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Maternal Health in PeruEfforts to improve maternal health in Peru have seen incredibly positive growth in recent years. At one point, the country was losing mothers to childbirth and childbearing causes at an incredibly high rate. Now, it is far more in line with its neighboring countries’ maternal health rates. However, some regions of Peru that are more rural remain causes for concern by both the Peruvian citizens and government when it comes to the health of mothers.

A Look at the Numbers

In 1990, statistics were released that showed the under-five mortality rate of children to be a staggering 80.3 per 1,000 live births in Peru. The maternal death rate was 200 deaths per 100,000 live births. These statistics were both among the highest in South America. The Peruvian government and the greater world quickly recognized a need to step in. They needed to create change in the quality of maternal healthcare in the country. Two primary programs helped lead the fight for improving conditions for women and maternal health in Peru between 1990 and today.

Mothers Matter

In 2006, CARE ran a crucial case study and program to benefit the health of mothers in Peru called Mothers Matter. The program sought to protect the lives of women through a combination of implementing family planning education. It also provided well-trained medical professionals in obstetrics and postpartum care and addressed big-picture concerns in Peru’s health policy.

As part of the Mothers Matter program created by CARE, the organization partnered with Columbia University. It did this to create The Foundations to Enhance Management of Maternal Emergencies (FEMME). Through FEMME, the organization reduced maternal deaths by 50% in a region of Peru called Ayacucho, one of the poorest in the country. FEMME was driven by eight central goals including standardizing obstetric care. The goals also included working with medical professionals to improve the use of referrals and creating new emergency guidelines for obstetric and newborn care. Throughout this program, the organization stressed a maintained focus guided by human rights.

PARSALUD

Additionally, in 2017, The World Bank reported helping to fund a program called PARSALUD. It aimed to support the Peruvian government and its goals to reform healthcare for women and children. The program successfully helped to improve family planning practices. It also improved healthcare services for women in need of pregnancy and postnatal care. The organization claims a 30% increase in hospital deliveries for women in rural areas. It also claims an increase of almost 50% of women attending a prenatal care visit before their second trimester.

Progress and Remaining Concerns

These organizations, the government and the resilience and dedication of citizens in Peru know they deserve better. As a result, the under-five mortality rate is now down to an all-time low for the country at 13.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, this is not the end of the story for maternal health in Peru.

The regions which are poorer, more rural and more populated by Indigenous people are still suffering more deaths. These deaths are due to improper health education and lack of access to safe facilities and competent care. They are also a result of language barriers between Indigenous and Spanish-speaking citizens. For example, according to recent reports, Puno, a primarily Indigenous area, maternal mortality is nearly 50% higher than the country’s average.

Overall, great strides have been made in the care for maternal health in Peru. Nonetheless, it will require continued efforts by everyone involved to bring proper health equity to the varying regions of the country and its mothers.

– Aradia Webb
Photo: Flickr

Educating Children to Become World CitizensThere has been generally positive growth in the awareness of global issues for a long time now. Global poverty is one such issue. Cases of successful poverty reduction can be used as inspiration for encouraging global engagement from a young age. Educating children to become world citizens may very well inspire them to become future leaders for positive changes worldwide.

However, the subject of poverty can be a difficult concept for students to grasp. It is especially challenging for those who have no exposure to a world beyond their own. Teachers who feel passionate about exposing children to global poverty must consider the age of their students. Depending on the class’s age, teachers can determine the best methods and approaches for introducing such an important topic.

Potential Curriculums

  • Ages 6-10: For children at such a young age, the concept must be sensitively introduced. One such way to do this is by framing poverty through a story. A storybook allows children to make comparisons between someone their own age living in poverty and their own lives. Afterward, the lesson encourages them to ask questions and relate their own experiences to what they are learning about.
  • Ages 11-13: Children at this age are already more aware of the small differences between themselves and others. This awareness makes 11-13 the perfect age range to introduce children to cultures apart from their own. For the lesson, instructors may assign children a specific country that is facing extreme poverty and ask them to research schools in that country. Students may then compare the resources, teacher’s education and accessibility of the school they are researching to their own school. Documenting these differences in a notebook allows the children to then use the notebook as a reflection of what they have learned.
  • Ages 14-18: As young adults explore their lives and their futures, they are excited to explore different and new concepts. They are also developing their own opinions about their passions and beliefs. Exposing them to different artistic observations of poverty through documentaries and photography helps young adults see impoverished countries as unique and vibrant rather than poor and helpless. Additionally, young adults become more aware of their own finances at this age. Students making their own money for the first time are able to sympathize with lessons on the economy of poor countries, such as microfinancing and budgeting less than $1 a day.

Organizations Educating Children to Become Global Citizens

Exposure is critical when educating children to become world citizens. Introducing pertinent organizations and speakers who have been affected by global poverty or work closely in fighting it makes lessons come to life.

  • Edutopia, founded by George Lucas, this foundation is on a mission to transform education. One of its goals is to provide children with the knowledge that will help them in the real world when they grow up. The website provides teaching strategies including how to diversify what students are taught. The 5 Minute Film Festival is a resource through Edutopia that gives teachers access to various documentaries. The festival also includes the Change Series, published by the creators of the documentary Living on One Dollar. This includes episodes on the challenges developing countries face. Some such challenges include access to clean water, resources for natural disasters, and the prevalence of malnutrition.
  • CARE is an organization that works to make a difference in countries facing extreme poverty. They recognize education as a primary resource in poverty eradication and provide a toolkit for teachers addressing some of the major challenges in making poverty a thing of the past. CARE uses the United Nation’s Millenium Development Goals as guidelines for lessons and activities such as women empowerment, disabilities and diseases. 
  • TV Programs: Journalist David Brancaccio hosts PBS NOW, a program that addresses domestic issues but also goes beyond by looking at the world as a whole. The show addresses foreign affairs, the environment and health. Teachers can use the show’s various topics, such as child brides and climate change, to assist in educating children to become world citizens.

Hope for the Future

Children’s rising interest in international issues from an early age allows them to see the world from a different perspective. There has already been a lot of success in reducing global poverty. Yet, understanding challenges across the globe is often overlooked – even by people in wealthier countries that are given the luxury of education. By exposing children and allowing them to explore the world, teachers are educating children to become world citizens.

Zoe Schlagel
Photo: Flickr

Childhood Stunting in Bangladesh
Stunting is the impaired development of children usually due to malnutrition. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh in South East Asia has had one of the highest levels of stunting for children under 5-years-old. It measured at 45% of children under 5 in 2000. A growing national economy has reduced the number of childhood stunting in Bangladesh to 36%. However, this is still a high considering that poor nutrition in the first years of a child’s life can contribute to irreversible damage to health, growth and development.

With the aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bangladesh government’s National Nutrition Council Executive Committee has put forward a Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition targeting improvements in countrywide sustenance. It is the first funded nutrition program of its kind in Bangladesh. Nutrition is an area that requires addressing in the country. As a result, nonprofit organizations including UNICEF, CARE and the World Bank have worked in cooperation with the government’s nutrition program. They developed a collective impact to fight childhood stunting in Bangladesh.

CARE Collective Impact

Nonprofit organization CARE develops disaster response, food and nutrition, health and education for impoverished people globally. The organization’s approach is to link with partners. Together, they execute CARE’s programs as well as support promotions on a national scale. In Bangladesh, CARE has developed the Nutrition at the Center program. It follows the Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition. According to a CARE survey, the program has helped reduce stunting in children less than 2-years-old from 47% to 33%.

UNICEF

Additionally, UNICEF is a nonprofit organization that supports children globally through partnerships. The organization is working in cooperation with the Bangladesh government’s Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition in making a collective impact to fight childhood stunting in Bangladesh. UNICEF has developed research-based programs that reduce stunting within the first 1,000 days of life. This includes counseling on the proper nutrition of pregnant mothers to reduce underweight babies and improve childhood feeding. This highlights the diversity of foods, improves vitamin use and treats infection and severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

The World Bank

Furthermore, the World Bank is a nonprofit organization that invests knowledge and money in developing countries. The organization views investing in Bangladesh’s nutrition as an investment in the future socioeconomic potential of the children. Among children under 5, about 5.5 million are stunted, and out of that number, poorer children bear a disproportionate burden of stunted growth. The World Bank’s plan includes supporting childhood nutrition as well as a conditional cash transfer for 600,000 families.

Bangladesh has made considerable progress but continues to struggle with childhood nutrition. Children born stunted will potentially experience later puberty development and cognitive impairment. This can lead to poor school and later work performance. Stunted women often end up having stunted children, continuing the cycle. Therefore, programs that invest in proper nutrition are vital. The Bangladesh government’s nutrition program seeks to reduce childhood stunting by 25% by 2025. With the collective impact of fighting childhood stunting by nonprofit organizations like CARE, UNICEF and the World Bank, this goal can potentially become a reality.

Joseph Maria
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Myanmar
The term “living conditions” encompasses all the major necessities in life, shelter, food, safety, water and electricity. In recent years, living conditions in Myanmar have vastly improved, as shown through formal statistics and public opinion. For instance, public electricity in the nation has increased by 8% between 2015 and 2017 while connectivity also increased, with 82% of households owning phones. Public opinion polls of citizens reflect these positive statistics. Specifically, 91% of Myanmar residents believe when today’s children grow up, they will have a better standard of living than themselves. Many major organizations, including those discussed below, have helped to create such great strides.

3 Organizations Improving Living Conditions in Myanmar

  1. CARE: CARE is a worldwide organization working towards ending poverty while focusing on social justice. The organization emphasizes gender equality, with over 55% of its efforts focused on assisting women and girls. As of 2019, CARE and CARE’s partners have helped 130 million people in 100 nations through its programs. CARE has been assisting those in need in Myanmar since 1995. Currently, it is focusing on improving living conditions for Myanmar’s women and girls. Many long-term plans have been developed for the nation, such as the Rural Long-Term Program 2013-2028 and the Urban Long-Term Program 2013-2028. Both of these plans focus on protecting women from humanitarian emergencies and increasing their economic opportunities.
  2. Action Against Hunger: Action Against Hunger takes a different approach to improve living conditions around the world. It is an organization concentrated on ensuring food security and access to water. Internationally, Action Against Hunger has aided 21 million people in 2018 alone. Another focus of the organization is fighting child malnutrition by assisting in emergency food and water aid. Action Against Hunger has been bettering living conditions in Myanmar since 1994 through its numerous programs. One of its major programs works to expand safe access to water by fixing water infrastructure and making wells. Additionally, after providing access to water, the organization guarantees long-term access through training and creating groups of community members to manage their water. These Action Against Hunger programs have an expansive reach throughout Myanmar and have made a lasting change in many lives. In 2018 alone, its water, sanitation and hygiene programs reached 19,460 people and food security programs reached 23,790 people in Myanmar.
  3. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity improves lives worldwide by creating adequate and affordable shelters for impoverished people and disaster victims. In 2019, the organization improved the lives and houses of 7 million people while also training another 2.3 million people. Since its establishment in 1976, it has helped over 29 million people worldwide. The organization has been working to better living conditions in Myanmar since 2008. It began its work in the nation after a  cyclone destroyed many homes. The organization partnered with World Concern to restore 1,700 homes in the most heavily impacted region of Myanmar. On top of rebuilding houses, Habitat for Humanity successfully assisted over 950 Myanmarese families in gaining access to clean water and health centers. Currently, the organization continues to assist families across Myanmar.

As shown through these three organizations, there are many different strategies for humanitarian aid. Increasing women’s opportunities, creating safe water accessibility, providing food security and creating shelter are all essential to the development of improved living conditions both in Myanmar and across the world.

Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor, is a small nation located in the expansive seas of Southeast Asia. As one of the youngest countries in the world today, it holds its fair share of successes and problems. Homelessness in Timor-Leste is one of these problems, which is an issue common in many countries.

Homelessness in Timor-Leste is unique due to the several social, historical and political factors contributing to housing insecurity in this country. Though organizations such as UNICEF and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) have implemented efforts to combat this quandary, much work still remains in order to eradicate homelessness. Listed below are eight facts about homelessness in Timor-Leste.

8 Facts About Homelessness in Timor-Leste

  1. Timor-Leste separated from Indonesia in 2002, making it the first country to gain independence in the 21st century. With this, the country had much to sacrifice. In 2006, factional fighting within Timor-Leste resulted in the loss of many lives and left as many as 150,000 citizens homeless.
  2. During the fight for independence, Timor-Leste faced many challenges in regard to housing security. In 1999, military turmoil caused the destruction of nearly 70% of the nation’s housing stock (approximately 85,000 houses). Though UNTAET was able to provide temporary shelters for displaced individuals, the government continuously struggled to fund and reconstruct housing to satisfy this high demand for permanent residences.
  3. Internal military conflict has also contributed to the displacement of individuals from their homes. By April 2008, the sporadic conflicts (including arson/looting) in the capital, Dili, had resulted in several thousands of people leaving their homes in fear of violence. A third of these displaced individuals remained in humanitarian camps within Dili, while the remaining people moved to rural districts.
  4. The effects of the 2006 crisis are longstanding. Between 1999 and 2013, the Timorese government and various NGOs/humanitarian organizations have helped move 92,000 displaced individuals into secure housing. Thousands still face uncertain futures in 80 resettlement camps across the country. As of 2015, approximately 22,000 individuals still reside in four main camps in the country and lack access to secure housing.
  5. Timor-Leste had vastly improved its policies in its initial response to the housing crisis. In December 2007, the government created a national recovery strategy, Hamutuk Hari’I Futuru (Together Building the Future), in order to overcome the 2006 displacement crisis. This allowed citizens to claim a $4,500 recovery grant to fix damages on their property. The government also offered transitional shelter to those who were open to temporary relocation. Overall, this strategy was fairly effective. By 2008, 28 camps in Dili closed.
  6. As of 2008, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Timorese government had built 667 transitional shelters. This offer improved living conditions and facilities (i.e. electricity, cooking facilities, etc.) previously unavailable at camps. Sanitary conditions also significantly improved. Though still prone to flooding/landslides, these shelters overall lessened possible disease outbreaks and vulnerabilities in displaced populations.
  7. By 2012, CARE and WaterAid implemented the MAKA’AS (Mudansa Klimatica iha Ambiente Seguru – Climate Change in a Secure Environment). This project aimed to improve resilience against the effects of environmental challenges for six villages in the Liquiça District of Timor-Leste. This allowed individuals to improve access to safe drinking water, improve sanitation in their homes and implement land management practices to reduce landslide risks/housing vulnerability. Between July 2012 and March 2015, this project had helped 1,525 households within the district.
  8. National poverty in Timor-Leste rate has declined from 50.4% in 2007 to 41.8% in 2014. Nationwide improvements to accessing basic needs, education and healthcare resources have allowed Timor-Leste to tackle poverty and homelessness at a faster rate than many other countries. In homes, electricity connection has jumped to 36% in 2007 to 72% in 2014. In this time, child education has also jumped from 58% to 83%. Since 2008, there have been continuous improvements in nationwide living standards due to changes in public policy and foreign aid.

As shown these facts show, the housing predicament in Timor-Leste is extremely complex and difficult to resolve quickly. While the Timorese government and various humanitarian organizations have made multiple commendable efforts to combat homelessness in the country, the issue requires more work.

The displacement of many individuals from their original homes has caused countless land and property disputes. Resolving these issues requires a sophisticated legal framework. Moreover, many displaced individuals lack secure work opportunities as well as access to basic health and social services.

While the displaced individuals remain strong and resilient through these times, additional legal, social and infrastructural changes must occur to provide long-term solutions to homelessness in Timor-Leste. Nevertheless, throughout the past 10 years, this country has made promising improvements in living standards for its citizens.

Vanna Figueroa
Photo: Flickr

Together for Her
Over 50 female celebrities have pledged funds and support to actress Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to address additional cases of gender-based violence resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns around the globe. When these lockdowns began, Charlize’s thoughts immediately turned to the people in her native South Africa. She had concerns that conditions would worsen for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

The Effects of Staying at Home

According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence.” Although estimates, these numbers reveal the startling consequences that women could face. There are two main ways in which this increase in domestic violence can occur. The first is disruptions in services like crisis centers and helplines. These resources can prevent abuse and help those who have experienced it. The second is the lockdowns. Women must stay at home with their abusers, forcing close contact with those who are harming them.

An Increase in Abuse

Already, there have been increases in abuse. In only the first two weeks of quarantine, calls to the National Hotline on Combating Domestic Violence in Ukraine increased by over 25%. Ghadeer Mohammed Ibrahim Qara Bulad, the director of the Women’s Development Project at the Islamic Charitable Association in Homs, Syria, has seen cases firsthand. While raising awareness for disease prevention, she witnessed husbands beating their wives, sometimes openly in front of their children.

Together for Her

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and CARE to address the issue of increased domestic violence during COVID-19. Both organizations were very supportive of the cause and Together For Her. So far, the outreach project has donated $1 million to fighting the coronavirus. $500,000 of that was dedicated to the Together For Her Campaign. These funds are being distributed to “shelters, psychosocial support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, community-based prevention, and advocacy work to address gender-based violence,” said Theron in an interview with Vogue.

Together for Her has united women across the fields of film, entertainment, sports and more. Some other figures who have pledged their support include Octavia Spencer, Amy Schumer, Lauren Conrad, Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis. Many are survivors of abuse themselves. Viola Davis stated “I am a child survivor of domestic violence. It is the last of the acceptable abuses. It thrives on silence and metastasizes into lifelong trauma that can’t be quantified.” Victims of domestic abuse are continually harmed and even killed. Together for Her’s campaign to provide funds and emotional support is crucial. It lets victims know that they deserve better.

In the midst of a chaotic pandemic, issues like domestic violence often go overlooked. Fortunately, Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign is working to ensure that abuse victims can receive the help and protection that they need.

Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

domestic violence and covid-19

More than 50 female celebrities have pledged funds and support to actress Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to address additional cases of gender-based violence that could result from the lockdowns around the globe. When quarantine began, Charlize’s thoughts immediately turned to the people in her native South Africa. Theron had concerns regarding women and children experiencing domestic violence and how COVID-19 could potentially worsen conditions for these women and children.

Domestic Violence and COVID-19

According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Significant levels of lockdown-related disruption over 6 months could leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence.” Although estimates, these numbers reveal the startling consequences that women could face.

There are two main ways the pandemic has led to increased domestic violence. The first is through the disruptions in services provided to prevent abuse and help those who have experienced it. The second is that the lockdowns are tying women down at home where their abusers are.

There have already been increases in abuse. In only the first two weeks of quarantine, calls to the National Hotline on Combating Domestic Violence increased by a reported 25%. Ghadeer Mohammed Ibrahim Qara Bulad, the director of the Women’s Development Project at the Islamic Charitable Association in Homs, Syria, has seen cases firsthand. While raising awareness for disease prevention, she witnessed husbands beating their wives, sometimes openly in front of their children.

Together for Her

Charlize’s organization, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and CARE to address increased domestic violence during COVID-19. Both were very supportive of the cause and Together For Her. So far, the CTAOP has donated $1 million to fighting the coronavirus, with $500,000 going to the Together For Her Campaign.

Funds from the Together For Her campaign are being distributed to “shelters, psychosocial support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, community-based prevention and advocacy work to address gender-based violence,” said Charlize in an interview with Vogue.

The campaign has united women across the fields of film, entertainment, sports and more. Some figures that have pledged their support include Octavia Spencer, Amy Schumer, Lauren Conrad, Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis. Many are survivors of abuse themselves. Viola Davis stated “I am a child survivor of domestic violence. It is the last of the acceptable abuses. It thrives on silence and metastasizes into lifelong trauma that can’t be quantified. The abused have been physically, emotionally and financially incapacitated as a result. They stay…. They are continually abused and, in a lot of cases, killed. Providing funds to give them the means to get out and the emotional support to know they are worthy is everything. They are worthy of better, of real love.”

In the midst of a chaotic pandemic, issues like domestic violence are often overshadowed. Fortunately, Charlize Theron’s Together For Her Campaign is working to ensure that victims of abuse can receive the help and protection they need.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

A South African nonprofit has broken the world record for the most sandwiches made in an hour. Before this, the Guinness World Record stood at around 57,000. However, on Mandela Day 2020, Ladles of Love encouraged all Cape Town residents to order its free sandwich-making kit and made a total of 304,583 sandwiches to combat hunger in South Africa. The record-breaking sandwiches were received by hungry people all over the capital city.

Ladles of Love

Ladles of Love is a volunteer soup kitchen for the homeless. Although the organization is honored by winning a world record, it’s main focus remains to provide food aid to hungry Capetonians. Ladles of Love was founded by Danny Diliberto in 2014. While walking the streets of Cape Town providing free soup, the restaurateur observed a homeless man shouting and swearing. When Diliberto approached him with the soup, the man stopped to thank Diliberto and continue walking. Realizing the power of a simple gesture in restoring dignity as well as a basic human right, Diliberto founded the soup kitchen. Since then, Ladles of Love has served over four million meals.

Hunger in South Africa

South Africa has a population of 53 million people, of which 7 million suffer from hunger. More than half of the South African population is at risk of hunger with the poorest groups spending 50% of their income on food. In comparison, the average American spends 9.5% of their income on food. Many factors have contributed to food insecurity in South Africa, including unemployment, rising food prices and the disproportionate effects of apartheid on communities of color.

To improve hunger in South Africa, many large organizations such as the WHO and CARE have also invested in food aid. These efforts have made a positive impact. The percentage of hungry individuals in South Africa fell from 30% in 2002 to 13% in 2017. During this time, the crime rate also fell from 46% to 34%.  This observation supports studies that show that improving food security reduces conflict and improves economies. Every dollar invested in childhood nutrition programs and interventions yields around $16 in return.

Hunger and COVID in South Africa

As the COVID pandemic puts more South Africans out of work and weakens the economy, more food aid is crucial to helping the country recover. Organizations like Ladles of Love have already stepped up. The non-profit said that, in addition to making record-breaking sandwiches, it is now supplying various soup kitchens, shelters and 110 beneficiaries and NPOs (who support 250 beneficiaries of their own) in order to help provide food where it is needed most.

With the help of organizations like Ladles of Love and support from government institutions, South Africa is working to overcome food insecurity. Currently, the country has the highest number of COVID cases on the continent. In addition to record-breaking sandwiches, the nation is in need of greater investment in food aid. As demonstrated by a local initiative that feeds hundreds of thousands of South Africans year-round, improving access to food for the hungry and malnourished is possible through cooperation.

Beti Sharew
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Niger
Niger is a country in West Africa and is one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Although the country has made significant effort in poverty reduction, Niger’s extreme poverty rate remained at 41.4% in 2019, affecting 9.5 million people. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Niger.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Niger

  1. Niger’s fast-growing population adds to its high poverty rate. The United Nations expects Niger’s population to triple by 2050. As a result, the country’s inability to break the cycle of poverty for impoverished families will increase.
  2. Population Services International (PSI) Corporation promotes family planning resources in Niger. In 2019, PSI partnered with the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health to administer an outreach mission for voluntary family planning to rural areas of Niger. For example, the operation provided long-acting contraception methods and health education.
  3. Niger battles hunger. As of 2015, with a population of 18 million, 81% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas. Due to the rurality, most of the community does not have access to a food market. This exacerbates the problem of food security for the 20% of citizens who do not have enough food.
  4. Action Against Hunger aided 429,301 Nigeriens in 2018. The program provided better access to food markets and seasonal cast-for-work opportunities. Action Against Hunger assisted families by donating seeds and agricultural tools to those in need.
  5. Niger encounters climate challenges. As a country in West Africa, 80% of Niger is coated by the Sahara Desert, causing challenges for agriculture. The dry climate and minimal crop growth force 40% of Nigerien children under the age of five to experience malnutrition.
  6. Frequent droughts harm Niger’s economy. Niger’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, accounting for more than 40% of its GDP. As a result, when the country faces continuous short rainy seasons, there are food and job shortages.
  7. The World Food Programme (WFP) assists Niger’s farmers. The WFP buys produce from local Niger farmers and connects the farmers with corporate markets. This program helps the farmers to gain a steady income and reduce poverty.
  8. CARE Niger transforms the lives of Nigerien citizens. Since 1973, CARE Niger has reduced hunger through its Food Security and Nutrition and Management of Natural Resources Program. The plan established farmer field schools that advocated for markets and nutrition.
  9. Conflicts near Niger’s borders affect its citizens. Thousands of Nigerians have fled Nigeria to Niger due to violent extremism. As a result, almost 23,000 Nigerian refugees arrived in Niger in April 2020 alone.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) establishes nutritional opportunities for Niger. In April of 2020, USAID announced a five-year plan titled the Yalwa Activity, which plans to bolster the capabilities of Nigerien farmers by mandating access to affordable, safe food. Additionally, the Yalwa Activity will enhance food storage for farmers, allowing farmers to sell their produce at markets across Niger.

With its growing population, harsh climate and troubled borders, Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Nevertheless, through outreach and international aid, Niger hopes to reduce its extreme poverty rates.

– Kacie Frederick 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Indonesia
Since the devastating impact of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (AFC), Indonesia has shown profound economic growth. Since 1998, it has boasted a greater than 5% compound annual GDP growth rate, ahead of the global average of below 3%. Indonesia now ranks as the 16th largest economy in the world, up from 36th in 1998. Concomitant with this economic improvement has been a noticeable reduction in poverty in the country. Most recently, poverty in the country is below 5% of the population versus 67% 30 years ago. By comparison, approximately 10% of the global population lives below the international poverty line. Yet despite this promising data, poverty in Indonesia remains a major issue. Here are six facts about poverty in Indonesia.

6 Facts About Poverty in Indonesia

  1. The rate of poverty reduction is slowing, but poverty is low. Indonesia’s efforts to grow its economy showed great results in the years immediately following the AFC. Rapid industrialization, increased global integration and a focus on domestic infrastructure all helped in this regard. This resulted in relatively dramatic improvements in poverty. After an eight-year period of decline, however, the rate of reduction has slowed to 9% in recent years. Despite a slowing in the rate of reduction, the percentage of the Indonesian population living in poverty is at the lowest level since 1984 (4.6%).
  2. CARE, an international humanitarian agency, has been working to assist Indonesia’s poor particularly during emergencies. Indonesia is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, so CARE has worked to provide Indonesians with food, shelter, water and medical supplies. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, CARE aided 350,000 Indonesians and helped them rebuild their communities. Non-governmental organizations like CARE are key to assisting the government in protecting Indonesia’s poor after frequent disasters and emergencies.
  3. Income disparity is growing. Indonesia’s economic growth has flowed disproportionately to the wealthy. The country’s Gini coefficient, a measure of a country’s income disparity, has increased from 28.5 in 2000 to 38.1 in 2017 (lower is better). Oxfam reported that in 2014, the richest 1% of Indonesians owned 50% of the nation’s wealth. Not surprisingly, Indonesia’s rural inhabitants are worse off than their urban counterparts, with about 1.5 times more incidences of poverty on an absolute basis. One can also see this in the geographic distribution of poverty. Eastern Indonesia, the more rural part of the country, fares worse. President Joko Widodo has noted that improving income inequality is one of his top priorities. He has taken some steps to decrease income disparity, including providing direct cash transfers through its Program Keluarga Harapan, creating more social assistance programs, investing in infrastructure and creating health and education protections.
  4. The near-poor are a significant group in Indonesia. While Indonesia’s reduction in poverty is impressive when including those who are near-poor, the results are not as positive. Many in Indonesia live precariously close to the poverty line and are at risk of falling back into poverty. The Asian Development Bank highlights that over half of the poor in Indonesia were not poor the year before. Furthermore, a quarter of Indonesians will suffer from poverty at least once every three years. Even though only 5% of Indonesians live below the poverty line today, as many as 25% live just above it.
  5. Indonesia must watch inflation. Since 2016, inflation in Indonesia has been below 4%. The government and the Bank of Indonesia established the range of 3% to 4%. However, with so many living at or close to poverty, changes in prices can have deleterious impacts, disproportionately so on the poor. Statistics Indonesia notes that food represents a 43% weight in Indonesia’s CPI basket, putting a degree of focus on food prices, especially given their historical volatility. The Indonesian government has focused in this area, recognizing that stable rice prices are essential for steady economic prosperity. Nevertheless, food prices remain exposed to exogenous shocks.
  6. COVID-19 is having a huge impact. The Indonesian government did not impose restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic until April 10, 2020, almost six weeks after the identification of the first case in West Java. Unfortunately, the economic fallout from COVID-19 will have material effects on Indonesia’s poor and near-poor, underlining the fragility of the last 30 years of Indonesia’s efforts. In mid-April, 2020, Indonesia’s finance minister predicted that Q2 GDP growth could fall to about 1%, after the weakest rate of growth in nearly 20 years in Q1. COVID-19 cases surged rapidly after President Widodo hesitated to implement a nationwide lockdown. In response, he declared a national health emergency and worked to increase the number of test kits, personal protective equipment and ventilators available in the country. Additionally, he passed a stimulus package worth $8 billion to stimulate the economy, with $324 million going towards helping low-income households.

These six facts about poverty in Indonesia have shown that Indonesia’s government has put much effort into improving the conditions for its poor. Against a backdrop of economic growth, President Widodo increased spending on social assistance, health, education and infrastructure. Additionally, CARE’s continual aid has substantially reduced poverty in Indonesia since the AFC.  However, with so many near the poverty line, those results are fragile. With the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, much of that work could become obsolete.

– Harry Yeung
Photo: Flickr