In the United States, education is required. It is illegal for a child not to attend school. However, many countries in Latin America don’t have that policy. Ecuador is one of the countries that don’t require children to obtain an education. All the public schools in Ecuador are not free, although many are inexpensive. The financial burden of education makes it less accessible. Consequently, lack of education is one of the main causes of poverty in Ecuador.

More than 60 percent of the population lives near the poverty line. Because of this, child labor is one of the main sources of income for many of families. In the capital of Quito, children line the streets, selling fruit, water and trinkets.

Many resort to child labor in order to obtain an education. However, this tends to create a cycle of poverty. Young people are not attending school because they are working. By the time they make the amount required for school, they have fallen significantly behind.

In order to combat the poverty rate, the Ecuadorian government focuses on infrastructure to boost the economy. This sector has created thousands of jobs. This provides thousands with a minimum surviving wage.

However, these government jobs are also one of the causes of poverty in Ecuador. As the government hands out manual labor placements, the citizens keep voting for a corrupted government that almost never addresses education.

Other causes of poverty in Ecuador include the lack of employment, little access to land and low market integration. Ecuadorians who live in rural highlands do not have access to education or healthcare, often causing malnutrition.

For emerging economies like Ecuador, it is important to note that education should be one of the top priorities of the country. Without education, many areas of advancement are restricted.

Francis Hurtado

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in IraqAlthough it is abundantly wealthy in oil reserves, Iraq’s weak government and chronic political unrest are two of the main issues fueling the country’s poverty rate of 18.9 percent. Other causes of poverty in Iraq include a lack of investment in stable education and healthcare systems. The nation’s infrastructure is also deteriorating. While the economy was steadily improving before 2012, the development and destruction caused by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have set the country back.

While Iraq is by textbook definition a democracy, the nation is shrouded with instability. It has a history of harsh oppression, violent neighboring countries, and an inherent lack of women’s rights. This volatility makes it impossible to maintain a strong central government. Consequently, poverty-decreasing programs are impossible to enact.

In 2013, the World Bank recognized that poor infrastructure and institutions were limiting Iraq’s ability to reach its potential and launched a huge Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) campaign with three goals: improving governance, supporting economic diversification and reducing poverty.


ISIS’s Role in Poverty in Iraq


The work of the CPS campaign was incredibly effective. However, ISIS’s emergence has created obstacles in Iraq’s path towards improvement. While unemployment was at a record low in 2014, it climbed back to 16 percent in 2016. This high rate is yet another addition to the causes of poverty in Iraq.

Organizations such as the World Bank and UNICEF have only increased their presence in Iraq since the conflict and its ensuing destruction began making international news.

Much of their current work aims to help children, as one-fourth of Iraq’s children are living in poverty. UNICEF works to provide vaccinations and medical care to communities where this is prevalent.  A new World Bank initiative seeks to promote the inclusion of conflict-affected children in Iraq, both socially and with regards to their education. With the help of generous international organizations, Iraq is doggedly continuing to improve the welfare of its citizens.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in America Causes
Poverty in America is not as easily understood as it is in other parts of the world. Most Americans do not identify with what is defined as poverty and consider being poor as lacking nutritious food, housing and clothing.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical poor American has access to basic needs and wants including a car, air conditioning, cable television and other amenities.

The overall poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.5 percent — 43.1 million people. The demographics for poverty in the U.S. are measured by the federal government’s poverty threshold. Many Americans working several jobs are considered to be in poverty as well as senior citizens with fixed incomes.

Leading Causes of Poverty in America

One of the main causes of poverty in America is the shrinking of the middle class. High-paying factory jobs are leaving the U.S. and the country’s growing population cannot be supported.

Americans are also falling into poverty due to debt and the fact that they owe more than they own. They continue to take out loans at high interest rates while in low income brackets.

The National Poverty Centre has found that poverty rates are higher for families headed by single women, particularly women who are black or Hispanic. The statistics also show that 14.8 percent of women are living in poverty overall. Additionally, 24.1 percent are African-Americans, 21.4 percent are Hispanics and 9.1 percent are Caucasians.

Since the economic downturn, poverty in America had not risen until 2015, when it increased by one percent more than it was in 2007, the year before the most recent recession. Poverty in America has seen an increase as a result of the 2008 economic downturn.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

causes of hunger in africa
What causes hunger in Africa? To be certain, Africa is by no means a single entity. The second largest continent on Earth, Africa is an enormous landmass that is home to a wide variety of landscapes, cultures and people.

That said, the continent is also home to much of the world’s hunger, spread across several of the world’s poorest countries. Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation and poverty.

Ending hunger not just in Africa but wherever it occurs is crucial to solving impoverishment and, accordingly, is a leading priority for many humanitarian organizations.


Causes of Hunger in Africa


1. Lack of Infrastructure

Many of the African countries in which there is widespread hunger are countries in which there is also plenty of food. Agriculture is the leading economic industry in several of the hungriest African nations including Niger, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The issue is not that there is a lack of food, the issue is that there are are often no reliable pathways for getting that food from the fields into that hands of the people who need it the most. Many hungry countries lack accessible rural roads on which food could be transported into the countryside.

Where it does not already exist, building the infrastructure necessary for distributing food is essential to ending hunger in Africa.

2. Poverty

Poverty is a cause of hunger in Africa as well as an effect. Nearly a third of individuals living in sub-Saharan Africa are “undernourished,” and 41 percent of people in that same area live on less than U.S. $1 daily. That’s no coincidence; high rates of poverty are correlated with high rates of hunger because acquiring adequate food provisions requires ample resources, not only financial but social as practical as well.

3. Gender Inequality

According to one of the most successful hunger-focused humanitarian organizations, The Hunger Project, gender inequality is a major driving force behind hunger because food tends to go further in the hands of women. When women have adequate food supplies, they as well as their families experience better health and social outcomes than when men have sole control of food rations.

However, in many African nations experiencing hunger crises, though women do the majority of agricultural work, they do not control their own access to food. Addressing gender inequality where it occurs in Africa will be central to eradicating hunger.


AIDS is especially prevalent in southern Africa (Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), where approximately six million people are estimated to live with the condition. Not only does AIDS render these individuals too sick to do any sort of agricultural work (which, if farming is their livelihood, can throw them into poverty), it can also render them to sick to leave their homes to acquire food for themselves and their families.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: Save the Children, The Hunger Project, World Food Programme
Photo: Ceasefire Magazine

causes famine africa
A food security crisis is considered a famine when, according to the United Nations, “20 percent of households face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent; and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.”

Famine exacerbates the challenges of people in poverty and pulls many into the cycle of poverty. This is especially problematic in Africa. Among other nations, famines have been identified in Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. The following are three causes of famine in Africa.


1. Conflict Causes Hunger in Africa

When a government is engaged in war, whether civil or with another country, the leadership of a country must divert funds from some sectors to military expenditure. In some cases, funding is removed from development, leaving the population especially vulnerable to natural disasters or the effects of conflict on agricultural production.

When a natural disaster—such as drought—affects a region, the problem can quickly transform into a famine, and the local and national government are left without the funding to address the problem. Natural disasters can also lead to competition over scarce resources, which cause conflict and high levels of food insecurity, or famine.

2. Climate Change

Climate change directly affects food production, which can create widespread food insecurity and famine. For instance, rising temperatures reduces crop yields by reducing photosynthesis and soil fertility. Higher temperatures, too, increase the survival rate of weeds and diseases that reduce agricultural output.

Increased rainfall and droughts destroy cropland and prevent production entirely. In 2007, heavy rain destroyed a quarter of Bangladesh’s rice crop and over one million acres of cropland.

Extreme variation in weather and intense affects of climate change such as rising temperatures, rainfall and droughts prevent farmers from making accurate predictions regarding agricultural seasons. This, in turn, affects the output of food from farmers, which increases food insecurity. High food insecurity both motivates conflict, as mentioned before, and increases the likelihood of famine.


3. Donor Country Politics

Because of alternative political interests, such as addressing infectious diseases or donating to another part of the world, donor countries can fail to give aid to prevent famine. According to The Guardian, Famine Early Warning Systems and the Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit predicted the 2011 famine in Somalia. Had the international community responded, a quarter of a million people could have avoided death.

The Guardian argues that United States geopolitical interest in Somalia in 2011 led to a withdrawal of aid, which aided a growing famine. It was only after widespread media attention of the famine that Somalia received a significant amount of humanitarian aid and was able to appropriately deal with the crisis. While humanitarian aid can alleviate the consequences of famine, removing aid at the wrong time can also be one of the causes of famine in Africa.

The three causes of famine listed above is far from a comprehensive list of causes of famine in Africa. In fact, the causes of famine are complex and often have several causes contributing to both the initiation and rapid spread of famine. Aside from conflict, climate change and lack of international response, lack of response from the domestic government and rising prices of food also potentially contribute to famine. Clearly, the causes range from local, to international, to natural or environmental.

Beginning to understand even some of the causes of famine, though, contribute to solving part of the causes and preventing as widespread of problems in the future.

– Tara Wilson


Sources: United Nations, The Guardian, Beyond Intractability, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Photo: English Online


climate change

Climate change causes poverty and hunger. Almost one out of seven people in the world suffers from food insecurity or chronic hunger. Agriculture and food systems traditionally have succeeded in producing and delivering food to ensure that the people of the world have enough food to lead healthy lives. Due to climate change, these food systems may not work for much longer.


6 ways climate change causes world hunger


1. Climate change leads to declining wildlife populations.

Preserving species is an important concern for human populations. Wildlife drives economies around the world. Around 15 percent of the world’s population is dependent on wildlife in order to survive. For the extremely poor, meat from animals is the main source of protein. When climate change disrupts wildlife, there is an overwhelming impact on those who rely on wildlife.

2. Climate change triggers conflicts.

Justin Brashares, associate professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at UC Berkeley, emphasizes that climate change causes unrest between people who are competing for food and resources. It can lead to groups such as Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Janjaweed, exploiting declining species through poaching. It can also lead to other conflicts such as piracy and illegal trade.

3. Production becomes less predictable.

Many farmers in developing countries depend on rainfall for their crops. In some areas of the world, rainfall has decreased due to climate change, and thus crops have failed. In other regions, climate change has caused the rainy season to change, which means farmers are planting their crops too early or too late and thus missing the most rainfall.

4. Supplies to markets may not be predictable.

As production levels decrease, the market supply also falls. This affects prices for crops and livestock that consume those crops.

5. There are greater risks to those less able to be sustainable

Women are often at risk because they tend to be the least educated, own fewer assets and are not as wealthy. When storms destroy livelihoods, crops and homes, people with a higher education and thus more assets and capabilities, can often cope more quickly with the devastating impact.

6. Traditional agriculture is dying out.

In many developing countries and regions, farmers depend entirely on their livestock for sustenance. Farmers are unfortunately losing their animals to droughts and diseases that have come about due to climate change. Unpredictable rainfall patterns also make it problematic. This way of life is becoming more difficult to sustain a living.

Colleen Moore

Sources: Devex, Ee News
Photo: GB Times

What causes a Tsunami? Many people worldwide can recall watching footage of the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, a colossal 9.3 magnitude quake that triggered a chain of deadly tsunamis. Beginning with an initial surge of about 108 feet, the tsunami killed almost a quarter million people, making it the deadliest tsunami in recorded history.

Water is life’s most vital resource, a necessity for humans, animals and plants alike. Yet, when provoked into the form of a tsunami, it has killed millions and obliterated towns and cities throughout the centuries, each time raising the question: how does life’s sustaining liquid turn into a destructive force?


The Causes of Tsunamis

Tsunamis are generated by sudden displacements of large volumes of ocean water caused by volcanic activity, shifts in the sea floor, landslides and–most frequently–undersea earthquakes. These movements push the overlying water around to create the initial waves of a tsunami. As the waves spread outward, 360 degrees from the quake’s epicenter, they swiftly grow into the frequently seen 30-foot waves that damage coastal settlements.

In the deep ocean, these first waves are just small undulations, but they become increasingly larger and more dangerous as they move toward shore. When the waves hit shallower water, the shallow depth both slows and bunches them together, significantly increasing their height. By the time they approach the coast, they can be enormous waves that wield ravaging potential. Tsunami is a Japanese word that derives from this situation: “tsu” means harbor and “name” means wave, creating a literal meaning of “harbor wave.”

Just three years ago, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered catastrophic tsunami waves that grew to heights of 133 feet. It was a quake so powerful that it altered the planet’s axis by 6.5 inches and relocated Japan eight feet closer to the United States. In some areas, these waves traveled more than six miles inland. The destruction to Japan was considerable, damaging over a million buildings and killing almost 16,000 people while injuring another 6,000.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the tsunami the worst crisis for Japan since World War II, and the World Bank estimated the economic cost to Japan at $235 billion, the most expensive natural disaster in recorded world history.

Because tsunamis travel at an astonishing speed–one comparable to that of a jet airliner–coastal towns near an undersea earthquake suffer the worst damage. Though natural disasters like tsunamis cannot be avoided, the consequences can be very different depending on the wealth of the region.


Learn what causes poverty.


“Most of the people killed by the tsunami died because they are poor,” says Michael Clemens, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development. “Even with improved warning systems, little can be done to prevent natural disasters from becoming massacres as long as people’s livelihoods, infrastructure and public health conditions are precarious.”

A high magnitude quake and tsunami in the Northern Pacific Ocean costs fewer lives and wreaks less infrastructural damage since that oceanic area is surrounded by wealthy nations like the U.S. and Japan, who maintain high-tech detection and monitoring systems. Additionally, these prosperous countries have stronger, more durable buildings and infrastructure than poor coastal towns and countries. In poor countries, a tsunami can throw millions below the poverty line by destroying homes and livelihoods.

“To minimize the death toll in future disasters, we need to do a much better job of supporting long-term economic development in these countries,” added Clemens.

Annie Jung

Sources: Voice for America, Geology, Beach Safe BBC, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research, NY Daily Times, Center for Global Development
Photo: WeatherWatch12

poverty in uganda
Poverty in Uganda remains a pressing issue. About 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty according to the 2012 expenditure review for Uganda by the Directorate of Social Protection in the gender ministry.


Top Facts on Poverty in Uganda


Based on an analysis of the 1989-90 Household Budget Survey, the poverty assessment for Uganda was divided along two lines. The first category of poverty was defined by a level that represented the spending needed for a daily consumption of 2,200 calories in addition to some non-food spending. Ugandans falling below this line were categorized as “poor.” The second level of poverty was set at a line that represented the bare minimum for adequate food intake. Those who fell below even that line were labeled the “poorest.” According to these definitions, 55 percent of Ugandans are considered poor. The rest of that 67 percent of at-risk or poor Ugandans fall somewhere in the core “poorest” category.

Ninety-two percent of the poor live in rural areas even though 89 percent of the population is actually classified as rural. Not only is poverty more widespread in rural areas, it is also more severe. Thus, poverty-related indicators – including household size, dependency ratio and illiteracy – are higher for rural Uganda.

Because of poverty in Uganda, life expectancy for men and women is one of the lowest in the world at an average of 59 years. AIDS has become a key contributor to death and illness amongst young children, consistently driving the infant and child mortality rate higher. Malaria has been found to be the primary killer among adults admitted to hospitals. Additionally, diarrhea, pneumonia and anemia are almost as prevalent as AIDS as reported causes of death. With a per-capita income of under $170, Uganda is regarded as one of the most impoverished countries in the world. These grim facts are a testament of the destruction brought about by the political turmoil and economic decline characteristics of over ten years of despotic leadership.

Uganda’s small revenue has made it extremely difficult to directly target its impoverished human capital. Nevertheless, social protection mechanisms are central to uplifting the poor and allowing them to achieve full productivity potential. Recognizing this, the government has attempted to re-prioritize its expenditures in favor of the social sectors and rural infrastructure. Some newer areas of focus include government development of family planning programs and promotion of literacy and education. Yet, development of social indicators is still lagging, particularly for rural women who work longer hours than men.

Despite the seemingly enormous magnitude of poverty in Uganda, some economic progress has occurred in recent years. For example, the government has implemented a far-reaching economic reform agenda that has transformed Uganda into one of the most liberal economies of Sub-Saharan Africa. This entails the liberalization of the exchange and trade regime, the endorsement of a new investment code and the liberalization of the agricultural market. With these factors in play, the government is readying the way for future economic growth. In fact, aggregate real per capital GDP actually grew substantially between 1987 and 1991 whereas previously it had been in steady decline.

It is true that the economic situation in Uganda  still seems bleak and poverty remains rampant. Yet, as indicated by past examples, economic reform coupled with increased focus on social affairs can bring increased hope for the poor of Uganda.

– Grace Zhao

Source: The World BankNew VisionUNICEF
Photo: OB

Poverty in Mozambique

Mozambique is a vibrant and scenic country in Southeastern Africa with a population of nearly 30 million people. The nation has abundant natural resources and its coastal location provides strategic access to the maritime economy. After attaining independence in 1975, Mozambique fractured during the Mozambican Civil War, displacing nearly five million people and driving up the rate of poverty in Mozambique. Although the war ended in 1992, violence and instability greatly set back the nation’s economic development.

Despite facing tremendous adversity, Mozambique has made great progress in poverty reduction. The nation has decreased infant and maternal mortality and increased life expectancy as well as access to education, water and electricity. Over the last 15 years, the nation has reduced its multidimensional poverty rates from 92.8% to 71%, and its Human Development Index (HDI) has increased from 0.217 in 1990 to 0.446 in 2018. Mozambique has great potential, although almost 50% of its population continues to struggle with poverty. Mozambique still faces a variety of challenges as they strive to reduce poverty further, but innovative solutions provide hope for a brighter future.

Natural Disasters

Increasing disaster preparedness is central to combating poverty in Mozambique. The country is incredibly prone to natural disasters and experiences an average of one large-scale disaster every year. In 2019, two strong tropical cyclones hit Mozambique only six weeks apart from one another. The natural disasters left approximately 1.85 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and had catastrophic effects on the nation’s development. In 2017, the Mozambique government established The National Disaster Risk Reduction Master Plan (PDRRD) to reduce risk, loss of lives and impact on infrastructure. Increasing funding and resources for this disaster management plan will help protect the most vulnerable from natural disasters and keep Mozambique on the development track.

Income Inequality

Combating inequality remains a key challenge to Mozambique’s development. Newfound growth has not been shared by all, as poverty continues to plague the country’s rural population. Welfare levels diverge greatly from the urban south to the rural north, largely due to increased connectedness to job markets in urban areas. Many rural Mozambicans remain stuck in a cycle of poverty because they are cut off from the larger economic landscape. The International Fund for Agricultural Development is working to fix this dilemma with its Rural Enterprise Finance Project. The initiative is dedicated to improving national and regional access for nearly 300,000 rural people involved in agriculture, fisheries and small to medium-sized enterprises.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Investing in the agricultural and informal sectors helps support the rural poor and equalize welfare. Agriculture plays a vital role in reducing poverty, as it raises the income of farmers and lowers national food prices. Almost 80% of Mozambique’s population works in the agricultural sector, which accounts for nearly 25% of its GDP. However, low productivity has impeded farmers’ efforts to transition out of poverty.

Key inputs such as fertilizer can increase a farmer’s yield by nearly 40%, and higher connectivity links rural farmers to larger markets. The World Bank’s Agricultural Productivity Program for Southern Africa is working to increase the availability of agricultural technologies across the region and has aided more than one million Mozambicans throughout its seven-year existence.

Mozambique has an abundance of natural resources, particularly energy and minerals, and is home to the third-largest natural gas reserves in Africa. Extensive development in the extractive industry has led to economic growth in recent years, and the sector contributed 19.47% of the nation’s GDP in 2017. Although Mozambique’s economy slowed in 2019 due to a declining coal industry and infrastructure damage from cyclones, it is expected to revive by 2024 as natural gas production is established.


Mozambique has become one of the fastest-growing travel destinations in Africa, so tourist sector growth is pivotal in reducing poverty levels. Tourists enjoy extensive safari parks, beautiful beaches and rich culture, yet specialists have concluded that Mozambique has not fully utilized its potential. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is helping to grow Mozambique’s tourism sector to create employment opportunities for the nation’s poor. The IFC has made legal material on the country’s tourism industry free for potential investors and is working to sustainably develop Mozambique’s natural sights and biodiversity-rich areas.

Equal Opportunities

Investing in people—especially women—can transform Mozambique’s human capital and dramatically increase prosperity. Providing equal access to education, sanitation, electricity and health services helps combat inequality and creates opportunities for the rural poor and women of Mozambique. Women and girls are less likely to escape poverty and attain education and employment in comparison to their male counterparts. Reducing female drop-out-rates poses a great challenge to the educational sector. Although 94% of girls enroll in primary school, over half drop out by the fifth grade.

A USAID-funded project called Nikhalamo (translating to “I am here to stay” in the Chuabo language) is working to reduce Mozambique’s female dropout rate by improving learning opportunities for girls and young women. Nikhalamo provides education and life-skills programs, community engagement and mentoring in the Namacurra district. The project continues to expand each year.

Mozambique has made astounding accomplishments in combating poverty. Since the 1990s, infrastructure development, increased access to essential services and economic growth have contributed to poverty reduction and improved quality of life. However, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten progress, especially as Mozambique continues to recover from the devastating cyclones in 2019. Social safety nets during the pandemic will be key to protecting the labor force, avoiding food insecurity, maintaining school enrollment, and thereby reducing poverty in Mozambique.

Claire Brenner
Photo: Flickr