traffic to and from the port city of Mombasa. Mombasa has a population of over three million and receives visitors from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan. “There is no doubt the infrastructure projects financed and developed by China are making a huge impact in the country, especially when you look at the ease of travel and employment opportunities,” said Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railway Corporation.

The World Bank also helped rural regions with its Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project. The project involved the construction of more than 60 miles of roads. Also, the project built 52 miles of footpaths, 66 miles of drainage canals, 39 miles of sewer pipelines, 68 miles of water pipelines and 134 security lights by its end date of November 2019.

Progress Ongoing in Kenya

Various organizations completed many other projects that have benefitted millions of Kenyans. Vision 2030 includes ambitious goals that will benefit its economy and people through job growth, key sectors growth and poverty reduction. One of Kenya’s key sectors, tourism, already saw a 5.6 percent growth in 2018, which is higher than the global average of 3.9 percent. The Information and Communication Technology sector saw an average growth of 10.8 percent since 2016, giving Kenya its “Silicon Savannah” name. Kenya’s poverty rate continues to decline as the country develops. Its poverty rate lowered from 46 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016, demonstrating that progress is ongoing in poverty reduction and industrialization in Kenya.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

5G in India
With 5G connectivity as the next digital revolution for the global world, it is imperative to think about the positive impacts as 5G arrives in India as early as 2020. The service will introduce higher internet speeds and access for millions of Indian users. Here are five benefits of 5G in India involving its economy, retail, education, health care and agriculture.

5 Benefits of 5G in India

  1. A Boosted Economy: With the second-largest population in the world at 1.3 billion in 2019, India’s digital customer base is just as numerically significant because it constitutes a great amount of the country’s GDP at 8 percent. For example, in 2018, there were 560 million Indian internet subscribers and 1.2 billion mobile subscriptions. Out of the $200 billion revenue from the country’s entire digital economy, digital communication and telecommunication account for $45 billion while mobile handsets account for $10 million. The introduction of 5G in India will allow for increased internet and broadband, and revenue will continue to trend upwards. For example, with the introduction of 5G in India, the country’s GDP could reach $1 trillion by 2035.

  2. Advanced Retail: India’s retail sector accounts for a significant 10 percent of the nation’s GDP or $1.8 billion in 2017 through brick and mortar as well as online retailers. By 2020, the retail sector should rise to $3.6 billion. Thanks to 5G in India, higher internet speeds offer retailers and sellers a better connection due to faster website access. This instantaneous connection presents the potential for better sales. Additionally, store and inventory management software could aid retailers in their organization to offer better customer service. Digital payments such as United Payments Interface, the interbank money transfer service and Paytm can provide better data on revenue and increase the customer base. Digitization with 5G in India will provide better connections, increased sales, data collection and increased productivity causing the GDP to inevitably trend upwards.

  3. Enhanced Education: 5G technologies will benefit students with increased communication, virtual and augmented reality, increased cloud data and smart learning for differently-abled students. For instance, 5G enables increased connection with 100 times faster speeds, thus enabling more opportunities for distance learning for individuals in remote areas. Virtual and augmented reality provide engaging and easily understood content, thus improving the quality of education. With faster connections, cloud data becomes more accessible, allowing students to resume work at their own pace. Personalized education for differently-abled students will vastly increase with cloud-based robots which act as assistants to aid children more in need of teacher assistance. Such progress is tremendous given that estimates determine that each additional year of schooling should result in about 8 percent higher wages.

  4. Better Managed Agriculture: The Indian agricultural sector faces current challenges with a lack of data collection and analysis, fluctuating prices, unavailability of agri-logistics, poor farm returns and lack of information on consumer interest. 5G technology can amend such challenges with increased soil and crop monitoring, precision farming, smart irrigation and climate change alignment, livestock monitoring and agricultural drones. For example, in terms of soil and crop monitoring, 5G implemented sensors can provide information on soil data of moisture, nutrients and spoilage. These sensors are a huge accomplishment for food security because crop diseases are a challenge to Indian farmers serving an ever-growing population.

