UN Report on Global Unemployment
Global unemployment plays a key role in global poverty. After all, the logic goes that employment leads to prosperity, even if little by little. Development economists proclaim the efficacy of providing jobs, however low paying, as the means to the end of escaping poverty, regardless of location. There is some evidence for this. According to the Brookings Institute, increasing work rates impacted poverty most, with education being second. With that said, a recent U.N. report on global unemployment clouds the future of international job growth since, for the first time in nearly a decade, the global unemployment rate has risen.

Previous Global Unemployment Rise

In 2008 and 2009, the Great Recession hamstrung the United States economy in the worst way since the Great Depression nearly 70 years prior. Unemployment soared, reaching 13.2 percent nationally and 5.6 percent globally. Between 2008 and 2009, the last time the U.N. reported on global unemployment rate increases, it increased by nearly a full percentage point, according to the World Bank. The stock market crash in the United States and Europe clearly caused this, but thankfully the rate recovered and surpassed the 2009 point in 2019, returning to about 4.9 percent.

Reasons for the Present Situation

A U.N. report on global unemployment in January 2020 indicated that this rise in the global unemployment rate was due largely to trade tensions. The United Nations said that these conflicts could seriously inhibit international efforts to address concerns of poverty in developing countries and shift focus away from efforts to decarbonize the global economy. Due to these strains, the report claims that 473 million people lack adequate job opportunities to accommodate their needs. Of those, some 190 million people are out of work, a rise of more than 2.5 million from last year. In addition, approximately 165 million people found employment, but in an insufficient amount of hours to garner wages to support themselves. These numbers pale in comparison to the 5.7 billion working-age people across the world but they concern economists nonetheless.

To compound the issue, the International Labor Organization said that vulnerable employment is on the rise as well, as people that do have jobs may find themselves out of one in the near future. A 2018 report estimated that nearly 1.4 billion workers lived in the world in 2017, and expected that 35 million more would join them by 2019.

The Implications

A rise in global unemployment, like that which the U.N. report on global unemployment forecasts, assuredly has an impact on global poverty. More people out of work necessarily means more people struggling to make ends meet. The World Economic and Social Outlook places this trend in a bigger context. Labor underutilization, meaning people working fewer hours than they would like or finding it difficult to access paid work, combined with deficits in work and persisting inequalities in labor markets means an overall stagnating global economy, according to the report.

Hope for the Future

First of all, stagnation is not a decline, and a trend of one year to the next does not necessarily indicate a predestined change for the years ahead. In fact, the World Bank points toward statistics that it issued at the end of the year to support the claim that every year, poverty reduces. In 2019, nearly 800 million people overcame extreme poverty from a sample of only 15 countries: Tanzania, Tajikistan, Chad, Republic of Congo, Kyrgyz Republic, China, India, Moldova, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Namibia. Over a 15-year period, roughly from 2000 to 2015, these 15 countries showed the greatest improvements in global poverty, contributing greatly to the reduction of the global rate of people living on $1.90 a day or less to below 10 percent. Additionally, efforts by organizations such as the International Development Association have funded the needs of the 76 poorest countries to the tune of $82 billion, promoting continued economic growth and assisting in making them more resilient to climate shocks and natural disasters.

While the U.N. report on global unemployment forecasts a hindrance to these improvements, hope is far from lost. The fight against global poverty continues with plenty of evidence of success and optimism for the future.

– Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Angola
Angola, the seventh-largest country in Africa, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Since 2013, its economy has been booming and both international and domestic investments have been on the rise. Although Angola’s economy has the potential to become an economic powerhouse in Africa, the international community has become concerned with the poverty rates and overall income inequality in Angola. Despite Angola’s rapidly growing economy, it has a 26 percent unemployment rate and 36 percent of the Angolan population lives below the poverty line. The living conditions in Angola are indicative of an economy that is not yet diversified and a country with extreme income inequality. Here are 10 facts about the living conditions in Angola.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Angola

  1. Low Life Expectancy and Causes: Angola has a very low life expectancy. The life expectancy in Angola is one of the lowest in the world, and Angola has the 12th highest number of infant mortalities every year. The leading causes of death revealed that the low life expectancy is a result of preventable causes like diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, neonatal disorders and influenza.
  2. Literacy: A third of all Angolans are illiterate. Although primary education is compulsory in Angola, 33.97 percent of Angolans are illiterate and literacy rates have been on a steady decline since 2001. Very few individuals go on to college, leaving their economy stagnated with a brain drain and a lack of available employees for white-collar jobs that require a deep understanding of their field.
  3. Clean Water Availability: Angola has a lack of clean water resources. Forty-four percent of Angolans do not have access to clean water, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency. The Public Water Company in the capital of Angola, Luanda, reports that although the daily need for water is well over a million cubic meters of clean water per day, the public water company EPAL can only supply 540,000 cubic meters of clean water per day. This leaves many without clean water. Even if EPAL were to have the capacity to supply all residents with clean water, it does not have the infrastructure to do so.
  4. Access to Electricity: Few Angolans have access to electricity. In rural areas, only 6 percent of Angolans have access to electricity. In urban areas, 34 percent of Angolans have electricity, leaving 3.4 million homes without power.
  5. Income Inequality: There is a severe gap between wealth in urban and rural areas. Income inequality in Angola is one of the highest in the world at 28.9 percent. Poverty is highest in rural areas where 94 percent of the population qualifies as poor. This is contrasted by the fact that only 29.9 percent of the urban population qualifies as poor.
  6. Public School Enrollment: There is low enrollment in public schools and UNESCO reports that enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2009. The low enrollment rate may be because many schools and roads suffered during Angola’s civil war and because many schools are located in inconvenient and rural locations with poor sanitation and untrained teachers.
  7. Unemployment: Unemployment is very high in Angola. Angolan unemployment has increased by 1.7 percent since 2018, growing to 30.7 percent. The youth unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 56.1 percent.
  8. Oil-based Economy: The economy is not very diversified. Angola is an oil-rich country and as such, more than one-third of the Angolan economy comes from oil and over 90 percent of Angolan exports are oil. Because the oil sector has been public for so long, the economy was prone to contractions and inflations along with global fluctuation in oil prices. This has left the stability of the Angolan economy at the mercy of oil prices, which have been rapidly fluctuating, destabilizing the economy.
  9. Food Insecurity: Many Angolans suffer from severe food insecurity. In fact, 2.3 million Angolan citizens are food insecure, and over 1 million of those individuals are children under 5 years old. Because of government redistribution of land, many farmers have lost their best grazing land and their arable land for crops, leading to a lack of meat and produce.
  10. Unpaid Debts: Unpaid debts threaten to dampen economic growth. After a long economic slump, the Angolan economy has further suffered due to unpaid loans. Twenty-seven percent of total Angolan credits are loans that are defaulted or close to being defaulted, and 16 percent of the largest bank in Angola, BIA, are not being reimbursed.

Although Angola has a multiplicity of problems related to poverty to solve, the country is not beyond help. Angola’s new President has secured loans from China, garnered aid from the International Monetary Fund and promised to allow local businesses to partner with international customers and trade partners to increase macroeconomic growth. As Angola diversifies its economy in 2020, the President of Angola states that economic growth and stability is on the horizon. Angola’s economy is receiving aid from a number of nations, including China, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, which will no doubt prove to be a successful investment.

Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

Programs Aiding Women in Vietnam

Too many Vietnamese women find themselves locked into a life of abuse and poverty, with no skills or access to education to become gainfully employed. One example lies in the story of Sung Thi Sy. Sy resides in the Sa Phin village in the Dong Van District of Vietnam. According to the Asia News Network, her family lived in severe poverty for much of her life and she constantly lived in fear of her husband who would regularly abuse her. She considered running away, but she was worried about providing for her two young children. However, thanks to the support of a locally-funded program, Sy and her children are now thriving. There are many other programs aiding women in Vietnam including the following.

3 Programs Aiding Women in Vietnam

  1. Education and Training: One of the most well-known organizations that work to solve this problem is the Vietnamese Women’s Union (VWU). Founded in 1930, the VWU originally found roles for women during the liberation of Vietnam from French colonialism. After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the VWU focused on helping women rebuild their lives by pulling them out of poverty and introducing them to the workforce. Today, the VWU has more than 19 million members that constantly work towards gender equality for Vietnamese women. The VWU offers loans to help poor Vietnamese women afford a higher education and training programs to provide the skills needed to find higher-paying careers.
  2. Agriculture: Women in the Dong Van district of Vietnam face a high risk of human trafficking and domestic violence and an unpredictable climate with barren land which makes farming a challenge. One of the programs aiding women in Vietnam with these struggles is the Lanh Trang (White Flax) Agricultural and Forestry Services Cooperative. Launched in 2017, the program works to provide vocational skills for disadvantaged women and invests in the necessary equipment to grow and harvest flax for the women in the Dong Van area. Since its inception, the Lanh Trang Cooperative has created stable jobs for 95 women, including Sung Thi Sy, all of whom live on a budget of around $170 to $260 per month.
  3. Entrepreneurship: The United Nations Development Programme launched an initiative dubbed the Economic Empowerment of Ethnic Minority Women via Application of 14.0 to aid women in Vietnam through entrepreneurship. This initiative creates an online platform in which Vietnamese women can learn modern financial solutions, take online courses on creating a business, obtain new technology for production and many more services.

Today, Sung Thi Sy has a job in the production of flaxseed products and brings home a consistent paycheck to feed her children and preserve the roof above their heads. Women like Sy are living proof that with enough funding, programs like these can promote tangible improvements in the fight against poverty and inequality in Vietnam.

– Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

South Africa's Unemployment
South Africa’s unemployment rate is witnessing some of its worst times since 2008. Formal jobs are seeing a major downturn and many families within the country are suffering from larger amounts of poverty as a result. Despite these trying times, there are those who are trying to create opportunities in the face of hardship and help those trying to stand on their own feet through jobs and special education. One example is the fashion designer company OneOfEach and how it is not only creating jobs but showing a blueprint on how to fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

Economic Ups and Downs

South Africa’s economy is actually doing quite well in comparison to many of its neighbors. It has the second largest GDP in all of Africa, as well as having a large working force that has helped the country create the second-largest economy on the continent. Despite these breakthroughs, South Africa is currently undergoing one of its worst unemployment rates since 2008. This has lead to many people questioning how one of the largest economies in Africa can have such a large unemployment rate. The answer is simply lack of jobs and wage inequality.

South Africa has extremely wealthy business owners that own large conglomerates and industries including many labor workers. The problem with this is that the number of people working in labor was and still is far outpacing the number of people creating small businesses and new jobs as a result. South Africa is suffering from a crippling problem that causes a small business to not receive the support it needs to be an accessible venture for those not willing to work in the labor force. Limited job creation stifles job growth as a result.

Strength of Small Business

This is where the company OneOfEach comes in. This is a company that fully displays the culture of South Africa through the designs of clothing and handbags. What started in 2013 as a small business between Pauline Chirume and her daughter, Tamburai Chirume, has evolved into a chain that has 17 stores across the globe. This company stands out not only because of how successful it has been as a small business, but how much it contributes back to the populace. This company has taken it upon itself to make sure others profit from their success to help fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

The Borgen Project interviewed the founder’s daughter to gain more insight into the organization’s operations. Pauline handles the creative side of the business while Tamburai handles the business end of things. Tamburai seeks to heavily involve female youth within the company as she wants to grant them an opportunity which is rare in South Africa. Tamburai mentioned that there are fewer opportunities for women to work in South Africa, which makes it especially difficult for single mothers. Tamburai seeks to employ women and single mothers so that they receive a stable income and job security. These women are also able to gain knowledge that can help them in the future and furthers the cause of fighting unemployment.

OneOfEach has several workshops where it teaches young girls how to manufacture items. These girls are all under the age of 35 and most of them come from poverty-stricken areas, including women’s shelters. The girls that receive training learn how to create items and the basics of the creative process. This is a great boon since most of the girls have never had any experience in retail or fashion design and thus earn a great amount of work experience. Despite all of this, what Tamburai considers one of the greatest accomplishments in her business is the fact that she can give health care to her employees, which is difficult for a small business in South Africa to grant. Tamburai feels that granting health care to her employees is a big step towards them gaining a decent lifestyle. She essentially wants to help these young ladies stand on their own two feet so that eventually they may gain enough education and experience to start small businesses of their own.

Helping the Jobless

Tamburai also notes how she feels that more opportunities like her business need to come into fruition to make a difference in South Africa. She notes that there are 6.7 million unemployed people in the country and she wants to do her part to make sure they have a chance. Tamburai also goes as far as to direct those under her wing to the American Corner, which is an opportunity hub where many can learn about different entrepreneurial possibilities in the country. The co-owner of OneOfEach feels that teaching people how to reach out and create jobs for themselves is one of the more effective ways to help deal with the unemployment rate in South Africa. She fears, however, that unless the government lends more funds and support towards small jobs, the impact will be monetary at best and stagnant at worst.

Tamburai is not incorrect about her observations regarding unemployment, nor should one fault her for trying to help women through her business. While 35 percent of men are out of a job, 43 percent of women are out of a job and having children or being single mothers may exacerbate this. With an unemployment rate of 29 percent which is currently climbing little by little, the country of South Africa has nearly 7 million people that are out of a job. The problem is not getting any better as the employment rate has only increased by 1.4 percent since the first quarter of 2019. If the job market does not include a flood of new jobs then the unemployment rate is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. If some of these young women can make the most out of the tools, skills and experience that Tamburai and her mother have provided, however, they may be able to make a difference in the fight against South Africa’s unemployment.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

youth unemployment in jamaica

Jamaica has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 21.8 percent of youths unemployed as of January 2019. However, this rate represents a significant improvement after reaching a high of 37.5 percent in 2013. The World Bank and the Government of Jamaica are working to continue this progress in reducing youth unemployment in Jamaica by creating and supporting programs designed to increase opportunities for young Jamaicans.

Trends in Unemployment

Recent research has revealed that there is an even greater disparity when comparing young women and young men. In January 2019, the unemployment rate was 17.9 percent for young men and 26.5 percent for young women. The recent progress in reducing youth unemployment in Jamaica is still remarkable and has been highlighted by many, including Kemesha Kelly, a youth advocate and lecturer at The University of the West Indies, Mona

Kelly has stated that “everyone must participate in the progress. Putting job creation at the heart of economic policymaking and development plans will not only generate decent work opportunities, but also more robust, inclusive and poverty-reducing growth. It is a virtuous circle that is as good for the economy as it is for the people, and one which will lead to sustainable development.”

The Government of Jamaica seems committed to the work Kelly described, as Jamaica’s Minister of Education has proudly noted the progress that has been made and expressed a determination to keep this momentum going and reduce the rate even further in the coming years.

Government Initiatives

As a part of this commitment, the Ministry of Education hosted a youth career week in 2018, highlighting career and skill-training opportunities for young Jamaicans. This included a youth forum, an expo with displays on career paths, and a National Skills Competition for students in secondary and primary schools. Beyond this, the government is also working to strengthen the apprenticeship program to increase opportunities for young people and decrease youth unemployment in Jamaica.

Jamaica is using the Australian system as a potential model, which requires youth to go through an apprenticeship program in order to enter the formal economy. While Jamaica’s government has not noted any plans to make apprenticeship mandatory, they want to increase its availability and popularity among youth, developing it within the Jamaican context.

In addition to apprenticeships, the Director-General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Wayne Henry, also stated the need to ensure the programs offered at educational institutions could directly lead to meaningful employment. Specifically, programs in emerging fields, including robotics, criminology, entrepreneurship, engineering and mechanics, should be more widely offered.

This focus on apprenticeship has been in the works since 2017 and may be one of the reasons for the improvements to youth unemployment rates. In February 2014, a forum was hosted to discuss the goal of increased apprenticeship and open a dialogue between the government and the private sector.

World Bank Program

In 2014, the World Bank began its Sustainable Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries Project for Jamaica. The project has been working to help youth become more employable and will remain active until January 2020. This is a growing industry that significantly benefits from having young tech entrepreneurs who can bring new, innovative ideas. The project focuses on helping youth develop the critical thinking skills needed for entrepreneurship in this field, connecting youth entrepreneurs to each other and to industry leaders.

Moving Forward

Jamaica is not alone in facing the struggle of high youth unemployment, as the Latin American and the Caribbean regions have the third-highest youth unemployment rate in the world. If these efforts to reduce youth unemployment in Jamaica continue to be successful, other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America may be able to model their own initiatives off of Jamaica’s, learning how to focus on increasing youth employment as a way to improve livelihoods and the overall economy.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

New Job Creation in AfricaAfrica’s unemployed population is made up mostly of young people. African youth account for 60 percent of the continent’s unemployed. Many of these young people are viable job candidates with college degrees; however, they are often forced to accept work doing menial tasks outside of their area of studies, such as physical labor or hotel maintenance. Development Channel is aiding in job creation in Africa

African Youth and Information Technology

In the last 25 years, unemployment for young people has increased by 80 percent, further contributing to the economic and social divisions these countries already feel. Of those who are employed, many still belong to Africa’s large population of working poor. In an effort to make themselves more marketable to the job markets in Western nations, many African youths are pursuing an education in Information Technology.

Degrees in IT are viewed as sustainable and respectable by young people. Because of this, IT has become one of the most popular avenues of study by African university students. This creates huge potential for new job creation in Africa in the IT sector as a solution to some of these continent’s youth unemployment disparities.

Development Channel in Africa

Development Channel is a collection of companies that seek to bridge the divide between developing and developed nations by improving access to resources that will offer financial assistance, affordable nourishment and other resources that will improve quality of life. These programs are all available through the Development Channel “Mother App.” The introduction of this app also brings positive news for the many young people across Africa with training in IT as Development Channel’s app is creating more than 5,000 jobs.

The position, “Mother App Trainer,” will focus on teaching others how to access the myriad platforms for aid that Development Channel offers. The position offers room for a continual increase in a salary based on performance as well as healthcare coverage and discounts on items sold by their food stores. The job is even more appealing as it can be performed from one’s home, with all training done online and over the phone.

More Than Just a Job

The company itself is contributing to the fight against global poverty and disparity. Development Channel’s slogan is “bridging the development divide.” The platform offers aid in myriad services, including food stability, credit cards, homeownership, emergency relief infrastructure, water infrastructure, community development, information technology, philanthropic income support, student loans, vehicle ownership, legal defense, women’s empowerment, waste management, education and more.

For example, Development Channel believes malnourishment and a lack of access to viable food sources greatly contribute to the poverty cycle. This is why the platform has a chain of “corner stores” called SISCHI that offer easily accessible, affordable food. Another of its companies, Flow, makes it easier for people to access lines of credit in locations where citizens formerly had no basic bank accounts at all.

Not only is Development Channel initiating new job creation in Africa for the largely untapped market of educated African youth but the companies housed under Development Channel are aiding in creating a better quality of life for people in developing nations.

– Gina Beviglia

Photo: United Methodist News Service

Global MetricsWhile there are many websites that offer a detailed analysis of the problems facing the world’s poor and their solutions, a deeper understanding of global metrics and indexes will help curious supporters conduct their own research and make informed decisions on the economic, political and social statuses of impoverished countries around the world. Often times, a combination of multiple indicators from multiple governmental and NGO bodies is necessary to form a full picture of a country’s attitudes towards impoverished populations, the economy and governance.

The Three Main Global Metrics

To understand the economy of a country, researchers will look at global metrics such as gross domestic product (GDP), Gini index and the unemployment rate. The GDP is a broad metric measuring the total value of goods produced in the domestic market of the economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) cites the GDP as “the most popular indicator of [a] nation’s overall economic health.” What the BEA fails to mention is that GDP ignores wealth inequality, quality of life and overall happiness of the labor force.

The Gini index, on the other hand, measures only income inequality. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the Gini index as “the extent to which income…among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution.” Scores closer to 100 indicate a more unequal society while a score closer to zero indicates a more equal society.

The unemployment rate measures more than just the amount of population able to work but not working. More specifically, it measures the number of people in the labor force looking for a job but who remain unemployed. These three indicators working together can paint a more accurate picture than one alone, but without indicators of political and social health, the overall analysis of a country remains foggy.

Other Important Global Metrics

To better understand the political situation of a country, readers can consult indexes and indicators from a multitude of NGO and governmental watchdogs.

  1. Freedom House creates a comprehensive guide to the status of democracy in each country yearly. Freedom House breaks down its analysis into three categories: “freedom rating, political rights and civil liberties.” Along with these three categories, Freedom House also offers an overview of the key issues facing a countries democracy or lack thereof.
  2. The Economist also offers a comprehensive Democracy Index, which takes into account five categories. These include the “electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation and political culture.” Freedom House ranks countries from free to not free whereas The Economist ranks each country in a list that helps give global context to each situation.
  3. The U.N.’s Human Development Index (HDI) measures indicators of social happiness to round out the political and economic indicators and give a completely holistic view of a country. HDI takes into account a number of complex factors but, in short, it consists of “a summary of average achievements in key dimensions of human development [such as] a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and [having] a decent standard of living.” With a broad scope, HDI can look at metrics that other indexes cannot, such as education and life expectancy. Along with HDI, the World Happiness Report (WHR) offers a holistic analysis of how politics, economics and other indicators of happiness can shed light on a particular country or region. The WHR reports that they “focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and governmental policies” that change reports of happiness.

Overall Data Collection

A good place to start for general research into specific countries is the CIA World Factbook. The Factbook includes a summary of the country in question and will provide global metrics mentioned such as GDP, ethnic groups, population growth rate, government type and even electricity access. Global metrics are relatively intuitive, but using only one will offer a narrow view into a specific sector of a countries society.

For instance, according to the CIA World Factbook, the real GDP growth rate of Ethiopia is the fifth highest in the world in 2017, but 29.6 percent of the Ethiopian population lived below the poverty line and the unemployment rate was ranked 180 out of 218 countries studied. Just looking at the real GDP growth rate would lead to the assumption that the economy of Ethiopia thrives and that all members of society benefit from the expansion. However, other global metrics tell a different more concerning story.

Freedom House, along with its democracy in the world report, also operates a number of programs around the world in the interest of freedom. Freedom House’s “Latin America Program” seeks to help “citizens defend their rights against government abuses in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Freedom House has similar programs in both Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa that work towards the political rights of citizens through improving factors such as the rule of law and civic knowledge and engagement. In this way, Freedom House goes beyond just identifying factors that exacerbate global poverty. It goes a step further and also implements programs to fight it.

Having a well-informed viewpoint on the factors that allow for systemic ills in nations across the world helps supporters make informed decisions about how to combat global poverty whether through advocacy, donation or personal action. Some NGOs go beyond observing and documenting poverty to implementing plans to combat it. Whichever approach is used, global metrics help people to stay informed from many different approaches to help enact change.

Spencer Julian
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Africa
Africa is expected to double its population by 2050, raising some alarms of the possibility of increasing already high poverty, unemployment and food insecurity rates. In response to these worrisome predictions, and capitalizing on Africa’s burgeoning industrial and technological industries, one company, Gambia’s Tropingo Foods, has established a business plan that sets out to tackle these issues and modernize agriculture in Africa

The Current State of Africa

Africa is no stranger to poverty. In fact, more than 40 percent of Africans still live below the poverty line. Part of the high rates of poverty can be explained by the unemployment rate since six of the top ten countries with the highest unemployment rates are in Africa. Poverty and unemployment have led to a huge problem with food insecurity. More than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s population over the age of 15 suffer from food insecurity. Though farming accounts for 60 percent of jobs in Africa, production must increase dramatically to match population grown in the coming years.

While the continent has made and continues to make technological strides across a variety of markets, production processes for agriculture in Africa have remained, for the most part, as they have been for years. As African farmers face population growth, changes in climate that may reduce rainfall, which accounts for 90 percent of agricultural irrigation, and the high cost of essential fertilizer, they will need to adapt and utilize technology for their industry to sustain these changes.

Tropingo Foods and Agriculture in Africa

Despite a large amount of farming in Africa, the continent only accounts for two percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Aware of this gap, Mommar Mass Taal, a young Gambian entrepreneur, created Tropingo Foods in order to pragmatically and sustainably address these problems. With a background in economics and market development, Taal has created a business that makes use of modern technologies vital to success. In just a few years, Taal has turned Tropingo Foods into Gambia’s largest processor and exporter of groundnuts, producing dried mangoes in the offseason.

As his business grows, he acknowledges that he will need to increase the number of employees, with 120 of the current 140 employees being women, as well as increase partnerships with local farmers. While Taal has had success in the industry, he is pushing the Gambian government to fund vocational training to better prepare citizens for the workforce. In order to support the growing population, agriculture in Africa must increase by 60 percent over the next 15 years and the industry must begin to utilize modern technologies.

Looking Forward

As African agricultural companies such as Tropingo Foods grow, they will increase the demand for employment and local farm production. However, investment from both within Africa and abroad will be necessary for this growth to be beneficial and sustainable. The World Bank has detailed a plan calling for $16 billion to fund agriculture in Africa in the face of climate change. While there will undoubtedly be challenges as the agriculture industry in Africa adapts to internal and external changes, if companies such as Tropingo Foods continue to seek pragmatic solutions, Africa may find itself playing a vital role in the world food export market.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, withstanding famine, drought, war and terrorist occupations to earn this title. Mogadishu is also a budding tech hub, home to coffee shops, new colleges and even a TedX conference. Underneath these contrasting descriptions of Somalia’s capital city lie two issues that continue the cycle of poverty for the majority of residents, famine and terrorism. The root causes of many of the following 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu can be traced back to these two underlying issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu

  1. The issue of poverty in Mogadishu is being worsened by famine in Somalia’s countryside. More than 500,00 Somalis have been heading toward Mogadishu in search of food, water, and shelter, and around 100,000 have reached the borders of Mogadishu. They are desperately in need of food assistance.
  2. Camps have been set up around Mogadishu to deal with the influx of famine refugees; however, they have been described as “no man’s land”. Leftover members of the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab have attacked international humanitarian workers trying to provide basic services to those living in the camps. For example, a convoy from the World Food Programme was hit by a roadside bomb on May 15, 2017.
  3. This is not the first time a famine has affected the quality of life and poverty rates in Mogadishu. In 2011, a deadly famine raged the Horn of Africa, with Somalia unable to escape its effects. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people moved to Mogadishu to escape the famine’s effects and few have plans to return home. Even though the economy is said to be rapidly growing, most who fled to the city live in settlements and subsist on odd jobs to meet their basic needs. There are concerns that the huge number of young, unemployed people in camps may provide the opportunity for extremism to take hold.
  4. The unemployment rate in Mogadishu in 2016 was 66 percent with 74 percent being women. This high unemployment rate, paired with large population growth and the constant threat of violence, has earned Mogadishu the title of the “world’s most fragile city”.
  5. Organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP) work in Mogadishu to support some of the most impoverished parts of the population. Namely, female-headed households, families with children under age 5 and the elderly. Their soup-kitchen style meal centers serve approximately 80,000 a day. WFP is also working with the European Union’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO) to provide financial assistance to families in need.
  6. There is concern over disease outbreaks, such as cholera, migrating from the countryside to Mogadishu along with those escaping the famine. One employee of the Mercy Corps describes the hospital conditions in Mogadishu as “overwhelming”. When dealing with outbreaks of cholera overcrowding and a lack of resources prove deadly: “The hospital is so overstretched that there is no room or time to properly screen and separate or quarantine the incoming patients, so kids with measles and cholera are side-by-side with kids who are malnourished, but not infected — yet.”
  7. Around 5,000 boys live on the streets of Mogadishu. This group of boys is part of a number children who have been left in the city to fend for themselves. One boy who was interviewed said his family lost everything in the 2011 famine and as a consequence, he was left because they could no longer provide for him.
  8. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s Al-Qaeda franchise, occupied the capital for almost a quarter of a century. To this day, they continue to have control over two neighborhoods of the city where it is impossible for police and government forces to enter. The group often attacks the international airport.
  9. Despite progress being made, terror attacks continue to disrupt the lives of millions. In 2016, Mogadishu suffered at least 46 terrorist attacks. In 2017, al-Shabaab attacks have killed or wounded more than 771 people.
  10. Poverty and climate change are intimately connected in Mogadishu. Just last year, six people died due to some of the heaviest rainfalls the country has seen in over three decades, with more than 750,000 having been affected through property loss. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq underscored the importance of getting to the root of the consequences climate change has had on poverty

Looking Towards Mogadishu’s Future

While these 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu suggest a bleak future, that is not entirely the case. Some experts believe that the rapid growth of Mogadishu will actually spur economic transformation as long as it is accompanied by international aid and careful management. Michael Keating, the U.N. special representative in Somalia, argues that “The massive shift into urban areas can be an opportunity. It is the way of the future, it is what needs to be done to build a different economy, a different country. But that needs huge investment.” More support needs to be given to reduce the suffering of the Somalian population.

Georgie Giannopoulos
Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment in South Africa
According to a report of the International Labor Organization, 71 million youth were unemployed in 2017 globally.

In South Africa, youth unemployment is particularly high and has been so for decades, with 5.5 million young people currently searching for work.

In response to high youth unemployment in South Africa, a social enterprise known as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was created to help connect young people seeking work with employers.

Formed in 2011 in Johannesburg, Harambee now services youth across the nation and has helped more than 50,000 young South Africans obtain their first job.

The Numbers

With 26.7 percent of the population unemployed, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The unemployment rate for youths, defined as those aged 15 to 34, is much higher and was estimated to be 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

South Africa has a large youth population since 63 percent of South Africans are under the age of 35. This fact further increases the impact of youth unemployment on the nation. Over 63 percent of the unemployed population is youth and each year 1.1 million South African youths enter the labor market.

Of this number, only 6 percent enter formal employment, with an additional 8 percent becoming informally employed. The remaining 86 percent either continue their education, look for jobs or become discouraged by the system.

The Reasons for Youth Unemployment

High youth unemployment in South Africa is caused by a variety of factors, including high public education drop-out rates, a lack of significant economic growth and the nation’s legacy of apartheid.

With many of the poor people still living in townships located far away from urban centers, finding work remains difficult. Even if they are qualified for certain positions, they may lack the ability to travel into the city, particularly in the face of inadequate public transportation.

Harambee Work for Youth Unemployment in South Africa

In order to provide opportunities to youths outside the city, Harambee hires recruiters who go to the townships and record contact information for young people who are searching for jobs.

From there, some youths are given an invitation to come to a Harambee office to discuss their skills and interests. A trained job coach then helps them through the process of creating a CV (biography) and preparing for job interviews. Harambee even provides free interview clothes for those unable to afford it.

Harambee has partnered with 450 employers, ranging from small businesses to large corporations. Many of these employers are looking to fill entry-level positions, providing opportunities for South African youths without any prior job experience to become employed.

When deciding on matches between employees and employers, Harambee considers the needs of the company, as well as the skills of the potential employee and their proximity to the job. Transportation costs must be considered, and if they are too high, workers may have to go into debt, in spite of being employed.

As another way of connecting with job-seeking youth in order to reduce youth unemployment in South Africa, Harambee offers an application on their website.

By filling this application, young South Africans indicate their skills and what kinds of work they are interested in, making it easier for Harambee to successfully match them with an employer.

For those who have the potential to get hired for more rigorous jobs, Harambee provides vocational training for up to eight weeks to prepare them for employment.

Since many of the youths, Harambee works with come from poor backgrounds and they often lack needed knowledge and skills, Harambee does what it can to ensure the young people will be successful upon becoming employed.

Harambee Successful Stories

One South African youth, 23-year-old Thabo Ngwato, was unemployed and had little success filling out job applications until his friend recommended Harambee to him.

Through Harambee, Ngwato found work at a call center in Johannesburg, allowing him to support his mother and nephew and purchase his first car. Ngwarto told Reuters that thanks to Harambee he now knows how to network and look for employment, which are the skills he can take anywhere.

Similarly, 29-year-old Oratile Phekoayane was hired as a Web help worker due to Harambee. The services Harambee provided helped her be less nervous in interviews and develop interpersonal skills.

According to Reuters, Phekoayane stated, “I see myself as a business partner here. I’m looking to grow, maybe join the executive side.” Due to Harambee, she was able to gain employment, develop her skills and become successful, with the potential for mobility.

Harambee is not alone in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa, however.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president since February 2018, has made youth unemployment a priority. Ramaphosa has worked to convince companies to reinvest 1.5 percent of their profits into providing paid work experience to young South Africans.

Currently, Harambee has a goal of helping at least 10,000 young South Africans find employment each year. By 2022, they want to match 500,000 young people with employers, requiring a significant increase in the number of youths they help become employed each year.

Harambee’s success and continuous growth, however, indicate that this goal may be attainable. And even if it is not achieved, Harambee will still have made a significant impact on reducing youth unemployment in South Africa, providing a model for other organizations in the country.

– Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr