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Best Poverty Reduction Programs
In the global fight against poverty, there have been countless programs to effectively downsize this issue. Poverty reduction programs are an important part of the fight against poverty and because of this, countries should be able to cooperate and learn from one another. Thankfully, with the help of the U.N., the world has been making progress in terms of cooperating to implement good poverty reduction programs. In no particular order, these are the five countries with some of the best poverty reduction programs.

Five Countries with the Best Poverty Reduction Programs

1. China

For the Middle Kingdom, poverty reduction is a key contributing factor to its rapidly growing economy. China has helped reduce the global rate of poverty by over 70 percent, and according to the $1.90 poverty line, China has lifted a total of 850 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2013. With this, the percentage of people living under $1.90 in China dropped from 88 percent to less than 2 percent in 32 years. China’s poverty reduction programs have also benefitted people on a global scale by setting up assistance funds for developing countries and providing thousands of opportunities and scholarships for people in developing countries to receive an education in China.

2. Brazil

Brazil has taken great steps in reducing poverty and income inequality. Brazil has implemented programs such as the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program) and Continuous Cash Benefit. Researchers have said that the Family Grant Program has greatly reduced income disparity and poverty, thanks to its efforts of ensuring that more children go to school. They have also said that beneficiaries of this program are less likely to repeat a school year. Meanwhile, the Continuous Cash Benefit involves an income transfer that targets the elderly and the disabled.

3. Canada

Canada has implemented poverty reduction programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the National Housing Strategy. The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly benefit for low-income senior citizens. This program helped nearly 2 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the National Housing Strategy in an investment plan for affordable housing that intends to help the elderly, people fleeing from domestic violence and Indigenous people. With its poverty reduction programs in place, Canada reportedly hopes to cut poverty in half by 2030.

4. United States

Although the United States has a long way to go when it comes to battling poverty, it does still have its poverty reduction programs that have proven to be effective. According to the Los Angeles Times, programs such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have all helped to reduce deep poverty. In particular, people consider the Earned Income Tax Credit to be helpful for families that earn roughly 150 percent of the poverty line, approximately $25,100 for a four-person family. Social Security could help reduce poverty among the elderly by 75 percent.

5. Denmark

Denmark has a social welfare system that provides benefits to the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly, among others. People in Denmark are generally in good health and have low infant mortality rates. Denmark also has public access to free education, with most of its adult population being literate.

It should be stressed that none of these countries are completely devoid of poverty, but they do provide some good examples of how governments can go about reducing this issue. With the help of organizations like the USAID, it is clear that this is an issue many take seriously.

Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Smoking in Developing Countries
Smoking rates among adults and children in developing countries have been increasing for years. In developed nations, such as the United States, people have implemented certain policies in order to increase taxes and therefore reduce tobacco consumption, successfully. Such policies have not yet enacted in areas of extreme poverty around the world. In fact, tobacco companies have responded by flooding low-income areas with reduced-priced cigarettes, tons of advertisements and an excessive number of liquor stores and smoke shops. It is time to have a conversation about smoking rates in developing countries and whether or not tobacco control policies are the best approach long-term, worldwide. Here are the top 6 facts about smoking in developing countries.

Top 6 Facts About Smoking in Developing Countries

  1. Smoking affects populations living in extreme poverty differently than it does those in wealthy areas. Stress is a harmful symptom of poverty and contributes to smoking rates in low-income areas. Oftentimes living in poverty also means living in an overcrowded, polluted area with high crime and violence rates and a serious lack of government or social support. Stress and smoking are rampant in these areas for a reason. It is also important to note that smoking wards off hunger signals to the brain which makes it useful for individuals to maintain their mental health of sorts if food is not an option.
  2. Smoking rates are much higher among men than women across the globe. While the relative statistics vary from country to country, smoking rates among women are very low in most parts of Africa and Asia but there is hardly any disparity in smoking rates between men and women in wealthy countries such as Denmark and Sweden. The pattern of high smoking rates among men remains prevalent worldwide. One can equally attribute this to two factors that go hand-in-hand: the oppression of women and the stress that men receive to provide with their families.
  3. The increase in smoking rates in developing countries also means an outstanding number of diseases and death. The good news is that countries have succeeded in reducing consumption by raising taxes on the product. Price, specifically in the form of higher taxes, seems to be one of the only successful options in terms of cessation. Legislation banning smoking in certain public spaces is one example of an effort that places a bandaid on the problem instead of addressing the root cause. There is no data that shows a direct correlation between non-smoking areas and quitting rates among tobacco users.
  4. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 6 million deaths per year which one can attribute to smoking tobacco products. It also estimates that there will be about another 1 billion deaths by the end of this century. Eighty percent of these deaths land in low-income countries. The problem at hand is determining how this part of the cycle of poverty can change when it has been operating in favor of the upper class for so long.
  5. Within developing countries, tobacco ranks ninth as a risk factor for mortality in those with high mortality and only ranks third in those with low mortality. This means that there are still countries where other risk factors for disease and death are still more prominent than tobacco use, but that does not mean that tobacco is not a serious health concern all over the world. Of these developing countries, tobacco accounts for up to 16 percent of the burden of disease (measured in years).
  6. China has a higher smoking rate than the other four countries ranked highest for tobacco use combined. The government sells tobacco and accounts for nearly 10 percent of central government revenue. In China, over 50 percent of the men smoke, whereas this is only true for 2 percent of women. China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2011 – 2015) called for more smoke-free public spaces in an attempt to increase life expectancy. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes in Beijing goes for 22元, which is equivalent to $3. This is far cheaper than what developed countries charge with taxes. This continual enablement is a prime example of why smoking rates in developing countries are such a problem. While many people mistake China for a developed nation because it has the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest military, it is still a developing country.

In countries like China where smoking rates are booming and death tolls sailing, tobacco control policies may not be the best solution. While raising taxes to reduce consumption may seem like a simple concept, when applied to real communities, a huge percentage of people living in poverty with this addiction will either be spending more money on tobacco products or suffering from withdrawals. While it might be easy for many people to ignore the suffering of the other, in this case, a lower-class cigarette smoker, one cannot forget how the cycle of poverty and addiction and oppression has influenced their path in life.

Helen Schwie
Photo: Flickr

The International Commitment for Foreign Aid SpendingCurrently, there is an international commitment among developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid. The goal for this aid is to assist the world’s poorest countries in developing sustainably. However, the majority of the richest countries in the world have not met this commitment. In fact, the United States ranked last in 2018 (27th) on the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) after only spending 0.18 percent on foreign aid. While the U.S. is reducing foreign aid spending, four countries are choosing to invest even more into developing countries than international commitment. They are doing so not only for humanitarian reasons but for strategic reasons as well.

Here are the four countries exceeding the international commitment for foreign aid spending.

4 Countries Exceeding the Commitment for Foreign Aid Spending

  1. Denmark – In 2018, Denmark allocated 0.72 percent of its GNI to foreign aid. The majority of this amount took the form of bilateral aid, which means Denmark provided aid directly to foreign governments rather than international organizations. With its commitment to foreign aid spending, the country seeks to enhance its soft power and to reduce immigration to Denmark. Development Minister of Denmark Ulla Tørnæs stated, “Through our development work, we create better living conditions, growth and jobs in some of the world’s poorest countries and thereby help prevent migration.”
  2. Norway – Norway spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Although the country directed a higher percentage of its GNI to foreign aid than Denmark, Norway’s quality of foreign aid is not as strong. According to the Center for Global Development, the country’s aid score has declined due to struggles in the transparency and learning categories. According to Børge Brende, the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, foreign aid spending enhances Norway’s soft power and national security interests. Additionally, the promotion of business development in foreign countries “is a good example of how aid can be used as a catalyst to mobilize other, larger flows of capital.”
  3. Luxemburg – Luxemburg spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Luxemburg’s aid score is quite high, ranking fifth out of 27 among CDI countries. As explained by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), efficient bilateral foreign aid spending “enables Luxembourg to maximize its visibility, impact and international influence.” Currently, Luxemburg focuses its foreign aid spending in sub-Saharan Africa due to its particularly high rates of poverty.
  4. Sweden – At 1.01 percent, Sweden ranks first amongst developed nations for the highest percent of GNI directed towards foreign aid. Foreign aid has become a primary focus for Sweden due to the high influx of immigrants Sweden has taken in within the past few years. Like Denmark, Sweden sees foreign aid as an opportunity to reduce the inflow of immigrants by improving the economic conditions and overall wellbeing of developing countries. This high level of foreign aid spending is one of the main reasons why Sweden ranked eighth in the world in terms of soft power in 2018. In that sense, foreign aid spending is a long-term investment for Sweden because it helps Sweden manage immigration flow, build up the global economy and increase its influence on foreign countries. Since Sweden views foreign aid as an investment, the country heavily focuses on learning about the effectiveness of its foreign aid spending in order to maximize results.

Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg and Sweden all demonstrate that foreign aid spending is in the national interest of developed nations. Since these countries do not perceive foreign aid spending as a mere charity, they have become more incentivized than most other developed countries to provide high-quality aid.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Live in For Women
Where in the world do women have the most opportunities? One must consider many factors when evaluating a country’s appeal to women. Gender equality, women’s rights, equal pay, the poverty rate for women, the rate of education for women and more specific issues like paid parental leave all play a significant role in building an egalitarian society. The following five countries are the best countries to live in for women.

Sweden

The Swedish government has declared itself a feminist government, setting forth a nation-wide standard of gender equality. Gender equality in Sweden goes beyond equality of opportunities and extends into ensuring equal qualities of life to ensure a positive future for Sweden. Workplace gender discrimination has been illegal beginning in 1980 and Swedish legislation further developed gender equality when the Swedish Discrimination Act passed in 2009. This law states that all employers and businesses must take active steps to ensure the existence of equality between women and men and the absence of harassment in the workplace. In 2017, the law expanded to include the prevention of all harassment, not only harassment on the basis of gender. Notably, Sweden’s legislation prevents discrimination against individuals seeking to take parental leave, the absence of which causes a major financial burden on families worldwide. These policies ensure that women, whether single or married, mothers or not, receive protection against all major forms of harassment. A telling fact of the extent of gender equality in Sweden is the percentage of women comprising Swedish parliament and cabinet – 46 and 50 percent, respectively.

Denmark

Women in Denmark integrate incredibly into the workplace, as women generally maintain jobs outside of their homes. With a generous parental leave policy, women are able to raise families while working without worrying about maintaining income. Similar to women in Sweden, Danish women have respect and can participate in government affairs, with 40 percent of Swedish parliament being female. According to a 2016 survey that the U.S. News and World Report conducted, Denmark is the number one country in the world for women to live in. Respondents considered five factors including safety, progressiveness, income equality and gender inequality.

Canada

Canadians have ample legislation to preserve the presence of equality for women and men. Previously, Canadian women did not experience such egalitarianism, and the government of Canada has made tremendous strides in bettering the country for women. In 2015, Justin Trudeau famously appointed an equal number of males and females to his cabinet, setting forth a precedent for his time in office. Canadian women receive protection from discrimination through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Women are, on average, more educated than men in Canada, indicating definite equality when it comes to educational opportunities. However, Candian women still experience the wage gap and income inequalities in the workplace. Canadians claim that these issues are the largest and greatest obstacles standing in the way of true equality in Canada.

Norway

In 2014, the Constitution of Norway expanded to include more human rights, including the Equality and Anti-Discriminatory Act. This act improved the status and rights of women and minorities and was necessary due to violence against women and the segregation of men and women in the workplace. In 2016, the Government of Norway signed a new plan into action that would take steps to further women’s rights and gender inequality. The Action Plan for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Foreign and Development Policy focused on five different goals, including equal participation for men and women in politics, full economic rights for women to participate in the labor workforce and inclusive education programs for all children, male or female. These policies contribute to why Norway is on the list for top countries for women to live in.

The Netherlands

Prior to 1956, women in the Netherlands automatically lost their job as soon as they married. This fact is hard to fathom when compared to the state of women’s rights and gender equality of the Scandinavian country today. Dutch law legally prevents discrimination and explicitly bans any type of inequality in men’s rights and women’s rights. However, a closer look into the Netherlands reveals that the country is not exactly a perfect place to live for women. For example, though men and women have close to equal levels of education, there still exists a gap in the comparison of individuals doing paid versus unpaid labor. In terms of safety, 45 percent of Dutch women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Governments in countries like the Netherlands have had to implement new platforms and legislation to ensure that citizens feel safer in favor of true gender equality.

These best countries for women to live in concentrate in North America and Scandinavia. The top 10 list also includes Finland, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, expanding the geographic regions outward. The United States of America ranks at around number 16, appearing lower on the list due to crippling income inequality. Additionally, some regions in the world provide very dangerous environments for women, including the Middle East and Asia in countries such as Afghanistan and India.

– Orly Golub
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Denmark
Centuries ago, Denmark was home to Viking raiders, but today, the nation is successful and technologically advanced. The 5.5 million people who live in Demark are governed by a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The Scandinavian nation is very impressive on many fronts, including economics. In 2016, for instance, Denmark’s unemployment rate was just 4.2 percent. Human rights in Denmark are largely protected, but room for improvement remains.

Denmark is one of the 192 Member States of the United Nations and uses that position to advance its protection of human rights. For example, Denmark has pushed for treaties that support the abolition of torture as well as augmenting the rights of people with disabilities.

Within its own borders, steps are taken to protect human rights as well. Free speech and a free press are two of the many human rights in Denmark protected by the nation’s constitution. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 report, Denmark’s government did not limit either of these practices.

The report also demonstrated that Denmark does not violate the integrity of its people. Prison and detention centers keep with international standards, fair trials are granted and each individual’s privacy is respected.

One area in which Denmark’s reputation regarding human rights is less widely praised is when it comes to the nation’s treatment of refugees. According to The Washington Post, many European nations have experienced an influx of immigrants over the past decade. Some of the actions taken by Denmark’s government include slashing benefits to refugees, allowing police to confiscate refugees’ valuables and taking steps to make it increasingly difficult for refugees to reunite with their families.

As the laws in Denmark have changed, so too have the have peoples’ sentiments. Ideas regarding refugees that in the past would have been considered outlandish have infiltrated more mainstream ideology. Denmark has received much criticism for this. In fact, Human Rights First, “an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals” stated that this is a violation of refugees’ human rights.

The evidence suggests that Denmark is more successful at protecting the human rights of its own people than of others.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in DenmarkDenmark is one of the smaller countries in Europe and has a very good healthcare system. Some of the common diseases in Denmark are also some of the deadliest. However, with the system and care in place, there has been a decline in many of the major diseases that strike the country.

Denmark possesses one of the better healthcare systems in the world, ranked 34 out of 191 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Denmark provides universal healthcare access to all citizens in the country. The government and those within the system promote the availability and it is financed by a national health tax that is set at 8 percent.

The life expectancy in Denmark is about 85 years for females and about 80 years for males. Both of these numbers have risen over the last few years and slowly improved that has seen a rise along with Denmark’s health system. Both ranks in the higher end of the worldwide life expectancy rankings, yet this is still behind some of the other European nations. The rise is still a testament to the fantastic health services that are available to the people of Denmark.

The majority of common diseases in Denmark are noncommunicable and are mostly heart diseases and different types of cancers. The only major communicable disease in Denmark is a lower respiratory infection.

The various types of cancer are one of the common diseases around the world and also one of the most common diseases in Denmark. Denmark was named the cancer capital of the world. There are lifestyle factors that affect the numbers and inflate the number of cases each year and the country still has one of the highest cancer rates around the world. The high rates can be tied to smoking and other lifestyle habits that are not healthy and can contribute to the onset of the disease. There are scientists that estimate nearly one-third of most of the cancers can be prevented by eliminating these risks.

Heart disease is the leading disease in Denmark. However, in recent years there was a significant fall in its occurrence. In 2014, there was a 70 percent decline in Danes who died from heart disease. There is not another state in the EU that recorded that big a drop off in mortality rates for cardiovascular disease.

The most common diseases in Denmark include some of the most common around the world. It is a great healthcare system that helps the Danes through the diseases and on to a healthier life.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr


Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries and, as of 2015, holds a population of just under 5.7 million. Denmark’s the proud owner of some of the best drinking water in Europe and luckily hasn’t faced many challenges accessing clean water over the last few decades. The water quality in Denmark is quite high and matches the high price tag that consumers pay for their water.

Although the country has come a long way, Denmark hasn’t always had such clean drinking water. In the 1960s, polluted water, especially around the capital in Copenhagen, made up the majority the country’s aquatic substances.

Water prices have been historically high in Denmark. The high price of water deters unnecessary consumption, helps conserve water and led to a significant drop in water consumption over the last 20 years. In 1989, the water consumption rested at 170 liters per day on average, while in 2012 that number dropped to 114. This is mirrored and encouraged by the increase in the price of water from two euros to seven euros per cubic meter.

Denmark has a total land area of about 43,000 km. The drinking water purchased by citizens comes entirely from groundwater. The government believes that drinking water should only need minimal treatment to classify as great quality. Some of the treatments that the water goes through are filtration, pH testing and adjustments.

The majority of the water is already of high quality and often needs only a few adjustments. The groundwater in the deeper aquifers is also generally very favorable for the small amount of intervention needed.

The shallow aquifers closer to the surface are the ones that need the most purification and are the most polluted water in the country today. Recently, water suppliers have been forced to go deeper down to find cleaner water.

The water quality in Denmark is vastly superior to many other countries around the world. Consumers are getting what they are paying for with very safe and clean water.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Flickr

Denmark's Top Diseases
Denmark, officially known as the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Scandinavian country in Europe. It is the southernmost and smallest of the Nordic Countries. About five million people inhabit Denmark. In 2015, Denmark’s life expectancy was at 80.6 percent. It ranked number 27 in world life expectancy. The top diseases in Denmark are primarily cardiovascular diseases.

The Danes suffer mainly from heart problems. In 2015, ischemic heart disease was at 19.2 percent. According to the WHO, cardiovascular disease is the cause of more than half of deaths across the European region. The contributing factor is poor health choices, for example, eating fatty foods and high consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

However, in 2015, other diseases like cerebrovascular disease and various cancers were also prevalent.

Health problems that cause the most disabilities

In 2015, the health problems that cause the most disabilities were non-communicable diseases. Sense organ diseases, skin diseases, musculoskeletal conditions and diabetes are all significant contributors to disability in Denmark.

What risk factors drive the most death and disability combined?

In 2015, cigarettes, dietary risks and high systolic blood pressure were the leading causes of death. Cigarettes caused the most cardiovascular diseases as well as chronic respiratory diseases. Dietary risk causes mainly cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal disorders. High systolic blood pressure caused mainly cardiovascular diseases.


The small country has its own unique health problems. The top diseases in Denmark are primarily cardiovascular in nature. The main cause of these diseases include smoking tobacco and poor diet. On a positive note, deaths caused by cardiovascular disease have decreased by 70 percent since 1985. It is hopeful that through healthier lifestyle choices, the number of cardiovascular-related deaths will continue to drop.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr


The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) was created in March 2014. The US and Denmark committed $100 million dollars to the fund, which was created to diversify Africa’s energy portfolio through funding and providing technical support for renewable energy projects.

The fund invests in hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste gas projects that connect to the greater African energy grid or local energy grids. Berkeley Energy manages AREF and has successfully doubled the initial investment, reaching an operational budget of $200 million. This was made possible through multi-lateral partnerships and investments from the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Biofuel and Renewable Energy Company (ABREC), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), the Calvert Foundation and many others.

In the past few years, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, (SEFA) has committed one million dollars to Green Mini-Grids in Gambia, one million dollars to a community-owned hydropower project in Kenya and $870,000 to Tanzania’s Renewable Energy Investment Facility. In addition, they funded the first-ever Biomass Gasification Project in Uganda.

Access to energy is arguably the only true equalizing catalyst for development. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there is a direct correlation between the amount of energy used per capita and the average life expectancy in a country. As energy consumption increases, life expectancy rates increase in turn.

There is currently a race to implement clean energy in Africa among development contractors and development banks. This is in order to raise the quality of life without adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Every year, 5.5 million people die prematurely from air pollution-related illnesses. If Africa diversifies its energy portfolio at this early stage of energy infrastructure development by installing renewable energy technologies instead of traditional coal-fired power plants, it could save millions of lives on the continent from pollution-related deaths, and continue to benefit economically from its carbon credit cap and trade practices.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Denmark
Poverty in Denmark? Denmark is a country in which “few have too much and fewer too little.” It continues to serve as an admirable example of an effective welfare state. As of late, Denmark’s welfare system is undergoing substantial changes which need to be addressed. Recently, a report by Eurostat showed that Danes who were considered ‘Persons severely materially deprived’ nearly doubled from 2.0 to 3.7 percent from 2008-2015.

Traditionally, the country’s philosophy has been the socialistic idea that the state has the responsibility to ensure the necessary material framework for living a reasonable life for all its population. However, in recent years, the country’s model has fallen short of this goal and poverty in Denmark is on the rise.

In the words of Per Shulz Jørgensen, leader of Denmark’s Alternative Welfare Commission, “the welfare society is not living up to its own principles– inequality has increased, poverty has returned.”

Poverty in Denmark has increased due to unrecognized change within society. It will inevitably continue to rise if current trends remain unchanged and unaddressed.

Why is poverty in Denmark rising with a welfare system that purports to ensure that “all citizens have equal rights to social security”?

Many Danish people insist that solidarity is still the main driving principle behind the country’s welfare system. However, the reality that confronts the country today suggests otherwise. Current welfare policies amount to an essentially brand new type of system, and it operates on different principles than Danish society is ready to admit.

When breaking it down on paper, current welfare policies live up to the principle of providing graciously for the social welfare of all. However, in actual practice, the policies do not amount to a substantive welfare system.

Denmark Poverty Today

The issue is there is a disconnect between national welfare and substantive welfare within Denmark. It creates a fundamentally new type of welfare system. In turn, a separate type of disconnect is formed. Danish people still believe that the system operates in accordance with its founding values of solidarity and universal welfare. All responsibility of providing for the needy ends up landing in the state without its people even realizing.

The ideological transformation and the shortcomings of the current system must first and foremost be recognized to help ameliorate the true underlying problems within the country.

Denmark has a slew of reasons to rightfully claim its place as one of the most progressive and successful nations in the world. Yet it seems that this state of success has produced a sort of “happiest nation complacency” that threatens the country’s elegant and sought after way of living. Denmark must openly acknowledge the newly sprung welfare state in order to decrease the threat of the poor and marginalized part of the population facing neglect.

Keaton McCalla

Photo: Flickr