  5. Increased Health Care: 5G forms a comprehensive digital network in health care with The Massive Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). With 5G, IoMT and eMBB will operate at faster speeds to effectively provide more personalized patient care. Technologies such as smart glucose monitoring and automated insulin delivery enhance proactive care with early detection methods resulting in more lives saved. With 5G, rural areas lacking health care facilities will have support from local centers made operable by new technology. These individuals can thus receive faster treatment, which was once only attainable at a distance.

With the second-largest population in the world and second-largest internet consumer base, 5G in India is sure to benefit the nation with better connectivity and higher speeds in urban and remote areas. Aside from its technological benefits, other great benefits exist as well with poverty reduction. In alignment with the forecasted GDP of $1 trillion by 2035 thanks to many aspects including digitization mentioned in this article, by 2027, the country expects to reach upper-middle-income status.

Elizabeth Yusuff
Photo: Flickr

  Clothing Companies That Give Back
It is possible to make a positive impact through one’s purchases when buying for oneself or gift-giving. Below are 10 clothing companies that give back to those in need.

10 Clothing Companies That Give Back

  1. Anchal: Anchal is an accessory company that sells items like scarves, outerwear and handbags. Sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines founded the company in 2010 after seeing the exploitative world of commercial sex trafficking and the lack of opportunity for women in India. The Cline sisters believe that design and interdisciplinary collaboration can be a catalyst for positive change. The company uses design in order to include working women in every step of production. Through intensive design workshops, artisans learn problem-solving and how to create new designs. By offering economic alternatives, rich in self-expression and rooted in community, the company is helping women rediscover their worth, potential and creativity. Female artisans, that received employment through the company’s holistic programs, craft each product.

  2. Raven and Lily: Another of the clothing companies that give back is Raven and Lily, which is an accessory company that sells luxury handbags and jewelry. The company’s prime focus is to make products that bridge gaps between traditional and modern, near and far and people and planet. Each product is handmade by women with sustainable materials and a careful touch. Raven and Lily work to empower women by working with artisans from all around the world and some of these areas include Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru and Mexico. Raven and Lily is a certified Fair Trade and Microloan organization; with every purchase, the company gives back to a microloan program that supports female entrepreneurs in East Africa.

  3. Panda Sunglasses: WearPanda is a sustainable accessory company that sells eyewear as well as watches. The company focuses on giving back to the planet and its inhabitants. The bamboo-made products helped to create the idea of “fashion with a purpose;” with every product the company sells, a portion of the profit goes to people in need. This company has helped Optometry Giving Sight screen about four million people, deliver over 20,000 pairs of glasses and support more than 15 optical labs and over 100 optometry students in 39 countries. WearPanda also partners with the nonprofit Kiva and has helped support 12 microloans in 10 countries.

  4. Sudara Punjammies: In 2006, Sudara partnered with a sewing center in India and taught six women how to sew patterns in pajama pants, and they eventually became Punjammies. Shannon Keith founded this company after returning from a trip to India and hearing about women who were at high risk of their families forcing them into sex slavery or sex traffickers picking them up off the streets. Women in India often enter sex slavery because they lack an education or the resources and the skills to make a choice. After returning from her trip, Keith formed a small team of her family and friends. They looked for groups in India with a determination to help women out of the red light districts. The team knew that safe, steady living-wage employment would be a pathway to freedom and offer more choices for women. By making donations and purchasing Sudara goods, customers are helping to keep millions of women and young girls out of the sex trafficking industry in India.

  5. 31 Bits: 31 Bits is an ethical jewelry company that emerged after one of its three founders went on a trip to Uganda. While traveling, she discovered numerous women who grew up in war and had nothing. They were single mothers with no education or jobs; the founders yearned for change due to how young these women were. They discovered that these women did not have a basic education, but they were resourceful and made gorgeous jewelry out of old posters and scraps. The founders found that these women had the skills but just needed a market. From there, the founders created 31 Bits, a company that focuses on making fashionable products that could also help artisans from around the world to acquire dignified jobs and have access to the global market.

  6. Teysha: Teysha is a footwear company that strives to connect people through art, community and culture. The shop merges heritage with contemporary art so that communities and art can flourish. Teysha works directly with artisans in Guatemala and Panama to develop local infrastructure, value chains, designs and production processes, which work together to honor traditional craftsmanship while bringing market access and opportunity. The company has worked to support over 60 families with wages that Teysha provided. The organization also has four shops in Guatemala which women run, and these shops have also provided over 20 educational workshops.

