female education In India
Around the world, school years often begin with back-to-school shopping. Students buy new notebooks and fresh pencils, but what about motor scooters? New scooters just might be on the shopping list in India. In Assam, a state in northeastern India, the government has started a new program to incentivize female education. This program provides scooters to school-age girls, promoting female education in India through safer transportation.

Female Education and Literacy in India

In recent years, rates of female education in India have increased. More than 10% of young women from 11-14 did not attend school in 2006. However, this number dropped to 4.1% by 2018. However, the dropout rate for women remains unusually high. Save the Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for children’s needs, found that around 70% of girls in India will drop out of school. Higher dropout rates among young women cause disproportionate literacy rates. Approximately 65% of Indian women are literate in contrast to 82% of men. The gap in literacy rates is even higher in rural areas than in urban areas. As of 2011, around 50% of females in rural areas are educated compared to 74.1% of men. In urban areas, 88.3% of men are literate in comparison to 76.9% of females.

The Culprit: Unsafe Transportation

A former sarpanch (elected head of a village government in India), Savita Parmar, told the Times of India that the reason for this distinction might be a lack of access to secondary schools in rural areas. In particular, a lack of safe transportation might caution parents against sending their daughters to study far away from home. One of the most significant barriers to education that women face is hassle-free transport to school. The Thomson Reuters Foundation conducted a poll to determine the worst countries for women to use public transport in 2014. India ranked quite high as the fourth most unsafe country.

Scooters to Keep Girls in School

Assam’s new policy aims to mitigate this problem and increase rates of female education in India. Education Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation that “this will help many girl students to have hassle-free transportation to their respective colleges.” For girls that score the highest on their final exams, the government will reward them with a brand new scooter. The top 22,000 female students that score 60% or higher will be rewarded sometime in mid-October 2020.

Everyone Benefits from Female Education

The lack of safe transport options for women in India highlights the importance of Assam’s new policy. By providing scooters, not only is the government incentivizing girls to stay in school and rewarding them for academic achievement, but it is also providing a way for girls to continue their secondary education. By fighting for female education in India, Assam is working towards creating a better society for girls and women in India. Better-educated women are able to make more informed choices and earn higher levels of income, and they are equipped with better family planning skills, all of which can elevate their respective households and communities. Higher literacy rates can also boost the economy. According to Bloomberg, higher rates of female literacy can “yield a growth premium in GDP.”

There are still barriers preventing universal female education in India. However, with innovative solutions like Assam’s, India has the potential to empower its young women and ensure their equal access to education. A new scooter today could mean better literacy rates tomorrow.

Anushka Somani
Photo: Flickr

SDG 11 in Luxembourg
Luxembourg is a small European country sandwiched between Belgium, France and Germany. Around 630,000 people live in the nation, which has a landmass smaller than the U.S. state of Rhode Island. As a member of the United Nations, Luxembourg is subject to an annual Sustainable Development Report. The report encompasses goals ranging from zero hunger to gender equality. Sustainable Cities and Communities is number 11 on the list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 11 is an attempt to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Rent overburden in Luxembourg contributes to the significant challenges the nation faces, but progress toward achieving SDG 11 is moderately improving. Here are four updates on SDG 11 in Luxembourg.

4 Updates on SDG 11 in Luxembourg

  1. Air Quality: Luxembourg’s annual mean concentration of particulate matter is fewer than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). This is a measurement of the level of air pollution that can afflict humans with “severe health damage” and respiratory issues. Luxembourg’s level of PM2.5 is declining at a much better rate than in previous years but is still a fair distance from the UN’s long-term goal. While Luxembourg has better air quality than Belgium, France and Germany, it is still behind other European nations like Ireland, Portugal, Spain and most of Scandinavia.
  2. Improved Water Source Access: Between 99-100% of the urban population of Luxembourg has access to improved drinking water in their homes. This is the standard for industrialized nations, although some E.U. members like Italy, Serbia and Ireland have lower SDG ratings than Luxembourg.
  3. Satisfaction with Public Transport: A remarkably high percentage of Luxembourgers have satisfaction with their local public transportation systems. The SDG goal is to have 82.6% of the population satisfied, and Luxembourg is extremely close with nearly 79% of the population reporting satisfaction. In Europe, only Switzerland eclipses Luxembourg in this category. As of March 1, 2020, Luxembourg offers entirely free public transportation across the country. The government can absorb costs related to free public transportation due to the exponential economic growth the country continues to enjoy (although COVID-19 may put a damper on this growth). No-cost public transport in Luxembourg is a major reason why its citizens have the seventh-highest level of satisfaction with public transportation in the world.
  4. Population with Rent Overburden: Significant challenges remain for alleviating rent overburden in Luxembourg. Almost 17% of the population lives “in households where the total housing costs represent more than 40% of disposable income.” The UN goal is 4.6% of the population. Luxembourg is not close to achieving this SDG and unfortunately, the percentage is rising. The Luxembourg Times attributes this to high demand for housing coupled with a low supply. The newspaper also cites “the astronomical price of land.” Another prominent newspaper laments that “buying a home is out of the question for many [Luxembourgers]” and says young people often must live abroad or with their parents if they want to avoid ridiculously high rent prices. Some residents even resort to scouring legal code in the hopes of finding obscure laws that will reduce their rent. Rent overburden in Luxembourg is the most significant challenge to creating sustainable cities and communities.

Looking Forward

While rent overburden in Luxembourg is a significant roadblock for achieving SDG 11 in Luxembourg, free public transportation is a critical building block for sustainable cities and communities. Workers commuting to Luxembourg from abroad (it is just a 30-minute drive from Luxembourg City to Germany, France or Belgium) contribute to air pollution, but air quality is improving, albeit slowly. One can partially link this to more Luxembourgers opting for public transportation as opposed to their personal vehicles.

NGOs like the Luxembourg Anti-Poverty Network are working to reduce rent overburden, although a more concerted effort in conjunction with the government is necessary. Though challenges remain for Luxembourg to develop sustainable cities and communities, steps like providing country-wide free public transportation are positive signs that Luxembourgers have committed themselves to the achievement of SDG 11.

– Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

road infrastructure in ugandaUganda is a country in East Africa made up of around 43 million people. There are three transport systems in Uganda: airways, railways and roadways. Most roads in Uganda are in a poor condition. As a result, this inadequate road infrastructure leads to dangerous conditions and poses a safety threat to its users. Here are three effects of inadequate road infrastructure in Uganda.

3 Effects of Inadequate Road Infrastructure in Uganda

  1. Inadequate roads lead to more deaths. Unpaved roads are dangerous because cars can fall into potholes or get hit by debris. In 2016, 20 accidents happened on the Mbale-Nkokonjeru road in Uganda because of dangerous conditions. Moreover, one in 10 deaths in Uganda occurred because of road accidents in 2018. Uganda accordingly ranks first in road fatalities in East Africa. Additionally, road accidents in Uganda increased by 74% from 2006 to 2016. The Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) has been in charge of most road renovations in Uganda. In Mbale Municipality, the UNRA has attempted to get private companies to place tarmac on the roads. However, the companies have abandoned the projects. The residents of Mbale Municipality continue to be outraged by terrible road infrastructure in Uganda and have protested several times about the unfinished roads.
  2. Poor road infrastructure in Uganda reduces tourism. Tourists rely on roads to go to different villages and experience Uganda, a land-locked country. Unpaved roads create problems for travelers trying to get to different locations. For example, the Queen Elizabeth National Park Road usually takes more than two hours to travel 72 kilometers, but it can take more than four hours if the weather conditions change because it is not a finished road. If mudslides or severe weather conditions occur, the roads are unnavigable. However, tourism accounted for $1.6 billion or 7.7% of Uganda’s GDP in 2019. In addition, the tourism sector created 667,600 jobs for Ugandan residents in 2019. Despite the government’s attempts to increase tourism, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has not focused on road construction.
  3. Farmers rely on roads to transport agricultural products. The agricultural sector is one of the largest industries in Uganda, making up 70% of available jobs. The Ministry of Works and Transport estimated that 95% of cargo is moved through roads, while only 16% of roads are finished in Uganda. The inadequate road infrastructure in Uganda elevates the cost of transportation. Additionally, gasoline prices in Uganda stand at about $1 a liter, but most farmers make only $7 a day. Hazardous road conditions may require farmers to use more gasoline, thus raising the price of transportation. Along with this, users may need to repair their vehicles more often because of unpaved roads being unsuitable for the two rainy seasons in Uganda. Farmers unable to travel to sell produce lack a steady income.

