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Journalism in Developing CountriesVarious studies show that free press and independent journalism in developing countries is crucial to promoting progress. But, this feat is often difficult to achieve.

The Pros and Cons of Independent Journalism

One of the benefits of pluralistic and independent media is increased transparency, which allows citizens to hold their governments accountable. According to UNESCO, it is only “when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticize a society’s policies and actions can good governance take hold.”

Credible information also promotes discussions about issues that are critical to a country’s development. Allowing people to access and contribute to credible and independent media can even lead to economic, social and political empowerment. In order to reduce poverty, it is important to provide poor and marginalized people with reliable information as well as platforms where they can voice their stories and struggles.

However, journalism in developing countries poses additional challenges. Reporters face threats and harassment from corrupt governments, militias or local gangs. In addition, they often have low salaries and have to work for politicized media outlets.

This lack of freedom prevents journalists in developing countries from objectively criticizing policies and vocalizing the needs of the marginalized communities. Both of these are necessary to empower citizens and hold governments accountable.

The Current Issues in Journalism in Developing Countries

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), around 80 percent of major media outlets are owned by or affiliated with politicians. These politicians use the media as their own source of political propaganda. The salaries of journalists are directly linked to the content of their articles, so the political owners get to dictate what is reported.

Furthermore, journalists in the DRC often face physical harm if they criticize the government or local militias. Those that do report on the rampant human rights abuses and corruption are in danger of being arrested, beaten or killed.

Unfortunately, the danger journalists face when reporting the astounding information is not uncommon. Earlier this year, a conflict between the Nicaraguan government and protesters led to censorship and intimidation. Journalists who critiqued the government faced online and physical threats. The police, military and some government supporters have stolen equipment and footage, shut down media websites and have even physically attacked and killed some journalists.

One journalist, Josué Garay, shared how two men broke into his house, threatened and beat him and stole his phone, wallet and personal documents. He and some colleagues had been threatened at gunpoint a month earlier while reporting on the protests. Other journalists have had similar experiences. An unknown government supporter even burnt down a radio station.

Journalists Are Finding Innovative Solutions

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index cites an overall decrease in the free press and increased hostility and censorship of journalists across the globe. North Africa and the Middle East were ranked as the worst regions for journalists. This was partly due to the wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, but other countries, such as Egypt, are also incredibly dangerous for independent media.

But determined journalists are finding innovative solutions to the pressing problems of the free press. In Liberia, journalist Alfred Sirleaf understands the importance of access to information.

Misinformation, Sirleaf claims, contributed to the Liberian Civil War. The country used to suffer from a repressive regime, as Sirleaf describes: “It was difficult in the past … because of what you publish, people come after you.”  Many Liberians cannot afford radios and newspapers, so for several years now, Sirleaf has been reporting the daily news on a big blackboard in the center of Monrovia.

By providing free and independent information, Sirleaf’s “newspaper,” The Daily Talk, promotes dialogue and can help prevent future conflicts. In 2014, the blackboard spread credible information and prevention strategies about Ebola.

Bringing Independent Journalism to All

The thirst for independent journalism in developing countries is growing. Around the world, journalists continue to hold their governments accountable and tell the stories of marginalized people despite the high risks and low salary. Because of this high demand for good reporting, media outlets from wealthy countries are holding workshops and trainings for their counterparts in developing countries. The journalists receive training in basic reporting skills as well as more specialized areas.

For example, by teaching journalists how to report on business and economic issues, these journalists are able to provide more analysis and skepticism to their work. Previously, the stories were taken directly from the statements of politicians.

The Global Press Institute is another exemplary training program. It aims to boost the type of journalism that tells of everyday “stories of entrepreneurship, human rights and education,” according to Forbes. The program has found the best way to do this is through women, who play a more stable and long-lasting role in their communities.

Based in 26 countries, the training program has no language or education prerequisites. Many enrolled women have not even finished the seventh grade. But in the past, after graduating from the program in about six months, all the women were hired as journalists. Through this program, The Global Press highlights the voices of communities that are often ignored, empowers local women and continues to forward the important mission of independent journalism in developing countries.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr

Revolution of DignityIn November 2013, student protests in Ukraine turned into a full-fledged revolution against government corruption that has since been dubbed the Revolution of Dignity. Now, with a new government in place, the country is attempting to align itself with its European neighbors and become a stable democracy. With multiple roadblocks in the way, such as the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Ukraine will need to rely on its allies in order to achieve its goals.  

How the Revolution of Dignity Began

Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity started out as a series of student protests to pressure the prime minister to sign an association agreement with the European Union. However, as the protests raged on, they became a catalyst for the rest of the country to express its discontent with larger issues with the government like the regime’s power grabs and rampant corruption.  

Despite these issues, protests only became a revolution when violence broke out between the government and protesters on Nov. 29, 2013. After this point, the goal became to overthrow the government and establish a more democratic state, one free of corruption and acting in the people’s best interests. In 2014, the people in overthrowing the government, reinstating the previous constitution and holding new elections in May.

While the revolution was successful, it was not without consequence. The destabilization in the country helped lead to the annexation of the southeastern Crimea region by the Russian Federation. On top of that, while the previous regime was friendly to the Russian government, the new one looked for a more independent governance supported by the E.U. and other western allies. With tough challenges ahead, Ukraine needed to look to allies for help.

What Allies Are Doing to Help

Since the protests initially started to pressure the Ukrainian president to sign an agreement with the E.U., it comes as no surprise that the E.U. is a key ally in helping Ukraine handle its political turmoil. One of the first things the newly elected government did was pass the Ukraine-European Union Associated Agreement and join the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. These moves strengthen the nation’s economic, political and cultural ties with Europe through mutually beneficial relationships.  

While the U.S. is not as geographically close to Ukraine as the E.U., it has a vested interest in keeping the region stable and independent. Currently, over $204 million is planned in foreign aid for Ukraine. Among this, 33 percent is for peace and security, 32 percent goes toward human rights, democracy and governance, 29 percent is for economic development, and six percent goes toward health. With this aid, the U.S. hopes to keep Ukraine free of Russian influence and welcome them into the western world.

Through USAID, foreign aid is being used to help out local communities of Ukrainians.  In 2017, the organization helped 50 communities effectively manage resources and become sustainable without the central government. This not only fights corruption but also helps improve the everyday lives of Ukrainians who face instability in the face of recent changes.   

Continuing Progress in Ukraine

The aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and the struggle with Russia has left many Ukrainians in a state of upheaval. With an uncertain future and violence a real possibility, it is key that allies help the country through this traumatic point in its history. The humanitarian impact of political uncertainty is often understated in the media, but it is real. While there are larger political reasons for Ukraine’s allies to help it, the aid these allies give to the Ukrainian people has an impact on the ground that can help save many lives.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian economy
Much has been written about the Magnitsky Act, especially considering that it is a longstanding source of resentment among prominent Russians. However, remarkably little research has been done about the impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian economy.

What the Magnitsky Act Does

In 2014, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act, which was an effort to punish Russia for alleged human rights violations surrounding the death of a whistleblower who tried to alert the public to the alleged corruption that had been taking place in Russia for the previous several years. The intent was to sanction the individuals responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, without impacting the majority of Russian citizens who had nothing to do with it.

The Magnitsky Act is notable because it attempts to punish solely the Russians responsible for Magnitsky’s death, rather than Russia as a whole. Rather than blanket import/export bans, the Magnitsky Act freezes the assets of the Russians implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the victim for whom the legislation is named. Additionally, it bans these individuals from obtaining visas to enter the United States.

The Magnitsky Act has been followed by the Global Magnitsky Act, which applies these punishments to any citizen of any country who is suspected of aiding the activity of the Russians in question. Additionally, other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have passed their own versions of this legislation.

Impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian Economy

Although the intent of the Magnitsky Act was to have minimal impact on the Russian economy or the lives of average Russian citizens, it is fair to assume that there has been some effect. Russia retaliated in 2014 by banning all food imports from Europe and the United States for a period of one year. This is in addition to banning all adoptions of Russian children by American citizens, which has become a major point of contention in recent years.

After the passage of the original legislation, its authors stressed that the impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian economy was meant to be positive. The reasoning was that the Magnitsky Act would discourage the corruption and theft that supposedly limit Russia’s economic growth prospects. However, there is little evidence to prove that this has been uniformly the case.

Moving Forward with the Magnitsky Act

As an upper-middle income country, Russia’s standard of living and other metrics of assessing the average Russian’s state of economic affairs continue to lag behind the advanced industrial economies of the world. However, it is not possible to decisively say how much of this is due to the corruption that the Magnitsky Act and its supporters allege. More research should be done into the impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian economy, as it is difficult to say whether the authors of this legislation were right to craft it the way they did.

Because of this lack of decisive data, it is difficult to evaluate the impact of the Magnitsky Act on the Russian economy. There is no question that the Act plays an important normative role in signaling that the United States will exact consequences on violators of human rights, but whether it has the positive economic effects that its authors claimed it would is still not possible to assess. It seems likely that targeted sanctions like these could be a valuable tool to respond to potential human rights violations going forward, but they must be used with caution until a clear understanding of their broader impact is reached.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Flickr

How Improving Governance Helps Growth in Developing Countries
It’s all too true that in most developing or vulnerable countries, local or national governments are tyrannical and corrupt. These governments have a propensity to abuse power, favor the rich and ignore the oppressed. However, by improving governance in the developing world, there is hope that unethical practices will be removed and replaced with unprejudiced laws that will fairly benefit everyone.

Problems Surrounding Corrupt Government

Numerous problems surrounding nefarious practices in underdeveloped countries stem from a lack of morality, discriminatory systems and misuse of power. The World Bank reports that in vulnerable countries, a disparate sharing of authority is a common problem that causes countries to stay in a state of impoverishment rather than move toward more progressive procedures that would allow for quicker growth and sustainability.

Unfortunately, it’s easier for the already-powerful leaders to resist change rather than consider the development of new policies for improving governance to benefit the whole society, regardless of economic class.

Additionally, there are many other factors that contribute to shady practices in the governments of developing countries. One of these practices is patrimonialism, which is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “political organization in which authority is based primarily on the personal power exercised by a ruler, either directly or indirectly.” This means that too much power can easily be granted to one person or group of persons (oligarchy), rather than having different governmental branches to limit what can and cannot be done.

What Steps Can be Taken Towards Improving Governance?

In a patrimonialistic society, the land or state is “owned” by a leader, granting that person the freedom to do as he, she, or they please. This power structure contributes to the cycle of poverty — wealthy land is distributed to the other wealthy people, allowing those choice few to access the best schools, homes and healthcare; on the other hand, the slums are given to the lower class, eliminating chances to thrive in a fair economy. Ultimately, this system halts economic growth for all the citizens.

The OECD Observer gives two good examples of a patrimonialistic society; the first being Morocco, where admittance to bureaucracy protects access to economic benefits, and the next being in the Philippines, where political sovereignty can be bought and sold.

Citizen-Based Elections

A great way to combat corruption, poverty and improve economic growth is by initializing citizen-based elections. According to USAID, more than half of the world’s populace live under only partly free governments, which limits their civil liberties, causing the inability to freely engage in politics. In democratic elections, the people are granted a voice in choosing who they wish to run their government.

USAID easily lays out the course for democratic elections. The steps include freedom of speech, association and assembly; elections as an essential tool to bolster political openings and cooperation; assembling advocates and describing different political platforms to the public and encouraging political debate.

Education

Another step toward improving governance is creating equal educational opportunities for all people. A large problem in the political sphere of third-world countries is the lack of education that causes many citizens who live in poverty to not fully understand politics; in turn they lack the skills to actively participate in events such as elections or assemblies.

Not only will education improve political understandings, but it will create jobs and give students the skills needed to be seen as valuable by future employers, improving economic growth and sustainability. With higher education comes higher knowledge and realization, skills that permit citizens to see and understand what areas in their countries need change.

Public Policy and Building Democracy

One of the best ways to promote better government is through improving public policy and actively working on building a democracy. In the developing world, the people and citizens are often ignored, and their opinions are thought to be arbitrary and unimportant to those high on the political spectrum.

However, in a democratic society, the people get to vote in elections for issues such as industrial projects and new laws. To help aid in understanding public policy and democracy, The World Bank created the Governance Global Practice, which aims to initiate trust between the government and the people.

Despite all of the concerns facing governments in third-world countries, these nation-states are not hopeless. Many countries work towards improving governance and government practices. In fact, organizations such as The World Bank, USAID and the United Nations provide hope for those searching for a better quality of life, and thereby foster countries to work towards a brighter future.  

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr

AfricaThe causes of poverty in Africa cannot be narrowed down to one single source. As a developing country, Africa has a lengthy history of external, internal and man-made forces at work to bring about the circumstances this continent suffers from today.

In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 220 million people, half the population, live in poverty. Worsened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, cultural conflict and ethnic cleansing, Africa faces many challenges that directly correlate with its impoverished status.

Poor Governance

Poor governance, one of the major causes of poverty in Africa, involves various malpractices by the state and its workers. This malpractice has led many African leaders to push away the needs of the people. Having created the “personal rule paradigm,” where they treat their offices as a form of property and personal gain, these leaders openly appoint underqualified personnel in key positions at state-owned institutions and government departments. This type of governance affects the poorest people and leaves them vulnerable, as they are denied basic necessities such as healthcare, food and shelter.

Corruption

Corruption has been and still is a major issue in the development of and fight against poverty in Africa, specifically sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). SSA is considered to be among the most corrupt places in the world. According to a survey conducted by World Anti-Corruption, corruption in Africa is “due to the fact that many people in Africa believe that family relations are more important than country identity. Therefore, those in power use bias and bribery for the gain of their relatives at the expense of their country.”

Corruption costs SSA roughly $150 billion a year in lost revenue. While some countries in Africa, such as Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda, have made some progress in the fight against corruption, there are still many lagging very far behind. A lack of effort to solve this issue only worsens the causes of poverty in Africa today.

Poor Education

Lack of education is also a serious issue that contributes to the causes of poverty in Africa. This absence is especially felt in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest rates of educational exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about six and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. Almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school.

Education for girls has become a major focus of support groups like UNICEF, UNESCO and the UIS. With poor access to school, lack of sanitary facilities and social norms like female genital mutilation and child marriage, the right to women’s education is even less of a priority in impoverished communities.

However, education, especially girls’ education, has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective strategies for promoting economic growth. According to UNICEF, “studies have shown that educated mothers tend to have healthier, better-nourished babies and that their own children are more likely to attend school; thus helping break the vicious cycle of poverty.”

Healthcare

Poor healthcare is a major cause of poverty in Africa because the poor cannot afford to purchase what is needed for good health, including sufficient quantities of quality food and healthcare itself. With a lack of education on preventing infectious diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, as well as the costs of consultations, tests and medicine, people living in poverty are at a severe disadvantage that only perpetuates the poverty cycle.

With a strong fight against many forces still ahead of this nation, Africa must weed out the corruption and poor government, and promote strong education and efficient healthcare for all, in order to take a big leap forward in its development as a continent.

– Kailey Brennan

Photo: Flickr

current global issues

Among all the good in the world, and all the progress being made in global issues, there is still much more to be done. Given the overwhelming disasters that nations, including the U.S., have been or still are going through, it is important to be aware of the most pressing global issues.

Top 10 Current Global Issues

  1. Climate Change
    The global temperatures are rising, and are estimated to increase from 2.6 degrees Celsius to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. This would cause more severe weather, crises with food and resources and the spread of diseases. The reduction of greenhouse emissions and the spreading of education on the importance of going green can help make a big difference. Lobbying governments and discussing policies to reduce carbon emissions and encouraging reforestation is an effective way of making progress with climate change.
  2. Pollution
    Pollution is one of the most difficult global issues to combat, as the umbrella term refers to ocean litter, pesticides and fertilizers, air, light and noise pollution. Clean water is essential for humans and animals, but more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water due to pollution from toxic substances, sewage or industrial waste. It is of the utmost importance that people all over the world begin working to minimize the various types of pollution, in order to better the health of the planet and all those living on it.
  3. Violence
    Violence can be found in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the world. Whether it is conflict that has broken out in a city, hatred targeted at a certain group of people or sexual harassment occurring on the street, violence is a preventable problem that has been an issue for longer than necessary. With continued work on behalf of the governments of all nations, as well as the individual citizens, the issue can be addressed and reduced.
  4. Security and Well Being
    The U.N. is a perfect example of preventing the lack of security and well being that is a serious global issue. Through its efforts with regional organizations and representatives that are skilled in security, the U.N. is working toward increasing the well being of people throughout the world.
  5. Lack of Education
    More than 72 million children throughout the globe that are of the age to be in primary education are not enrolled in school. This can be attributed to inequality and marginalization as well as poverty. Fortunately, there are many organizations that work directly with the issue of education in providing the proper tools and resources to aid schools.
  6. Unemployment
    Without the necessary education and skills for employment, many people, particularly 15- to 24-year olds, struggle to find jobs and create a proper living for themselves and their families. This leads to a lack of necessary resources, such as enough food, clothing, transportation and proper living conditions. Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world teaching people in need the skills for jobs and interviewing, helping to lift people from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  7. Government Corruption
    Corruption is a major cause of poverty considering how it affects the poor the most, eroding political and economic development, democracy and more. Corruption can be detrimental to the safety and well being of citizens living within the corrupted vicinity, and can cause an increase in violence and physical threats without as much regulation in the government.
  8. Malnourishment & Hunger
    Currently there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat. Long-term success to ending world hunger starts with ending poverty. With fighting poverty through proper training for employment, education and the teaching of cooking and gardening skills, people who are suffering will be more likely to get jobs, earn enough money to buy food and even learn how to make their own food to save money.
  9. Substance Abuse
    The United Nations reports that, by the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 185 million people over the age of 15 were consuming drugs globally. The drugs most commonly used are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine stimulants, opiates and volatile solvents. Different classes of people, both poor and rich, partake in substance abuse, and it is a persistent issue throughout the world. Petitions and projects are in progress to end the global issue of substance abuse.
  10. Terrorism
    Terrorism is an issue throughout the world that causes fear and insecurity, violence and death. Across the globe, terrorists attack innocent people, often without warning. This makes civilians feel defenseless in their everyday lives. Making national security a higher priority is key in combating terrorism, as well as promoting justice in wrongdoings to illustrate the enforcement of the law and the serious punishments for terror crimes.

With so many current global issues that require immediate attention, it is easy to get discouraged. However, the amount of progress that organizations have made in combating these problems is admirable, and the world will continue to improve in the years to come. By staying active in current events, and standing up for the health and safety of all humans, everyone is able to make a difference in changing the fate of our world.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

 

 

SDGs 2030: Will The Governments Of Developing Countries Deliver?Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs in developing countries have been viewed as ambitious. However, more efforts have been invested in the continuous realization of these development goals by international communities, nonprofit organizations, civil societies and, of course, domestic governments.

SDGs and Developing Countries

According to reports, to achieve one of the SDG targets, the “sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” will cost $27 billion per year by 2030 and the infrastructure will cost up to $290 billion. Is this too ambiguous for the national governments in the developing world? Or a pitiable reason to hide from actualizing these goals nationally.

Developing countries have been a major focus of the SDGs. With the idea that ‘no one will be left behind’, the U.N. and its partners have contributed immensely in solving a long list of issues faced by the developing world. Funds have been deposited and used for different projects. Expertise in creating sustainable solutions and commitments are being made to secure a better future. 

SDG Index

The SDG performance by countries is determined by the SDG Index and Dashboard on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest level of performance and 100 is the highest level of performance. Countries like Sweden (84.5), Denmark (83.9), Norway (82.3) and Finland (81) rank high in achieving their SDGs.

Countries such as the Central African Republic (26.1), Liberia (30.5) and Niger (31.4) are not doing as well as the aforementioned countries. Evidently, these countries are some of the poorest in the world. A poor economy can be one of the causes for weak results.

Politics and SDGs in Developing Countries

One of the reasons slowing down the SDGs in developing countries is that development projects are usually abandoned by their governments. This normally happens in rival socio-political settings.

In Africa, most projects funded and managed by previous administrations are eventually stopped or replaced by the ruling administrations due to different political views, political parties or general lack of interest.

Some farmers in Nigeria have criticized the replacement of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme by the former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration with the current president Muhammadu Buhari’s Agricultural Implements and Mechanisation Services (AIMS).

“There is always a policy somersault. This government will bring this one and when another person comes, they will bring another one whether it is good or not.”, said Daniel Okafor, Vice President of Root and Tubers of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

The farmers are upset with their government as it continues to create new programs without improving the old ones. More often, the development policies and programs are often aligned with the vision of developmental goals but may lack seriousness due to the ulterior motives.

In developing countries, parties struggle to own power and when they eventually do gain power, eliminating the projects of the previous administration becomes the primary goal.

The lack of bipartisanship in the polity environment brews enough hatred; shutting down any programs related to the opposition party no matter how promising they are.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the U.N. noted that bipartisanship can promote peace, unity and growth. Political parties should stand for a common goal regardless of their political views and hustle for power. Ideas can be shared and implemented with the help of the other parties.

Bipartisanship will ease congressional processes in changing, debating and making laws which can benefit the realization of SDGs.

Corruption and SDGs in Developing Countries

Corruption can also cause a lot of setback. Africa loses $50 billion every year due to corruption. The Sustainable Development Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, covers commitments to fight corruption and encourage transparency.

Corruption impedes national development, hinders economic growth, slows or shutdown developmental programs on education, labor, healthcare, water and sanitation and leads to more poverty.

Recently, the U.K. suspended funding to Zambia after a report that $4.3 million intended for the poor population had gone missing. 17 million people in Zambia, or half of its population, live below $1.90 a day. It is important to find out how much of the monetary aid is really getting lost to corruption and the best method to curb it.

Criminalization of corruption can serve as a major tool in curbing corruption. Ruling parties must not protect corrupt public servants, especially in Africa where previous corrupt officers collude with the ruling parties in order to be shielded from scrutiny and court cases.

Governments must encourage transparency and promote access to national financial data and budget spending.

SDGs and Subnational Conflicts

Another factor that may impede the success of SDGs in developing countries is tribal or subnational conflicts which are still rampant in Africa and Asia.

While Asia experiences economic growth in the midst of subnational conflicts, Africa’s economy has always been affected by violent conflicts due to terrorist groups, tribal wars and minorities unrest.

Poverty will decrease when inequalities between different groups reduce as also when there are inclusive growth and participation of minorities in resource control. Combating unemployment will also lessen the high rate of conflicts in developing countries.

Conclusion

Domestic policies in the areas of trade, human development, agriculture, economy and climate change can reduce poverty and hunger, improve health systems, create resilient methods toward climate shocks and breed peace in societies.

It is for the central, state and local governments to take up these responsibilities to achieve the SDGs in developing countries. Civil Societies and private sectors should also see this as an opportunity to make the world a better place.

It is possible for developing countries to achieve at least 80 percent of their SDGs: it all depends on good governance and passion for humanity.

Photo: Flickr

Extreme PovertyNot all poverty is created equal. Poverty in a developed country is not the same as poverty in a developing nation. Here are 5 things the U.S. needs to know about extreme poverty.

  1. People who live in extreme poverty are deprived of basic human needs such as access to food, clean water and shelter. To be classified as a person living in extreme poverty, one must be living on or below $1.90 a day.
  2. Extreme poverty in a developing nation is different from poverty in a developed nation. The U.S. is a developed nation. In the U.S., government benefits keep millions of Americans out of poverty. These programs mostly tend to target women, children and the elderly, the nation’s (and the world’s) most vulnerable populations. Due to programs such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and food stamps, these people are shielded from the harsh realities of extreme poverty.
  3. Unfortunately, government benefits tend not to exist in developing countries to aid their poor. In addition, due to fear of corruption, the world’s poorest do not receive as much foreign aid as their better-off peers. Low-income countries remain in poverty due to being too poor to be trusted with funds. An effect of this is that the most defenseless population in the world, children, suffers the consequences. The World Health Organization estimates that about 16,000 children under the age of five die each day from preventable causes associated with extreme poverty. The causes of death are lack of access to clean water, lack of access to healthcare, malaria, newborn infections, poor nutrition and diarrhea. Death from these ails is unfathomable in developed countries.
  4. An estimated 766,010,000 people live in extreme poverty today. This is double the size of the U.S.’s population
  5. The number of people in extreme poverty is declining. In 1990, there were 1.1 billion people living in extreme poverty. Today the number is 766 million. This is an amazing feat that can be attributed to a combination of factors such as trade between developed nations and developing nations, foreign aid that reinvigorated economies, increased education, improved infrastructures and investment in basic health.

As with most things in life, poverty cannot be viewed through a single lens. It is a complex social issue, but gains over the past few decades have shown that it is a solvable issue. With continued foreign aid and trade, the world can get that much closer to realizing the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

Why is Papua New Guinea Poor?
Papua New Guinea, the name given to a group of islands situated in the southwest Pacific ocean, has experienced tremendous economic growth since its days of being an Australian colony, and has gone on to hold elections involving the indigenous population. Despite this, however, many people on the island still experience extremes of poverty. 80 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural communities with little to no modern conveniences, and 39.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. So, why is Papua New Guinea poor, despite economic growth? Here’s a brief look at some of the reasons behind this.

 

Why is Papua New Guinea Poor? 3 Simple Reasons

 

Income inequality
In 1996, the Gini index rated Papua New Guinea’s income inequality as 55.43 on its scale from 0-1, with 0 being perfectly equal (for comparison, the U.S. was rated around 45 on the scale in 2007). The evidence would seem to suggest that this inequality is due to the failure of economic growth to keep up with population growth, but could also have been caused by structural adjustment policies that came about along with rapid economic growth. Whatever the reason, it is clear that income equality has led to much greater poverty within Papua New Guinea. The good news is that this inequality has gone down significantly since the 1990s: In 2009, Papua New Guinea scored a 43.88 on the Gini scale.

Lack of long-term planning
Many citizens are critical of the fact that the government of Papua New Guinea has had little to no plan in place to modernize the country, which would include steps like building permanent houses, supplying water and sanitation and building infrastructure. The government, instead, acts reactively, creating short-term solutions only when it is absolutely necessary. For example, in 2002, Papua New Guinea faced an incredibly violent and chaotic election, but it was not until 2004 that police were deployed to fight this rampant violence. This lack of planning makes it difficult for real progress to be made in terms of poverty.

Corruption
Why is Papua New Guinea poor? Perhaps the biggest contributor to Papua New Guinea’s continuing poverty problem is the fact that so many government officials, in charge of funds that could help, have historically chosen to pocket the money instead. Michael Somare, prime minister of Papua New Guinea from 1975 to 2011, faced charges of political misconduct and misappropriation of funds spanning over 20 years, while in 2014, Paul Tiensten, former senior minister and later MP, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for misappropriating over $1 million. Somare’s replacement as prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has also been accused of political misconduct involving a loan of $1.3 billion.

So, why is Papua New Guinea poor? In short, because of income inequality, aggravated by years of poor planning and corruption by the government. To correct this problem, new measures will need to be taken to outline and enforce government oversight and the proper use of government funds. Thankfully, awareness has risen about these issues over the past few years. During the last election, many people in Papua New Guinea protested and called for Peter O’Neill to resign after more corruption allegations were brought to light. And while O’Neill still won re-election, the fact that these protests exist shows that the citizens of Papua New Guinea are beginning to demand more from their politicians, hopefully a first step in strengthening the government and using it to enact real change.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in KazakhstanThe Republic of Kazakhstan faces many medical and environmental challenges; however, human rights violations and failure to adhere to the rule of law are also significant problems. Kazakhstan secured independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and subsequent major investments in the oil sector brought large gains economically with sustained growth. This is primarily attributed to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was reelected after the Soviet break-up and elected again four more times. The economic growth that he spurred has solidified his popularity, but he allows no challenges to his power.

In examining how to assist the people of Kazakhstan, attention should be given to the organizations that monitor and assist human rights in the Central Asian nation. So, what can be done to help the people of Kazakhstan?

USAID is a U.S. government agency that is working in Kazakhstan monitoring human rights. Soon after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan and USAID partnered together to work toward creating and implementing laws, regulations and infrastructure vital for capital markets. Part of USAID’s focus in helping the people of Kazakhstan is creating programs that “address the limited media activity and low civic participation.” They also work closely with the government to further democratic reforms.

USAID maintains that the corruption in Kazakhstan is a continuing problem. The nation’s executive branch maintains a large portion of control with little allowance to the media, political institutions, civil society or the judiciary system. Dividing power more equally is pivotal in allowing Kazakhstan to flourish, and USAID programs serve to help Kazakhs create a democratic culture. USAID states this is accomplished by “supporting civil society, increasing access to information, strengthening citizen initiative groups, promoting an independent judiciary and encouraging the protection of human rights.”

According to the Human Rights Watch, in a March 2016 resolution, the European Parliament called on Kazakhstan for the cessation of harassing journalists. The U.N. Human Rights Committee called on the Kazakhstan government to redouble efforts regarding violence against women, eradication of torture, guarantees of liberty and security and protection of an independent judiciary. In October 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan expressed concerns about the convictions and sentencing of two journalists in a rare statement regarding media freedom.

The Executive Summary of the Kazakhstan 2016 Human Rights Report by the U.S. State Department noted the same human rights problems as the Human Rights Watch. In addition, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights observed that the last presidential election was marked by irregularities and lacked genuine political competition.

In order to help the people of Kazakhstan, support of these organizations and ongoing communications with congressional leaders is necessary. For the benefit of all Kazakhstan citizens, continued vigilance must be maintained.

Michael Carmack

Photo: Flickr