  7. Sseko Sandals: Sseko is an accessory and clothing company that emerged to allow young women in Uganda to receive higher education. In order to help, Sseko hires these women during the nine-month period between secondary school and college. By working with Sseko, these women are not only able to save money for education, but they also gain important skills and work with professional mentors to obtain valuable work experience. At the end of the nine-month period, the company matches each woman’s savings by 300 percent. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko’s program has been able to pursue a college education. As of 2019, Sseko has helped its 131st woman attend university.

  8. Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi is a clothing and outdoor gear company that awards grants to outstanding nonprofit organizations with track records at improving the human condition and ending poverty. A few of the organizations include The International Rescue Committee, Escuela Nueva, the U.N. Foundation, Nothing But Nets, Mercy Corps and a division of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. The shop is a B Corporation, which means that 1 percent of profits go towards addressing poverty and supporting community development. Cotopaxi also has a grant program to promote organizations that are successfully improving the human condition. As of now, Cotopaxi has awarded 42 grants in six focus countries.

  9. Faircloth & Supply: Phoebe Dahl founded Faircloth & Supply in 2013 with the idea of creating timeless fashion designs that could help to create a path that leads to a more sustainable industry. Linen casual wear, heritage textiles and utilitarian workwear inspire Dahl’s line. Faircloth Supply’s collection donates a percentage of its proceeds towards girls’ education in Nepal. The company also has the option for customers to donate to the charity of their choice upon checkout on its website. Dahl believes that in order to prevent sex trafficking, child marriage and children’s rights violations, children must obtain a basic education. With every purchase, Faircloth & Supply provides access to education for girls in Nepal.

  10. DIFF Charitable Eyewear: DIFF Charitable Eyewear is a company that sells eyewear, as well as eyewear accessories. The company’s mission is to use fashion as a force for good. Since 2015, DIFF has donated over one million eyeglasses to people in need around the world with its buy one give one structure. The company also encompasses worldwide programs in support of empowerment and education through Project DIFF. Through Project DIFF’s Pouch Program, the company provides dependable incomes to female artisans and is helping to develop Little Angels School. One way it is accomplishing this is through the crafting of elaborate sunglass cases in Uganda and its partnership with Tribe Alive in Honduras. Proceeds from the pouches go to Little Angels School in order to support it in accomplishing its goal of creating a safe, positive environment for learning, and providing the necessary tools to make it happen. Through the company’s partnership with Tribe Alive, DIFF works to empower women around the world. Ten female artisans in Tegucigalpa, Honduras handmake each of the sunglass chains and the sale of these helps each one provide a sustainable, living wage to support her family.

These 10 clothing companies that give back are working to end global poverty with every purchase. Where one chooses to spend their money can have a great impact on those who really need it. Try shopping where it counts when looking to purchase articles of clothing, jewelry, accessories or shoes.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Female Leadership in Nepal
When many people think of Nepal, they imagine the Himalayas, the Mt. Everest base camp and some of the most culturally and ethnically diverse people. What these people fail to think of is the highly patriarchal society that is also Nepal. Luckily, there are four women showing female leadership in Nepal to improve life for women and girls.

The Situation

Nepal is notorious for its discrimination against women in almost every aspect of life. The literacy rate for females is significantly lower than it is for males, with only 44.5 percent of females being literate compared to 71.6 percent of males. Superstitious beliefs say that women are the reason for Nepal’s poor status in the global context. The reality, however, is that Nepal remains one of the poorest countries because of gender discrimination. Nepal eliminates half of its labor force participation rate by preventing women from seeking education and job opportunities, and this contributes to its rising poverty crisis as women are the most susceptible to poverty.

At least 75 percent of Nepal’s citizens are in poverty, with over half those citizens being females. Eighty percent of Nepalis report that their quality of life has gone down in the last five years.

Despite the ongoing oppression against females, there are Nepali women who are finding a way to make their mark in the country. The following four women show how Nepali female leadership can assist in the war on poverty in Nepal, breaking the barrier and making footprints for others to follow.

4 Women Showing Female Leadership in Nepal

  1. Renu Sharma: Renu Sharma is the co-founder and current president of The Women’s Foundation Nepal (WFN), as well as an accomplished Nepali woman, leading a non-governmental organization that helps women and children in Nepal. The organization, established in 1988, provides shelter homes, access to education, training and micro-credits for women and children who are victims of violence, abuse or poverty. WFN has helped over 150 women and children find a home and gain access to medical and legal support. It has also aided in over 450 children receiving education until the 10th grade and 3,000 women obtaining training to pursue careers in local businesses or teaching. Additionally, it has given out at least 1,000 scholarships to those pursuing higher education. WFN is looking to expand its projects to cover a larger population and eventually become self-sustainable, but to do so, it needs further support. If the mission of Renu Sharma and her colleagues is inspiring, consider these options. As this article will continue to show, a small action or a quiet voice can have a lasting impact.
  2. Bidhya Devi Bhandari: Bhandari is the country’s first woman president and has been carving the path for her fellow females since the beginning of her political career, when she served as the Minister of Defence. As of today, people credit Bhandhari with increasing female representation in the government and providing females more opportunities. Bhandhari served as the chair of the All Nepal Women’s Association, where she understood the importance of increasing Nepali female leadership in the nation. Throughout her position as President, Bhandari has ensured that a third of all politicians in Nepal are women and that all women in the country have legal rights. Bhandari’s next steps include increasing the opportunities for education for young girls and developing a gender-responsive budget system that will prevent women from falling into poverty due to an unfair wage gap.
  3. Sushila Karki: Appointed the first female Supreme Court Justice at the Supreme Court of Nepal, Sushila Karki made major contributions to fixing poverty and women’s rights in the country. Known for her zero tolerance for corruption, Karki has increased enforcement against corruption and brought many organizations and individuals to justice. Karki also believes in the emancipation of women, and she has worked to ban the practice of chhaupadi, which is when women become separate from society during menstruation. By increasing the punishment for chhaupadi, Karki has reduced the presence of the practice, and she hopes that her followers will continue to maintain a strict policy that will eventually eradicate the practice. Chhaupadi is a major contributor to female poverty, and by reducing its prevalence in society, Karki hopes that fewer females will find themselves homeless or jobless.
  4. Samjhana Pokhrel: Serving as chairperson for the NGO Jagaran Nepal (JN), Pokhrel has helped the organization move mountains in the past 10 years. JN is a leading organization that works to equalize women’s participation in society, whether that be in politics, the classroom or the family. Under Pokhrel’s leadership, the organization has advocated for human rights and social protection for all women, regardless of class. The organization has also implemented programs across the country that focus on women’s economic empowerment, women’s reproductive health, anti-violence movements and young girl’s education; the primary reason girls do not receive adequate education is due to health concerns, such as menstruation and violence, both of which force girls to drop out of school and eventually fall into poverty. Samjhana’s mission with JN is to create a program that hears the voices of women in need and acts on it, reducing their susceptibility to poverty. 

Nepal’s struggles with poverty are far from over, but these women are taking steps to combat it any way they see possible. By setting examples in Nepali female leadership, these women are forging a path that others can follow. As Nepal continues to make an effort to support women and close the gender gap that exists, the country is making progress in reducing its poverty.

Shvetali Thatte
Photo: Flickr

India is Winning the War on Poverty
In 2010, India was home to most of the world’s poor with more than 410 million people living in poverty. So, just how is India winning the war on poverty? People do not just define poverty by low income, but also by poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence. Since 2010, India has made incredible progress and is now even a middle-income country. India is the second-most populous country and the seventh-largest country by area. The dense population is a trigger for any of the possible negatives that come with living in India.

India’s Path to Economic Success

From 2006 to 2016, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty, cutting the poverty rate by half. This was because of improvements in assets, sanitation and nutrition. India received recognition for improvements it made in some of its most impoverished areas. In Jharkhand, poverty has decreased from 74.9 percent (2006) to 46.5 percent (2016). The better quality of life is a huge factor in how India is winning the war on poverty, most importantly in regards to nutrition.

Organizations such as The Integrated Child Development Services and The National Health Mission set out to improve the nutrition status in the country. Care is an NGO that has been working for 68 years to fight poverty in India. It formed in 1950 by the signing of the IndoCARE bilateral agreement and focuses on women and children. India is home to 30 percent of the world’s impoverished children, and children are twice as likely to live in poverty than adults. Saying this, poverty rates among children have decreased faster than adults, and the child mortality rate has decreased by 2.4 percent compared to 2005.

A Better Future

Predictions determine that 40 percent of Indians will be urban residents by 2030, but it is still imperative that there is socioeconomic inclusion within the rural states, where a majority of the country’s poor reside. There is a lack of connection to electricity, internet and financial institutions which drastically impacts the poverty rate. The Economic Rural Development Society, a nonprofit established in 1982, works to introduce sustainable development techniques in rural communities. It has built 606 sanitation units to lower the impact of human waste as well as forming health education and rehabilitation programs for the elderly. It equips marginalized people with education, livelihood skills and self-governing capabilities.

In 2018, only 5 percent of the 130 billion living in India was in extreme poverty. According to the World Poverty Clock, if things continue the way they are, fewer than 3 percent of the population will live in extreme poverty by 2021. Having more access to cooking fuels, sanitation faculties and household assets have driven the decrease in poverty.

For India to continue to win the war on poverty it must implement skill development for its workers. Changes in education and a focus on tangible skills are important to ensure Indian workers keep up with the technologically advancing world.

Efforts to make health care more accessible to all citizens is a problem that the country still needs to tackle. Making sure that people properly sanitize health care facilities is also a way to ensure that the tightly-packed population does not get sick. India eradicated the Polio scare, but there is still 63 percent of the population dying from non-communicable diseases, which can emerge from unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.

India has a long way to go, but it has moved from the poorest country to a middle-income country. Many of its citizens have emerged from poverty, and the future looks bright for India as long as the way of life continues to rise.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Medical Aid in Somalia After two decades of ongoing civil war, Somalia’s health care system is in shambles. Almost two-thirds of Somali doctors have fled the country while health care infrastructure continues to be destroyed. As a result of these and other issues, the country is ranked 179th out of 191 countries in terms of its health care system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Today, one-third of the deaths of children under 5 years of age are caused by malnutrition and 3.2 million people lack access to emergency health services.

The Response: Medical Aid in Somalia

Many global organizations have responded to this crisis. The International Committee of Red Cross spent a third of its budget on medical aid in Somalia in 1992, and other organizations such as the WHO and the U.N. have worked extensively in the country. However, it’s not just large organizations that are working to restore Somalia’s health care system.

Starting in 2016, a Minnesotan organization called the Minnesota Association of African People With Disabilities (MNCAPD) has partnered with the global nonprofit MATTER to send shipping containers full of medical equipment to Somalia. The organization has been able to deploy these supplies — which range from hospital beds to full x-ray rooms — about twice a year since 2016. The MNCAPD also has an official partnership with the Somali Ministry of Health to ensure ease of integration into the Somali health care system. The group mainly focuses on medical issues affecting women, children and the elderly, sending items such as nutritious food for mothers and children as well as wheelchairs and canes.

Background

Founded in 2014, MNCAPD is an organization created by adults with disabilities in Hennepin County, the most populated county in Minnesota. At a local level, MNCAPD works to find housing for adults with disabilities as well as help them with issues such as immigration and setting up medical appointments, among other things. However, MNCAPD also works extensively on providing medical aid in Somalia through its partnership with the Somali Ministry of Health and MATTER.

The organization’s Executive Director Nimo Ahmed estimates that shipping costs, which are entirely covered by MNCAPD, come out to about $12,000 per delivery of medical supplies. “I would love to ship [supplies] every day…but I cannot…because of funding,” Ahmed told The Borgen Project. The group mainly relies on donations to fund the shipments. This involves reaching out to friends and family to broader community fundraising efforts.

In 2015, the year before the group started sending supplies to Somalia, they paid a visit to the country. “I learned that there [are] people that are worse [off] than us,” said Ahmed. “I met some mothers that didn’t eat for a couple of days, I see kids that didn’t eat for a couple of days. I see there are little kids that didn’t have nutritious foods, I see kids that cannot go to the doctor…I see disabled people [who] cannot get access to…a wheelchair or a cane.”

“I invite [other organizations] to go to the place that they want to help and see what’s exactly helping, and just do the work on the ground of finding somebody…who’s on the ground and knows what’s happening,” Ahmed said.

