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Cash-for-WorkIn the expansive refugee camps of Zaatari and Azraq in Jordan, a beacon of hope shines brightly through the implementation of cash-for-work programs. These initiatives, resulting from a partnership between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Jordanian government and a consortium of humanitarian organizations, offer more than mere employment opportunities; they provide a crucial pathway to empowerment and self-reliance for thousands of displaced Syrians seeking refuge from the turmoil of their homeland.

A Closer Look at Cash for Work Initiatives

Meticulously designing cash-for-work programs serves a dual purpose: aiding refugee communities by integrating them into the workforce and contributing positively to the local economy. Refugees take on various roles, from essential waste management tasks to teaching positions, each specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of the camp’s inhabitants. A notable project within the Zaatari camp saw refugees actively involved in constructing durable shelters, effectively transitioning their living conditions from temporary tents to more stable and permanent homes. This project gave refugees valuable construction skills and instilled a sense of accomplishment and community contribution.

Quantifying Impact: A Data-Driven Perspective

The success of these programs is more than merely anecdotal; compelling data and statistics support it. In 2021, the government and UNHCR released figures indicating that they granted a record-breaking 62,000 work permits to Syrians, marking the highest yearly figure since it was introduced. The financial injection is significant, but the psychological and social benefits extend beyond monetary measures.

For instance, Etidal, the primary caregiver of her severely diabetic husband, gained the ability to support her family financially through a volunteering opportunity with CARE International.

Over time, she transitioned into a hydroponics trainer, preparing others for similar opportunities. She expressed, “Through my job in the camp, I became the sole financial supporter of my beautiful family.”

Comprehensive Benefits and Psychological Impacts

The programs offer multifaceted benefits, significantly impacting participants’ mental health and community cohesion. Engaging in meaningful work allows refugees to regain a sense of normalcy, control and pride in their lives, combating the despair and idleness that can pervade camp life. These jobs fulfill immediate financial needs and foster a productive environment where refugees can contribute and feel valued by their community.

Despite their evident success, cash-for-work programs encounter challenges. Critics caution against potential risks, such as creating dependency or inadvertently distorting local labor markets. Furthermore, maintaining consistent funding and effectively scaling these initiatives to meet growing demands without compromising quality or sustainability remains an ongoing battle.

Conclusion: A Model for Humanitarian Aid

Cash-for-work programs in Syrian refugee camps exemplify humanitarian aid prioritizing dignity, empowerment and active community engagement. These initiatives provide immediate financial relief and pave the way for long-term development and self-sufficiency. By interweaving direct aid with strategic development efforts, these programs support refugee populations in reclaiming autonomy and preparing for a hopeful future.

As the world grapples with unprecedented displacement levels, success stories from Jordan’s refugee camps serve as a powerful testament to the potential of innovative, work-based solutions in humanitarian crises. These programs illuminate the path toward a more sustainable and dignified approach to refugee aid, offering valuable lessons and inspiration for global responses to displacement and poverty.

– Hana Al-Khodairi
Photo: Flickr

CARE BrazilBrazil’s history is rife with historical events that define its identity. Such events include colonization, wars and issues of rapid urbanization. CARE Brazil aims to fight persistent poverty and inequality in Brazil.

Brazil’s History

The colonization of Brazil began as early as the 1500s. Before European contact, Brazil had around two million to six million indigenous inhabitants living there. Portugal’s efforts to spread its colonies to the Asian and African continents led Portugal to discover South America during its journey to a water route reaching the Indies and an archipelago in Indonesia. The indigenous inhabitants of Brazil faced harsh rule from the Portuguese, and they subjected them to European diseases, ultimately killing a majority of the native population. 

Brazil’s economy originates in mining and agriculture, with its primary products of gold and sugar. From the 16th to 18th century in Brazil, the sugar industry contributed to most of the country’s wealth, while landholders with small amounts of land produced wealth through coffee and cotton. In the 18th century, coffee and cotton would become the country’s major exports. 

As a product of the Napoleonic Wars, Brazil gained independence in 1822 after centuries of Portuguese rule. In an attempt to seek refuge from the war, the Portuguese king fled Napoleonic rule in Europe to arrive in Brazil. This marked the moment Brazil started on its journey to gain independence from Portuguese rule. King Pedro I was responsible for the subsequent independence of Brazil from European forces. 

Poverty in Brazil 

In recent years, Brazil has experienced extreme poverty, with more and more of the country’s poor experiencing food insecurity and inequality. In 2021 alone, almost 30% of Brazil’s population lived in poverty. Some factors contributing to Brazil’s poor living below the poverty line can be attributed to preexisting economic and social challenges due to the country’s systemic issues. Brazil has high levels of inequality, high public debt, low education rates, low total factor productivity and deforestation, all contributing to the country’s challenges and hurdles. Although these issues are significant and burden Brazil.The country is an important player in the global economy with its goods and policies. 

Due to COVID-19, Brazil experienced an exacerbation of existing issues. The country faced a deep economic recession, further amplifying Brazil’s unemployment and economic issues. The repercussions of the pandemic are still visible today, with Brazil’s unemployment rate reaching 8.4% in January 2023. In addition, the country faces many ongoing challenges, with inflation and deforestation ranking among the top. 

Therefore, while Brazil has seen many conflicts and challenges, organizations such as CARE are committed to providing the resources and strategies necessary to garner long-lasting, meaningful change. 

CARE International

CARE is an international organization striving to fight global poverty and inequality. CARE focuses on women and young girls, aiming their fight against poverty and global, rampant inequality.

CARE tackles issues of economic justice, gender equality, inequality, crisis response, nutrition and health. By focusing on these issues, the organization strives to promote gender equality and eliminate poverty. According to CARE’s guiding philosophy, “At its root, poverty is caused by unequal power relations that result in inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities between women and men, between power-holders and marginalized communities and between countries. Poverty cannot be overcome without addressing these underlying power imbalances.” 

To achieve CARE’s vision on a global scale, the organization spreads its impact through humanitarian and development aid initiatives in over 100 countries. CARE utilizes its advocacy skills and innovations with programs that hone in on eradicating global poverty, specifically by targeting gender equality, the guiding beacon of CARE International. 

CARE Brazil

CARE’s help reached Brazil from 2001 through 2016. By partnering with Brazil’s government and local Brazilian organizations, CARE developed an approach to address structural challenges while prompting the country to respond to the needs of the impoverished. The organization develops programs implemented across multiple states within Brazil, working within various sectors to implement vocational training and offering help to those living in extreme poverty in Brazil by promoting local communities to form sustainable businesses and access to microfinancing. 

According to CARE, due to the large amount of forests in Brazil, the millions of inhabitants who live below the poverty line are more prone to the adverse effects of deforestation. Therefore, it is significant that the organization collaborates with Brazil’s state governments to tackle the issue of reducing the country’s overall poverty rate. CARE has helped Brazilian communities develop sustainable and responsible forest management and reforestation systems. The organization has also aided in policy reform by promoting state governments to form a metric identifying the effects and qualities of programs dedicated to decreasing deforestation in Brazil.

Although CARE’s reach extended to Brazil in 2001, in 2021 alone, the organization helped around 2,200 participants, 98% female. The magnitude of CARE Brazil is evident, underscoring their genuine efforts to bring about gender equality in the country. 

In 1953, Latin American countries, including Brazil, participated in war recovery efforts following World War II by sending CARE Packages to Europe. CARE packages, formed by the CARE International organization, help those living in poverty through emergencies and disasters. Since the 1940s, CARE has developed strategies to provide programs and solutions to needy people. The first CARE Package was delivered at the end of World War II and included meals and kits to be sent to people living in hunger in the aftermath of the war. Around 100 million Care Packages were sent to families across the globe. Today, CARE Packages include financial assistance and messages of hope to those working in health care, specifically addressing COVID-19. 

Today, CARE International works to develop solutions to the issue of poverty in Brazil by working closely with national partners to bring their vision to fruition. 

– Bianca Roh
Photo: Flickr

Organizations Making a Difference in the DRCThe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to the fourth largest population in Africa, with nearly two-thirds of its people living on less than $2.15 a day. The DRC is among the least developed countries in the world. Following the two Congolese wars, nearly 62% of the Congolese, roughly 60 million people, live in poverty. Adding to its challenges, the DRC faces the fourth largest Internally Displaced People (IDP) crisis globally, with 6.3 million displaced people. These hardships stem from the ongoing conflict that has plagued the country since the 1990s.

Brief History of Conflict in the DRC

The conflict in the DRC has its roots in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which led to nearly 2 million Hutu refugees seeking refuge in Congo. In fear of retribution, Hutu extremists formed militias, while Tutsi militias emerged to counter their actions. The Tutsi-led government of Rwanda, after defeating the genocidal Rwandan government, became involved in what was then called the Republic of Zaire, later renamed the DRC. Rwandan troops and Tutsi militias based in the Congo invaded Zaire, sparking the first Congolese War in 1996. The conflict resulted in the victory of Rwandan troops and the Zairean opposition, with Laurent Kabila, the opposition leader, assuming the presidency of the newly renamed Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tensions between Rwanda and the DRC escalated, leading to the second Congolese War in 1998. Kaila aimed to reduce Rwandan control over his government by removing Tutsis from his administration and weakening Rwandan military influence in the eastern DRC. Although the war officially concluded in 2002, the conflict persisted until 2004. Since 1996, the eastern DRC has witnessed more than 6 million deaths to casualties from wars, clashes between ethnic and militant groups and activities of local armed factions. In light of these conditions, there are a number of organizations working to make a difference in the DRC.

3 Organizations Making a Difference in the DRC

  1. Concern Worldwide: Established in 1968 by John and Kay O’Laughlin-Kenndey, Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental organization dedicated to combating extreme poverty in the communities it serves. It has been actively working in the DRC since 1994, employing 300 individuals to implement emergency livelihood, agricultural and health programs nationwide. In 2022, Concern Worldwide provided essential support to more than 150,000 displaced individuals through emergency cash vouchers and food assistance. It also improved the lives of more than 350,000 individuals in rural areas and displacement sites by providing water, hygiene and sanitation services. Concern Worldwide addressed gender inequality by reaching 3,866 women and 2,714 men through gender training and sensitization held in local communities, along with 1,215 children through school workshops in 2022. 
  2. Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE): Founded in 1945 by Arthur Cuming Ringland and Wallace Campbell, CARE is a non-profit organization that aims to defeat poverty and achieve social justice. It operates in 111 countries and has been working in the DRC since 2002. CARE focuses on humanitarian response, women’s economic empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, food and nutrition security and climate resilience. In 2021, CARE reached more than 1 million individuals in the DRC, with the majority being women. 
  3. International Rescue Committee (IRC): Founded in 1933 by Albert Einstein, the IRC is a non-governmental organization that works in more than 40 crisis-affected countries. It provides health care, education and community empowerment while addressing gender inequality. Since 1996, the IRC has assisted 2,764,357 people in the DRC. It focuses on regions like Tanganyika, Kasai Central and North and South Kivu, providing emergency support, peace-building projects, training for health care and government workers, assistance to sexual assault survivors, reproductive services and ensuring girls’ enrollment in schools. In 2022, the IRC reached more than 32.9 million people and supported 3,137 health care facilities worldwide. 

Looking Ahead

Despite the ongoing conflicts, these organizations making a difference in the DRC are actively assisting a country grappling with the aftermath of war, political instability and economic decline. As millions of individuals struggle to meet their basic needs, are forcibly displaced and endure the hardships due to the ongoing conflict, these partnerships and the critical ongoing work by Concern Worldwide, CARE and the IRC serve to alleviate the impacts of war and poverty and improve the lives of the people in the DRC.

– Clara Swart
Photo: Flickr

VSLA Program in Yemen
The Pilot Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program in Yemen is a microfinance initiative that aims to provide access to financial services to low-income households in rural areas of the country. The program is a joint effort between the Yemeni government and international organizations. Its ultimate goal is to empower communities and promote economic growth.

Approximately 1.1 billion women around the world are excluded from their respective countries’ formal financial systems. This reality becomes exacerbated during humanitarian crises. When a country experiences a crisis, its formal institutions stop operating optimally. This is exactly what has occurred in Yemen, as it continues to be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Almost 23.4 million people in Yemen are in need of assistance, and approximately 13 million of those people are children. The crisis has completely crippled Yemen’s political and financial institutions, and this vacuum is slowly filling with humanitarian agencies.

CARE International and VSLA

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is a major international humanitarian organization that delivers emergency relief and administers developmental projects around the world. Its aim is to fight global poverty and hunger. In 2021, CARE formulated and enacted a pilot program that ran from November 2020 to October 2021 and established 12 VSLAs in Taiz, Yemen, a city that has been a central and critical location during the civil war in Yemen.

A VSLA works by establishing a group of 15 to 30 members who meet regularly to provide the group with a safe and secure place to save money and access loans from the money collected from the members of the group. VSLAs also set up insurance funds to allow members to access money in times of emergency and crisis. An external party, such as CARE, provides training to these members to agree on a purpose for the VSLA, devise and settle rules for savings and loans and run regular meetings, amongst other responsibilities.

Benefits of VSLAs

One of the key benefits of VSLAs is that they are highly decentralized and community-driven. They do not rely on external funding or financial assistance. This allows them to be more sustainable in the long run. And, because the groups are self-governing, they are able to adapt and acclimate to the distinctive needs and circumstances of their respective communities. The main purpose of a VSLA is to serve people with low income who live in remote and poverty-stricken areas and have little to no credit. Ultimately, over time, a VSLA should increase access and control over assets and resources for group members.

 VSLA Distribution in Taiz

Although CARE initially planned to institute only 12 VSLAs in Taiz, it ended up with 16 formal VSLAs with 300 women by the end of 2021 because demand was high. Before the establishment of VSLAs in Taiz, 97% of people did not have any savings to fall back on in times of emergency, and almost 40% of households had to depend on negative coping strategies such as selling homes, skipping medication, or forcing kids to drop out of school. Afterward, the percentage of people in VSLAs with savings increased from 3% to 100%.

Furthermore, almost 50% of VSLA members were able to start small businesses, and the percentage of people using negative coping strategies dropped to 28%. Additionally, people in the community replicated these model VSLAs to create their own VSLAs, which resulted in total participation of 600 people in fully functioning VSLAs by the end of the program in Taiz. Additionally, over the course of the program, 88% of VSLA members distributed money from their respective VSLA social fund to assist people in need who were not part of VSLAs, creating a social security network in the city.

Challenges with the VSLA Program

Despite this success, the VSLA program in Yemen still faces a number of challenges. The biggest one right now is the ongoing civil conflict which makes it difficult and dangerous for external agencies to reach certain areas and guarantee the safety of program members. Additionally, because VSLAs are highly decentralized, it is difficult to replicate them in larger communities. As a result, the program could have a hard time reaching a larger number of people.

Looking Ahead

Thus far, the VSLA pilot program in Yemen is showing promising results in the communities it has impacted thus far. It has the potential to trigger economic growth and empower women in rural and impoverished communities. With continued support from the Yemeni government and CARE, VSLAs in Yemen could have the potential to create long-lasting economic transformation for low-income households in Yemen and beyond.

Aemal Nafis
Photo: Flickr

Transnational CompaniesA transnational company is a global company that has factories and offices in different countries around the world. The headquarters are usually in advanced countries and its factories and manufacturing facilities are in less developed countries. Most of the transnational companies have home headquarters in Western Europe, Japan or the United States. Suppliers can be anywhere in the world depending on the necessary goods. However, companies usually set up their manufacturing centers in places where labor is cheap to keep operating costs low.

The operation of transnational companies in less developed countries where rates of poverty are high can be helpful in aiding people to break out of the cycle of poverty, but the risks of exploitation and low wages are still present.

Advantages

  • Creating jobs for the local population – Undoubtedly, transnational companies create jobs for the local population; they account for at least one-fifth of total paid employment in manufacturing in a number of developing countries. The creation of more and more jobs not only boosts the economy of the country but also provides local workers with a stable income, albeit that pay is low. Furthermore, these jobs help in improving the skills of its employees, which can then be transferred to future jobs and taught to others in their communities.
  • Economic growth for the country – Transnational companies bring much-needed money into a developing nation. Although most of the profits do return to the company’s country’s headquarters of origin, the local economy does benefit. By boosting business activities in the country, transnational companies contribute to economic growth and development. They could also act as growth poles for other similar companies by encouraging them to locate to that country, thus bringing in even more economic support.
  • Developing infrastructure and technology – Developing countries do not have sufficient resources needed to boost research and development, leaving them technologically behind. Transnational companies however bring in technology and knowledge that the host country does not possess, consequently furthering their development. They are a source of inventions and innovations. Also, infrastructure in the ways of transport links, airports and services are also developed as a result of transnational companies.

Disadvantages

  • The exploitation of workers – Even though transnational companies do provide employment opportunities, they also can exploit the employees. The minimum wage rate for the workers is very low when compared to the work that they complete and the long hours spent, commonly with little or no breaks. The income that workers receive may be stable, but it is not enough to survive on, let alone enough to live a decent quality of life. In a desire for cheap labor, working conditions may also be poor and sick leave that workers are entitled to may be refused.
  • Environmental damage – Transnational companies often receive critics for their harm to the environment. The use of cheaper, non-renewable resources limits sustainability and the burning of materials such as plastic and rubber pollutes the environment. Developing countries need environmental sustainability since for many their health and livelihoods greatly rely on the natural environment and the risks of air and water pollution further diminish their development.

H&M in Ethiopia

One example of transnational companies operating in a less developed country are the textiles and fashion companies such as H&M, Guess and others in Ethiopia. They create job opportunities for local people and particularly for women. However, as mentioned above, the risks of exploitation are prevalent. Garment workers in Ethiopia are among the lowest paid, with a 2019 study from the Center for Business and Human Rights reporting that they have an extremely low pay of just $26 a month. This does not cover basic needs thus not enabling the workers to live a decent quality of life.

There are several NGOs who work towards tackling exploitation in the garment industry; one such example is CARE International, one of the biggest defenders of workers’ rights in all areas, including the fashion industry. It currently has work going on in 95 countries around the world, reaching 56 million people directly via approximately 1,000 projects and indirectly working towards 340 million lives globally.

The Overall Impact on Poverty

So, transnational companies do provide jobs and boost a country’s overall development, but at what cost? There are other ways to help local workers in improvising their livelihoods without the risk of exploitation and capitalist benefits. One such example of this is Farm Africa, a more sustainable and locally oriented initiative. Farm Africa is a charity that helps to reduce poverty by helping local people in eastern Africa to earn more from their produce. Working in DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Farm Africa works to boost the economic welfare of the people, whilst also ensuring environmental sustainability, thus protecting their environment for generations to come.

For a transnational company to be effective, it would need to involve the local people, not just use them for cheap labor to boost its own profits. It is imperative for an initiative to tackle poverty to be sustainable not only environmentally, but also socially and economically.

– Ruby Wallace
Photo: Flickr

5-charities-operating-in-cameroon
The nation of Cameroon is a Central African country with a population numbering roughly 27 million. Cameroon is categorized as a lower-middle-income country, with the COVID-19 pandemic having a considerable impact on its economy. Cameroon is currently facing a humanitarian crisis, with almost 4 million people in need of humanitarian aid amid continuing violence due to the Boko Haram insurgency in Cameroon and increasing numbers of refugees entering the nation. In specific, five charities operating in Cameroon aim to address the humanitarian crisis.

5 Charities Operating in Cameroon

  1. CARE International. CARE International is a nonprofit organization that has provided essential aid and assistance to Cameroon since 1978. The organization aims to address lack of access to water, food insecurity, disease outbreaks and environmental degradation. In Cameroon’s northern region, CARE International worked to “distribute emergency cash and health kits, promote community hygiene and nutrition and construct shelters,” according to CARE’s website. CARE International reached 5,849 people through crisis response initiatives in 2021, with a direct impact on more than 144,000 people across all programs.
  2. UNICEF. To address the humanitarian needs that Cameroon’s population is facing, UNICEF requires $76 million in funding to achieve its 2022 goals. The funding is most urgently needed in the areas of food and nutrition, child safety and protection as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In terms of health, UNICEF aims to provide measles vaccinations to more than 190,000 children in Cameroon. Additionally, UNICEF aims to treat more than 64,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
  3. Hope For Children Cameroon. Hope For Children Cameroon assists communities through education, sanitation and nutritional support programs. In its continued work, Hope For Children Cameroon has increased the quality of life of more than “3,000 children, youth, men and women.” Education is the charity’s prime focus, with projections that the continent of Africa will be home to more than one billion youth by 2030. To prepare for this future eventuality, Hope For Children encourages donors to support the Adopt a School Project, which aims to secure assistance to complete infrastructure and supply resources to provide education for Cameroonian youth.
  4. World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP is a U.N. food assistance organization that assists in combating food insecurity and malnutrition while providing related support to people throughout the globe. In Cameroon, the WFP estimates that more than 55% of the nation endures poverty, struggling to meet their basic needs, especially in rural areas. Through cash-based transfers, the WFP reduces food insecurity among families. The cash transfers also benefit local businesses and spur growth in local economies. Providing the necessary help on the ground is organized through the assistance of the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service, which has an approved budget of more than $5.7 million in 2022 for assistance to Cameroon.
  5. Action Against Hunger. Action Against Hunger has worked to address issues relating to food insecurity in Cameroon since 2014. Since it began its work in Cameroon, the organization has assisted in “treating [more than] 60,000 children and 28,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women” through mobile clinics, the organization’s website says. In 2020, Action Against Hunger reached 600,000 people through programs and initiatives.

Looking to the Future

Cameroon’s immediate needs for food, water, sanitation and disease prevention remain the most crucial obstacles to solve for charities operating in Cameroon today. Addressing the current humanitarian crisis amid violence and instability is essential to safeguard the well-being of citizens.

James Garwood
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in SomaliaSomalia is facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has affected millions. Over 70% of the country’s population is currently living in poverty, with more than 4.8 million people suffering from food insecurity. Political instability, armed conflict and extreme weather coupled with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has caused the country’s GDP to decrease by 1.5%. Extreme weather caused over $3 billion worth of damage to Somalia in 2018 which was more than 50% of the country’s GDP. The current state of Somalia has only deteriorated with the need for humanitarian support increasing. Food insecurity, malnutrition and access to clean water in Somalia are major issues requiring continued humanitarian attention.

Access to Clean Water in Somalia

The United Nations has reported that over 2 billion people globally lack access to clean water. UNICEF reports that only 52% of the population of Somalia has access to a water source. With such a low percentage of the Somali people having readily accessible clean water, preventable diseases become a greater threat. Access to clean water in Somalia means improving sanitation, hygiene and decreasing susceptibility to diseases like cholera, diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Save the Children has reported that droughts have left 70% of Somali families lacking access to clean water. The survey gathered responses from over 630 families in 18 provinces of Somalia. Droughts have led to crop failures resulting in more people struggling with food insecurity. Without access to clean water, women and children face an increased risk of health-related issues, like preventable diseases and childbirth complications.

Providing Clean Water in Somalia

Mercy-USA for Aid and Development is a nonprofit organization from Michigan that has been working in Somalia since 1997. The United States-based nonprofit has projects spanning several countries including Syria, Kenya and Yemen. The programs in Somalia are developing self-reliance skills through education, skill training and food and water assistance. In order to combat the crisis of accessibility to clean water in Somalia, Mercy-USA is building wells for the Somali people. The organization has built over 700 wells, which have provided clean water to over 750,000 people. The organization can build a new well for $3,500 which can provide water to an entire community.

CARE International is a non-governmental organization based in Switzerland that has been providing humanitarian aid to Somalia since 1981. The organization has been helping mitigate the damage that extreme weather like floods and droughts have had on Somali agriculture. CARE’s programs in Somalia have helped over 250,000 people through improvements to clean water accessibility, sanitation and hygiene. The organization works with local authorities and international organizations to treat preventable diseases like acute watery diarrhea. CARE International has provided over 10,000 people access to clean water. The organization’s ongoing projects include efforts to improve agriculture, sanitation and develop local businesses.

Looking Forward

With extreme weather displacing communities and damaging agriculture, more people are finding themselves without access to clean water in Somalia. The Somali government is working to expand assistance and opportunities to those suffering from the effects of poverty with the support of humanitarian organizations like Mercy-USA and CARE International. The poverty rate is expected to remain at 71% as the Coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates food insecurity and displacement. Continued humanitarian support is necessary to improve the situation of the Somali people and ensure everyone has access to clean water in Somalia.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo:Flickr

COVID-19 and Global Poverty
Since early 2020, the entire globe has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic and attempting to address the outbreak properly. Most of the world’s population is currently under some form of social distancing as a part of a response to the outbreak. From scientific research to increased travel restrictions, almost every country is working on ways to boost the economy while managing the spread of the virus. However, COVID-19 has affected much more than the economy. Here are four ways COVID-19 and global poverty connect:

4 Ways COVID-19 and Global Poverty Connect

  1. The Consumption of Goods and Services: For most developing countries struggling with poverty, much of their economies depend on commodities, such as exports. Food consumption represents the largest portion of household spending, and the increase in food prices and shortages of products affect low-income households. Countries that depend on imported food experience shortages. The increase in food prices could also affect the households’ inability to access other services such as healthcare, a major necessity during this time. These are two significant connections between COVID-19 and global poverty.
  2. Employment and Income: The self-employed or those working for small businesses represent a large portion of the employed in developing countries. Some of these workers depend on imported materials, farming lands or agriculture. This requires harvest workers and access to local farmers’ markets to sell produce. Others work in the fields of tourism and retail. These fields require travelers, tourists and consumers — all of which lessen as COVID-19 restrictions increase. Without this labor income, many of these families (now unemployed) must rely on savings or government payments.
  3. Weak Healthcare Systems: This pandemic poses a major threat to lower-middle-income developing countries. There is a strong correlation between healthcare and economic growth. The better and bigger the economy, the better the healthcare. Healthcare systems in developing countries tend to be weaker due to minimal resources including beds, ventilators, medicine and a below-average economy. Insurance is not always available for low-income families. All of this affects the quality of healthcare that those living within the poverty line receive. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Public Services: Low-income families and poor populations in developing countries depend on public services, such as school and public transportation. Some privatized urban schools, comprised of mainly higher-income families, are switching to online learning. However, many of the public rural schools receiving government funding do not have adequate resources to follow suit. This could increase the rate of drop out. Moreover, it will disproportionately affect poorer families since many consider education an essential incentive for escaping poverty. Aside from school, COVID-19 restrictions could prevent poorer families from accessing public transportation. For developing countries, public transportation could affect the ability of poorer families to access healthcare.

Moving Forward

There are many challenges that families across the globe face as a result of COVID-19. Notably, some organizations have stepped forward to help alleviate circumstances. The World Bank, Care International and the U.N. are among the organizations implementing programs and policies to directly target the four effects of COVID-19 mentioned above.

For example, the World Bank is continuously launching emergency support around the world to address the needs of various countries in response to COVID-19. By offering these financial packages, countries like Ethiopia, which should receive more than $82 million, can obtain essential medical equipment and support for establishing proper healthcare and treatment facilities. These financial packages constitute a total of $160 million over the next 15 months as a part of projects implemented in various countries, such as Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan and India.

Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Kosovo
In the aftermath of a civil war in the 1990s, Kosovo is riddled with hunger and poverty. Inadequacies in education, employment and healthcare all contribute to food insecurity and scarcity in Kosovo. Here is some information about poverty and hunger in Kosovo.

Obstacles

Kosovo is Europe’s youngest country, just inland of the Adriatic sea and is home to around 1.85 million people. Available poverty data from 2011 shows that almost one-third of the population (29.2%) lives on less than $2 per day and an additional 10% live in extreme poverty ($1.20 per day). Many households reported that aside from property, food was their most significant expense. Research indicates that in many low-income houses, as much as 40% of a household’s income went toward food.

In the 1990s, Kosovo suffered from a prolonged civil war and as a result, its economy is still recovering. Long term stability seems distant with high unemployment rates. As the USCIA reported, youth unemployment sits at 51.5% for males and 64.8% for females, making it the second-highest in the world at 55.4% (ages 15-24). Meanwhile, reports determined that the unemployment of the working-age group was 32.9%. Due to a lack of economic reforms and investments, these unemployment rates remain high and unwavering.

Protracted problems of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss contribute to problems of food scarcity. Once an agriculturally sustainable area, droughts and infertility made land unfarmable. As a result, the country gradually has become less self-sufficient and is now heavily dependent upon imported goods.

Healthcare

Nutrition insecurity is widespread. In addition to lacking consistent access to food, it is even more difficult for people to find foods with adequate nutrition. Unsurprisingly,  obesity and anemia rates have risen due to a lack of consistent access to nutritious foods. The World Bank states that “[food] producers also face large losses on perishable and nutritious food as consumption patterns shift towards cheaper staples.” The loss of local nutritious foods further contributes to the problem of nutrition security and perpetuates health conditions like obesity and anemia.

Historically, chronic hunger as a result of poverty has characterized Kosovo. “In 1999 in Kosovo, 11,000 children older than 5 years were estimated to be acutely malnourished and about 17,000 would be affected by stunting. Over 5% of the surveyed mothers had a BMI below 18.5 and more than 10% were obese.” The same report stated that “58% of the children were anemic.” These statistics are significant obstacles to the country’s development.

Solutions

While there have been considerable improvements in Kosovo’s development, there is still plenty of room to grow. Until Kosovo can reach a point of self-sufficiency, aid should go to those in need.

The good news is that there are several nonprofit organizations operating in Kosovo to help relieve some of the stressful effects of poverty on its citizens. One of these organizations is CARE International, which aims to promote peaceful resolution of conflict and stability in the country. Since its foundation in 1993, effective strategies have been petitioning to increase foreign aid, educating the public and encouraging volunteer work and fundraising for the most vulnerable communities in Kosovo.

Along with functioning nonprofit organizations, the U.N. has implemented a plan, the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA), which establishes an official relationship between Kosovo and the E.U. Through this agreement, Kosovo has received more aid and is on a more sustainable path. “This agreement is a milestone for the E.U.-Kosovo relationship. It will help Kosovo make much-needed reforms and will create trade and investment opportunities.” The economic stability produced through this agreement will provide jobs and allow for progress within the country, eventually leading to more independent governance.

Allyson Reeder
Photo: Flickr
Poverty in Norway
USA Today ranked Norway, a European nation known for its beautiful national parks, winter sports and northern lights, eighth on the list of Top 25 Richest Countries in the World. The average life expectancy for a Norwegian at birth is 82.5 years, over a decade more than the global average. Norway is also one of the countries with the lowest child mortality rate. Impressively, Norway also has a very low poverty rate (at 0.5% as of 2017). However, contrary to the conventional image of Norway being a very affluent country, many Norwegians still live in poverty. Here are four facts about poverty in Norway.

4 Facts About Poverty in Norway

  1. Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the unemployment rate in Norway was 15.7% as of June 2020. The unemployment rate in Norway is at its highest since WWII. Pre-COVID-19, however, the unemployment rate in Norway had been already decreasing since 2016, from 4.68% (the nation’s highest unemployment rate since 2005) to 3.97% in a matter of three years. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration has a website for unemployed Norwegians to use in order to seek unemployment benefits.
  2. As of 2016, 36% of children born to immigrants were living in poverty in Norway, compared to 5% of children with parents native to Norway. This economic discrepancy is due to Norwegian immigrants often having large families but only one source of income. Many immigrants also have skills that their home countries considered valuable but inapplicable in the Norwegian job market. Another factor to consider is how common it is for Norwegian children in poverty to lack access to proper education, perpetuating issues related to poverty as they become adults and for families of their own.
  3. The age range with the highest risk of being in poverty in Norway is 18-34 years of age. Poverty affects many people in this age group the most because they are graduating from universities with debt, have large families and/or cannot find suitable employment within the Norwegian job market. There is also a sharp increase in poverty rates for elderly Norwegians (from 70 to 90 years of age) because they are past the typical working age. Other determinants of poverty include education level, family size, employment and marital status.
  4. Poverty is low in Norway due to the nation’s emphasis on collectivism and efficiency with job placement. The nation places major significance on cultural identity, values and practices, all of which add to their homogenous society that allows for many native Norwegian people to prosper socioeconomically. The country also has a rather small population (5.4 million as of 2020) even though Norway has a large amount of landmass. Norway also significantly contributes to petroleum export, which improves its economy greatly. Sustained tourism also positively adds to the nation’s wealth. Norway has a lesser rate of migration compared to other nations such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The nation has a stable democratic system of government with highly effective and trustworthy politicians who are extremely proactive in handling the welfare system. Reasons such as these have contributed to recent miscellaneous surveys citing Norway as “the best country to live in.” While this may be true for some, this ranking does not take into account the voices of those who live in poverty.

Looking Ahead

Although Norway has a very small poverty rate, the nation still experiences poverty: more specifically, poverty in Norway’s immigrant communities. One way Norway can address poverty is by helping ease the transition of immigrants. Potential methods include more school funding, free or low-cost language lessons and an expansion of the job market. An example of a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Norway’s poor is Care International’s Norwegian chapter, a global group whose volunteers participate in humanitarian aid and poverty-fighting projects. Being such an affluent and progressive country, with some more money, time and energy, Norway can be on the track to lowering its poverty rate to zero.

Kia Wallace
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