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Roadtrip to End PovertyOver 300 youth members from the Victorian contingent of the Oaktree Foundation’s ‘Roadtrip to End Poverty’ joined to urge Australia to increase its foreign aid!

Currently, Australia spends 0.35 percent of its gross national income in its fight against poverty, and the movement is calling for 0.7 percent. On March 12th, red was the color that these youth ambassadors wore and painted all over Albury. 16 groups, each group composed of 5, has started on a series of road-trips to meet with various members of parliament urging them to raise foreign aid.

According to road-trip manager, Catherine Nadel, the movement’s political goal is to increase foreign aid, while the social goal is to create “a movement of young leaders.” For two of the involved members, twin sisters Jacinta and Sharon Robinson, “poverty is a matter close to their hearts.” Jacinta experienced living on 2 dollars a day for a week last year; thus both twins developed an appreciation for those who constantly and consistently live in poverty.

The road-trip ends in two days, on Sunday, in Sydney.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: Border Mail

Fijian Exports Seeking New MarketsFor many Pacific Island Countries, a huge factor in their economic survival and competitiveness is their agricultural exports. In Fiji, aid coming in from the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand has significantly helped farmers and other agricultural workers to either maintain or boost their production and business outreach into various markets. Recently, however, there has been a stalemate for the Fiji Export Council (FEC) in making sure this sector that employs 60-70 percent of Fijian is able to reach its full potential.

There are many different types of funding that sometimes go unnoticed by farmers and those in the industry that could make the difference in breaking even or making a profit. These funds can be put towards something as simple as buying new equipment or even helping advertise a company’s products to markets outside of the general PIC area.

Programs have been created over the past two years whose focus has been specifically on working with distributors to bypass certain export regulations that have inhibited them from selling their products in different markets. Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA), funded by the Australian government, helps target specific markets for high-value Fijian goods. Through collaboration with government agencies, PHAMA tries to help in the application process and a basic understanding of the different rules and regulations Fijian companies must by-pass to sell their goods.

Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) is similar to PHAMA in its goal to increase exports, however, it works with other PIC such as the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, among others.

Having the financial support and involvement of Australia and New Zealand as well as the EU is important to minimize the distance that money and information have to travel to Fiji and other PICs. Eliminating a huge geographical distance allows the Fijian agricultural sector and its various workers to operate faster and have greater transparency.

Although the FEC is focusing on its agricultural sector which employs so many people, it may also be wise to shift some of their energy into revamping their tourism, as this is their second-biggest source of revenue aside from sugar export. For island countries, tourism provides a high number of jobs and has the ability to completely transform the economy; a major revitalization project currently being undertaken by another island country, Haiti.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Fiji Times

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: TheNews.com
Photo: Pakistan Today