The Ugandan Government’s Solution

The U.N. recommended that the Ugandan government implement a Decade of Action to target road safety from 2011 to 2020. In order to succeed, Uganda had to follow certain guidelines set by the U.N. They included working with local governments to create a better infrastructure and educating the public on road safety. So far, the Ugandan government has completed only 40% of the plan, but it is an ongoing process.

The U.N.’s main criticism of Uganda’s policies is that there is no method of implementing road safety. The UNRA does not have sufficient jurisdiction to engineer roads in the best way to deal with heavy traffic, steep cliffs and mudslides. However, the UNRA continues to work on road projects to improve infrastructure in Uganda. For example, the China Communications Construction Company finished the Mubende – Kakumiro – Kagadi road with asphalt in January 2020.

Road infrastructure in Uganda still needs tremendous improvement. By continuing to create contracts with private countries and enforcing road safety laws, the Ugandan government can work toward bettering inadequate road infrastructure. In doing so, Uganda would advance toward reaching the U.N.’s Decade of Action guidelines.

Sarah Litchney
Photo: Flickr

transportation in impoverished areas
Transportation plays a major role in the development of a region. A lack of transportation impacts a large population of the global poor, from those in rural regions looking for urban jobs to students who need to commute to school. There is great potential for transportation in impoverished areas to stimulate growth and increase opportunities for underserved communities. Here are five facts about transportation in impoverished areas.

5 Facts About Transportation in Impoverished Areas

  1. Access to Transportation: Though a seemingly simple topic, transportation is quite complex for many people across the globe. There are many potential obstacles to accessing transportation. For example, public transport remains unaffordable to many poor people. Relatively high fares make public transportation unattainable for the bottom 20% of the income pyramid.
  2. Increased Job Opportunities: In developing regions, a large portion of economically disadvantaged people live in rural areas. Transport conditions are frequently difficult and draining for these rural poor. A study found that transportation services in rural sub-Saharan Africa actually helped reduce poverty and encourage growth. Improved transportation generally increases access to opportunity for the poor, potentially leading to increased income and ownership of assets. Eventually, these improvements support sustained economic growth for individuals, spurring generational change.
  3. Access to Education: Many students in impoverished areas find that commuting to and from school takes a toll on their physical and mental capacity to learn. In many cases, students drop out of primary school because they have to walk long distances to reach school. In fact, in the absence of paved roads, only 21% of rural girls and 58% of rural boys attend school. On the other hand, if a paved road exists, school enrollment rates increase to 48% for girls and 76% for boys.
  4. Food Security: Access to food and the risk of hunger remain major threats to the global poor. Although rural economies in developing countries are predominantly agrarian, approximately 45% of land area in low-income countries is located more than five hours away from the main market. Without proper infrastructure, farmers cannot sell their produce to a larger market. For instance, poor road links were shown to raise transport costs of bananas in Kenya by 14%. Better transportation systems improve the efficiency of food distribution by connecting regions, while also lowering vehicle damage.
  5. Gender Disparities: There is an obvious gap between the number of men and women in poverty. Despite increasing their participating in the labor force, women end up with lower salaries, often working in the informal sector. Unequal access to transportation perpetuates this trend. In Pakistan, where 75% of women engaged in non-agriculture jobs in the informal economy, a lack of access to public services adversely impacted women’s economic security. Due to fear of violent street crime and abuse, a disproportionate share of women’s commutes in cities are walking trips.

Transportation is a necessary investment to fight global poverty and lift living conditions for those abroad. Governments must work hard to improve access to transportation in impoverished areas. However, foreign aid stands to elevate local governments’ abilities to meet citizens’ basic needs.

Elizabeth Qiao
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Modes of Transport
What if one could raise their heart rate by walking to the grocery store or to see friends and cycling to university or work? Benefits may include becoming fitter and not spending as much time inside or using a car, as well as reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing the number of cars by using sustainable modes of transport, including walking, cycling and public transport, could also help the poor leave a life of poverty behind. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has helped cities take action to incorporate sustainable modes of transport into their urban environments.

Social Sustainability

Many people may know of environmental sustainability, but social sustainability may be less familiar. As part of the Beyond 2015 briefs, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) presented insight concerning the post-Millennium Development Goal (MDG) development agenda. The institute put forth that “[to] be socially sustainable, development must deliver material well-being, including good health, education, and access to goods and services necessary for decent living…”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emerged in 2015. They build on the MDGs and are a manifestation of a universal agenda for people, planet and prosperity, numbering 17 goals and 169 targets. SDG 1 is “[to] end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Meanwhile, SDG 11 is “[to make] cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Cities

Cities play a large role in economic growth. Urbanization has been increasing; over half the world’s population lives in urban areas. The connection of people to the jobs, activities and services that are in or near cities is of significant importance. This connection can occur by means of transport. A U.N. 2014 literature review (Poverty and sustainable transport: How transport affects poor people with policy implications for poverty reduction) stated that in that same year, there were around 900 million passenger cars and light-duty vehicles and that by 2035, that number will more than double.

Higher vehicle numbers and lower urban density (think suburbs) have at least contributed to congestion and pollution, and have impacted the provision of public transport, all to the detriment of the poor. In developing countries, whether or not the three consequences exist, lack of sidewalks and cycle lanes make dangerous walking and cycling, both of which may be more affordable for and help the poor.

Cities of the Future and the Poor

City design is often more friendly to vehicles than to people, especially the poor. Cities have not always provided the poor’s interests with proper care, including sometimes resettling them due to a mobility project. Additionally, public transport fares are frequently too costly and there is sometimes a declining provision of public transport and/or aspects that hinder access to basic facilities. According to a SLOCAT (the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport) 2016 literature review, “the urban poor are more likely to experience too many of the transport costs and too few of the transport benefits.”

Connecting social sustainability, cities of the future and the poor is the recent trend of cities around the world increasing space for pedestrians and cyclists. The U.N. review from 2014 presents that walking and cycling are an important part of urban transport, with 50% of the urban population doing the former and the poor doing so for at least 80% of their trips. If cities were to invest more in walking and cycling infrastructure and encourage both the non-poor and poor to do them, congestion, the loss of time due to congestion, pollution and poverty levels could decrease.

Countries could also deal with the geographical and social exclusion of the poor by giving public transport greater investment. In Medellín, Colombia, one may be able to say that the MetroCable cable cars have helped reduce criminal activity and cut down on time loss and costs. It began to operate in 2004. “By 2011, 3 lines of the system had transported more than 47 million people, which represent a total saving for the people of approximately 22.5 million euros.” This is an example of public transport that has been affordable to poor persons.

The implementation of transit-oriented development (TOD) in cities could encourage mainly the non-poor to walk, cycle and use public transport, possibly transforming the private vehicle-centric urban landscape into one that is more human-friendly and pro-poor. And while TOD concentrates jobs and housing around transport facilities, increasing property prices and gentrification, governments could intervene to ensure that there is affordable housing.

SLOCAT works to include sustainable transport in policy analysis and global discussions, which may help to address the two SDG aspects of inclusivity and endeavoring to reach the furthest behind first. The previously mentioned 2016 literature review, which was part of a SLOCAT initiative, points out accessibility (made up of mobility and proximity) as key in the transport-poverty nexus. If both non-poor and poor were to use sustainable modes of transport, and if goods and services were closer to them, poor persons would benefit.

Cities of the Future and the Pandemic

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, London, England implemented a congestion charge. The results have included fewer victims of road accidents and a rise in the use of bikes. During times of the pandemic, cities have taken advantage of the fewer number of cars on their streets. For example, Medellín, Colombia is working to nearly double its existing bike lanes within three years. Additionally, Kampala, Uganda is building walkways and bike lanes. If the consequences of these actions do not already do so, officials should act to ensure the poor make use of them.

Considering that the pandemic could destroy livelihoods of around half of the global workforce or around 1.6 billion people and that several of those workers could be both poor and unable afford to work from home, the connection between a more socially sustainable urban transport landscape and the prevention of the destruction of both livelihoods and national economies may be appropriate.

Sustainable mobility could enable savings totaling $70 trillion by the middle of this century. Investing in walking, cycling and/or public transport infrastructure at least possibly should allow for greater efficiency of movement in cities, allow the poor to travel more safely and, together with a reduction in private vehicle use, decrease the amount of time that people waste due to traffic. This should also help the poor reach basic facilities regarding health or education more efficiently. In an age where there are people conscious about their health and global poverty, a person can help the poor and stay fit by using sustainable modes of transport.

– Kylar Cade
Photo: Flickr

healthcare centers in MadagascarSince the coup in 2009, Madagascar’s newly elected government has been working with outside organizations, such as Project HOPE, to improve healthcare centers in Madagascar. In 2020, the country partnered with the Ministry of Public Health and the United Nations Population Fund to provide free transportation for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare Centers in Madagascar

USAID reported that more than 60% of Madagascar’s population — 27.7 million people — lives more than five kilometers from a healthcare center. This distance takes about one hour to walk. According to the World Bank, the cost of treatment and transportation to healthcare centers can be a barrier for people in poverty to access healthcare. The World Bank reported that about 75% of Madagascar’s population lives below the international poverty line, on less than $1.90 per day. This directly impacts the ability of people to access and pay for treatment at healthcare centers. UN Women statistics show that 75.9% of employed women in Madagascar are below the international poverty line, compared to 73.7% of men.

Released in 2017, a Project HOPE study examined the effects of removing fees at health centers in Madagascar. According to the study, citizens located within five kilometers became more likely to seek treatment. They account for 15-35% of those who reported illness. Fee exemptions for certain medicines and treatments likewise increased the use of healthcare services for maternity consultations by 25%.

Impacts of Limited Transportation

In a report from June 2018, the World Bank wrote that many rural citizens of Madagascar are disconnected from main roads, which limits their access to healthcare centers. Madagascar has a low road density. This means the country’s complete network of roads is small compared to the country’s total land area. As a result, 25% of healthcare centers in Madagascar are located more than five kilometers from the road network.

According to the World Bank report, poor road conditions in rural areas also impact network connectivity. Transportation of medical supplies can be unreliable, specifically during rainy seasons, when roads can be flooded and hard to cross. This makes it difficult for health centers to consistently send supplies to those who cannot access the centers.

Lack of access to transportation can also contribute to keeping people in poverty. The World Bank and the Department for International Development wrote that isolation due to difficulty accessing roads and transportation can limit the ability of people in poverty to participate in local markets. This decreases their economic opportunity.

The Effects of COVID-19

With 908 confirmed cases and six total deaths from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Madagascar as warning level three for the pandemic. The country is in partial lockdown. On April 5, President Andry Nirina Rajoelina announced that only vehicles transporting goods were allowed to circulate in the three regions impacted by COVID-19 — Matsiatra, Ambonym Analamanga and Atsinanana. All other public transport was suspended. For some, without public transport, the nearest health center is two hours away.

Solutions

The United Nations Population Fund reported that 44% of women in Madagascar give birth with the help of healthcare professionals. Madagascar’s maternal death rate is 353 for every 100,000 births. According to UNFPA, this rate is high compared to the global average of 216 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births.

The Ministry of Public Health and the UN Population Fund partnered to help pregnant women access healthcare centers in Madagascar. These organizations are providing free, 24-hour transportation for women living in the cities of Antananarivo and Toamasina during COVID-19. By the end of Madagascar’s partial lockdown, this free transportation is projected to help around 5,000 pregnant women.

Poverty impacts peoples’ ability to access healthcare centers in Madagascar due to restricted transportation and high fees. Statistics show this lack of accessibility impacts women slightly more than men. With even fewer transportation options during COVID-19, free transportation for pregnant women is making a positive impact on healthcare accessibility.

Melody Kazel 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in EgyptNearly one-third of Egyptians fall below the poverty line, with the unemployment rate trending higher than extremely impoverished countries such as Ghana, Lebanon and Zimbabwe. In 2011, lasting poverty rates and poor living conditions caused Egyptian retaliation against the government. Political instability has complicated Egypt’s foreign partnerships since that time, subsequently affecting all areas of the economy; as a result, foreign investment in the country’s resources has had notable fluctuations. The inconsistency in Egypt’s economy leaves few employment opportunities, especially among younger generations, inevitably affecting rates of poverty in Egypt.

Travel in Egypt

Typically, travelers visiting Egypt receive encouragement to exercise increased caution, per the U.S. Global Health Advisory. The country ranks two out of four on the U.S. Department of State’s safety scale; this rating indicates that the U.S. Department of State has approved travel there although tourists should recognize the possible risks. This system is not solely unique to the United States – many countries have similar regulations. However, due to the global impact of COVID-19, regular travel ratings are momentarily on hold.

Factors responsible for Egypt’s pre-pandemic, level-two status include levels of terrorism and lingering tensions with the U.S. Embassy. This score is an improvement from a travel rating of four in 2011. Egypt received this high rating during a violent national rebellion that broke out against police brutality, the poor economy and religious divides. When a country has a level-four rating, the U.S. Department of State tells Americans not to travel there.

Tourism’s Impact on Egypt’s Economy

In February 2019, research expert Amna Puri-Mirza provided a statistical analysis that demonstrated that a decline in tourism impacted the Egyptian economy. From 2010 to 2011, national profits from the tourist industry dropped 32 percent in reaction to the Egyptian rebellion. In 2015, news of a Russian airline crash that was traveling to Cairo decreased tourism from 14.7 million to 5.4 million people in 2016.

The connection between tourism and poverty in Egypt correlates with the market value of different services and goods that the country produces; profits from tourism hold a large percentage of the country’s overall income. In 2018, tourism supported 2.5 million jobs, indicating heavy reliance on the industry. When situations adversely impact tourism around the globe, this substantially impacts the economy, and in turn, poverty in Egypt.

Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Egypt

Working to ease economic stress, the Egyptian government succeeded in obtaining a loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016. While there might be uncertainties for the future of the loan, it is certainly aiding the nation in the return of tourists. Research on Egypt’s travel and tourism show promising signs of continued recovery, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. In 2019, Egypt’s tourism level improved by 16.5 percent from the previous year, which is higher than the global average. Such an incredible growth rate is a promising sign for the rates of poverty in Egypt.

Foreign Relations with the U.S.

Despite past tensions, the partnership between the U.S. and Egypt has greatly improved. The established relationship could substantially impact the state of poverty in Egypt. The Trump Administration announced a priority of aid for Egypt; specifically, it intends to provide economic reforms and military funds to combat radical terrorism in Egypt. “Our relationship has never been stronger. And we’re working with Egypt on many different fronts,” said President Trump. Upon continuing a solid relationship with the U.S., the Egyptian government could utilize the support in developing a sustainable economy post-loan.

Other Initiatives

Egyptian President El-Sisiis and his officials are also working on economic reform needed to reduce poverty in Egypt. Like many nations, the sudden 2020 Coronavirus outbreak presents additional obstacles in accomplishing this goal. Experts expect that Egypt’s tourism industry will lose more than 40,000 workers to unemployment as a result.

Now, more families will be at risk of falling into poverty, causing a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19. On March 20, 2020, The World Bank Group donated $7.9 million to fund Egypt’s emergency response. The nonprofit is working with Egypt to create financial, technological and health strategies to protect citizens. Ideally, the country should be able to avoid the anticipated increase in poverty in Egypt through this aid. Assisting the Egyptian economy has become an international effort. Not only is does The World Bank intend for the aid to provide the government with resources, but it also intends to disperse it among Egypt’s citizens, especially those experiencing poverty in Egypt.

Tourism is a key source of income for the country but has recently halted. Additionally, tense international relations and a poor global image have further damaged the already struggling economy. Fortunately, new global partnerships with Egypt have aided in encouraging tourism in Egypt. While the 2020 pandemic puts this travel on hold, the response of increasing aid will support the economy and prevent further poverty in Egypt. If aid continues, Egypt will receive a great opportunity to sustain its economy and people.

GraceElise Van Valkenburg
Photo: Pixabay

Transport Infrastructure in Myanmar
One way Myanmar is accelerating economic development, and therefore reducing poverty, is through investing in transport infrastructure. A major side effect of economic development is poverty reduction. Development often results in job growth, higher productivity and improved education. Myanmar, as well as other developing countries, noticed massive poverty reduction that followed economic growth. However, economic growth is not the only solution to reducing poverty. Despite the southeast Asian country reducing poverty from 48.2 percent in 2005 to 24.8 percent in 2017, poverty still affects one in four people. Myanmar is currently updating and adding roads in rural areas. Additionally, Myanmar is constructing bridges, highways and railways to increase transport between Thailand, an important trade partner.

Benefits of Investing in Transport Infrastructure

Based on the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 2016 Myanmar Transport Policy Note, the country needs about $60 billion in transport investments between 2016 and 2030 for transport infrastructure in Myanmar to be completely developed. Myanmar has approximately 20 million people who lack basic road access. Further, 60 percent of highways are in poor condition. The ADB also stated that Myanmar’s GDP could potentially increase to 13 percent or about $40 billion if transport infrastructure investments increased to 3 to 4 percent of the GDP. For reference, Myanmar spent about 1 to 1.5 percent of its GDP on transport infrastructure between 2005 and 2015.

Policy for Transport Infrastructure

As part of Myanmar’s Sustainable Development Policy 2018-30, transport infrastructure development is a prioritized area. The third goal in the report relates to creating jobs and boosting the economy with the help of the private sector. The National Strategy for Rural Roads and Access 2016, Myanmar National Transport Master Plan 2016 and National Export Strategy 2015-2019 are three plans focused on upgrading or constructing transport infrastructure in rural and urban areas. Investing in transport infrastructure in Myanmar could improve trade between Thailand and other countries, as upgraded ports, railways, roads and bridges will open up the country for trade.

Bridges and Roads

The second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge is a bridge over the Moei River in east Myanmar that opened in 2019. The $126 million bridge connects the city of Myawaddy in Myanmar with Mae Sot in Thailand. Myanmar expects the bridge will significantly improve business between the two trade partners.

Two bridge projects in the capital Yangon are also underway. The Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge will connect the capital with Thanlyin, a major port city that handles most of the export and import shipments into and out of Myanmar. Estimates determine that construction on the $278 million bridge should end by 2021. Another bridge connecting Yangon with Dala in the southwest costs $188 million. Construction for this bridge should end by 2022. Dala is an underdeveloped and rural area that lacks bridges across the Yangon River; therefore, this forces inhabitants to take a ferry to cross the river. The bridge will not only help locals reduce travel time but also increase trade throughout Yangon.

Railways

Investments also include the construction of railways, after Myanmar noticed that the number of vehicles on roadways doubled from 2012 to 2016. Traffic within Yangon has become two to three times slower within the same time period. Yangon has a population of more than seven million, so reducing traffic congestion is an important issue. This also explains the push for bridge construction within the capital. The result of this observation led to the creation of the National Transport Master Plan in 2014. One part of the plan involves upgrading the $3 billion Yangon-Mandalay rail line. Work began in 2018, and it should be completed by 2023. Travel times between Yangon and Mandalay will likely reduce from 12 hours to eight hours.

Progress

Evidence of further progress in transport infrastructure in Myanmar is clear through the paved highway network, which increased by 35 percent. The country is developing at around 6 to 7 percent; however, according to the ADB, further investment in transport infrastructure is necessary to completely develop the transport sector. Job growth and improved trade are two major results of transport infrastructure investment. As the bridges and railways come to completion in the coming years, transportation within and outside Myanmar could greatly improve.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Boat of KnowledgeEach rainy season, the children of the barangay (small village) Darul-Akram in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi have a decision to make. For half the year, the path to school is blocked by a rushing, crocodile-infested river. To reach the school, children would have to cross the 60- to 100-meter wide river on rickety boats, risking their lives. Because of the perilous journey to reach school, many parents would force their children to stay home. The result of that decision is high dropout rates and a large population of children who never completed basic education. Regretfully, that was the norm. Each rainy season, parents would keep their children at home. However, everything changed with Vincent Durie’s “Boat of Knowledge.”

Creation, Concept and Impact of the “Boat of Knowledge”

Durie is a fellow of the Bangsamoro Young Leaders Program-Leadership Communities (BYLP-LeadCom). After discussing the safety concerns with both parents and teachers, he developed the “Boat of Knowledge” project. Along with his fellow leader, Tau-Spartan, he secured a grant. With the grant, he purchased a two-engine boat to ferry students to school.

The “Boat of Knowledge” project is two-pronged in its approach. The 30-person boat ferries both middle schools and high school students. It even makes as many as three trips back and forth to make sure that everyone gets to school. Meanwhile, along with ensuring that each student receives an education, the boat provides work for fishermen in the off-season, helping to stimulate the economy of this small village.

Today, 99 percent of students in Darul-Akram are logging regular school hours.

Education in the Philippines

Although the nation has a substantial economy, the education program within the Philippines is heavily underfunded. Education is often hindered by shortages in textbooks and buildings. As a result, only 78 percent of students complete the basic level of education. In fact, fewer complete any secondary level of education. In addition, absenteeism is a major problem. Without any serious structure for evaluating attendance, millions of children do not go to school. Currently, 2.8 million Filipino children are not in school.

The Ayala Foundation: Providing the Spark

Durie’s project is part of the Ayala Foundation, a nonprofit based in the Philippines that seeks to connect the growing business market with communities across the country. Its goal is to create creative, self-reliant and self-sustaining communities all across the Phillippines. To do so, the Ayala Foundation helps to build bridges that connect different sectors of the market, acting as a catalyst for cooperation.

The Ayala Foundation created the initiative BYLP-LeadCom. The initiative seeks to use the energy of Filipino youth to create positive change in communities. One change, for example, is supporting Durie with his “Boat of Knowledge.” Today, BYLP-LeadCom operates in five different provinces across the Philippines.

Certainly, Durie’s “Boat of Knowledge” is simple. However, by providing children an opportunity to gain an education during the rainy season, Durie and the Tau-Spartans have opened a world of possibilities for the children of Darul-Akram.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Flickr

 

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

Five Ways Transportation Impacts Global Poverty

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

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

Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr