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The World Bank's Crisis Response
In early October 2020, the president of the World Bank Group (WBG) gave a speech to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the World Bank’s crisis response. In his speech, WBG president David Malpass discussed the enormous toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on developing countries. He also stated that the World Bank’s response would focus on alleviating poverty, inequality and debt burdens, and support educational and health opportunities.

Disparities

Dramatically uneven access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the globe is one indication of global disparities in economic well-being, which in turn have affected pandemic response capabilities. Lowering the transmission of COVID-19 requires the coordination of a globalized response. However, localized country-wide challenges in securing PPE, the most basic of pandemic safety necessities, prevent this possibility.

Illustrating this challenge is the fact that low-income countries have little economic agency to act during the global pandemic. Developed countries may face shortages in supplies of PPE. Those countries may even opt to reduce the supply of outgoing PPE sales in order to remediate domestic shortages. However, restrictive budgets, few local manufacturers and no way to import PPE exacerbate shortages in developing countries.

A 2020 National Institute of Health study estimated that if countries tightened up sales of PPEs, “export restrictions could initially increase prices of medical masks by 20.5%, Venturi masks by 9.1%, and protective equipment, such as aprons and gloves by 1% and 2% respectively” around the globe. Illustrating the problem, a recent survey of seven low-income developing countries across the world showed that on average, clinics and health centers were only able to supply two of four necessary PPE items to medical staff. The challenges presented by PPE distribution demonstrate the importance of the World Bank Group’s aid programs around the world.

Dual Challenges

Lockdown guidelines that have successfully “flattened the curve” in developed nations are not always a viable option for developing economies. For example, in India, nearly 90% of the workforce is in the informal employment sector. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86% of workers have informal employment. The nature of informal work requires workers to leave the house for work and as a consequence, choose between keeping their families fed or respecting lockdowns. Countries that struggle to lower transmission rates or offset the financial damage of lockdowns see dual challenges. Implementing measures that “flatten the curve” and lower transmission rates cause economic harm. On the other hand, failing to reduce hospitalizations inflicts strain on medical systems, leading to high infection rates and death tolls.

“A Fire That Must Be Put Out”

In the World Bank Group’s June 2020 COVID-19 Crisis Response Approach Paper, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is described as “a fire that must be put out.” As a direct result of the pandemic, for the first time in 60 years, the World Bank projected that Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) will see economic contraction. The global economy will likely shrink by 5.2% in 2020, the deepest recession since World War II. For comparison, the global economy shrank less than 2% during the 2009 financial crisis. A number of traits cause EMDEs to be especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s negative economic impacts. Traits such as weaker health systems, dependence on global trade and tourism exacerbate financial instability. For the first time in decades, global poverty will rise.

The World Bank Group’s Response

Despite challenges, international financial institutions, including the WBG, are moving quickly to prevent the loss of hard-won development growth in EMDEs. The WBG has recognized the new paradigm of the pandemic and as an organization, has shifted its focus to a crisis response agenda. In April of 2020, the WBG announced the first projects directly related to COVID-19 and prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over a period of 15 months to address COVID-19.

Like other international organizations, the World Bank’s crisis response to COVID-19 aims to focus on issues directly related to the pandemic. However, the WBG ensures a continuation of its broader development objectives by placing its COVID-19 crisis response agenda within its own Twin Goals. Adopted in 2013, its Twin Goals are to bring extreme poverty down and to promote prosperity among the bottom sector of every country. The WBG’s massive $160 billion project rollout focuses on direct response to COVID-19, and on protecting past economic development gains. This includes maintaining steady progress towards the Twin Goals.

The World Bank’s current crisis response agenda can be divided into near, medium and long-term agendas. These agendas are termed relief, restructuring and resilient recovery. Relief relates to dealing with the most direct impacts of COVID-19. Its restructuring plans include strengthening health systems, restoring human capital and restructuring social and economic sectors. Resilient recovery is about building a future in recognition of a changed post-pandemic world. In pursuing these plans, the WBG ultimately aims to assist at least one billion people affected by the pandemic.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

Nanotechnology is Alleviating PovertyIn its most basic sense, the concepts behind nanotechnology were formulated by acclaimed physicist Richard Feynman in 1959. Over the past four decades, nanotechnology has made significant advancements and research is expanding as costs are falling. Because of these innovations, nanotechnology is alleviating poverty worldwide.

Using Nanosensors for Water Management in Agriculture

Whether mechanical or chemical, nanosensors use tools to detect minor changes in chemical composition and relay information to change the dynamics of whatever they are monitoring. Nanosensors use artificial intelligence and computing to make adjustments as soon as any predicaments arise. Because of their sensitivity and small scale, nanosensors can detect problems well before other outdated instruments.

In a study for sustainable agriculture, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) asserts nanotechnology is alleviating poverty issues such as food insecurity. The OECD study concluded that nanosensors effectively detect changes in moisture across fields of crops. They then automatically adjust the disbursement of water and eliminate water waste while preventing crop losses. Farm machines outfitted with nanosensors detect moisture levels in different crops and suggest better-suited areas for specific crops allowing farmers to change planting patterns or change water allocations to other land plots.

Nanofiltration Membranes Provide Clean Drinking Water

Access to clean water is a crisis that many developing countries face. Usually, the first issue dealt with when fighting poverty is economic development so regulations are not often in place to protect against pollution. In some countries, scarcity of clean groundwater becomes problematic too. However, nanotechnology is alleviating poverty in these areas by providing clean drinking water.

Ghana was the center of a study on the effectiveness of nanofiltration membranes conducted by the International Water Association (IWA) and members of the Indian Institute of Science. The IWA chose to test Ghana’s groundwater due to the high level of pollutants present. During the study, it tested the levels of contaminants, bacteria and natural materials that render water non-potable before and after utilizing nanofiltration membranes.

The results of the IWA study were impressive. Not only did the study determine that nanofiltration reduces pollutants to potable levels, but executed efficiently enough, rural areas could produce enough water for more than 100 households. Ultimately, the conclusion was that nanofiltration was a low-cost solution for drinking water access and production in impoverished rural regions worldwide.

Nanotechnology to Fight Infectious Disease

Most original concepts of nanotechnology’s usefulness focused on medical care. The World Health Organization (WHO) has long been fond of utilizing nanotechnology in health care and fighting infectious diseases. The WHO now recognizes that nanotechnology is alleviating poverty in developing nations through scientific medical breakthroughs.

The first need for nanotechnology to address in developing countries is the diagnosis of disease. Nanobiotechnology allows for an inexpensive option to find multiple dangerous microbes using a single test. These technologies have improved over time and are being used in developing nations to detect most viral and bacterial infections, including tuberculosis.

The COVID-19 vaccine development shows the importance of nanotechnology in the prevention of disease too. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a nanocarrier system designed to activate the immune system to fight COVID-19 by assisting antibody production. The distribution of the vaccine to developing nations is now underway.

The Future of Nanotechnology for Poverty Reduction

Nanotechnology is alleviating poverty in developing nations, and with continued scientific inquiry and advancements in nanotechnology, new applications for poverty reduction will improve. Nanotechnology’s cost-effectiveness and versatility make it one of the most viable technologies to assist in the struggle against poverty.

– Zachary Kunze
Photo: Flickr

Education and poverty crisis in SudanOver three million children in Sudan do not attend school. The severe gap in the education system continues the cycle of poverty in the country. Chronic underdevelopment and conflict are two of the most significant reasons children in Sudan are out of school. Girls face additional hurdles such as cultural pressures and traditional views that prevent them from receiving an education. While 76% of primary age children attend school, in secondary, the number drops drastically to 28%. The Sudanese government and organizations such as UNICEF have stepped in to resolve the education and poverty crisis in Sudan.

The Education Crisis in Sudan

In South and East Darfur, there are 7,315 employed teachers, 3,692 of which are unqualified. In essence, half of the teachers that are employed in South and East Darfur are unqualified. Furthermore, many teachers in Sudan were  found to be “untrained, under supervised and unequally distributed between rural and urban areas.” Not only do schools often have teachers who are unqualified but the curriculum lacks active learning and teaching materials are either outdated or nonexistent.

The Relationship Between Education and Poverty

In their haste to escape poverty, people drop out of school in search of employment so that they can provide for themselves and their families. While a higher education often proves fruitful in finding a good-paying job, those in poverty do not have time to wait. Without an education, people living in poverty lack literacy and numeracy skills which are needed to advance in the working world. This cycle is repeated generation after generation, inextricably linking education and poverty.

Families living in this cycle of poverty often make the choice for their children, otherwise, they will not be able to provide food, water or shelter. And while some schools may be free of cost, the added costs of uniforms, books and supplies must be taken into consideration.

While poverty may have a negative effect on education, education has an increasingly positive effect on poverty. Proper education will increase one’s skill set and open the door to a world of new employment opportunities and increase the potential for higher income. With each additional year of schooling, earnings increase by about 10%. And for every dollar invested in an additional year of schooling “earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle-income countries.” UNESCO found that if all adults had two more years of schooling or completed secondary school, nearly 60 million people could escape poverty and 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, respectively.

Improving Education in the Region

The Federal Ministry of Education will implement nine strategies to improve the education and poverty crisis in Sudan. Based on these strategies, the following has been projected for the years 2018-2023: pre-school coverage will increase by 19%, basic education by 16% and secondary education by 7%.

Sudan will invest in enrollment programs and work to retain those already enrolled. The government will expand opportunities for education at every level to ensure that students do not drop out due to a lack of space. And in collaboration with global partners, the Federal Ministry of Education will work toward quality education that is accessible to all.

UNICEF’s Educational Efforts

By 2021, UNICEF intends to provide more children with the opportunity to have a quality education starting at a young age, in a learning environment that is inclusive and safe.

The organization will work with communities, parents, teachers and children to promote a socially cohesive atmosphere that even the most vulnerable of children can access. The Learning and Development Programme and the Ministries of Education will advocate for evidence-based surveys, field reports, community discussions and evaluations to mold policy reform in favor of inclusion. UNICEF and its partners will ensure the safety of schools by providing water, health and sanitation facilities. Additionally, children will be taught the proper behaviors surrounding health, nutrition and child protection. Schools will receive the support needed to ensure schools are free of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

The undeniable education and poverty crisis in Sudan has prevented most people from achieving a proper education and reaching their true earning potential. While most agree that education is important, many Sudanese people find that it is a luxury outweighed by life’s bare necessities. With the five-year plan developed by the Federal Ministry of Education and the help of organizations like UNICEF, the toxic cycle between education and poverty will come to an end.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

TechnoServe is Alleviating PovertyNearly two-thirds of developing countries rely heavily on the economic profit of agriculture to support local financial infrastructure. The industry holds high profitability but farmers rarely have the means to create a profitable business. TechnoServe works closely in agricultural advancements, creating capitalizing markets for countries to grow upon. Technoserve is alleviating poverty through its initiatives in the agricultural sector.

Training Skills for Farmers

Kenya, Haiti and Zambia are some of the many developing countries rich in natural resources that are in high consumer demand, such as mangos and cashews. The support and training skills implemented by TechnoServe work to profit on the supply and demand. These natural resources could provide significant economic growth if farmers are given the skills to create a profitable business. Technoserve has partnered with nearly 4,000 businesses and upwards of 300,000 farmers each year.

TechnoServe’s mission is to implement training methods that these regions lack, such as skills in management training, finance and secure markets that are needed to create profitable enterprises. The implementation of training skills and knowledge allows individuals and communities to continue to carry the skills for a lifetime.

TechnoServe has made a lasting impact for millions of individuals and in 2019 it was rated the number one nonprofit fighting poverty by ImpactMatters.

Focusing on Women’s Empowerment

The annual report from 2019 reveals an increase in entrepreneurship for farmers and women, highlighting specific countries, and more specifically, women’s impact. In 2019, 38% of beneficiaries were women or women-owned businesses. Overall, 317,493 individuals and companies, as a result of Technoserve’s help, display increased profitability and financial benefits of $200,579.

In developing countries, women face gender barriers that are disproportionally more likely to affect them. Women’s economic empowerment is vital for alleviating poverty and creating employment opportunities. Investing specifically in women’s economic opportunities, such as access to training, knowledge and resources, could impact farm production up to 30%, allowing for increased employment opportunities. Studies estimate that this change could impact the global GPD by 26%, or $28 trillion.

Women in Business (WIN)

Working closely with businesses and organizations, Technoserve is alleviating poverty by proactively working to create social equity within communities. Breaking the barrier of gender inequality to empower women-run institutions through funding and support, improves the quality of life and financial status. For instance, Technoserves five year program designed for women, called Women in Business (WIN), focuses on female entrepreneurs in Mozambique. Similar training is also provided for men through Technoserve, to create complete gender balance.

More than three-quarters of economically active Mozambicans are involved in small and informal businesses, 60% of whom are women.” Despite most business owners being women, their businesses are less likely to employ as many people and are relatively smaller than their male counterparts. Highlighting gender barriers, women face higher demands at home due to families and are not likely to receive the same networks, information and opportunity. The WIN program utilizes a market systems approach to produce partnerships with private sector companies, associates and service providers, to create an inclusive market for women. WIN is able to provide these women resources through the partnership established with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Sida assists TechnoServe’s initiative through funding, providing resources such as creating employment opportunities, equipment, financial services and products needed.

Overall, TechnoServe is alleviating poverty with initiatives in the agricultural industry and acknowledges the important role of women in this endeavor.

– Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

baseball players helping to fight povertyMajor League Baseball encompasses players from all around the world who go to North America to play the highest level of baseball. Players often come from humble beginnings and struggle along the way, in order to make it playing professional baseball. It isn’t uncommon for players to come from impoverished communities to play professional baseball. Players often want to give back to the people in their native communities who helped them achieve their dream, while also inspiring other athletes to help poverty-stricken communities. There are several professional baseball players helping to fight poverty. There are also baseball charity campaigns joining in the fight.

Baseball Players Helping to Fight Poverty

  1. David Ortiz: Ortiz grew up in the Dominican Republic and would later become a sports icon in Boston, winning three World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help children in Boston and his native country of the Dominican Republic have essential cardiac services that they need, like cardiac surgeries. To date, his children’s fund has provided over 1,600 low-income children with detection and screening for cardiac care, support for a regular rural outreach and detection program in the Dominican Republic and child life specialist support for over 4,000 children.
  2. Albert Pujols: Pujols also grew up in the Dominican Republic and is a three-time Most Valuable Player award winner and a two-time World Series Champion. In 2005, Pujols and his wife started the Pujols Family Foundation which aims to meet the needs of children with Down syndrome and improve the quality of life of impoverished people in the Dominican Republic. The foundation provides impoverished people in the Dominican Republic with health care, mentorship and education. The foundation set up a vocational school that teaches women how to sew and make jewelry. Over 18,000 people in the most desolate areas of the country have received medical care thanks to the foundation.
  3. Striking Out Poverty 2019: Throughout the 2019 baseball season, a number of individuals joined together to launch a campaign titled Striking Out Poverty 2019. The campaign is a joint initiative between Big League Impact and Food for the Hungry. Big League Impact helps impoverished communities have basic needs fulfilled like clean water, food and medical care. Food for the Hungry works in some of the poorest countries in the world, helping those most in need with food, along with educational and vocational training. Striking Out Poverty 2019 raised nearly $300,000 for these organizations through six sub-campaigns among individual players or teams.
  4. Luke Weaver: A pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Luke Weaver raised $132,610 through his 22X campaign, which will go towards helping Rohingya refugees. Weaver’s total amount raised came from his strikeout total which was 69. Through his donation and matching donations, each strikeout of his was worth $1,921.88.
  5. Nick Ahmed: Among the baseball players helping to fight poverty is Nick Ahmed. This shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks raised $104,575 from his Every Hit Makes a Difference campaign, part of which will go towards a community center in the Dominican Republic. The center will be a place for education and job training as well as a place to receive medicine. The total came through donations and his own contribution. Each hit of his amounted to $736.44 towards his campaign.

As an international sport that brings players together from all over the world and from all different backgrounds, baseball has the power to unite. Players like David Ortiz and Albert Pujols have given back to the communities that they grew up in, improving the lives of those who walk the same ground they walked before they were professional athletes. The Striking Out Poverty 2019 campaign has also helped individuals who are affected by poverty. The Professional baseball community and its fight against poverty shows the impact that can be made when individuals who have a platform help those in need.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Flickr

How to Stop Poverty
Even in the 21st century, nearly half of the world’s population, or three billion people, lives on $2.50 a day, and 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. Focusing on how to stop poverty is very important, both in the ways that an individual can have an impact and on the wider changes that need to be made to bring an end to poverty.

How to Stop Poverty

  1. Create Awareness
    Social media has become an integral part of daily life, and now is the time to use it as a voice of social good. Sharing links on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will allow people to learn more about global poverty and will increase the general consciousness of the issue.
  2. Take Action on Your Own
    There are a few simple ways we can help as individuals, such as funding a poor child’s education or by sponsoring a poor family and influencing others to do so. Raising money and donating it to a nonprofit can help as well.
  3. Donate
    Donations can help in so many ways. They do not always have to take the form of money. This can include donating books to a poor child or buying groceries for a poor family for a week to help fight hunger. Donating old clothes, furniture and toiletries can also help improve the well-being of the poor.
  4. Eliminate Gender Inequality
    With two-thirds of the world’s illiterate being female, the ratio of boys and girls should be made equal in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Girls that attend school are less likely to get married before age 18, thus decreasing child marriage rates by 64 percent worldwide. Similarly, literate women are less likely to spread diseases like HIV/AIDS due to a better knowledge of disease transmission, which helps to accelerate poverty reduction in the long run.
  5. Create Jobs Worldwide
    According to the International Labour Organization, 197 million people are without work worldwide. More employment options in a country mean more ways of how to stop poverty. To increase employment, non-literate people can be taught a few skills to make them employable.
  6. Increase Access to Proper Sanitation and Clean Water
    Access to clean water and sanitation directly affects health and education. Currently, 800 million people live without access to safe water and 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation. Dirty bathrooms keep girls from attending schools, thus stopping them from receiving an education. Lack of clean water spreads diseases like diarrhea and cholera, which take the lives of more than one million children each year.
  7. Educate Everyone
    Education helps increase individual earnings for every member of a family. UNESCO points out that basic reading skills can lift 171 million people out of extreme poverty, ultimately reducing the world’s total poverty by 12 percent. UNESCO also mentions there are currently about one billion illiterate adults in the world.

Above are a few solutions about how to stop poverty, but first, it is important to understand the roots of the problems that cause poverty. Since different countries have different reasons for poverty, there will never be a single solution for all. However, these seven actions can do a lot to alleviate poverty anywhere.

– Shweta Roy

Photo: Flickr


Poverty and learning are often talked about together, mostly because it is agreed upon that education is an avenue out of poverty. On an individual level, education can be the difference between a life below and a life above the poverty line. On a societal level, educating girls is seen as the closest thing to a silver bullet for eradicating poverty. Education can improve food security, improve health standards and improve gender equality. However, poverty impacts education just as much as education impacts poverty; poverty has a direct impact on a child’s ability to learn.

The Relationship Between Poverty and Learning

Poverty affects children on several levels, including physical, social-emotional and cognitive. According to the NIH, “the stresses of poverty lead to impaired learning ability in children from impoverished backgrounds.”

Physical

Children’s ability to concentrate is affected by poor nutrition and poor health. Additionally, prenatal drug use, environmental toxins and long-term exposure to stress and violence can impact physical health and cognitive ability before birth and are more common in low-income households.

Social-Emotional

Children living in poverty often see themselves as victims of a system, lacking their own autonomy or ability to make choices that actually affect their lives. This poor sense of agency affects their focus, initiative and engagement in the classroom.

Cognitive Development

Long-term exposure to stress hormones as a result of living in or near poverty, violence and trauma affects brain development. In particular, children living in poverty exhibit lower executive function (impulse control, emotional regulation, attention management, task prioritization, working memory, etc.) because their energy is focused on basic survival functions.

Limitations of Schools in Low-Income Areas

Schools located in lower-income areas have deficiencies that create their own barriers to learning for students. For example, even when tuition is free, there are other potentially prohibitive costs associated with attendance such as textbooks, school supplies, uniforms and transportation. Coupled with the loss of income from sending a child to school who could otherwise be working, there are distinct economic barriers to sending poorer children to school.

Schools in lower-income areas are also typically overcrowded and have limited resources and infrastructure. There are fewer books and computers to go around, and teachers may be unqualified to teach their subjects or may be burnt out from operating under prolonged resource strain.

Possible Solutions

There are many possible solutions for improving the relationship between poverty and learning. Incentives for qualified teachers to teach in low-income areas could be implemented. Disadvantaged schools could receive better resources and funding. More schools could be built in rural areas and better transportation to schools could be instituted. Funding and implementation for early-childhood programs for identified at-risk students could also go a long way toward improving learning outcomes for students living in poverty.

Education may be one of the keys to reducing and eradicating poverty, but only quality education, tailored to meet the unique needs of poor, malnourished and/or traumatized children will be truly effective in this and break the poverty/education cycle.

– Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr