five-trending-approaches-to-alleviate-global-povertyAlthough global poverty has been trending downwards over the past century, the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unparalleled setback to nations’ efforts to improve the well-being of their citizens. However, governments, NGOs and IGOs alike have created new strategies to get incomes back on track. Here are five trending approaches to alleviating global poverty:

5 Trending Approaches to Alleviating Global Poverty

  1. Expanding purchasing power through cash payments. The government of Niger attempted this approach for citizens living below the poverty line. A mere 24 monthly payments of $16 caused household spending power to double. This increase in spending money also allowed beneficiaries to gain more free time. Economists in this experimental trial noticed that the households tended to utilize this free time for increased productivity instead of leisure, which caused a greater increase in economic activity.
  2. Cash transfers with a larger purpose. Burundi’s cash transfer program also teaches citizens living in poverty to manage budgets, create financial goals and execute entrepreneurial goals. The cash transfers have allowed-for beneficiaries to reap the rewards of higher schooling, agricultural entrepreneurship and reduced rates of malnutrition.
  3. Trade agreements for a better-connected world. The proposed African Continental Free Trade Area is projected to raise wages by 9% and remove many barriers to trade that cause a reduction in economic activity. By 2035 this trade agreement could bring 18 million new jobs and a 32% raise in African exports.
  4. Promoting sustainability through aid. The Swiss government pledged $155 million to the United Nations Development Program’s fight to promote sustainability and alleviate global poverty. This funding allows for an increase in democratization, civic engagement and income equality.
  5. Encouraging gender equality in education. The World Bank estimates that the education gap between men and women has cost $30 trillion in lost economic activity that would have occurred if education levels were equal. Since women with a secondary education earn twice as much on average as those with no education, the correlation between wealth and education is both strong and convincing. The Malala Fund aims to utilize political advocacy to ensure that all girls across the globe can access 12 years of free education. By closing this education gap, economic activity will increase in developing nations where girls do not have access to schooling.

The economies of both developing and industrialized nations took a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many developing nations lacked the capabilities to remotely learn and work, which caused these nations to face even more economic turmoil than their industrialized counterparts. For example, U.S. internet penetration rates are approximately 89%, compared to developing nations such as Zimbabwe, where only 21% of citizens have access to the internet. Although there was an unprecedented upswing in poverty rates during the pandemic, strategic approaches to education equality, entrepreneurship and international aid can prevent further setbacks in the fight against global poverty.

Salvatore Brancato
Photo: Flickr

Green Trade
Following the impacts of COVID-19, many developing countries are attempting to rebuild their economies and alleviate the financial hardships of the people facing these impacts. Prior to the pandemic, the International Energy Agency predicted that renewable energy would expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024. As of 2022, it seems many nations are more focused on economic advancement rather than avoiding environmentally dangerous actions. Many world organizations are advocating for “greening trade” as a new growth strategy that could protect the environment and benefit nations with high poverty levels as a consequence of the onset of COVID-19. Green trade has the potential to transform developing countries.

What Does Greening Trade Mean?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), greening trade involves promoting sustainable measures to engage in trade that do not pollute land or water. The process focuses mainly on engaging in trade with renewable energy and energy efficiency markets. Greening trade helps the environment while maintaining trade relations for economic prosperity.

Evidence of Success in Greening Trade

In 2019, Palgrave Communications reported that the green trading industry generated $1.3 trillion in the United States economy alone. The industry has created 9.5 million full-time jobs in the U.S. In China, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that a mix of carbon taxes and green investment could have the potential to increase China’s GDP by 0.7% and create more than 12 million jobs by 2027. It is clear that green trade has created success in major economies globally.

How Can Greening Trade Reduce Poverty?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) released a study in January 2022 suggesting that more trade in green technologies could help developing nations transition to a low carbon economy. This is an advantage for nations with impoverished populations because new guidelines by WTO may require green practices in the future. In consideration, implementing green policies could prepare developing countries for future trading markets while preventing the countries from lagging behind.

Greening Trade Begins in Developing Countries

In September 2021, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative hosted an event to explore opportunities for green trade with Europe’s new Green Deal. The event occurred in hopes of encouraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to do the same. The AfCFTA is projected to bring 30 million Africans out of poverty simply by means of trade and would benefit from engaging in green trade to maintain trade relations with the United Nations. The recent African Green Recovery Action Plan states that “for the COVID-19 recovery to be sustainable, it must link a green recovery with an inclusive recovery.” The plan insinuates that marginalized groups and those in poverty can benefit from green plans.

The World Bank states that Vietnam should use its resources to promote green trade to maintain a competitive edge in international markets and generate new, innovative jobs for the unemployed to combat pandemic-induced poverty levels. Green recovery is crucial in the post-COVID-19 era to improve the conditions of those in poverty, specifically in developing countries that have the opportunity to rebuild.

Ways to Green Trade

UNEP suggests four ways that governments can actively engage in greening trade:

  1. Enforce strong environmental laws and regulations both at a national and international level.
  2. Have governments create trade rules and agreements that promote environmental awareness.
  3. Promote intergovernmental cooperation on green trade through improved monitoring, green trade finance and sustainability impact assessments.
  4. Identify stakeholder initiatives to green trade and supply chains to craft policy that complements such efforts.

Green trading is a relatively new industry and its full economic potential has not yet come to fruition. If developing countries take advantage of engaging in green trade now, these nations could be setting themselves up for the future of trade in general while benefiting their economies.


Rachel Reardon
Photo: Flickr

Fighting extremism in West AfricaWhile mainly known for causing violence and havoc in the Middle East, Islamic extremists have been expanding their presence in the West African and Sahel regions for years. Most of these groups are affiliated with either the Islamic State (such as Boko Haram) or Al Qaeda (such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimi). These groups have carried out unspeakable atrocities in the West African region: kidnapping schoolgirls, recruiting child soldiers, targeting civilian markets and villages, committing massacres against herders and killing American special forces operators. As a result of these actions, nearly one million people in Burkina Faso have been internally displaced, along with 240,000 in Mali and a near half-million from Nigeria.

Poverty Brings Extremists to West Africa

West Africa is an attractive target for jihadist groups because of its extreme poverty levels, lack of government law enforcement and scarcity of basic services. In West Africa, 30% of the population lives on around $1.90 a day; in Nigeria, 60% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Government services such as electricity and education are also lacking; 70% of impoverished girls in Niger never attended primary school.

In exchange for recruits, jihadist groups are providing services such as medical aid, protection and access to water. It is widely known that poverty creates conditions advantageous to radical groups. For instance, Boko Haram has pushed into the Lake Chad region, which suffers from particularly poor governance. They use the area as a base to conduct offensive operations against the surrounding villages. The same strategy has helped many radical groups gain traction in West Africa. Knowing this illuminates how to fight extremism in West Africa.

The Path Forward

One path toward fighting extremism in West Africa is providing basic services to the local population. Many governments’ military forces have had a reputation for human rights abuses. They are now trying to win over local populations by providing vital services. This helps governments gain legitimacy in the minds of the people, while it helps them combat terrorism.

Another solution is an initiative known as African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), which aims to create a single market in the African Union. Such an agreement would create a large free trade zone that would increase the prosperity of many countries in the African Union. This will address some of the socioeconomic conditions that create weak states. These conditions often make regions vulnerable to radical groups, so AfCTA can also help fight extremism in West Africa. The United States, particularly Congress and the White House, has largely supported this initiative.

Fighting extremism in West Africa will require multi-level analysis and solutions. Focusing on military-oriented solutions may seem tempting, but these are only short-term quick fixes. Instead, new organizations and initiatives must address the root causes of extremism. Increasing governmental support and bringing prosperity to the people of West Africa is the surest way to prevent jihadist groups from gaining greater influence in the region.

Mustafa Ali
Photo: Flickr