Causes of Poverty in BurundiThe African nation of Burundi has had its share of troubles. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with subsistence farmers making up 90 percent of the population. Despite its agricultural nature, Burundi is also one of the most population-dense nations in Africa. These reasons, along with years of civil war and hunger, are to blame for Burundi’s poverty.

The Burundian Civil War, fought along ethnic lines from 1993 until its formal conclusion in 2005, is one of the main reasons for Burundi’s poverty. From 1994 to 2006, poverty increased from 48 to 67 percent.

Another reason for the poverty in Burundi is rising food prices coupled with high population growth. Due to this, 53 percent of Burundian children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnourishment.

Natural disasters such as drought threaten Burundi’s critical agricultural sector, as well as the erosion and over-cultivation caused by poor farming techniques. Furthermore, because of the subsistence nature of much of the farming in Burundi, farmers often live on a small income, which also means they have little capital to invest in improved farming techniques or equipment, such as fertilizer.

While there are many reasons for the poverty in Burundi, there have also been a number of proposed remedies. The government has established Vision 2025 in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme and the African Future Institute and is seeking to reduce poverty to 33 percent by that year. The plan focuses on everything from sustainable land use to better governance and social cohesion. The government has also expanded various child protection measures and, in 2005, made primary education free. In addition, UNICEF has passed out nets laced with insecticide in an effort to fight malaria in Burundi and has helped the country expand its school infrastructure, including building 387 classrooms.

There is no doubt that many of the reasons for Burundi’s poverty are grave. However, the nation’s government seems to be aware that it has its work cut out for itself, and is taking the appropriate steps to rectify the situation on all fronts.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Moldova

If ever there were a time capsule left in the world, it would be Moldova. Pictures of Moldovans in traditional clothes, locals driving horse-drawn carriages and a country dedicated to agriculture and the production of wine are among the first photos that come up in an image search. Though online photographs of Moldova are charming, poverty in Moldova has been a definitive characteristic of the nation since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. What was once a wealthy state became the poorest country in Europe after Soviet liberation.

The Statistics
According to The World Bank, Moldova has experienced economic growth and a significant poverty reduction since the start of the millennium.

Poverty in Moldova has dropped from 30 percent in 2006 to 9.6 percent in 2015. The percentage of those living on less than $1.90 a day has dropped from 39.1 percent in 1999 to zero. At its peak, the poverty rate for those living on $5 a day was at 90.4 percent in the year 2000. It has since dropped to 16.3 percent.

Remittance and pensions are responsible for lifting 51.6 percent of families out of poverty, and pensions are sustaining the aging population.

These two factors are acknowledged as the main drivers of economic growth. In fact, the Republic of Moldova is one of the few European countries that recognizes remittances as a main influencer of the economy, accounting for 26 percent of gross domestic product in 2014.

Challenges Halting Further Progress
Unfortunately, exporting labor leads to the issue of weak labor markets. Labor and demand are some of the challenges that plague Moldova and inhibit its economic progress, keeping poverty a constant.

Dependence on remittance weakens the industrial market and keeps the Moldovan economy in a cycle that increases the trade deficit and proves remittance to be untenable.

Despite an increase in those attaining higher education, younger generations are having a difficult time finding specialized occupations that are not farm-based. Post-secondary education is not a guarantee of a better job, as the business industry is not creating long-lasting positions and many firms do not typically subsist themselves.

Moving Forward
Improving the industrial state of affairs in the nation will continue to decrease poverty in Moldova.

Alex Kremer, the Country Manager for Moldova, told the World Bank that “urbanization, connectivity and off-farm jobs are the best escape routes from poverty”.

The United Nations Development Programme has innovative business development in place for local sustainable economic growth. This project is designed to facilitative innovative business development for new and existing businesses to generate internal economic development and growth in the job market.

So far, the program has already granted 83 private sector companies innovation awards and produced a campaign focused on the employability of Moldovan youth.

The initiative is scheduled to end in 2017, but with movements like this, the future of poverty in Moldova will surely improve.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

UNDP Supports Universal Immunization Program in IndiaWith high risks of communicable diseases like bacterial diarrhea, malaria, hepatitis A and E and typhoid, there’s a rising necessity for a proper immunization program in India. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the Indian government and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to design and put into effect an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN). This project, known as Improving Efficiency of Vaccination Systems in Multiple States, has already run since 2014 and is to run until 2021 to strengthen the evidence base for policy-making related to vaccine delivery, procurement and planning, and ensure equity in availability.

As the world’s largest immunization program, eVIN technology has already shown results in enabling real time information on cold chain temperatures and vaccine stocks and flows in all 371 implementing districts in India. It has managed to achieve over a 98 percent reporting rate from vaccine storage areas, with over 2 million transactions logged each month, and developed the skills of over 17,000 government staff in store keeping, data operating or cold chain handling in over 550 batches of training programs.

The eVIN is setup on a mobile application that easily allows cold chain handlers to log stock positions at the end of each routine immunization day, which is then relayed immediately onto a web interface for assessment by health officials. In India, this can come to play an important role as geography and communications can pose an issue, like in the small hill-state of Manipur, where vaccine vials are carried over extensive distances to session sites by auxiliary nurses and midwives. Instances of stock-outs have decreased by more than six times here, and eVIN has enabled staff to learn how to use a smartphone and other technology, improving quality of work and management in the process.

This immunization program in India has also significantly empowered women health workers, giving them the opportunity to work with technology after attending regional and district eVIN training sessions. This allows them to manage stocks and temperatures themselves, bridges the digital divide in rural parts of India and ensures transparency alongside accuracy. Over 50 percent of cold chain handlers are women, and many are from older age groups.

EVin has taken India out of the unproductive days of delayed decision making, shortages and expirations, and has created an efficient health system that allows for valuable state-wide geographic, stock-out or excess stock and temperature overviews on each district’s centers. It also allows for large savings by reducing vaccine wastage and allowing for timely and quality injections, as in Rewa, where around $70,000 was saved after six months of eVIN activation.

Though led by the UNDP and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India, the Universal Immunization Program is largely supported by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance established in 2000. With support from GAVI and the Indian government, the Universal Immunization Program in India has immunized at least 65 percent of India‘s children and expects to immunize 27 million more each oncoming year.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Social Good Summit 2017Against the backdrop of a bustling New York City, several celebrities, social media influencers and representatives came together to discuss sustainability, technology and the future of the world. On September 16, 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 92Y and Mashable hosted the sixth annual Social Good Summit. The theme of the event #2030NOW evoked the question: what kind of changes await the world in 2030?

The 2030 theme serves as a benchmark for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) first agreed upon in 2015. All 193 member states of the U.N. signed on to work towards goals such as eradicating poverty, encouraging sustainable economic growth and taking action against climate change. The Social Good Summit 2017 takes a look at the ways the world can make these achievements.

Attending the summit were some influential and familiar faces including actress Whoopi Goldberg, activist Deray McKesson and U.N. Youth Observer Munira Khalif.

Positive Change via Technology

A hot-button topic at the Social Good Summit 2017 was technology and the changing face of connection around the world. Many speakers specifically mentioned the role of technology in fostering movements around the world. Founder of Care2, Randy Paynter, led a talk concerning social good technology. Care2 is a platform that allows its users to sign petitions of causes they support.

Randy demonstrated how the platform he helped create makes strides in the fight against global poverty. With Amazon Alexa’s new social good skill, he showcased the Care2’s donation capabilities and ended up donating to the U.N. Foundation. Throughout his presentation, he stressed how easy it has become to play a part in the movement to help the 800 million people living in extreme poverty.

Pushing for Equality

Another important issue at the summit revolved around SDG #5: gender equality. Speakers discussed everything from health to religion. SafeCity developer Elsa Marie D’Silva and director Ilwad Elman spoke about the importance of creating spaces for women at risk of violence. Within the context of the shocking statistics surrounding rape and sexual harassment around the world, the women detailed their ways of trying to end gender-based violence.

Elsa Marie D’Silva developed a nonprofit and an application that maps sexual violence and harassment in India. Ilwad Elman created one of the first rape-crisis centers in Somalia, which has now turned into a human rights center. Both women emphasized how important it is to create a dialogue around sexual violence and harassment in different countries. Elsa Marie D’Silva stated that normalizing the topic will help create change from the bottom. At the same time, Ilwad Elman made the point that even audience members could do their part and spread the messages through advocacy.

Help for Humanity

Another notable segment of the Social Good Summit 2017 featured Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa, members of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the “White Helmets.” The White Helmets are a group of civilians on the ground in Syria, who risk their lives to help rescue victims of attacks in the country. The men stated that the war in Syria took lives regardless of people’s political affiliation, so they choose to save lives regardless of their political affiliation.

Mounir Mustafa made the point that because of the way the war captured the country, saving citizens is necessary, not optional. Khaled Khatib, only 22 years old, felt that he needed to be involved in the work in order to document the things they see. Both the men stressed that hope is important for victims in this war and any war around the world. This segment showcased both the importance of the Syrian conflict to the world and the resilience and persistence of the people in the middle of it.

The Social Good Summit 2017 created a space for people from all walks of life and careers to come together and speak on how they would like to see the world in 2030. It helped take another step in the direction of creating a collaborative, open-source conversation about sustainable development.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr


September 23 marked the 50 year anniversary of the formation of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN was created in 1967 by the leaders of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines in order to promote cooperation in economic, social, technical and educational growth. While ASEAN has expanded to include more than just these five Southeast Asian states, the coalition has been very successful in its efforts to reduce poverty.

According to Adam Steiner, the United Nations Development Programme administrator, the combined poverty rate of ASEAN countries dropped from 47% in 1970 to 14% in 2015. This was well beyond the ASEAN Millennium Development Goals for 2015, and the 2030 goal is now to completely eradicate poverty from ASEAN nations.

One thing that is noteworthy about the way ASEAN countries are working to reach the Sustainable Development Goals is the unprecedented participation from the citizens of these nations. The governments of these countries are working very hard to involve the people in the processes of poverty reduction, mainly with the launch of the ASEAN My World survey by the U.N. Member States. The My World Survey asked for the opinions of over 10 million individuals worldwide regarding their hopes for the future. There were a quarter of a million participants from the ASEAN region, and the survey results were used to shape the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The My World survey asked subjects to choose which goals were most important to them, with the options ranging from “freedom from discrimination and persecution” to “a good education.” The data was also split up by demographics such as gender, age, level of education and HDI. The data is quite comprehensive and will allow for more impactful policymaking.

The development of ASEAN countries is already becoming much more inclusive of citizens, and this is a great step towards more sustainable governance and development in any nation. The survey was launched in 2015, and the results have already been used to create the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the Agenda for 2030, which shows the dedication of ASEAN nations to a more people-centered future. Additionally, the My World survey is the largest survey the United Nations has attempted in over 70 years, showing a potentially significant shift in the future of global governance.

While the eradication of poverty, among the other 2030 goals, is very ambitious to attempt in 15 years, ASEAN, as well as the U.N. Member States, has shown a commitment to achieving the goals that citizens consider important. The ASEAN My World survey has presented a new attitude towards access and participation in government and policy in the Southeast Asian region.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Maldives Poverty RateMaldives is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. While the country was a life expectancy of 77 years and a literacy rate of 98.4 percent, the Maldives poverty rate still allows room for growth.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reported that by 2016, only two percent of the nation’s citizens lived under the international poverty line. Similarly, Asian Development Bank reported 2015 that 15 percent of people in Maldives lived under the national poverty line.

Though this seems a bit higher, other South Asian countries show even greater numbers for the same statistic. For example, India’s is almost 22 percent, Nepal’s is over 25 percent. Bangladesh ranks higher than all of them, coming up at over 31 percent.Bhutan and Sri Lanka fall below Maldives—at 12 and 6.7 percent, respectively.

When looking at the death of infants in Maldives, 2015 data indicated that seven out of 1,000 babies die in live births. This country ranks the lowest when put side-by-side with Sri Lanka (8), Bhutan (27), Nepal (29), Bangladesh (31) and India (38).

When looking at 2012 data on the percentage of “employed population below $1.90 purchasing power parity a day,” Maldives settles in at 6.6 percent. This means that it still ranks below Bangladesh (over 73 percent), India (almost 18 percent) and Nepal (over 12 percent).

Similar to the statistic regarding the national poverty line, only Bhutan and Sri Lanka fall below Maldives in the list of six nations—both resting at slightly over four percent.

The Maldives tout an unemployment rate slightly below 12 percent, a GDP per capita at about $11,282 and tourist activities accounting for a quarter of its GDP.

However, it is important to note that a variety of issues still impact the nation.

The UNDP points out a lack of opportunities for female autonomy, a need for greater answerability within governing bodies and the dangers of environmental degradation.

Rural Poverty Portal also touches on problems the nation struggles with. It indicates that much of the country’s poverty exists on islands where fishing and farming predominate. Focusing on the less urbanized areas, it highlights that insufficient supply of natural resources, low credit and poor farming techniques all contribute.

Still, in relation to many of its counterparts, the Maldives poverty rate suggests much promise for the South Asian country. Although the nation must make improvements in a variety of aspects beyond those listed, its current status reflects its well-being.

Maleeha Syed

Photo: Flickr

Stability in IraqAs fighting continues in cities like Mosul, which formerly served as a strong base for the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), there is a growing need to rebuild newly liberated areas and infrastructure for stability in Iraq. In an effort to address this, recent pledges were declared by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for an additional $150 million in funds to go to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This brings the total U.S. contribution to stability in Iraq to $265.3 million.

The UNDP manages to work with the Iraqi government, with backing from the prime minister and members of the Coalition to Degrade and Defeat ISIS, to assist retaken areas with the creation and subsidy of the Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS). The FFS provides essential services like water and electricity, plus temporary employment opportunities and support for small businesses to help spur economic growth in the region.

Its approach is calculated, with teams dispatched into cities within days of them being approved as safe to consider damages and plans of action together with local authorities. They work to quickly repair water systems, electricity grids and other public infrastructure, employ youth in work brigades to remove rubble and clear transport routes, support businesses with cash grants and restore education, health and municipal centers.

The FFS grew to work in 28 areas cleared by the Stabilization Committee, with more than 1,100 projects in Nineveh, Anbar, Salah al-Din, Diyala, Kirkuk and Mosul, Iraq — the largest project yet. In Mosul, close to 300 schemes are being executed to fix central water treatment plants, electrical substations, schools and health facilities.

The program was initially capitalized at $7 million from the USAID and is now supported by around 23 donors and $420 million in funding. The United States was joined by the United Kingdom government, which contributed an additional $5.2 million to the Funding Facility for Stabilization, bringing the total U.K. contribution toward stability in Iraq to $15 million.

With the funding of the FFS, two million or so displaced Iraqis were returned home and cities are once again flourishing as hubs of development since the conflict started in 2014.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Women in South Sudan
Women in South Sudan are facing alarming human rights abuses. The ongoing conflict has claimed many lives and displaced about two million people. Women have suffered disproportionately, being subjected to horrific gender-based violence. Despite the grim realities women in South Sudan face, humanitarian organizations such as the UNDP and IMO, along with the U.S. government, are working to empower women in South Sudan.

With an estimated 475,000 women and girls at risk of harm and more than half of young women aged 15-24 years having already experienced some form of gender-based violence, it is crucial that humanitarian organizations intervene. Women and girls face many different cases of abuse, ranging from beatings and rape to forced marriage and labor. The trauma the survivors are left with affects both their mental and physical health, with many becoming HIV positive after their endurance of sexual violence.

To combat the effects of these cruelties, the UNDP and IMO are working to help women heal through counseling and support groups where they can safely discuss their experiences and feelings. Working in displacement camps, these programs have moved many women from isolation and depression to a place of hope and healing. The work does not stop there.

The goal of these support programs goes beyond healing and into the idea of empowerment, challenging traditional cultural beliefs surrounding the role of women in South Sudan. These programs work to empower women by educating them on their rights and enabling them to take on leadership roles. One way these groups are able to do this is through dramas and musical events put on by the community. These performances highlight the importance of women as peace-builders and show how they can stand up against gender-based violence.

From these programs women in South Sudan have emerged as active community leaders, promoting peace and providing role models for incoming refugees. Many of the leading counselors in these programs are women who once faced abuse and isolated themselves, demonstrating the growth that can come from support.

In the U.S., Representative Sheila Lee is working to protect the future of these women by sponsoring the Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan Act (H.R. 48). This act, which has just been introduced to the House of Representatives, supports refugee relief that encourages women’s rights. It also focuses on the complete inclusion of women in post-conflict reconstruction and development, planning a future based on empowering women in South Sudan.

With 13 cosponsors, the potential of this act is promising. However, the work of humanitarian organizations remains essential to the recovery and success of these women. While the UNDP and IMO are working to empower women in South Sudan now, this act preparing for a future in which these women can thrive.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Google

The world’s current growth in population, wealth and technology may be seen as exceptional progress, but it has been accompanied by growing inequality. In order to combat these inequalities, a variety of assistance programs has been developed. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is one of the leading organizations fighting these disparities, through equipping individuals with the tools needed to create a sustainable and safe life. Here are 10 facts about the UNDP.

10 Facts About the UNDP

  1. Working on the ground in more than 170 countries, the UNDP’s principal goal is eradicating global poverty while protecting the planet and establishing sustainability.
  2. For more than 50 years, the UNDP has been fighting poverty. When it began its mission, more than half of the world lived in extreme poverty. Now, that number has decreased to about 13 percent.
  3. For the past two years, the UNDP has been recognized as the most transparent aid organization in the world, according to the Aid Transparency Index. This acknowledges the UNDP’s dedication to publishing data and including detailed lists of where its funds are allocated. This ensures to donors and volunteers that the UNDP is not only a helpful program but a trustworthy one too.
  4. The UNDP develops solutions in three main areas- democratic governance and peace-building, sustainable development and climate and disaster resilience. By focusing its efforts on these three fundamental objectives, the UNDP takes a multidimensional approach to eliminate poverty at the source.
  5. The first solution — the sustainable development objective — aims not just at aiding the impoverished but ensuring that they will have the tools necessary to be successful. From the sustainable development projects, the UNDP has led to the creation of 1.35 million new jobs in 94 countries, 42 percent of which have been for women.
  6. The next UNDP solution — implementing effective democratic governance and peace preservation — is focused on allocating legal and governmental resources to the most vulnerable. Through these projects, the UNDP has successfully increased participation in democratic systems by registering 68 million new voters in 37 different countries.
  7. Just as important as a vote is one’s access to judicial services. The UNDP has helped more than 2.1 million people in 35 countries gain access to legal aid services, 51 percent being women. This feat is a victory for both gender equity as well as legal justice.
  8. Within the climate and disaster resilience building resolve, the UNDP has worked to decrease risks of natural disasters as well as advance the fight against climate change. So far, 1,035 new disaster reduction and adaptation plans have been put in place in 51 countries, and 2.5 million people have better access to energy in 46 countries.
  9. The UNDP implemented the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were established in 2000 by the U.N. as a 15-year effort to end global poverty. Successes of the MGDs include lifting one billion people out of poverty, cutting the child mortality rate and out-of-school children rate in half and decreasing HIV/AIDS infections by almost 40 percent.
  10. In 2016, the Millennium Development Goals were replaced by a new 15-year plan: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs outline the 2030 Agenda and act as 17 universal objectives to eradicate global poverty. These goals build on the progress of the MDG’s, but also include new objectives ranging from Zero Hunger to Affordable and Clean Energy.

Although these 10 facts about the UNDP feature an array of successes, the UNDP makes it very clear that its work on global poverty and sustainability is not nearly finished. These 10 facts about the UNDP prove its devotion to the well-being of the world.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased by one billion, and the under-five death rate has been cut in half. Despite these great strides toward ending global poverty, a recent U.N. report by Selim Jahan cites current politics and rising nationalism as “antithetical to human development.”

Exclusion, isolation and intolerance are extremely dangerous globally and domestically. In the United States, citizens have had a small taste of this nationalism, with the proposed refugee ban, the proposed cut of 28.7% to USAID and the literal wall proposed on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S. Representative and Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee Ed Royce said in response to the proposed foreign aid cuts: “I am very concerned by reports of deep cuts that could damage efforts to combat terrorism, save lives and create opportunities for American workers.”.

The Annual Human Development index report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) credits the successes in decreasing poverty worldwide to “global actions” and “collaboration.”

Foreign aid should not be a partisan issue nor a byproduct of intolerant politics and nationalism, as has been the unfortunate case in recent years. President Ronald Reagan was a powerful advocate for foreign assistance programs and is quoted as saying that, “Our national interests are inextricably tied to the security and development of our friends and allies.”

If prosperous nations lose sight of the goal, they could leave millions of people behind worldwide and the results from the last 20 years of humanitarian work could be lost. There remain 800 million people in the world living on less than $1.25 per day. Helping these people will require continued dedication.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr