Posts

Poverty in YemenWar and conflict exacerbate existing poverty. According to the World Bank’s 2007 Global Monitoring Report, fragile states, defined as those in civil war or without legitimate authority to make collective decisions, account for one-fourth of global poverty. In low-income countries, poverty rates average 22%, whereas, in states with conflict, the rates skyrocket to 54%. Poverty in Yemen is no exception to this trend. Yet, the world may consider Yemen the example of conflict exacerbating poverty if fighting continues. The 2019 United Nations Development Project (UNDP) report, Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen, estimates that Yemen could rank as the poorest country on Earth by 2030 if the conflict continues. Here is some information about the relationship between conflict and poverty in Yemen.

Yemen’s Civil War

The seeds of Yemen’s conflict began because of the disorganized power transitions that the 2011 Arab Spring prompted. However, 2015 marks the descent into a foreign-backed civil war. Since then, fighting between the Northern rebel Houthis have continued to decimate civilian communities and exacerbate poverty. Iran has backed this fighting, because of Shia religious interests, along with the remaining Yemeni government. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority countries trying to curtail Iranian influence have also supported it.

The 2019 UNDP report outlines poverty rates in both conflict and no conflict trajectories and shows that without conflict, Yemen’s poverty rate could drop dramatically. Though the country’s poverty rate started rising in 1998 due to poor economic growth, the conflict that began in 2015 increased the depth of poverty by 600% showing the relationship between conflict and poverty in Yemen. The amount of Yemen’s population that now lives in poverty, defined as less than $3.10 a day, hovers around 75%. UNDP projections suggest that 65% of that number could live in extreme poverty by 2022, meaning that they would exist on less than $1.90 a day.

Already struggling with poverty before the conflict, fighting in Yemen compounds the problem by destroying critical infrastructures, like hospitals. On top of that, the pre-2015 economy flatlined. However, the most harmful effect has been on the food supply. As Yemen relies on imports for more than 90% of its food products, the war’s blockades and bombings prevent stable food transportation from ports. Oxfam International reports that two-thirds of Yemen’s population cannot predict where their next meal will come from.

Future Projections

Many say that Yemen suffers the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and such suffering will only increase with continued conflict. For example:

  1. By 2022, the UNDP report projected that 12.4 million Yemenis could live in poverty and that 15.8 million Yemenis could live in extreme poverty if the conflict persists.
  2. It also suggested that the depth of poverty could increase to 6,000% by 2030 compared to the rate of poverty in pre-war Yemen.

However, if the conflict ends soon, Yemen would stand 8% closer to the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality than it did in 2014. If the conflict ends, the total projected poverty in 2030 would underperform 2014 levels by 3.1 million.

Foreign Aid to Address Poverty

To address poverty in Yemen as well as poverty in other war-torn states, organizations have recently implemented academic findings on the relationship between poverty and conflict.

Borany Penh, founder of the international data science and research firm, Dev-Analytics, and a researcher at the USAID Learning Lab says that “cross contributions from academic fields are beginning to clarify the kinds of solutions to poverty and conflict possible through institutional partnerships.” Penh has argued that fixing the disconnect between academic literature and on the ground efforts would remedy less successful poverty reduction efforts in fragile states. Recent USAID funding acknowledges this point and now incentivizes partnerships among such fields.

For example, to better address poverty in Yemen, USAID currently funds the Yemen Communities Stronger Together (YCST) grant which supports projects and institutions that focus on social cohesion in poverty-reduction efforts. Scholars, organizations and businesses qualify for YCST. This variable grant allows the intersection of academia, nonprofit organizations and businesses to combat poverty while capitalizing on stabilization opportunities. So far, YCST gave out two $30 million awards and plans to report on its impact after the three-year implementation period ends.

On the Ground

In addition to coalition forming efforts like YCST, decreasing poverty in Yemen requires logistic strategies for navigating conflict and fighting poverty. Many nonprofits help via basic aid services, but to do so, they must create solutions to disperse aid while circumventing war zones. The World Food Programme (WFP) found great success in this arena.

Understanding the limitations of transportation in Yemen, WFP attempted to spread food imports as widely and directly as possible. Through the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service and partner organization, Logistics Cluster, food aid reaches four major cities including Aden, Hodeidah, Sana’a and Djibouti, via air and sea routes. Each month 12 million Yemenis now access WFP food rations because of reimagined delivery systems.

However, in areas with viable markets, WFP works to provide cash assistance which, while fighting hunger, also bolsters the economy. The WFP provides food to school children too. Targeting devastated areas of Yemen, the WPF incentivizes education while addressing childhood malnutrition with a school lunch program that provides small meals to 680,000 students. This reflects the new nonprofit focus on sustainable poverty recovery rather than long-term reliance on service distribution.

Many other organizations have devised new ways of bringing aid to Yemen as conflict persists. However, as Penh argues and the institutions highlighted above actualize, linking nascent poverty and conflict studies to field practices is the most hopeful strategy for fighting poverty in Yemen and other fragile states. By ending the conflict which causes such extreme poverty, countries should not face dire projections that place their populations at risk.

– Rory Davis
Photo: Flickr

End Neglected Tropical Diseases ActApproximately one billion people are affected every year by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in an estimated 149 countries. In tropical and subtropical areas, NTDs abound in a variety of 17 communicable diseases, including Chagas disease, dengue fever, leprosy, river blindness, rabies, worms (round, whip and hook) and trachoma to name a few. This is why the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act was created.

Rep. Christopher Smith introduced the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 28, 2019. The proposed bill addresses international development regarding NTDs as well as provides funding for those who strive to help end NTDs. The bill also states that it will expand the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Neglected Tropical Diseases program and the Global Fund. Here are five facts that explain the primary objectives of the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act.

Five Facts About the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act

  1. The bill proposes that USAID help individuals suffering from or at risk for contracting NTDs by providing drug treatment packages. Rep. Smith also urges beginning similar programs that target large at-risk communities, particularly children five and up. These programs will have a high impact with relatively low costs.
  2. These programs will also attempt to coordinate with USAID and its development sectors. Specifically, the program aims to organize with USAID regarding aspects such as “education (including primary and pre-primary education), food and nutrition security, maternal and child health and water, sanitation and hygiene.”
  3. The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act addresses the need for the Global Fund to start recognizing and working with NTDs. The Global Fund is a public-private entity that focuses on assisting people with AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The bill urges the Global Fund to focus on female genital schistosomiasis in addition to providing treatment for HIV/AIDS.
  4. Rep. Smith’s proposed bill also addresses the need for a center of excellence. This section of the bill addresses the provisions for obtaining a cooperative agreement or a grant. The grant can be given to either a public or private nonprofit organization. It will fund the basics costs needed to create the centers in order to “conduct research into, training in and development of diagnosis, prevention, control and treatment methods for neglected tropical diseases.” These funds can be used for basic operating costs such as staffing and administrative duties as well as patient care costs. The grant funds may also be used for the training and continued education of health professionals as well as for establishing programs to educate the public on NTDs.
  5. The bill would create a panel for worm infections. The Secretary of Health and Human Services would use this panel to research worm infections and deworming solutions and medicines. It will also develop five strategies for preventing recurrent infections, providing sanitation solutions, developing safer, better medicines and improving the cost-efficiency of the existing programs regarding worm infections.

The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act aims to produce programs that will help eliminate tropical diseases that are rampant in developing countries. If it passes, it could bring much-needed hope for approximately one billion people in developing countries around the world.

– Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

2018 USAID Initiatives
The 2018 USAID initiatives included many successful programs to combat global poverty. Certainly, USAID plays a fundamental role in addressing the needs of the developing world through programs that rebuild infrastructure, increase agricultural diversity and reduce crime rates. Here are five facts about USAID’s accomplishments in 2018.

Five Facts About USAID’s 2018 Accomplishments

  1. Food For Peace – In 2018, the USAID Office of Food For Peace provided assistance to 76 million people in 59 countries. It accomplished this through cash transfers, food vouchers, cooperation with regional and local institutions and other services. Food For Peace donated 254,275 metric tonnes of development food assistance. Additionally, the initiative donated 2,244,815 metric tonnes of emergency food assistance. Food For Peace spent $350 million on development programs designed to directly combat poverty. Furthermore, Food For Peace implemented initiatives related to the improvement of agricultural practices and child nutrition in Guatemala.
  2. AIDS Relief – The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) saw great progress in 2018. With the support of the U.S. government, PEPFAR’s work even placed 13 countries with high rates of HIV on the path to controlling their epidemics by 2020. In 2018, the organization expanded vital AIDS treatment to reach 14 million people. Just over six million children orphaned or affected by AIDS received support from PEPFAR. Furthermore, 250,000 health workers received training and were able to go to the countries that needed their help the most.
  3. Access to Assistive Technology – In July 2018, USAID instituted ATscale: A Global Partnership for Assistive Technology. USAID intended ATscale to increase global access to assistive technology like hearing aids and wheelchairs. ATscale’s goal is to provide assistive technology to 500 million people by 2030 through partnerships with the U.N., the WHO and others.
  4. Central America – Another fact is that several 2018 USAID initiatives focused on Central America. Currently, USAID investments are a source of funding for a restructuring of El Salvador’s tax system. Another USAID program provides job training to young adults in Guatemala. USAID cooperates with the State Department to provide community programming that reduces crime rates.
  5. Aid Transparency – In June 2018, USAID introduced its 2018 Aid Transparency Index. This index, run independently of USAID, will make aid data visible to the public. No other development agency has undertaken a measure like this. Consequently, by making data about its spending available, USAID will be more likely to receive increased support for its initiatives, especially ambitious ones such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Overall, in 2018, USAID involvement was a positive force for the citizens of many countries throughout the world. The U.S. International Affairs Budget funded countless 2018 USAID initiatives that served a multitude of purposes. For example, treating AIDS in Africa or assisting farmers in Central America. Although the projects that USAID funds are diverse, they share a common purpose: to create a more peaceful world. To encourage continued congressional support of USAID, U.S. voters can contact their representatives here.

-Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr