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

Projects Increasing Access to Bicycles to Help People and the Environment
Bicycles were invented more than 200 years ago as a form of transportation to avoid reliance on horses; throughout that long history, bikes have experienced varying levels of global popularity. In Amsterdam today, the pedestrian vehicles outnumber people and the benefits of access to bicycles are numerous for both people and the environment.  

Access to Bicycles

Bicycling is both a sustainable and efficient method of transportation. Bikes are easier on existing infrastructure than motor vehicles and can be faster than driving in traffic-heavy cities. They are also emissions-free, which can help decrease pollution levels in cities, leading to reduced harms on the environment and human health. Further, bikes can help reduce poverty as they are less expensive than cars both to purchase and maintain, and serve to increase their owners’ mobility, ability to transport goods and overall physical health.

Increasing access to bicycles is an important step in helping reduce poverty in urban areas. Below are three projects working to do just that, based in the cities that they help.

Portal Bikes — Kathmandu, Nepal

Portal Bikes located in Kathmandu, Nepal, focuses on building three main types of bikes to help make daily life easier. The organization’s first bike is the Portal Power Take Off (PTO) and allows the bicycle to be used for both transportation and as a power machine.

These bicycles can be useful for increasing the efficiency of tasks such as pumping water or shelling corn, without losing their transport ability. The second two styles of bikes have different “long-tail” models that accommodate different weights of goods and people. The longer style can carry more people and material across the city, but both styles are large enough to hold an entire family on a single bike.

Bike Sharing — Bhopal, India

In June 2017, India’s first bike sharing program was launched in the city of Bhopal. This system, based on successful bike sharing programs in European and American cities, has around 500 available bicycles. People can rent bikes from 50 locations across the city after registering and paying for the use of the bicycle on an app.

Reasonable pricing and app registration increases access to bicycles to individuals who would otherwise be unable to pay with a credit card or afford the program; over 25,000 users registered within five months of the program’s launch. The project implementation was overseen by the government of India’s Smart City Mission, a group that hopes to expand bike sharing to 30 more cities across India.

Zambikes — Lusaka, Zambia

Zambikes creates custom bicycles from Zambia’s abundant bamboo plants. The bamboo is grown locally and is lightweight and durable, making the bicycles a popular alternative to traditional metal frames. The company employs about 40 Zambians to sell these bamboo bicycles globally.

Additionally, Zambikes make bicycles and cargo trailers that provide transportation solutions to underprivileged individuals in the nation, enabling citizens to more easily meet the needs of their daily lives. Zambikes also produces bicycle ambulances that allow faster transportation of patients to hospitals.

These bicycles are helpful in both rural areas where there are no roads, and congested urban areas where there’s a need for bypassing traffic.

Overall, further increases in access to bicycles across more regions will help make cities more sustainable. The environment, people and even the economy benefits from the increased mobility and decreased emissions of bicycling as a method of transportation.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

donated bicyclesBicycles are essential to communities in developing countries. A bicycle provides an advanced mobility that allows for heavier loads, faster trips, less wear and tear on the body and, happily, the chance for recreation. A person’s day will include more accomplishments in less time.

Bicycles mean productivity. And donated bicycles mean opportunity.

Getting the Donated Bicycles

Entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations alike have become forces in mobilizing citizens with donated bicycles. Mike’s Bikes, a California-based bike shop, partners with other area businesses and organizes bike drives to fill shipping containers full of used bicycles and spare parts. Like Mike’s Bikes, Bicycles for Humanity ships bikes and parts in containers, and both organizations outfit the containers so they can become bike shops for the village in which they land. Bicycles for Humanity even refers to their containers as Bicycle Empowerment Centers.

World Bicycle Relief produces new bicycles, known as Buffalo Bikes, through monetary donations. They are built specifically for the rugged conditions of the particular region, with puncture-proof tires and a heftier frame for carrying more cargo. Bicycles Change Lives also produces new bicycles, naming its program Qhubeka, a Nguni word that means, “to progress,” or, “to move forward.”

Creating Jobs

Bikes for the World also ships donated bicycles and parts in large containers. The organization focuses on Africa, Central America and the South Pacific, and works with partners like the Village Bicycle Project in Ghana and Sierra Leone and the Madagascar Community-Based Integrated Health Project (MAHEFA) in Madagascar.

In El Salvador, the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) has built up an impressive bike shop, and an equally impressive program for training at-risk youth to work in it through the reconditioning, repair and maintenance of bikes. CESTA runs EcoBici, the training program aimed at helping young people build skills and stay out of gangs.

Donated bicycles are so vital that, as the youths learn to eventually manage their own shops, they find themselves at the center of their community with positive engagement and interaction. For people of all ages, the village bike shop has become an integral component in developing countries as a productive hub for societal and industrial activity.

Healthcare Workers and Their Patients

Remarkably, bicycle transportation improves health in rural areas, and not just for the rider. Amid the health crises in regions of Africa, trained healthcare workers and volunteers do all they can to visit patients in their homes and in hospitals, but are often traveling on foot.

In Zambia, one community volunteer, Royce, works to help citizens of her village by testing their HIV/AIDS status and educating them on prevention and treatment. Before she received her bike, she would walk seven kilometers each day to visit three patients. Now, thanks to World Bicycle Relief, she travels on two wheels and visits 18 patients, including vulnerable children, in a single day. “I’m always happy when I ride my bike,” says Royce. “People in my community recognize me.  They say, ‘There goes our caregiver on her bike.’”

Elsewhere in Zambia, three healthcare volunteers, Gertrude, Robert and Francis, who work to prevent and treat malaria in their region, enjoy a similar experience when they are recognized on their bright orange Buffalo bikes, painted so for the 1500 health workers in the area.  “When they see the bikes,” says Robert, “they know we have come to fight malaria.”

Statistics at World Bicycle Relief show that the over 138,000 Buffalo Bike-mobilized healthcare workers can reach 45 percent more patients and travel four times further than was possible on foot.

Education and Empowering Girls

The greatest challenge for most children wanting to attend school in developing countries is simply getting there. World Bicycle Relief statistics point out that the attendance of a student with a bicycle increases up to 28 percent, while their academic performance increases up to a dramatic 59 percent. And for girls, completing their education means they are six times less likely to become child brides.

For one 15-year-old girl, Ethel, a two-hour trek to school across rough terrain is now a 45-minute bike ride. Being on time helped her become a confident and exemplary student. Ethel even began using her bicycle to transport fellow classmates to school.

Education is key for the progressing dimensions of developing nations, including breaking the cycle of poverty. From 2009 to 2016, over 126,000 students have received Buffalo Bikes through World Bicycle Relief.

The advantage of mobilization by donated bicycles for workers, healthcare volunteers and students is tremendous. It also reaches farmers and small business operators who can travel greater distances with more wares to sell. It reaches citizens like businessman Ernest in Ghana, who gets his work done earlier in the day and can now coach a local youth soccer team in the time he’s saved. It reaches 14-year-old Koketso, who says there is now a cycling club at her school and that she’d like to take cycling up as a sport.

“With my bicycle,” Koketso says, “I can visit a lot of places that I have never seen before.”

– Jaymie Greenway

Photo: Flickr

 

Donate to Fight Poverty

 

Traffic Accidents Disrupt Cambodia's Millennium Development GoalsThe main cause of death in Cambodia is traffic accidents. While there are expected damages to the car and its surroundings, the effects of the accidents extend much further than the intersection where it occurred. As a result of the traffic issues, Cambodia is suffering from the destruction of lives and property and from reduced development efforts. Specifically, traffic accidents disrupt Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals efforts, the first of which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The challenges to national development arise directly, and indirectly, from the costs associated with each traffic accident. According to a 2013 study, traffic accidents cost the government about $337 million. That is equivalent to nearly three percent of Cambodia’s GDP. The costs stem from the destruction of the roads and cars, medical expenses, court service fees and non-productivity. The Minister of Health, Dr. Nuth Sokkom, reported that upwards of 50 percent of hospital patients are there because of traffic accidents. Costs accumulate when injuries are severe, as some riders need a year’s worth of treatment or are permanently disabled. When these cases arise, the financial burden shifts to the government to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Specifically for low-income families, the effect of a traffic accident is even more costly. A family can spend years trying to pay off the debt incurred. Even for the survivors, victims and their families are often forced to sell land and livestock in order to make ends meet. Further, since a majority of victims are young men who are the head of their household, the children of the victims’ families are impacted on an educational level. To help with work at home, many children drop out of school. Research shows that the dropout rate has increased to 30 percent among victims’ families.

Ear Chariya, director of Cambodia’s Institute for Road Safety, has made statements regarding the number of accidents and attributes the problem to a couple of different sources. First, traffic signs and lights are already in place, so driver caution needs to increase. Second, the government simply is not doing much to enforce traffic laws and hold abusers accountable.

