Hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina
During the Bosnian War, a bloody conflict centered in the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995 and thousands of citizens experienced immense hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war, Sarajevo did not have a connection to the rest of the world, resulting in immediate shortages of food, medicine, water and electricity. Lacking these basic necessities and in constant danger of violence, nearly 12,000 civilians died by the end of the war. Unable to survive on what remained in the country, humanitarian aid efforts saved many citizens through the United Nations, bringing in 160,000 tons of food and other essential goods to Sarajevo.

Challenges in Recovery

The end of the war in 1995 brought necessary relief, as well as a new set of challenges as the nation recovered. Unemployment rates rose for the next 10 years, peaking at 31.1% and then steadily decreasing until the worldwide economic crisis in 2008, after which unemployment numbers spiked back to upwards of 28%. This percentage began to fall in 2015, and in 2019, the unemployment rate was 18.4%. This decline has not been without setbacks, however. In 2014, protests and riots broke out in response to the government insisting that there was no hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This statement angered citizens, which followed the closure of several factories which laid off many citizens. They responded by setting fire to multiple government buildings, a scene reminiscent of the Bosnian War just years before.

Although the recent civil unrest indicates otherwise, levels of hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina have slowly declined over the past 20 years, with only 2.5% of the population currently experiencing undernourishment. Although undernourishment levels are low, the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 is over 8%, a result of poor nutrition. In addition, approximately 20% of the population are children, one-third of which are experiencing poverty and subsequent hunger and malnutrition.

The Effects of Refugees

Although levels of unemployment and hunger are now relatively low, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and an influx in refugees entering the country have placed an additional strain on an already fragile system. As of May 2020, over 7,000 refugees live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting the challenge of providing food and shelter for more than the capacity of existing camps. The ability to provide for refugees and migrants is essential not only for refugee safety and welfare but for the economic stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they seek to meet the needs of their own citizens. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are familiar with the realities of what it means to be a refugee, as many of them experienced displacement during the war. However, local authorities were not prepared for the number of refugees they received, resulting in the need for new plans and structures, while simultaneously addressing their own economic and political needs.

Following the first influx of refugees and migrants entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017, the International Organization for Migration, which had previously established a presence in the country as a result of the 2015 refugee crisis, has been providing support for national authorities and civil society. The organization has established mobile protection teams to assist migrants in vulnerable situations and also provided transportation, food, shelter and other basic necessities as necessary.

The United Nations Development Program

Assistance with the current refugee population allows Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus on reducing unemployment and hunger in the nation through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations Development Program proposed. The goals act as a blueprint for nations across the world to end poverty by 2030. The second of these goals focus on eradicating hunger through international cooperation and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices. Recently, the European Union, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, allocated 20 million euros to the development and modernization of the agri-food sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the program is positioned to independently assist countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, strong partnerships with entities such as the European Union are crucial for the goals’ success.

As the fight against hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues, the country must develop additional solutions in order to increase employment rates and promote economic stability. Challenges and unprecedented setbacks may present themselves, but to continue a pattern of success, the nation must search for systems and solutions that will continually strengthen its government and citizens.

Kalicia Bateman
Photo: Unsplash

Health tourism in CroatiaWith over 1,000 islands and 3,600 miles of coastline, Croatia is the perfect tourist getaway. After facing devastating wars, Croatia has turned to tourism to boost its economy. Croatia’s beaches and national parks have become notable tourist attractions. In fact, 19.6% of the country’s GDP depends on tourism. The combination of its magnificent landscape and suitable healthcare has resulted in the emergence of a new type of travel in the Balkans: health tourism in Croatia.

Poverty in Croatia

The Yugoslav Wars resulted in freedom for the former states of the Yugoslavia Republic; Croatia gained its independence in 1991. The war affected the regions along the country’s borders of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unable to recover from the war, these regions became highly impoverished. 

In 2013 Croatia joined the European Union. While the EU typically has 8% unemployment, Croatia’s unemployment rates are much higher, reaching 15.4%. The cost of living in Croatia is higher than in other Eastern European countries, making it more difficult for those in poverty to afford what they need. To provide relief, the country has implemented its “Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Inclusion in the Republic of Croatia.” This plan’s purpose is to improve the condition of vulnerable groups and help those that are socially excluded by offering more opportunity.

Health Tourism in Croatia

As Europeans grow frustrated with healthcare in their home countries, they travel to other countries to access medical care. This innovative and growing trend has promoted the rise of health tourism in Croatia. Market Research Future (MRFR) projects that the global medical tourism market will grow 21.4% a year for the next five years. The reasons health tourism has grown in Croatia include:

  • The health care system appeals to patients as it is both affordable and reputable. Obtaining surgeries in Croatia often costs less compared to receiving that same treatment in visitors’ home countries. Additionally, EU citizens can use their EU health insurance in Croatia.
  • The use of the internet and social media encourages travelers to visit attractive destinations like Croatia. Websites promote healthcare options while emphasizing the popular vacation spots in the area.
  • Technological advancements continue in the health care system. The quality of medical specialties in Croatia constantly progresses and ensures excellence.

The main concentration of health tourism in Croatia involves medical surgeries and wellness. Croatia specializes in popular medical procedures including plastic surgery, orthopedics and dentistry. Spa tourism encourages travelers to relax in the therapeutic resort town of Opatija. Tourists can explore the country while getting procedures all in one trip.

Future of Health Tourism

The same conflict that led to Croatia’s independence also brought about poverty and unemployment that continues to impact Croatians. In order to improve its economy, Croatia focused on tourism and created a strategy to combat poverty. Now, the country’s beautiful coastlines have become trendy destinations and health tourism in Croatia captivates vacationers. Improvements in healthcare have resulted in more Europeans flocking to Croatia for medical surgeries and therapeutic resort towns. Almost 10% of tourists visit Croatia for its healthcare, and that number is expected to grow. As the demand for health tourism in Croatia increases, this new industry can generate future economic benefits.

– Hannah Nelson
Photo: Pixabay

illicit trade in kenyaKenya’s 48.5 million people have chronically suffered poverty because of rampant unemployment, crime and drought. Among other factors, illicit trade in Kenya has contributed to these stressors in a damaging way. Here are five things to know about the illicit trade in Kenya.

5 Things to Know About Illicit Trade in Kenya

  1. Illicit trade in Kenya robs its economy of $900 million every year. Kenya’s largest economic sectors like food and construction frequently fall victim to piracy. Criminals steal from these industries and sell their products illegally on the black market; this causes Kenyan companies and the government to lose money they could have made conducting legal business. Firms in Kenya reportedly lose 37.69% to 42.14% of their profits to illegal trade.
  2. Illicit trade contributes to unemployment as well. Unlawful practices like piracy and the production of counterfeit products caused the loss of 7,484 jobs between 2016 and 2018. The rise of COVID-19 has already threatened the livelihood of Kenya’s 15 million informally employed laborers as people grow less comfortable doing businesses with individuals; illicit trade has only harmed Kenya’s job market further. Kenya’s unemployment has remained fairly stable over the last couple of decades, ranging from 2.6% to 2.9%. However, data has yet to be collected on unemployment in 2020 and across the globe. Unemployment rates have shot well beyond established averages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Inattention to the issue may be its biggest propagator. Only 30% of the companies experiencing theft by illicit trade are even aware of the crimes against them. Due to the disproportionately high number of foreign banks and poor economic regulation in Kenya, discovering illegal trade proves difficult. The Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya conducted a study from 2015-2016 to look into complaints about Kenyan banks issuing unwarranted charges. The FSD discovered that many banks charged its customers odd quantities in an opaque manner and the surveyors had great difficulty obtaining any further information on the subject due to the industry’s opacity.
  4. Illegal trade is a global issue and Kenya has joined in the fight against it. The international trade of products like cocaine and tobacco has sparked movements across the globe. In 2020, Kenya joined The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, a treaty signed by 59 countries to universally end the illegal trade of tobacco. The Protocol will lower tobacco smuggling by an estimated 60% and Kenya has already seen success in combating the illicit tobacco market. “The Kenyan Revenue Authority estimates that the illicit cigarette trade market share declined from 15% in 2003 to 5% in 2016, a direct result of the implemented measures [taken],” reports Michal Stoklosa of the Tobacco Atlas.
  5. Kenya’s government has decided to tackle this problem head-on. Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Authority, established in 2008 as part of the Anti-Counterfeit Act, has declared its mission to end illicit trade in Kenya. The organization has created jobs, spread awareness of counterfeit activity and its harmful effects, and marked World Anti-Counterfeit Day this year by holding a ceremony and destroying $270,000 of counterfeit goods.

Kenya’s situation may appear difficult, particularly with the added stress of COVID-19, but its government and hardworking people have taken important steps to end illicit trade and its detrimental effects on the Kenyan economy.

– Will Sikich
Photo: Needpix

Hunger in SamoaWith a population smaller than 200,000, Samoa is a small island in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Samoans gained their independence from New Zealand and Germany in 1962, and now inhabit the westernmost islands within the archipelago. Although the United Nations has not identified Samoa as a “Least Developed Nation” since 2014, food insecurity and hunger remain in Samoa as lingering consequences of poverty, natural disasters and foreign dependency.

Lack of Resources

Samoa lacks arable land and agricultural resources; almost three decades of devastating natural disasters, including the 1990 Ofa and 1991 Val cyclones, have flooded and destroyed much of the once arable land in Samoa. Samoan hunger rates rise following such incidents. However, in 2015, despite a cyclone hitting that same year, Samoa was declared one of the 40 countries that have cut hunger rates in half within thirty years. As of 2016, 81.9% of Samoans lived in rural areas, yet only 2.8% of the country’s 1,097 square miles of land was arable. For Samoans, barren land has made agricultural innovation one of the only, yet most complex, options. In 1994, 22.1% of the Samoan GDP was derived from agricultural sales and other food production. By 2019, agricultural contribution to GDP fell to 9.8% due to a lack of farming land, knowledge and financial incentive.

Lack of Quality Food

Imported foods provide increased caloric quantity, not quality; from 1961 to 2007, the surge of imported foods made 900 extra calories available per person per day, largely curbing hunger in Samoa. Overall calorie availability nearly doubled during that time, yet dietary fat availability rose at a disproportionately fast rate of 73%. Imported foods, like meats and vegetable oils, rose from 10 calories to 117 per Samoan per day. Yet, the caloric intake of traditionally consumed and locally produced food like coconuts, starchy vegetables and fruits rose negligibly. Overconsumption of calories and high-fat foods are linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, all of which are on the rise in Samoa.

Obesity, diabetes and malnutrition coexist. In 2013, 45.8% of Samoans had diabetes, compared to 22.3% in 2002. In 2017, an estimated 89.1% of Samoan adults were overweight and 63.1% obese. Yet, an estimated 4% of children aged five or less experienced acute malnutrition or wasting, and 5% experienced stunting in that same year. Such rates are related to tariff liberalization, which continues to increase accessibility to non-perishable, mass-produced foods. Samoan’s overconsumption of processed macronutrients and sodium has led to obesity, masking the underlying micronutrient deficiencies and severe undernourishment.

Lack of Financial Equality

Education, income and access to healthy foods are interconnected. The percentage of Samoans living below the food poverty line had dropped from 10.6% of the population in 2008 to 4.3% in 2014; incidences of extreme hunger and poverty have steadily declined due to heightened caloric availability. However, Samoan financial inequality continues to climb as a result of the globalization that also has nearly eliminated extreme hunger. Samoa imports goods at a much higher rate than they export goods, leading to a lack of cash in the economy as well as a lack of job opportunities for those not directly connected to the global trade market.

Those living at or below the food poverty line typically lack formal degrees and belong to the 8.7% of Samoans who are unemployed. Cultural and historical circumstances have made imported food, regardless of their quality, more desirable than traditionally consumed foods. Wealthy and impoverished Samoans alike have developed an appetite for imported foods. The most vulnerable in the population, however, do not have a choice in what they consume.

Initiatives Tackling Food Security in Samoa

An alarming uptake in cases of overnutrition and resulting chronic diseases have occurred in Samoa. As a result, strides have been taken in addressing the root causes of food insecurity and the remaining hunger issues. An example of this is the recently launched 2019 Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project. This project aims to improve food production infrastructure and implement sustainable agricultural practices over the next several years. By improving data collection of food insecurity, chronic disease and poverty rates, this project will localize Samoan food production industries. The project’s emphasis is on creating a more interconnected food landscape; this will not only continue to eliminate hunger in Samoa but will also increase cash flow and decrease chronic disease rates in the country over time.

Until then, groups like Caritas will continue to serve as a lifeline. Caritas runs two programs that prepare Samoans for natural disasters by training locals and installing emergency supplies throughout the island for distribution. The group was able to help more than 1,476 Samoans in 2012 suffering from hunger after Cyclone Evan.

Caledonia Strelow
Photo: Flickr

Unemployment in SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities everywhere. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself, but also from the indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs and struggle to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan are able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. In particular, poverty and unemployment in Spain are among some of the highest rates in Europe even before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those who are unemployed in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, face masks and other necessities to those in need. The following article contains information concerning unemployment in Spain as well as how people are being helped amid this global outbreak.

Rising Unemployment in Spain

Now more than ever, unemployment has been on the minds of Spanish men and women during this pandemic. A study conducted by the Center for Sociological Research (CIS) in January 2020 showed that the majority of Spanish citizens consider “unemployment” and “economic problems” to be the most critical issues in their country. The people’s concern about financial hardship is legitimate considering past rates of unemployment in Spain. In the fourth quarter of 2019 (which was before COVID-19 greatly impacted the country), the rate of unemployment in Spain was already incredibly high at 13.78%. It was more than twice as high as the EU’s rate. In particular, young people in Spain have been showing notable unemployment rates: the National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Unemployment in Spain is usually high, but COVID-19’s halting effect on many Spanish businesses has worsened rates in a matter of months. Following the country’s emergency lockdown in March, Spain’s unemployment rate rose to 14.8% in April 2020.

3 Spanish Organizations Helping Those in Need

COVID-19 affects those suffering from poverty or unemployment. In response, charities and social organizations in Spain are rallying behind the poor to soften the pandemic’s impact. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis.

  1. Cáritas: Cáritas Española was instituted in 1947 by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Its objective is to carry out the charitable and social actions of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19 which includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided include face mask-making workshops, hotel rooms for the homeless and disinfection services for assisted living homes.

  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) is an NGO founded in 1996. The organization works to combat hunger and poverty through the reduction of food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families throughout Spain who are not able to easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.

  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The “Alberto y Elena Cortina” Foundation is a Spanish nonprofit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets. This was after a state of emergency was announced in Spain. 

Moving Forward

Most volunteering and social work have been stymied by travel restrictions. However, there are still many ways to help from home. People with internet access and a few dollars can greatly contribute to organizations in Spain assisting those in dire need. Quarantine orders and social distancing may have separated people from one another physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. People can still help by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that work toward a better future. 

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

Poverty In SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities globally. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself but also from indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs. Now, men and women are facing numerous difficulties while trying to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries, such as the United States, the U.K. or Japan, have been able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. Poverty in Spain was among some of Europe’s highest rates even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the citizens of Spain, who had already suffered from poverty, are now met with another obstacle. However, those experiencing poverty in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, facemasks or other necessities to those in need. 

Growing Poverty Rates

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Spain, 26.1% of people were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” and 5.4% of people experienced “severe material deprivation” in 2018. The National Institute of Statistics also reported that 55.2% of people faced varying degrees of difficulty making ends meet that same year. Although these figures only include adults, children are not excluded from poverty’s reach.

Children in Spain seem to be more vulnerable to poverty than adults. A 2017 report from the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) found that the child population in Spain has unacceptably high rates in the indicators of poverty. One of the report’s most jarring statistics concerning the child population in Spain is that 31.3% of children were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion.” However, these children all experience poverty differently.

Among the children facing poverty in Spain, the 2016 EAPN report identified that 10.8% experienced severe poverty and 6.5% endure severe material deprivation. In 2018, poverty rates for children in Spain hardly budged. The National Institute of Statistics reported that 29.5% of children were still at risk in 2018, and 6.5% were still experiencing severe material deprivation. 

Unemployment Factors In

Although numerous factors are involved with these statistics, the country’s unemployment rate definitely contributes to poverty’s overwhelming presence in Spain. The Center for Sociological Research (CIS) conducted a study in Jan. of 2020 that showed most Spanish citizens consider unemployment and economic problems as the most critical issues in their country. 

The people’s concern about Spain’s economy is legitimate, considering what the statistical analysis shows. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate in Spain was 13.78%. This was two times the rate of the EU. In particular, young people in Spain showed notable unemployment rates. The National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in that same quarter.

Charities and Social Organizations Step in Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected virtually every person in the world in its wake. However, those in poverty have been suffering prior to the virus; in fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made survival in poverty more challenging. As such, charities and social organizations in Spain have been rallying behind those in need to soften the pandemic’s effects. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis:

  1. Cáritas: The Spanish Episcopal Conference instituted Cáritas in 1947. Cáritas Española’s objective is to carry out the charitable and social action of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19. It includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided during the pandemic include facemask-making workshops, granting hotel rooms for the homeless and providing disinfection services for assisted living homes. 
  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) was founded in 1996 to combat hunger and poverty by reducing food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families in Spain who cannot easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.
  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The Alberto y Elena Cortina Foundation is a Spanish non-profit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute a large portion of fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets after Spain announced a state of emergency.

Looking Ahead

Travel Restrictions have stymied most volunteering and social work interventions, but there are many ways to fight against poverty from home. People who have access to the Internet and a few dollars to spare can significantly contribute to organizations in Spain. Quarantine orders and social distancing have separated people physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. Although thousands of miles might separate countries, people can still reach out to those in need by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that are working on the front lines toward a better future.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Georgia
Sitting between Turkey and Russia, the nation of Georgia tells a unique story about successfully fighting poverty. Although the country’s poverty rate sits at around 20.1%, the current figure represents a steep decline from the 2010 rate of 37.4%. A more complete understanding of the decline of poverty in Georgia requires an understanding of the nation’s history.

Recent Georgian History

Throughout the 19th century, the Russian empire slowly annexed Georgia. In 1918, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Democratic Republic of Georgia declared its independence. In 1921, the Soviet Union forcibly incorporated Georgia. Under Soviet rule, the economy of Georgia modernized and diversified from being largely agrarian to featuring a prominent industrial sector.

In 1936, Georgia became a constituent republic and remained so until the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the collapse in 1991, Georgia regained its independence, but instability, civil unrest and a falling GDP plagued the nation. After the Rose Revolution of 2003, the government of Georgia attempted to liberalize the nation’s economy and pursue cooperation with the West. Russia invaded the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions in 2008 due to a territorial dispute, which is still ongoing.

When viewing the recent history, it is clear that the decline of poverty in Georgia deeply intertwines with its reforms after emerging from the Soviet Union. With a government focussed on stability and economic development, Georgia has been able to make strides to downsize poverty.

Success in Fighting Poverty

When the Georgian government made an attempt to liberalize the nation’s economy and pursue international cooperation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the nation sought trade agreements with China and the European Union (E.U.) and made reforms to eliminate corruption and simplify taxes. As a result, Georgia’s GDP per capita has expanded at an average rate of 4.8% per year.

In 2007, The World Bank ranked Georgia as the world’s number one economic reformer due to its successful policies focussing on promoting competition and diversifying the financial sector. In 2014, it found that poverty in Georgia had decreased for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2014, Georgia has joined the E.U.’s Free Trade Area, and the E.U. has become the country’s largest trading partner.

Georgia has also been working with the United Nations Development Programme to pursue democratic reforms, inclusive growth, conflict transformation, green solutions and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2012, Georgia demonstrated positive growth, conducting a democratic election with a peaceful transition of power.

Fighting Poverty in the Future

Though the nation holds many statistical successes, poverty in Georgia is still a pressing matter. According to the Asian Development Bank, 20.1% of the population still lived below the national poverty line in 2018.

Unemployment remains a contributing factor to poverty in Georgia. The national rate sits at about 13.9%, though in some regions it is as high as 40%. Young people especially struggle economically in Georgia, and the country is currently working with the United Nations to improve vocational education and training. In 2017, the Georgian government put forth a rural development strategy, emphasizing its focus on the growth and diversification of the rural economy.

Despite the nation’s economic improvements, Georgia’s standard of living has decreased dramatically due to the loss of the cheap sources of energy previously received in the Soviet era. The country recognizes this problem and has made efforts to rebuild the energy sector in a sustainable way. In 2015, Georgia joined the EU4Energy Programme, which is dedicated to making effective, research-based policy decisions in the energy sector.

Healthcare also remains a contributing factor to poverty in Georgia, especially among children. The nation struggles with both a high infant mortality rate and a high rate of infections and parasitic diseases. In 2013, the country adopted a universal healthcare plan, which represents a significant step in making health care more accessible. The nation is currently working to expand the service to all areas of the population.

The previous victories in the decline of poverty in Georgia are laudable. Though Georgia still requires more work, the nation continues to make reform efforts and strives to ensure that the next chapter of economic history is one of continued success.

Michael Messina
Photo: Flickr


During the 2008 financial crisis, more than 20 million people in China were laid off, with the official unemployment rate reaching a peak of 4.7% in 2009. Since then, official unemployment in China has remained steady, hovering around 4.6% until 2015 and reaching a decade low of nearly 4.2% in 2018.

China has been able to maintain relatively low numbers in unemployment through an increase in investment in its social policies. Since the 2008 financial crisis, its jobless claims program funding nearly tripled to $82.37 billion. In 2016, China also signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization through the Decent Work Country Program, pledging to focus on generating a better social protection system and increasing the “quantity and quality of employment,” among other objectives, through the end of 2020. However, COVID-19 has interfered with these plans.

Impact of COVID-19 on Unemployment

China has over 84,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 4,600 reported deaths as of May 14, 2020. Since its first case in December of 2019, China has taken drastic measures to reduce the spread of the virus. This lead to a 6.8% drop in its GDP from January to March. Many business were also forced to close. While some industries have now reopened, China’s economy is still far from operating at full capacity and has been left with a grudging consumer base.

There was an estimated increase in unemployment in China by three million people as the rate increased from 5.2% in December 2019 to 5.9% in March 2020. However, there was no increase in the number of unemployed receiving benefits. To make matters worse, this is only what has been officially reported and does not include rural migrant workers. Including migrant workers would change the recent peak in unemployment from roughly 6% to nearly 20%.

Additionally, millions have been working without a contract, working without paying into their unemployment insurance or have not worked long enough to collect, leaving them without access to unemployment insurance. Those who do receive an unemployment check are being sent less than minimum wage each month, leaving many unable to pay rent.

Responses to Unemployment in China

The Chinese government recognizes the extreme troubles millions of its citizens are experiencing. They have mandated government officials to “prioritize job security and social stability above anything else.” Already China has been supporting small businesses through an increase in lending, as well as providing subsidies and tax breaks. Additionally, the government has given 67,000 jobless migrants a one-time payment with an additional 2.8 million more people receiving unemployment benefits (averaging $571 per person) and another 5.78 million people receiving subsidies to combat inflation. Those unable to receive unemployment insurance do have the opportunity to apply for financial assistance depending on their income.

As of early May, close to nine million college and university graduates are expected to enter the workforce, further adding to the workforce competition. In response, the Ministry of Education in China has announced plans to help alleviate the additional pressure from graduates entering the workforce. Over the summer, the Ministry of Education looks to create more opportunities for graduate education and teacher positions, as well as to encourage “small, medium-sized and micro enterprises to recruit more college graduates.”

As COVID-19 continues to be a significant problem around the world, it is essential that countries address the poverty and unemployment that the pandemic exacerbates. Moving forward, China and other nations must continue to create policies and programs designed to protect the impoverished.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: Unsplash

Jobs in PakistanDue to the coronavirus pandemic, many people around the world lost have their jobs and are now facing financial hardship. The economic impact is projected to increase global poverty. This will be the first time since 1998 that the world sees an increase. Luckily, countries have been creating new job markets to aid the unemployed and fight poverty levels. A new market of jobs in Pakistan has been created for those laid off because of the coronavirus: tree planting.

“10 Billion Trees Tsunami”

In 2018, Pakistan started a campaign called the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” program. The project goal: to plant more trees and fight against deforestation. Additionally, this program will help the environment. Jobs in Pakistan have already been affected by the pandemic, and it is projected that as many as 19 million people will be laid off due to COVID-19. To combat this, Pakistan started employing those who lost their jobs because of the virus to plant trees as a part of their “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” program. Though this program was not specifically created for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it is greatly helping those who did. These new laborers have been dubbed “jungle workers.” This program aims at creating more than 60,000 jobs as a way to help citizens and the economy and fight against climate change. In order to help as many citizens as possible during this devastating time, the program has tripled the number of workers hired.

These jungle workers are mostly seen in rural areas. Hiring is aimed primarily at women, unemployed daily workers and those who are from cities in lockdown. A large portion of the workforce is also made up of young people. As tree planting does not require much past experience, many unskilled workers are still able to be employed during this harsh economic period. There are still strict precautions in place for those working, such as having to wear a mask and continuing to keep a social distance of 6 feet while working.

Relief for the Unemployed

The program’s creation of new jobs in Pakistan allows its citizens to continue making enough money in order to provide for their families. A construction worker named Abdul Rahman lost his job when the coronavirus struck and began to face financial instability. Once employed as a jungle worker for the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami,” he was able to start providing for his family again. In an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Rahman said “Due to coronavirus, all the cities have shut down and there is no work. Most of us daily wagers couldn’t earn a living.” Rahman is now earning around ₹500 a day, which translates to about $3. Though this payment is about half of what he would have made on a good day as a construction worker, he says it is enough “to feed our families.”

Pakistan’s Positive Example

Through this program and its employment of more citizens, Pakistan is taking a step towards rebuilding its economy and aiding poor citizens. The project aims at having planted 50 million trees by the end of this year and, with the addition of more workers, this goal is achievable. The presence of such jobs in Pakistan is an example of hope during this time and, as the economy improves, Pakistani citizens can earn living wages and the environment reaps the benefits.

Erin Henderson
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in BrazilThough major improvements have stimulated Brazil’s economy over the past few decades, the country still faces a major poverty deficit. While the country does have one of the top 10 economies in the world, poverty in Brazil is still a major issue. The percentage of the population that lives beneath the poverty line struggles to make it from one day to the next. Four components that influence poverty in Brazil are the pertinent numbers, the unemployment situation, the influence on housing and the current global lockdown’s impact.

The Numbers

With over 200 million citizens, Brazil has the fifth largest population in the world. While the poverty rate is now impressively less than 10%, 16 million Brazilians still live unsustainable lives.

Many of the families living in poverty do not have access to education, clothing, clean water, food or fuel. Kim Lango, a humanitarian who has spent a number of years helping to relieve poverty in Brazil, told The Borgen Project in an interview that “We once drove a Pre-Med student home one evening only to discover his home only had three walls….” On their way to the house, Lango passed by dead and wounded people on the streets who were waiting for an ambulance that would only come if the family had sufficient funds.

According to a Getulio Vargas Foundation study, an alarming gap exists between the wealthy and poor, and it is increasing. Marcelo Silva de Sousa and Víctor Caivano state that Brazil ranks with the “most unequal nations in a broader region where the gap between rich and poor is notorious.” During the seven years of the study, the richest Brazilians increased their income by over 8%. However, the income of the poorest population decreased an entire 14%.

The gap shows Brazil’s drastic inequality. In fact, only 10% of Brazil’s citizens earn half of the income in the country.

Lango gave her perspective on some of the reasons for this gap. She first stated that “lack of access to adequate education[…] creates a vicious cycle.” Those living in unsafe and inadequate places often find themselves stuck there due to the rigor and expense of the education system. Lango also said that discrimination plays a significant role in this gap and that many consider poor people unsafe and ones they should not connect with.

While the poverty rates are startling, Lango offers hope: “the most beautiful acts of overcoming will always be from Brazilians helping their own people.”

The government has a welfare program devoted to alleviating poverty. The Family Grant, known as the Bolsa Família, offers a monthly allowance to families in poverty.

Unemployment

Another of the components that influence poverty in Brazil is unemployment. When a major recession hit between 2014 and 2016, the unemployment rate hit 13% and emerged as a major issue contributing to poverty in Brazil. While the unemployment rate had improved somewhat since then, it had yet to recover enough to significantly impact the poverty in Brazil.

Unfortunately, in 2019, Brazil’s unemployment increased to a 12.4% unemployment rate, leaving millions of Brazilians out of work and desperately searching for the means to make money. Still, the available jobs often have an informal and inconsistent nature.

According to Mark S. Langevin, Director of Brazil Works, Brazil has reached a “historic and dismal record” of citizens not contributing to the workforce. Langevin stated that the number is over 65 million.

Housing

Because of extreme poverty, many Brazilians do not have access to proper shelter, or even shelter at all. In fact, according to Habitat for Humanity, over 50 million people in Brazil do not have adequate housing. The country requires 6 to 8 million new houses to sufficiently shelter its people.

Habitat for Humanity is working to develop proper housing for those living in the slums. Due to the successful implementation of their programs, Habitat for Humanity is currently working on over 1,500 houses in Pernambuco, one of Brazil’s states.

A report determined that the 2010 census revealed that over 5% of Brazilians live in makeshift settlements called favelas. Brazilians often build favelas using materials that they scavenged. Moreover, these homes often do not have appropriate water access.

The government has been working since 1993 to improve these conditions. During that year, 20% of Brazil’s population lived in favelas, so the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro developed a program to help improve the housing and road access for those who lacked sufficiency in those areas. The program, the Favela-Bairro project, also funded social programs for children.

While some are making efforts to improve the conditions, the poor housing situation remains prevalent.

The Current Lockdown’s Impact

The last of the components that influence poverty in Brazil includes COVID-19’s impact on the country. With the current global lockdown due to Covid-19, poverty in Brazil could increase drastically. There are over 30 million informal workers who have unprotected jobs that the lockdown now threatens.

The lockdown has come at an unfortunate moment due to social program cuts that came as a result of the recession in 2014. During that time, many workers became sporadically self-employed, which severely weakened the economy.

Humanitarian groups have had to scramble to increase food programs. One of these groups, a Catholic relief group called Caritas, has oriented its focus entirely to providing food.

While those already in poverty or unpredictable work situations are facing an uncertain future, the government has begun to respond to the issue. It adapted the emergency aid fund rules to improve worker’s lives during the shutdowns. The banks have more restrictions and there has been a loan suspension for school funds.

Though the poverty here is vicious, wonderful programs, both governmental and humanitarian, are stepping up to fight the deficit. Hopefully, continued aid and government efforts will eradicate poverty in Brazil in the future.

– Abigail Lawrence
Photo: Flickr