The UK StrikesRecent unrest amongst various public-sector industries in the U.K. has ballooned amid rising inflation and stagnating wages. The ongoing U.K. strikes appear to be a result of these issues, and to an extent, present a picture of the situations abroad and the need for aid.

Record Strike Action in Over 30 Years

Strikes seem to have almost become part of normal life in the U.K., with sectors engaging in industrial action ranging from public transportation to education, post services and health care. February’s strike of ambulance staff, nurses and physiotherapists marked the National Health Service’s most dramatic strike since its beginning 75 years ago. Yet, there is still no lasting solution in sight. Insufficient pay is the biggest reason for those taking part in strikes, as public-sector wages have not kept up with record-high inflation, which makes disposable income much tighter for those who work for government-controlled entities.

A Global Crisis

The ongoing cost of living crisis in the U.K., including sharp increases in the price of energy bills and food now at a 45-year high, is causing a lot of unrest within the country, but these problems are not unique to the developed world. If communities in one of the world’s wealthiest countries are struggling, it points to the harshness of the situation for those in low-and-middle-income countries. Inflation has been surging abroad also and is more likely to have devastating effects on communities that were struggling to attain basic life necessities before the price hikes. The U.N. estimated in the summer of 2022 that the increase in costs of food and energy will plunge an additional 71 million people into poverty, with forecasts suggesting that Sub-Saharan Africa and the Balkans could be two of the worst-affected regions.

The Bleak Situation Abroad

In 2022, strikes in developing countries’ health sectors were also widespread, including in Zimbabwe, where the government passed a controversial bill limiting workers’ ability to strike in 2023. Poor pay and working conditions were the underlying reasons for the strikes, with similar situations in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka where poverty levels continue to increase.

Why Maintaining Aid Is Essential

Delivering aid helps reduce political insecurity and the chance of conflict, which benefits all countries. Improving health standards abroad is also crucial for preventing the rise of global epidemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also the potential for new markets to open in countries assisted by aid in the future. This is another economic opportunity for developed countries like the U.K. Finally, there is the opportunity to gain more soft power, or global political influence, through the maintenance of foreign aid. Improving existing friendships and partnerships can potentially result in positive outcomes for the countries involved. And developed countries working with less-developed nations in economically challenging times could be crucial for geo-political relations.

Looking Ahead

In the face of ongoing strikes and rising living costs, the need for aid becomes evident not only within the U.K. but also in low-and-middle-income countries facing similar challenges. Reports suggest that providing foreign aid is essential for reducing political insecurity, preventing global epidemics and fostering economic opportunities for both developed and developing nations. It also presents an opportunity to strengthen global partnerships and promote positive geo-political relations in economically challenging times.

– Hannah Naylor
Photo: Unsplash

Advocating for Developing Countries
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs commits itself to raising awareness on “global issues of the day” and advocating for developing countries. Founded in 1922, the organization has raised awareness for global poverty through social media, podcasts, articles and rallies. The organization has not only raised money and awareness to the cause of global poverty, but it has also educated the world on how individuals can shape the future of the earth without bias. It shows how a person has the ability to provide aid to another who is starving, undereducated, ill or impoverished. The organization exhibits how to turn people’s lives around through supporting global initiatives and programs that aid the world’s poor.

Raising Awareness

Weekly podcasts focusing on various international issues allow listeners to gain knowledge of the problems facing developing nations. The podcasts allow listeners to find out about service events happening near them, giving them the ability to act and support what is going on to help developing nations.

Listeners and supporters can also submit questions to the council on global issues. Following the same podcast format, the council educates the public on international problems, solutions to those problems and how the listeners have the chance to support the cause as well. This weekly podcast has an open submission throughout the week and tackles a new topic during each session.

As well as podcasts, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs also uses social media resources to educate people. For the last three years, the council has released public surveys, asking questions regarding the importance of global affairs. The organization allows those surveyed to state his/her opinion on why he/she thinks it is important to aid the world’s poor. Additionally, the survey also asks questions and public opinion on global, political issues facing countries.

As well as using social media sources, the council holds events globally to raise awareness of global issues. These events tackle problems such as immigration, hunger in developing countries, the need for education in developing nations, and various other topics. These events allow everyday individuals to serve people globally, whether that be through the donation of time or money. Furthermore, these events give the opportunity to make a difference and help the problem.

How the Council Fights Hunger Internationally

In addition to advocating for developing countries by reaching out to the public, the Council focuses on how its own efforts can benefit the poor. For example, in 2009, the council lent its voice in support of Feed the Future, the Obama Administration’s USAID’s food security initiative. This initiative focuses on solving food scarcity for 23.4 million people living under the poverty line, globally. This program set in motion a task force within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that examined how the application of technology to agriculture could facilitate “food system transformations,” that would potentially usher in a new agriculturally urbanized world.

Through the efforts of this task force and many others, over 900 innovations have emerged to feed the hungry and impoverished. These innovations have lifted approximately 5.2 million families out of hunger. Meanwhile, its efforts also raised over $3 billion to stunt food scarcity between 2011 and 2018. Additionally, agricultural sales have generated $12 billion across the globe. This program has economically supported countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Benin, Kenya and many others.

Looking Forward

While the Chicago Council on Global Affairs works on advocating for developing countries by highlighting the needs of those facing starvation, extreme dehydration, political misconduct and other debilitating circumstances, it goes a step further. It also provides solutions to fix those problems, supplying resources for those who want to help but do not know how to do so, such as by providing donations to those in need and utilizing social media to raise awareness. Through these efforts, the Council shows that an individual does not need wealth or pomp but a willing heart and some time to make a difference in this world.

– Alexis LeBaron 
Photo: Flickr