The good news is that in 2016, Cambodia experienced a significant drop in the number of traffic accidents. Not only did the number of accidents decrease by about 12 percent, but the number of deaths and injuries decreased as well. With more active law enforcement to implement the rules of the road, Cambodia saw a positive turn away from traffic-related incidents. With new traffic laws in place, the government is focused on spreading awareness about the laws with the intent to continue increasing driver accountability. Given the success in the first year’s implementation, how long traffic accidents disrupt Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals is surely limited. As the costs of the accidents are removed, both the government and the people of Cambodia can reallocate the resources toward ending the pervasive hunger and poverty throughout the nation.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Bullet TrainIndia’s first-ever high-speed rail (HSR) network, the bullet train project, has been approved by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will be laying the foundation stone for the first track between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

The train will reach top speeds between 320 and 350 kilometers per hour, making the 508-kilometer route between Ahmedabad and Mumbai five hours shorter than the usual seven-hour trip. The bullet train’s first route will contain 12 stations, four being in Maharashtra and eight in Gujarat, with about 92 percent running on an elevated track.

The bullet train will start underground with a station at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, which will then run 27 kilometers through a tunnel in the sea until it pulls into the over ground station in Thane.

India has received about 85 percent of its funding for the bullet train project from Japan, according to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu. In return, the Japanese E5 Series Shinkansen train will serve as the bullet train in India.

Prabhu and his ministry have drawn extensive maps for high-speed corridors on various routes between Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Mysuru and Bengaluru. These trains will also have the potential to reach a maximum of 350 kilometers per hour. Other routes – including Chennai-Hyderabad and Chennai-Mysuru – will have trains traveling at around 160 to 250 kilometers per hour.

Although the bullet train project has been undergoing feasibility testing since 2009, the project is just now in the soil-testing stage. The foundation stone is expected to be laid by both Indian and Japanese Prime Ministers in September of this year. Construction will follow in early 2018, and the launch of the first section’s operations is scheduled for 2023.

Once the track is completed, the bullet train will have the capacity to seat 731 passengers – 698 standard class and 55 business class. In addition, the train has an extended long nose to prevent damaging tunnel boom – the loud noise made when the train exits a tunnel at high speeds – which is due to uneven air pressure.

With luxury leather seating, adjustable reading lamps and foldable dining tables, the trains were designed with passenger comfort in mind. Additionally, the trains are fully accessible and equipped to serve any passengers with disabilities.

In the next six years, the bullet train system will make India a lot more manageable to get around for locals, business professionals and other travelers. The Indian government is also hopeful that the bullet train will lead to more opportunities to form deeper ties with Japan and eventually China, too.

Kassidy Tarala
Photo: Flickr


In early February, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a plan to apply the use of solar power to the 7,000 railway stations located across the country. The plan will be implemented as a part of the country’s federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Solar power in India is now the main focus of industry and infrastructure in the country.

India’s Desire for Solar Growth

During his speech regarding the budget, Jaitley informed the public that 300 stations across the country had begun to use solar energy. Indian Railways, the state-run organization that operates India’s trains, has been working for several years to set up a successful solar energy program. In 2016, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) partnered with Indian Railways to generate five gigawatts of solar power capacity into the system. To put this into perspective, global solar installations are expected to reach close to 70 gigawatts in 2017.

Now, with the joint commitment of the government, Indian Railways will be able to cohesively move forward in its mission to normalize solar power in India. By the end of 2017, India hopes to harbor at least nine gigawatts of solar energy. The plan to implement solar panels and production into rail stations is part of a larger goal to increase solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022.

Plans for Funding Solar Energy Expansion

The Union Railway Master in Indian, Suresh Prabhu, has also publicly discussed the intentions of the proposal. The union government is funding research that looks into producing solar power in India from waste materials. In doing so, the cost of electricity and other expenditures will be reduced, leaving extra funding for expanding infrastructure and railway facilities.

In order to finance the technology it will take to harness solar energy for the railways, India has collected close to $8 billion in coal taxes. Approximately $1.8 billion of the funds will go into solar energy for Indian Railways. The money from this tax is focused on producing cleaner energy, forest conservation and sanitation efforts. Solar power in India is just one facet of the nation’s larger campaign to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The nation has also produced the first airport in the world that runs solely on solar power. As Indian corporations and its government work together in the fight to create a greener world, solar power remains at the forefront of their mission.

Solar power holds endless untapped potential. The sun produces approximately 170,000 terawatts of energy per day. This is about 2,850 times the energy currently required by the Earth’s population.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr