Information and stories about United Nations.

UNDP GoalsIn 2018, the United Nations Development Programme implemented a new strategic plan to help developing countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan included fast-tracking towards Agenda 2030 by alleviating poverty, accelerating structural modifications and building resilience to crises. For example, in Fiji, one of the UNDP’s goals included alleviating poverty, which can be achieved by a surge of innovation that allows the locals to connect to services. This allowed the locals to shape the governance of the future. Many other similar goals succeded in 2018.

Here are the five UNDP goals reached in 2018.

5 UNDP Goals Reached in 2018

  1. Poverty: The UNDP succeeded at helping half of the countries in the world prioritize poverty reduction by aligning it with national and local interests. The global development network also helped 4 million people affected by poverty or crises to attain employment and improve their livelihoods. Of note, 20 million more people can now make use of financial services.
  2. Governance: The UNDP supported 56 counties to carry out fair electoral processes through digital means. The aim was to fight corruption and increase the likelihood of civic engagement. In fact, in 2018, 21 million people across the globe became newly registered to vote and 89 countries partnered with UNDP to reform discriminatory laws. For example, to tackle corruption in the Philippines, the UNDP and Google together created “DevelopmentLIVE” to give citizens the chance to livestream the monitoring activities for infrastructure projects that relate to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. Resilience: Conflict and crises often worsen poverty and inequality — this is why the UNDP invested more than $1 billion to improve resilience to shocks and crises in 2018. Thanks to this commitment 3 million people living in 12 different countries resumed accessing basic needs such as housing and energy. In 2018, the UNDP also partnered with the local municipalities in Turkey, funded by the EU Facility Projects, to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to shocks, such as the wave of Syrian refugees. This partnership launched the “UNDP Turkey Resilience Project in response to the Syria Crisis (TRP)” that prioritizes livelihoods through economic and social resilience.
  4. Environment: Oftentimes, the ones who are most affected by environmental disasters are those living in extreme poverty. Thus, UNDP goals included helping countries to protect the most vulnerable communities. Of note, 256 million tons of carbon emissions have been cut thanks to UNDP efforts. In addition, in 2018, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the UNDP worked together to encourage governments to incorporate the environment aspect into the framework of human rights for the mining sector.
  5. Energy: UNDP goals redirected countries from using fossil fuels towards renewable and affordable sources of energy. The organization provided around $1 billion in grants to 110 countries towards progressing this goal by increasing the percentage of clean energy usage in each countries’ national energy mix. For instance, Indonesian farmers worked on the Biochar project with the UNDP to develop bio-charcoal. This enabled female farmers to develop bio-charcoal home industries to boost their incomes and improve their living standards.

The UNDP aims to complete its agenda and reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, which is why it has built labs in more than 60 countries to accelerate the process.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

China's Contribution to Global Poverty Reduction
China has lifted 82.39 million rural poor out of poverty over the past six years. Additionally, recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the proportion of people living below the poverty line dropped from 10.2 to 1.7 percent in the same period. The population living below the current poverty line in the rural areas was 16.6 million by the end of 2018, down 13.86 million from the previous year. The poverty rate in 2018 was also down by 1.4 percent points from 2017. A lot has happened on the way for China‘s contribution to global poverty reduction, though.

China’s History

In 1958, Mao’s Communist Party introduced the Great Leap Forward, a failed effort to achieve rapid industrialization, and which, by its end in 1962, left as many as 45 million people dead as food output plunged and a famine wreaked havoc. The decade-long Cultural Revolution, which brought disaster to the country, only ended with Mao’s death in 1976. Because of such campaigns, China basically stood still as the rest of the world moved ahead.

Today, China’s huge strides over 70 years seem impressive but those gains occurred in the 40 years after Mr. Deng launched China on the road to economic reform after taking over from Mao’s chosen successor. Deng Xiaoping paved the way for how China contributes to global poverty reduction.

Poverty Alleviation in China

According to statistics that the World Bank released, over the past 40 years, the number of people in China living below the international poverty line has dropped by more than 850 million. This represents 70 percent of the total world figure. With the highest number of people moving out of poverty, China was the first developing country to realize the UN Millennium Development Goal for poverty reduction.

Indeed, poverty across the globe has seriously hindered the fulfillment and enjoyment of human rights for many. As such, many see reducing and eliminating poverty as the major element of human rights protection for governments across the world. It is really encouraging that, over the years, poverty eradication has always remained a goal for the Chinese government in its pursuit of a happy life for its people.

China’s Efforts to Alleviate Poverty Around the World

In the meantime, China’s poverty alleviation results are benefiting other countries and their peoples. China, with an aim to build a community with a shared future for humanity, is actively responding to the UN Millennium Development Goal and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is conducting broad international collaboration on poverty reduction. Some examples of China contributing to global poverty reduction are the implementation of the China-Africa cooperation plan for poverty reduction and people’s livelihood and the 200 initiatives of the Happy Life Project.

Over the past 70 years, China provided financial aid of over 400 billion yuan to nearly 170 countries and international organizations, and carried out over 5,000 assistance projects overseas and helped over 120 developing countries to realize the Millennium Development Goal, a glorious example of how China’s contribution to global poverty reduction.

China plans to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020. The plan is not only a key step for the country to realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, but also a significant and glorious cause in the human history of poverty reduction.

Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

 

Life Expectancy in Niger

Life expectancy rates measure the overall mortality of a country in a given year, a statistic affected by countries’ poverty rates. There is a correlation between poor health and poverty that implies those in better socioeconomic classes will live longer, healthier lives than those in lower classes. With a poverty rate of approximately 44.1 percent in 2017, Niger, a landlocked country in Africa also has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger, which explain the challenges the government faces to improve quality of life and the efforts being taken to prevent premature deaths.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Niger

  1. In 2016, the global life expectancy rate was 72.0 years old and on average, women were expected to live to 74.2 years old while the rate for men was slightly lower at 69.8 years old. A 2018 estimate by the CIA estimates the average life expectancy rate in Niger was 56.3 years old. The rate for women was 57.7 years while men on average lived until 55.0 years old.
  2. One of the biggest factors affecting Niger’s stagnant poverty rates is their increasingly growing population rate. With a 3.16 percent growth rate, Niger has the seventh fastest-growing population in the world. The people of Niger lack adequate resources to feed and shelter the constantly increasing population only exacerbating the mortality rate.
  3. In 2017, the UN ranked Niger as the second least developed country in the world due to their reliance on agriculture. The majority of the population, 87 percent, depends on agriculture including subsidized farming and domestic livestock as their primary means of income. Nearly half of the population of Niger falls below the poverty line a consequence of the limited job opportunities and lack of industry.
  4. In 2017, Niger ranked 189th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), a scale that ranks countries based on three factors: health, knowledge and quality of life. The health factor is determined by the life expectancy at birth while knowledge is determined by the average rate of schooling for citizens and quality of life is measured by the gross national income. Although this index does not account for poverty levels, socioeconomic inequality or human security, Niger’s low ranking depicts a country struggling with healthcare, education and economic prosperity.
  5. The top three leading causes of death in Niger in 2017 were malaria, diarrheal diseases and lower respiratory infections. Comparatively, in the United States, the leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and accidents. The leading causes of death in the United States are noncontagious and in the case of accidentals, unavoidable. However, both malaria and diarrheal diseases are treatable and communicable conditions that could be prevented with proper healthcare.
  6. Located between three deserts, Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world with a very dry climate. This extreme climate creates inconsistent rainfall patterns, which leads to long periods of drought and widespread famine. Groundwater, the only option for clean water, is often contaminated in wells or kilometers away. As a result, only 56 percent of the population has access to drinking water while 13 percent of the population uses proper sanitation practices.
  7. The people of Niger lack education about proper health practices with 71 percent of people practicing open defecation while 17 million people do not have a proper toilet. The lack of proper disposal for fecal matter affects access to clean drinking water by contaminating hand-dug wells meant to provide clean water to entire villages. This improper sanitation, contaminated water and insufficient hygiene contribute to diarrhea-associated deaths in Niger.
  8. In partnership with European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF Niger successfully advocated for the expansion of the national seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign and the inclusion of malnutrition screening in the country. In 2016, the malaria chemoprevention campaign helped 2.23 million children between three and 59 months suffering from malaria. Also, the incorporation of malnutrition screening contributed to an 11 percent decrease in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition in 2016.
  9. Doctors Without Borders has recognized the need for malaria and malnutrition care in Niger, especially during peak drought seasons. In 2018, Doctors Without Borders treated 173,200 patients for malaria, placed 42,300 people into feeding treatment centers and admitted 86,300 people to hospitals for malaria and malnutrition treatment.
  10. A UNICEF funded branch of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program is active in Niger and fighting to increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities to combat open defecation and poor hygiene. Currently, UNICEF is modeling a WASH-approach in 14 municipalities within three regions of Niger with the intent of opening new facilities, strengthening water pipe systems and managing water supply networks.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger depict a country attempting to improve the quality of life for its people despite social and environmental challenges. Slowly, with help from humanitarian organizations and nonprofits, the life expectancy in Niger will continue to improve.

Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

 

The U.S. Foreign Aid Freeze
On August 3, 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ordered two federal agencies to temporarily freeze billions of foreign aid funding. This decision ordered the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide accounts for all unobligated resources of foreign aid. Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Budget Office, said the order aims to ensure accountability. According to the Associated Press (AP), the letter lists 10 areas that the U.S. foreign aid freeze targets, including development assistance, global health programs and United Nations peacekeeping. In total, the freeze puts $2 billion to $4 billion of congressionally-approved funding on hold.

Subsequent Response

The U.S. foreign aid freeze has met with bipartisan criticism. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel said that the Trump administration has amounted to contempt and emphasized that congressionally-approved foreign aid is law and backed by the Constitution. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s criticism was harsher, labeling the freeze insane. In a letter to the OMB, lawmakers from both parties agreed that cutting foreign aid and development spending would not be in the interest of national security.

Critics of the OMB’s decision point to the fact that foreign aid spending makes up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget. Before the freeze, the U.S. spent $30 billion annually on programs to reduce global poverty. Liz Schrayer, the chief executive of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, claims the OMB is cutting one of the smallest portions of the federal budget, but one that could have catastrophic impacts on U.S. economic and national security interests.

Impacted Countries

The U.S. foreign aid freeze will directly affect Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries. The nation consistently ranks very low in various health indicators, such as life expectancy, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate. In addition, an estimated one million people or 9.2 percent of adults in Malawi live with HIV/AIDS with an estimated 13,000 deaths annually. In Malawi, USAID works to improve the quality of life by supporting development, education and health programs, especially those that prevent and treat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. Due to the Trump administration’s order, Malawi may not have aid for the remainder of this financial year. According to documents that Foreign Policy obtained, the freeze could also affect foreign aid to countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Funding for UNICEF projects to protect children account for a large portion of the U.S. foreign aid freeze. One of these programs involves early childhood education and development in Uzbekistan. According to UNICEF, only 30 percent of Uzbek children attend preschool while 70 percent are unable to achieve their full potential due to a lack of early education. UNICEF is rolling its program out across six regions in Uzbekistan and it has designed it to increase access to quality education for children. Regional instructors have trained 2,159 preschool teachers in child-centered learning and model schools, which have increased enrollment by 2,841 children. The U.S. foreign aid freeze will have a direct impact on similar programs across the globe.

Bipartisan Solution

On August 15, 2019, the OMB sent an official rescission request to the State Department to cut foreign aid funding by more than $4 billion, yet canceled the request a few days later. Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has made numerous attempts to cut foreign aid funding, and in some cases by as much as 30 percent. Members of both parties in Congress firmly rejected all attempts. Daniel Runde, former director of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) in the Bush administration, says development, diplomacy and defense experts are in full agreement that the Trump administration should work collaboratively with Congress to create a more robust and sustainable approach to foreign aid and development.

– Adam Bentz
Photo: Flickr

danceforchangeIt is not always easy to capture the attention of political leaders. Often, inspiring action requires a creative approach, unique storytelling and personal anecdotes. In May 2019, the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a dance challenge on TikTok called #DanceforChange designed to do just that. The award-winning choreographer Sherrie Silver paired up with African recording artist Mr. Eazi to use the immense power behind dance and self-expression to communicate the need for increased agricultural investment; this will play a significant role in the fight against global hunger and food insecurity.

With increased awareness and assistance from the IFAD, the duo intend to create opportunities for young people living in rural areas around the world. Since 1978, IFAD has provided $20.9 billion in grants and loans for international projects that have affected around 483 million individuals.

Numbers of Impoverished Children

The number of youths living in areas with extremely high levels of poverty remains high today. Almost 385 million of the world’s children live in extreme poverty. Around 260 million youths around the world do not receive a formal education, and children are considered twice as likely as adults to live in a state of extreme poverty. Global hunger is also rising; one in nine people in developing nations go to bed hungry each night. The dance challenge supports creating opportunities for youth to combat hunger and poverty, and is becoming an integral piece of the fight for change.

Sherrie Silver and Mr. Eazi

Silver and Mr. Eazi believe that the current generation has both the capacity and resources to put an end to global hunger. Their mission is to spark that change by reaching world leaders and establishing sustainable agricultural investment for current and future farmers. Silver was born in Rwanda and received a formal education in the United Kingdom. She has been recognized for her choreography in Childish Gambino’s award-winning video, “This is America,” which went viral in 2018. For the current campaign, she created a unique dance move for participants to mimic and believes that young people living in rural areas are beneficial and influential resources. According to Silver, “they have the power to feed the world and transform food systems if given the opportunity to succeed.”

Her partner, Mr. Eazi, is a singer, songwriter and entrepreneur from Nigeria. He recorded the song “Freedom,” written for and molded specifically towards the initiative. He wrote the song with the intention of portraying the agricultural industry in a positive light and enticing young people to get involved in farming. In a recording posted on TikTok, Mr. Eazi said he believes that “more investment in young people and farming means more food, more jobs and more freedom for us all.”

#DanceForChange

The global dance challenge creates opportunities for youth to advocate for sustainable agriculture and employment outlets. Young people around the world are encouraged to record a dance video that is up to 15 seconds long on short-form video app TikTok. For the challenge, Participants must download the app and create an individualized dance routine inspired by Silver’s choreography to “Freedom.” They then upload the video with the hashtag #DanceForChange to help spread the message and gain a wider reach. In June 2019, the IFAD released a Rural Development Report focused on developing opportunities for rural youth across Africa. The report is designed to identify what impactful roles young people can play in economic transformation and will be central to advocating for increased investment.

Sustainable Agriculture

In rural areas in Africa, agriculture is considered one of the largest sources of livelihood. It is not only a widespread source of income, but a means of food generation and familial support. Across the continent, it is estimated that 11 million young people will enter the job market over the next 10 years, and supporting sustainable agriculture can develop opportunities for rural youth searching for employment in urban areas. Agriculture accounts for 44 percent of all land use across sub-Saharan Africa, therefore designating the farmers that work on the land as key contributors to the international economy. Political figures and branches of government play a vital role in enforcing continued investment in agricultural systems and maintaining natural resources such as soil, water, forests and wildlife.

Success on TikTok

In May, the TikTok app ran a pre-launch promotion for #DanceforChange to project how widespread their reach may be. Nearly 5,000 individuals around the globe uploaded creative dance videos or memes with the hashtag to express their support for creating youth employment opportunities and fighting global hunger, proving that the unique dance challenge creates opportunities in a number of domains. Canada, India, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. had the highest levels of engagement.

Simply utilizing a creative initiative such as the #DanceForChange challenge can help spread awareness toward issues like global hunger, poverty, unemployment and other difficulties facing youth in developing nations. Through an art form as universal as dance, individuals across the globe are speaking to the combined power of media engagement and self-expression.

– Anna Lagattuta
Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about living conditions in palau

The Republic of Palau is a tropical island country made up of more than 300 islands, of which only nine are inhabited. With the surrounding blue waters, Palau’s marine environment is among the largest and most diverse in the world. This is why supporting the life of these ecosystems is critical for healthy living conditions in Palau. The country has a relatively high standard of living compared to other Pacific Island countries but the greatest risks to living conditions are increasing impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels. The following top six facts about living conditions in Palau concern the environment, economy and society.

Top 6 Facts About Living Conditions in Palau

  1. The government of Palau collaborated with the U.N. and created the Advancing Sustainable Resource Management to Improve Livelihoods and Protect Biodiversity in Palau project to enhance the management of sustainable resources, improve livelihoods of citizens and protect biodiversity in Palau. The project, which began in 2017 and will conclude in 2021, supports ecosystems in the context of small island life. Many national partners support the project and stakeholders from different industries can share different approaches to developing sustainable strategies.
  2. Palau is specifically dependent on foreign grants. In Palau, banks do not lend much domestically and instead, invest most of their assets abroad. A report on Palau by the International Monetary Fund, in conjunction with Palauan government officials, stated that in 2017, the loan to deposit ratio remained low at 12.2 percent. Credit to the private sector stood at 11.9 percent of GDP, despite an increase in domestic credit of 15.4 percent.
  3. Palau is an independent and sovereign state but is in free association with the U.S., which provides Palau with defense, funding and access to social services. Though this has helped levels of development in the country, the dependency could pose a risk if Palau stopped receiving foreign assistance. To manage the economy more closely, the government established the first Palauan financial bodies in the early 21st century.
  4. Education is mandatory for children in Palau between the ages of 6 and 14. The Ministry of Education has created a Palau College and Career Access Program that assists Palauan kids with college and career planning. For example, it hosts a database, Kuder, which allows students to explore different career pathways based on their interests and skills.
  5. The Palau Ministry of Education, both independently and in accordance with the U.S., offers scholarships and grants to Palauans who want to further their education abroad since the country has no higher education institutions. Additionally, the Palau National Scholarship Board created the Palau Fellowship Program to encourage Palauan university students to return to help the Republic and become leaders in their community. In 2019, 26 students were awarded the fellowship to intern at a Palauan organization relevant to each student’s career interests.
  6. Rural communities depend on small-scale agriculture, fishing and selling goods to sustain their livelihoods. Nonprofits like the Palau Conservation Society work to sustain both the citizens and the environmental heritage of Palau. One of its programs, the Conservation and Protected Areas Program, trains Palauans in community-based action to establish management plans and manage conservation sites of their own.

These top six facts about living conditions in Palau present the many challenges the Republic faces but also the solutions and strategies that have been created as a result. As Palau moves into the future, its government, in collaboration with the U.S., is making strides, especially in protecting the country from possible ecological threats and in offering more opportunities to young Palauan students.

– Melina Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

History of The United States Agency of International Development
Foreign aid refers to any donation that one country makes to help another. The United States has proven itself to be a leading figure in foreign aid projects through the work of the United States Agency of International Development (USAID). This article focuses on the history of USAID.

USAID is the United States’ foreign aid branch which is responsible for diminishing poverty, innovating development and ideological progress around the world. The organization harbors an interesting history scattered with different approaches and methods. Each decade has acted as an era to test new theories on how to best assuage purveying poverty.

A Quick Historical View

On November 3, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order that created the first U.S. agency that would take on global development challenges. USAID emerged “with a spirit of progress and innovation.”

The need for a specific agency to handle global development projects became clear after World War II. The Marshall Plan, active from 1945 to 1949, focused on rebuilding European nations after the damaging war. This demonstrated to U.S. lawmakers that providing assistance to stabilize countries is an effective way of initiating positive change. The 1960s was the decade of development. International powers united under the belief that poverty was a moral blot in the world. Groups like UNICEF and UNDP formed to strengthen infrastructure and industrialization in third-world countries.

Since its early stages, USAID has morphed and shifted focuses. The 1970s had a humanitarian ideal, the 1980s a market-based one and the 1990s saw an effort to stabilize democracy. The 2000s have thus far been reminiscent of USAID’s original purpose.  The all too numerous episodes of violence and war have caused much of USAID’s efforts to go towards rebuilding destroyed neighborhoods and governments.

How Does USAID Implement Aid?

The history of USAID shows that while the organization has taken on multiple approaches, funding methods have remained stagnant. USAID sometimes gives donations to governments and predominantly channels them through NGOs that use the money for very specific purposes.

Many NGOs use their budget to directly affect the lives of individuals and families. Communities receive humanitarian aid in the aftermath of natural disasters. Events like these are particularly harmful to impoverished individuals, as many of them rely on agriculture as the sole means of income. Education and health services are also a primary focus of NGO groups as these are both methods to bring third-world countries onto the modern development stage.

 Which Countries Receive the Most Aid?

There are over 100 countries that receive foreign aid assistance from USAID. The history of USAID shows that countries riddled with violence are often the highest receivers.

To date, USAID has given Afghanistan the most foreign aid from the United States. The country has received a considerable $4.89 billion in total. About 73 percent of this aid has gone directly to military projects. Counter-terrorist projects are particularly important in Afghanistan, as USAID attempts to stabilize legal and judicial systems that work to hinder the threat of violent groups. This not only protects the domestic Afghan population but also works to improve U.S. national security.

Iraq, Israel and Jordan are the next three countries that receive the most foreign aid assistance from USAID. The purpose of these donations is similar to that of Afghanistan.

Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya are also big receivers but for different reasons as economic aid is the primary concern. These programs are diverse and unique to the concerns of each country. Many, however, focus on relieving the spread of disease and allocating food security to suffering populations.

 A Recent Project

When reviewing the history of USAID, it is difficult to pick just one outstanding success. The record has shown that it has integrated democracy, erected countless schools and brought the miracles of modern-day science to neglected regions.

One of its recent projects that focuses on agriculture shows that USAID plans for the future and is also pragmatic. The Avansa Agrikultura Project from April 2015 to March 2020  focuses on farming in East Timor. At its completion, the project should help 5,500 individuals in earning more income and benefitting from a nutritious diet. USAID hopes to improve the daily goings of farm life in East Timor in addition to opening international trade markets to recipients.

A glance at the history of USAID personifies it as an organization dedicated to eradicating worldwide poverty through appropriate methods. With its record, it is no secret that this U.S. foreign aid branch poses as an international leader and will more than likely continue to be so in the future.

Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Countries being helped by the UNDPThe United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is a U.N. network that aims to eliminate poverty, increase resilience in poor communities, improve access to education and develop policies in struggling countries. One of the UNDP’s major projects is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This project focuses on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, clean water and sanitation and climate action.

The UNDP works with multiple struggling countries around the globe to meet these goals. Out of the 170 countries and territories being aided, below is a list of eight countries being helped by the UNDP.

8 Developing Countries Being Helped by the UNDP

  1. Nigeria: Nigeria is home to the highest number of people in poverty in the world, making it one of the poorest countries being helped by the UNDP. Due to this, the UNDP’s main focus in Nigeria is eradicating poverty. Since a large percentage of the poor population are farmers, the UNDP is working to make agricultural progress in communities and addressing challenges faced in terms of sustainability. In addition, the UNDP is working to create more jobs and improve access to sustainable energy sources.
  2. Afghanistan: A large part of Afghanistan’s population faces issues with the quality of life. The UNDP in Afghanistan aims to fight extreme poverty and inequality for the most vulnerable. Significant progress has already been made in terms of education. In 2001, only 70,000 school-aged children in Afghanistan were attending school. Currently, eight million children are attending school. The UNDP worked with the Ministry of Economy in Afghanistan in 2015 to spread the importance of Sustainable Development Goals for the country.
  3. Nepal: Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Due in part to the UNDP’s efforts in Nepal, major progress has been made in terms of eliminating poverty. Within four years, the country has reduced the poverty rate from 25.2 percent in 2011 to 21.6 percent in 2015. Specific goals the UNDP has for Nepal include building resilience against natural disasters, improving education access and improving access to basic resources such as electricity and clean water.
  4. Côte d’Ivoire: Through the anti-poverty program that was established by the UNDP, more than a quarter of a million people’s lives have significantly improved in Côte d’Ivoire. Through this initiative, 62 community organizations received monetary donations, project funding and vocational training to help them progress and reach their goals. In terms of agricultural issues, due to this program, fishing equipment has become more easily available and affordable. In addition, crop diversity has increased, providing more income and food options.
  5. Syria: Syria is a war-torn, impoverished country. As a result, Syrian people face issues with access to basic needs. This includes housing, access to necessary services and basic needs for women and the disabled. In 2018, the UNDP introduced the UNDP-Syria Resilience Programme, that focuses on improving the livelihood of such vulnerable groups. Through this project, more than 2.8 million Syrians were able to receive aid and benefits. These interventions have also produced benefits on a larger scale, including the creation of jobs, productive assets distribution and vocational training.
  6. Thailand: A large percentage of Thailand’s population lives in rural areas. Major problems for the rural poor include human rights issues, considerable economic inequality and weak rule of law. In Thailand, the UNDP is supporting and providing aid to ongoing projects and operations dedicated to problems being faced by its citizens. A major program the UNDP is supporting is the Thailand Country Program which focuses on environmental regulation and economic development. The UNDP is also working with the Thai Royal Government.
  7. Bangladesh: One of the biggest problems faced by Bangladesh is natural disaster risk. The UNDP started a project in January 2017 which is an ongoing collaboration with the National Resilience Program, the government, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and U.N. Women. It aims to develop strategies to create lasting resilience against unpredictable natural disasters, shocks, and crisis, that strongly impact the poor community. Specific aims of the project include strengthening communities, improving recovery and response to disasters and local disaster management.
  8. The Philippines: Approximately 25 percent of the Philippines lives in poverty. The UNDP’s projects in the Philippines include development planning, policymaking and implementing sustainable practices. One of the main aims of the UNDP is to localize poverty reduction and increase community involvement. The UNDP is also going about development planning in a way that will include increasing the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner while reducing poverty.

– Nupur Vachharajani
Photo: Flickr

Relationship Between Education and PovertyThere is a distinct relationship between education and poverty. Countries with inadequate education lead to a greater number of people in poverty. The Borgen Project had the opportunity to speak with the International Affairs and Outreach Director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, A. Aneesh. Aneesh is also a sociology and global studies professor at UWM.

Data on the Relationship Between Education and Poverty

If every adult received two or more years of education or completed secondary school, it could alleviate 60 million people from poverty, according to a study conducted by UNESCO. If everyone in school left school at basic reading levels, 171 million people could rise out of poverty. Educated people earn 10 percent more for every year they attend school. If everyone received the same schooling, poverty would decrease by 39 percent and there would be less inequality in the world.

According to Aneesh, the main cause of low levels of education is predicated on how highly valued and prioritized education is in societies. For example, places in developing countries may value farming over getting an education. Their families rely on farming to provide money, so it is what they value the most. Consequently, it is more important for them and their children to be working instead of taking the time for education. This is just one example of the relationship between education and poverty.

The United Nations also believes education needs to be prioritized in vulnerable areas. For instance, one of its top sustainable development goals is to mobilize countries to make education a priority. Fortunately, the U.N. made progress on the goal in 2016 when the participation rate in primary education had risen up to 70 percent. However, there’s room for improvement. Only 34 percent of primary schools in the world’s least-developed countries had electricity in 2016.

Opportunities Stem from Education

Aneesh said in his interview that “the kids and the teachers can’t be blamed. The issue is something larger. Society is the issue.” When suffering from poverty, things like education cannot be prioritized. Unfortunately, those with a basic education are offered benefits that the under-educated simply do not have.

Highly-educated people are offered many benefits such as dual citizenship. Both education and capital create a new transnational form of citizenship. The people that move abroad for jobs after receiving adequate education often return to their home countries and invest back into them. These opportunities are not offered to impoverished people. They are unable to improve themselves or their countries.

The Danger of Overprioritization

The way society handles education is another problem in the relationship between education and poverty. “School is the pivotal institution for our society,” said Aneesh. “We’re at a point where there’s no value for people who have no education.” Ultimately, society is the root of the problem of the relationship between education and poverty. It’s a macro issue, not just a problem among certain communities or areas. Society as a whole needs to change in order to alleviate impoverished people from receiving inadequate or no education.

The pendulum swings both ways. For one example of how society can influence priorities in education, Aneesh explained that this can involve too much stress, competition and pressure. For example, in China, parents suffer from “education fever.” Families must choose to pay for their child’s education or other costly things, and they most often choose education. They make this choice even if something else may be a necessity such as medicine for an ill family member.

To improve this problem, society must convince families that education is a priority and must be held at value, but not to such an extreme degree. “Education isn’t only about intelligence,” said Aneesh. “Intelligence is overrated, discipline, not so much. It’s about dealing with the environment. Awareness through education is an important ingredient.” Putting too much priority on education can create an unhealthy environment.

To resolve this issue, societies need to work to instill the value of an education in its citizens. Certainly, it needs to be a priority. Education is a solution to poverty, but it can’t function properly with societal setbacks, which is why it is so important to understand the relationship between education and poverty.

-Jodie Filenius
Photo: Flickr

Brown and UNICEF

On World Children’s Day in 2018, “Stranger Things” actress Millie Bobby Brown was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, making her the youngest to hold the title at 14 years old. UNICEF, which stands for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, is a nonprofit organization that has sought to provide aid for underprivileged children and protect their rights across 190 countries and territories since 1946. Brown’s role with UNICEF as an ambassador is to use her global platform to raise awareness of issues that affect youth around the world, such as lack of education, violence, poverty and bullying.

Children Taking Over for UNICEF

Before being named ambassador in 2018, Brown and UNICEF partnered in 2016 when the actress co-hosted the organization’s 70th anniversary event at the United Nations headquarters. The anniversary celebration was deemed a “children’s takeover” because it was hosted by Brown and other young celebrities who have been involved with UNICEF as well as young people who have directly benefited from the organization’s efforts. While co-hosting the event as a representative for the future of UNICEF, Brown interviewed soccer star David Beckham about his philanthropic efforts with UNICEF in his 11 years as an ambassador.

Millie Bobby Brown in Denmark

In Jan. 2019, Brown and UNICEF travelled together for the first time when the actress went to
visit the global supply headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. There, she assisted in assembling
early childhood development kits, which offer children in disastrous and contentious areas and living conditions a way to play and learn. The kits include art supplies, puzzles, games, books and puppets, and are given to caregivers helping in these areas. The kits are designed to be utilized by up to 50 children who are experiencing trauma and stress, and assist in creating a safe learning environment for them.

Brown also toured UNICEF’s supply and kit packing warehouse, the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world. Hundreds of necessities such as clothing and school supplies are sent from the warehouse every day to children and families in need around the world. In 2017 alone, $3.46 billion worth of supplies were sent to 150 countries in areas by UNICEF.

Collaboration Kits for a Cause

Representatives from Moncler, an Italian apparel and lifestyle brand, also accompanied Brown and UNICEF during the trip. In 2017 the Warmly Moncler project was launched in light of the collaboration between UNICEF and Moncler. The initiative provides winter survival kits containing hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, thermal blankets, socks and fuel to heat homes and schools to disadvantaged children and families in areas with harsh winter conditions worldwide. Since the collaboration was launched, over 38,000 families who live in some of the coldest countries in the world have benefited from the project.

For the future, Brown can be expected to continue to use her platform as an ambassador for
UNICEF to meet with as many children as she can, hear their stories and advocate and speak
out on their behalf.

– Cydni Payton
Photo: Wikimedia Commons