Kelton Holsen
Photo: Flickr

Coding in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is primarily an agricultural country, with more than 80 percent of its citizens living in rural areas. More than 108.4 million people call Ethiopia home, making it Africa’s second-largest nation in terms of population. However, other production areas have become major players in Ethiopia’s economy. As of 2017, Ethiopia had an estimated gross domestic product of $200.6 billion with the main product coming from other sources than agriculture.

Today, 1.2 million Ethiopians have access to fixed telephone lines, while 62.6 million own cell phones. The country broadcasts six public TV stations and 10 public radio shows nationally. 2016 data showed that over 15 million Ethiopians have internet access. While 15 percent of the population may not seem significant, it is a sharp increase in comparison to the mere one percent of the population with Internet access just two years prior.

Coding in Ethiopia: One Girl’s Success Story

Despite its technologically-limited environment, young tech-savvy Ethiopians are beginning to forge their own destiny and pave the way for further technological improvements. One such pioneer is teenager Betelhem Dessie. At only 19, Dessie has spent the last three years traveling Ethiopia and teaching more than 20,000 young people how to code and patenting a few new software programs along the way.

On her website, Dessie recounts some of the major milestones she’s achieved as it relates to coding in Ethiopia:

  • 2006 – she got her first computer
  • 2011- she presented her projects to government officials at age 11
  • 2013-she co-founded a company, EBAGD, whose goals were to modernize Ethiopia’s education sector by converting Ethiopian textbooks into audio and visual materials for the students.
  • 2014-Dessie started the “codeacademy” of Bahir Dar University and taught in the STEM center at the university.

United States Collaboration

Her impressive accomplishments continue today. More recently, Dessie has teamed up with the “Girls Can Code” initiative—a U.S. Embassy implemented a project that focuses on encouraging girls to study STEM. According to Dessie, “Girls Can Code” will “empower and inspire young girls to increase their performance and pursue STEM education.”

In 2016, Dessie helped train 40 girls from public and governmental schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia how to code over the course of nine months. During those nine months, Dessie helped her students develop a number of programs and projects. One major project was a website where students can, according to Dessie, “practice the previous National examinations like SAT prep sites would do.” This allows students to take practice tests “anywhere, anytime.” In 2018, UNESCO expanded a similar project by the same name to include all 10 regions in Ghana, helping to make technology accessible to more Africans than ever before.

With the continuation of programs like “Girls Can Code” and the ambition of young coders everywhere, access to technology will give girls opportunities to participate in STEM, thereby closing the technology gender gap in developing countries. Increased STEM participation will only serve to aid struggling nations in becoming globally competitive by boosting their education systems and helping them become more connected to the world in the 21st century.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus
The silent killer, otherwise known as maternal and neonatal tetanus, is a life-threatening bacterial infection in newborns and their mothers that is associated with nonsterile delivery and cord-care practices. Although it is vaccine-preventable, when tetanus develops, mortality rates are extremely high. This is especially true when the appropriate medical care is not available, which is often the case in low-income counties. In 1999, there were 57 countries where tetanus posed a considerable risk for women giving birth. Today, that number has dropped significantly, but maternal and neonatal tetanus remains a public health threat in 13 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

Kenya has put in great effort to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus where it once was a common problem. The commitment the country made has drawn global attention and is inspiring other countries to do the same.

Kenya’s Initiative

As of 2018, Kenya has been removed from the list of countries that sees maternal and neonatal tetanus as a public health threat by attaining elimination status. Elimination is only attained when there is a reduction of neonatal tetanus incidences to below one case per 1,000 live births per year. Kenya’s progress towards achieving this important public health milestone began in 2001, proving that this process takes time. A pre-validation assessment took place in Kenya in September 201 by the Ministry of Health with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. A WHO-led validation process took place in 2018 to confirm the elimination of the disease.

Eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus takes a lot of planning, and Kenya has set a great example. In 2002, Kenya introduced a five-dose tetanus toxoid vaccination schedule and in 2003, the country began to implement immunization campaigns in high-risk areas. Kenya also focused on providing free maternity services to increase skilled birth attendants. Over time, they began including tetanus toxoid vaccines into the routine antenatal care packages. Today, Kenya is still working on strengthening health facilities and resources and plans to provide free medical care to children under five years of age.

The involvement of schools is another factor that helped Kenya eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Aliaphonse’s Katuit primary school is a prime example of the success seen from the campaign. Ann Talam, one of Katuit primary school’s teachers, explained in an interview with UNICEF that the campaign not only reaches members of the student body but also their sisters or relatives who may not attend school. Education ensures that all girls, even those from poverty-filled communities, are immunized.

Kenya’s Impact

Reducing deaths from neonatal tetanus is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the neonatal mortality rate. As of 2012, Kenya’s immunization coverage for newborns protected against tetanus reached 73 percent — and it continues to rise. WHO estimates a 94 percent reduction in neonatal deaths from 1988, when an estimated 787,000 newborn babies died of tetanus within their first month of life.

As Kenya eliminates maternal and neonatal tetanus, it has inspired the country to combat other diseases as well. They plan to identify the unreached and design an innovative approach to reach these populations with immunizations. On February 22, 2019, WHO representative, Dr. Rudi Eggers, addressed the recent measles outbreak in the country, attributing it to lapses in the routine immunization system since the previous measles and rubella outbreak in 2016.

“There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to come together and work to increase immunization coverage and address inequities,” Eggers said.

The Kenya campaign also aims to vaccinate nearly 14 million children between the ages of nine months and 14 years — nearly 40 percent of the population — for other common viruses.

Since Kenya’s elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus, more than 153 million women around the world have been immunized with two or more doses of vaccines fighting against tetanus. The Eliminate Project, funded by the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, plans to learn from Kenya’s success and use it to inspire other countries to follow their lead. In 2018, The Eliminate Project raised a total of $502.282.72 to save and protect mothers and their babies worldwide.

Along with planning and taking initiative, Kenya recommends planning outreach activities for remote places, promoting delivery in health facilities and strengthening knowledge of health workers on the immunization schedule. Kenya sets an example of how small changes can overcome the silent killer of maternal and neonatal tetanus.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

 

Victories Against FGM in Africa
Today, there are an estimated 200 million women and girls living with female genital mutilation, or FGM. FGM is widely practiced in 30 countries around the world.  At least 65 to 70 percent of FGM victims live in Africa.

According to the World Health Organization, FGM is a broad term including “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Traditionally, it is used to control female sexuality, but it often leaves a myriad of health and social problems for survivors. Despite the ingrained nature of this practice, in recent years there have been several victories against FGM in Africa.

Seven Victories Against FGM in Africa

  1. Liberian Abolishment: After years of political negotiation, the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf fulfilled her 2015 vow to abolish FGM. FGM affects more than 50 percent of Liberian girls and is used as a ritual in the Sande secret society’s coming-of-age ceremony.Many traditional organizations have threatened death toward activists who expose their rituals. Despite these challenges, Africa’s first female executive leader executed one of the largest victories against FGM in Africa.
  2. The Girl Generation: This NGO works to connect girls from across the continent to “end Female Genital Mutilation in this generation.” It has given over $1.6 million in grants to grassroots organizations in eight African countries from Nigeria to Mali. It focuses mainly on changing social attitudes about the practice in rural areas where it is common.Regarding the organization’s work, one woman said, “I am now a changed person. When I came here yesterday, I never thought anyone will convince me FGM is bad, but now I’m convinced, and will stand up for my younger sisters and cousins not to be subjected to the cut.”
  3. The American Doctor: Dr. Marci Bower, a San Francisco native, spent two weeks in Nairobi surgically repairing the scars left by FGM. Victims of FGM often experience complications in childbirth and infections in the cut area.In Kenya, about five million women are living with FGM, though the practicing rate of 27 percent is much lower than that of the countries in northern Africa. Dr. Bower operated on 44 local women and trained others to do the same when she returned to the United States.
  4. Kembatta Women Stand Together: One Ethiopian woman, Bogaletch Gebre, has worked for decades to eliminate FGM in her native country. After a traumatic cutting at the age of 12 and an education as a Fullbright scholar, Gebre founded Kembatti Mentti Gezzina or Kembatta Women Stand Together to fight FGM. Her organization has been lauded for reducing FGM rates in parts of Ethiopia from 100 percent to three percent through community outreach and information campaigns.
  5. Kenyan Girls App: Five teenage girls from the Luo ethnic group in Kenya invented an app to help their peers escape FGM. The girls were the only African team to compete in  2017’s Technovation contest, sponsored by Verizon, Google and the U.N.Their entry, called “I-cut,” includes options for users to seek medical treatment, report FGM in their local communities, donate to the cause, escape the ritual and learn more about FGM. One team member, Synthia Otieno, said their goal for the app was to “restore hope to hopeless girls.”
  6. Masaai Women: In the nomadic Masaai community, FGM is commonly practiced as an initiation ceremony. However, after witnessing her sister undergo FGM and an abusive child marriage, Nice Leng’ete decided to use her high school education to make a difference.After years of bargaining and dialogue, Leng’ete has saved over 15,000 girls from cutting, winning one of the largest victories against FGM in Africa. Leng’ete became the first woman to speak before the highest Masaai elder council, which formally abolished FGM for all 1.5 million Masaii people.
  7. African Men Against FGM: It is not only women who are achieving victories against FGM in Africa. Male activists, such as Kelechukwu Nwachukwu from Nigeria and Tony Mwebia from Kenya, are working to inform African men about the realities of FGM.Despite the prevalence of FGM in their communities because of the secretive nature of the practice, many African men are unaware of the pain FGM causes. Nwachukwu commented, “I’ve seen girls who have died [from FGM] but the parents don’t make the link. Many will tell that it’s just God’s will.” Despite the challenges, male activists have become an essential part of the movement to end FGM in a generation.

Female genital mutilation contributes to poverty in areas where it is practiced. Girls are cut at young ages to prepare them for child marriage, a practice linked to lower development. As the British NGO ActionAid put it, “Girls who marry young are more likely to be poor and stay poor.” Each victory against FGM in Africa is a victory against extreme poverty and the violation of women’s human rights.

– Lydia Cardwell
Photo: Flickr

facts about global povertyGlobal poverty has been a worldwide concern for the last 200 years. At the close of 2016, global facts about poverty showed that 815 million out of 7.6 billion people were suffering from hunger, equal to one in nine people. However, statistics reported at the conclusion of 2017 bring new hope for 2018. The fight against poverty is working, as these five positive facts about global poverty demonstrate.

Five Positive Facts About Global Poverty

  1. Facts about global poverty in China—previously a country with one of the largest populations in extreme poverty—reveal that it is set to lift more than 10 million people out of poverty in 2018. This positive news adds to the constructive changes that have happened over the past five years in China. By 2017’s end, the poverty rate dropped to 3.1 percent from 10.2 percent, encouraging China to continue its drive to help the poor. Millions will be relocated to better living establishments this year as well.
  2. Poverty in Ethiopia continues to decline. Once one of the most challenged nations regarding poverty, Ethiopia’s strong improvement in agriculture has brought about a decrease in the number of people living with hunger. In an end of the year report for 2017, it was reported that Ethiopia’s poverty rate dropped from 44 percent in 2000 to 23.5 percent. The trend is expected to continue, marking more positive facts about global poverty.
  3. Indonesia continues on a positive economic course. Its poverty level, both relative and absolute, remains on a steady decline. Indonesians suffered terribly during the Asian Financial Crisis, leaving millions suffering in poverty, at a rate of 19.9 percent in 1998. Some 20 years later, Indonesia continues to slash its poverty rate. The poverty rate has declined to the country’s lowest ever at 10.2 percent, and plans are in place to drop that number to less than 10 percent through social assistance measures.
  4. Pakistan’s poverty rate once reached 64 percent. According to the World Bank, that rate has declined to 29.5 percent, making it the second lowest in South Asia. While challenges to Pakistan’s economy still remain, as well as many social concerns, the government is hopeful the poverty rate will continue to drop.
  5. Myanmar reduced its poverty rate from 32.1 percent to 19.4 percent in just under ten years. A report from the Myanmar government and the World Bank notes that the decrease in people living in poverty has to do with the improvement of the overall standard of living. Agricultural and rural developments have made this possible, setting one more positive trend concerning facts about global poverty.

Positive changes are happening, but society must never forget that one person being hungry is already too many. Together, the world can continue to move the needle in the right direction: the end of global poverty.

– Naomi C. Kellogg

Photo: Flickr