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5 Coffee Industry Development Projects in GuatemalaAfter oil, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world. Although the coffee industry generates profits of over 60 billion dollars annually, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of those earnings end up in the countries where coffee is produced. Slightly less than 0.5 percent of the total earnings translate into wages for those who labor to produce coffee.

Thus, in a country such as Guatemala, where coffee is the nation’s largest export, extreme poverty and malnutrition are pervasive for a significant portion of the population.

According to USAID reports, an estimated 56 percent of the Guatemalan population lives in poverty, and around 20 percent live in extreme poverty. High poverty rates render infants and children especially vulnerable: infant mortality is among the worst in the region (39 per 1,000 live births), and maternal mortality is extremely high (153 per 100,000 births). Although statistics vary, it has been reported that 85 percent of children under five are malnourished in Guatemala.

Although the Guatemalan government mandated a legal daily rural minimum wage of $2.488, a rapid decrease in the global price of coffee has depressed laborers’ already low wages. The average daily wage for laborers in the coffee industry has fallen from around $3 a day to the current average of just $2 a day.

Experts highlight two primary catalysts to the drop in global coffee prices over the past decade.

In the 1990s, large American corporations such as Nescafé and Maxwell House began to adopt neoliberal economic policies that favored the abandonment of previous agreements with coffee growers that provided for protections against price variation. These agreements, which had maintained coffee prices within predetermined margins regardless of variable harvest qualities, were seen as contradictory to the values of “free trade”.

Then, when Vietnam was introduced to the market as a new, rapidly producing coffee country after the World Bank made significant contributions to the industry through loans, the flood of additional coffee crops caused the bottom to drop out of the market. Per the dictates of the economic principles of supply and demand, the sudden and significant increase in coffee commodity supply once Vietnam entered the market caused prices to plummet.

In addition to market destabilization, discrimination against rural workers, many of whom are of Mayan ancestry and are non-Spanish speakers, as well as the lack of workers’ rights have been identified as causative factors in the economic hardship experienced by most coffee industry laborers in Guatemala.

Many plantation owners hire temporary workers as a means of keeping wages low, avoiding paying any types of benefits and preventing worker organization. Coffee industry laborers don’t complain as they may lose the opportunity for any work at all.

Numerous international organizations have recognized the need for change in the Guatemalan coffee industry. The following are five development projects in Guatemala that have been implemented with the intent to support and advocate for the rights and livelihoods of coffee industry laborers.

  1. Manos Campesinas The Association of Small Coffee Producers, “Farmers’ Hands” is an organization of small-scale coffee producers in the highlands of southwestern Guatemala that has created a supportive community for over 1,073 members. Unlike the temporary laborers who work on large plantations, these producers own their own smaller plots of land and have control over the entire production process. The Manos Campesinos initiative was formed to help these small-scale producers compete with larger plantations by providing them with technical and marketing support.
  2. Café Teresa The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) funds several small coffee producers’ associations in the Guatemalan department of Huehuetenango, where poverty is especially dire. Café Teresa, which also receives funds from the Italian government, is one of the supported development projects in Guatemala. This producers’ organization helps its members achieve certifications relating to sustainability and organic practices, which can sometimes be costly to obtain but have significant positive impact on the price that farmers can ask for their products. Café Teresa is exclusively organized by women, and is dedicated to helping Guatemalan women be successful in the coffee industry.
  3. Pueblo a Pueblo This nonprofit organization is dedicated to improving the “health, education and food security of families in rural coffee-growing communities in Latin America through integrated community and school-based programs”. The foundation was established in 2001 in Guatemala, and its successes in ameliorating the widespread poverty, illiteracy and poor health afflicting the communities surrounding Santiago Atitlan have spurred it to expand across other Latin American nations. Its initiatives of this development project in Guatemala include providing funding for consistent access to healthcare for children, establishing libraries at schools and providing schools with additional learning resources.
  4. The Coffee Trust This organization works with coffee producers and laborers in the Ixil region of Guatemala, where it provides trainers for those struggling to make a living in the coffee industry. These trainers are established members of the Guatemalan coffee industry that help their peers by sharing the agricultural practices that have made them successful. The Coffee Trust has found that their Farmer-to-Farmer techniques is an especially effective means of empowering individuals and creating a cohesive community.
  5. De la gente This organization has partner communities in Guatemala in which is strives to create economic sustainability, empowerment in the coffee industry, healthy and thriving livelihoods, as well as resilience to shocks in the coffee industry and emergencies. It does this through programs that focus on capacity building through farmer-to-farmer training, leadership and business development, and funding access to industry conferences, knowledge-sharing platforms and networking opportunities. De la gente also has programs that foster access to credit and economic diversification.

These development projects in Guatemala are each doing a small part to address the serious issues facing the coffee industry and ensure future prosperity for the nation and its producers.

– Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in South AfricaSouth Africa has suffered from decades of apartheid, and is now focusing on improving its own infrastructure rather than that which was imposed on it. The expansion of infrastructure in South Africa is necessary to adhere to the demands of its improving economy and growing population.

In 2012, to improve the infrastructure in South Africa, the National Infrastructure Plan was implemented. The South African government hopes to invest nearly R827 billion ($58.4 billion) to improve multiple industries, including electricity, transportation, the Internet and water.

Eskom, a public electric utility in South Africa, has used money from this initiative to improve its old plants as well as establish new ones. One of their new plants, Ingula, is set to be completed by the end of 2017. Ingula will be a hydro-powered plant consisting of four units that will generate 1,332 megawatts. In addition to this hydro-powered plant, they are also expanding into coal plants. These two new coal-fired plants, Medupi and Kusile, will generate a combined 9,500 megawatts for South Africa.

Along with fixing its electricity problems, South Africa also has plans to increase its communication capabilities by 2020. One aspect of this will be to increase digital access to television and to move all South Africans from analog television to digital broadcasting. Along with television, Internet access is going to be a greater struggle. The government wants to provide fiber connectivity on a local level, as well as to establish networks in rural areas. These improvements aim to increase people’s connection to the news and to help them stay more well informed. On top of this, the South African government is also going to focus on establishing fiber Internet in 125 Dinaledi, which are schools focused on math and science, and 1,525 district schools. 

One of the most important new infrastructure projects in South Africa is the completion of three new bridges connected to the N1 freeway. President Jacob Zuma spoke on October 17 about the importance of these new bridges, and how “this project demonstrates the fact that the government responds to the needs expressed by communities and the priorities they identify.” One of these bridges is a vehicle bridge and the other two are pedestrian bridges.  They were designed and built to help people cross the highway in these high-traffic areas to access shops in the village.

These direct responses to help its citizens and make their lives better is one of the reasons that South Africa is a growing, prospering nation.

– Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Five Development Projects in EgyptEgypt, a nation located in northeast Africa, has always been a country that has looked towards the future. In 2000, the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin nicknamed it the “Future Economic Powerhouse of the Arab World”, and it seems the future they were talking about is happening now. With five development projects in Egypt including housing, manufacturing and electrical infrastructure, Egypt is making its name in the modern world.

Egypt’s Growing Rail Infrastructure
Egypt’s Minister of Transportation, Dr. Hesham Arafat, spoke in March 2017 about its growing investments in the rail industry. Egypt will invest $16.73 billion into new high-speed rail projects that will link Hurghada to Luxor, Luxor to Cairo and Cairo to Alexandria.  The longest line, the one from Cairo to Luxor, will take five years to construct, while the one from Luxor to Hurghada will take four and the Alexandria to Cairo line taking three years.

Dr. Arafat stated that “These three lines are proposed for promoting tourist activity that is expected to reach more than 30 million tourists per year by 2025”. By providing quick and easy transportation, this will keep tourists off the roadways and allow tourists to more easily explore Egyptian culture.

Egypt Advances Its Solar Projects
With technology relating to solar energy becoming cheaper and more advanced, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker hopes to fund solar development projects in Egypt. Their goal by 2022 is to have 20 percent of Egypt’s energy supply come from renewable energy sources, including solar. ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabian electricity company, is developing and building three solar plants with a 120MW capacity in northern Aswan. These three plants alone will provide power to 80,000 households and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 156,000 tons per year.

New Jobs Through Manufacturing
Egypt has recently restructured its subsidies and liberalized the exchange rate, which has earned it attention from manufacturing companies, including General Electric. General Electric’s CEO in Egypt and North Africa, Ayman Khattab, announced that it will be providing 100 locomotives to the Egyptian Railway Authority.

The benefit to Egypt is not only the locomotives, but the fact with the help of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, 50 of these locomotives will be assembled in Egypt. This will provide Egyptians with jobs, and if things go well with this project, it opens the doors for Egypt to take on more manufacturing projects for other companies.

New Cairo Will House Five Million
By the year 2050, the United Nations predicts the nearly 6.5 billion people will be living in cities. To accommodate this change, Egypt is developing New Cairo Capital, a collection of 21 residential districts that can provide housing to five million people. Besides the housing, these districts will have 1,250 mosques and churches, 2,000 schools and colleges and 600 medical facilities. This project, costing $45 billion in total, will be completed by 2022.

Egypt Continues to Build Its New Roadway System
The last of the five development projects in Egypt is a new roadway system. Egyptian roads are crowded with those providing goods; providing alternate highways allows fast transportation for regular commuters. 1,154km of new roadways are in the process of design and construction, with 400km of this being dedicated to a link between Cairo and Assiut. A 37km link will be built alongside the Cairo-Suez highway to help take some of the traffic load off that highway. In total, this project is expected to cost $524.3 million.

– Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in BarbadosBarbados was an uninhabited island in the Caribbean until the British settled the island in 1627. Slaves were taken there from Africa to work in the sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but the economy remained largely dependent on sugar, rum and molasses during most of the 20th century.

Barbados has moved from an economy heavily dependent on agriculture to one focused on manufacturing and tourism. Although the economy has shifted, the sugar industry still plays an important role in the economy. Besides sugarcane, farmers also grow cotton, root crops and vegetables.

Water quality in Barbados can be compromised by pollution from agriculture, industry and urban development. The island nation is listed as a water-scarce country because of the depletion of the water reserves during the 20th century. To address this, strict standards were developed for the use of drinking water. Because of the high demand for water on the island coupled with an inadequate supply, the nation built a desalination plant in 2000. Despite this, the water quality in Barbados is still questioned.

The Daily Herald reported in 2016 that there were rumors circulating on social media suggesting that contaminated water was responsible for a string of deaths during the summer of 2016. According to the rumors, there was lead in the newly installed water meters.

The Barbados Water Authority responded with a statement saying that the meters contained no lead. They were made from plastic and brass and manufactured in Germany. The water meters were approved by the German Environmental Agency under the German Drinking Water Ordinance of 2013.

They also stated that the meters were being used in 22 other countries including France, Spain and Ireland. In addition, the water supply is tested twice a year for heavy metals and pesticides. Tests conducted in March 2016 showed that lead levels were under the limits and drinking water was within standards.

The government of Barbados created a policy that designated five Groundwater Protection Zones around the island. This helped protect public supply wells from contamination from bacteria, which is a significant step towards improving water quality in Barbados.

– Fernando Vasquez

Photo: Flickr

The Future of Infrastructure in CubaCuba has always been a land of intrigue. The communist island nation in the Caribbean is at the same time considered to be a tropical paradise and an inaccessible third-world nation with high poverty. Infrastructure in Cuba is infamous for its state of decay and disrepair.

In 1810, Cuba’s capital, Havana, had the same number of residents as New York City and nearly three times the population of Boston. It is home to countless historical colonial buildings as well as Soviet-style architecture built after Fidel Castro took power. In general, many of the buildings, historic or contemporary, are not well-maintained.

One of the constant threats to infrastructure in Cuba is natural disasters, especially hurricanes. Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, devastated Cuba in September. The damage caused by the storm was compounded by the structural unsoundness of many of the buildings in Cuba. Of the 10 fatalities from the storm, seven were in Havana and were caused by unsafe buildings collapsing. Some people have continued living in parts of these buildings even after the storm.

Irma left longer-lasting damage as well. Millions of people were left without power and thousands of hectares of sugarcane, a major Cuban crop, were destroyed.

Tourism has always been a huge part of the Cuban economy, but increased tourism has put a strain on infrastructure in Cuba. The Obama administration eased travel restrictions on U.S. citizens visiting Cuba so that one can now visit the country individually, as opposed to doing so with a tour group. However, both the United States and Cuban governments, as well as the tourism industry, have expressed concerns about the ability of the infrastructure in Cuba to accommodate a large influx of tourists.

There is no doubt that the infrastructure in Cuba needs a major overhaul, but there are some positive points. The easing of restrictions on Cuba during the previous administration indicates a future of increased foreign tourism and business, and the Cuban government has acknowledged this reality.

Ultimately, lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba would be a positive step, as it prevents the country from joining the IMF and scares away major U.S. banks from doing business in Cuba. It will require major foreign investments for Cuba’s economy to right itself, which in turn will lead to better infrastructure.  

The future of the country and infrastructure in Cuba are still in question, but there is no doubt that there is a desire for a bigger foreign presence in Cuba, and with it, major changes. Cuba, once a leader in infrastructure, has good reason to build itself up.

– Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

VenezuelaThe South American country of Venezuela was once one of the most successful oil industries in the world, with a thriving economy. After oil prices dropped drastically in the 1980s, Venezuela has been searching for ways to recover their largest money-maker and restore their crippling economy.

China and Venezuela have been working together for over 15 years as part of the Mixed China-Venezuela High Commission. They are energy-supply partners that have signed 480 agreements together since 2001. As Venezuela has continued struggling economically, China has contributed efforts to help save the country’s economy. There are five development projects in Venezuela underway to do just that:

  1. China and Venezuela have signed a total of 22 new deals worth 2.7 billion U.S. dollars in order to stimulate economic development in Venezuela and strengthen their partnership. This development will include infrastructure, import and cargo transport projects. Six of the 22 agreements are focused on energy output and the oil industry.
  2. China has agreed to assist in the supply and export of Venezuela’s oil production. China will build a refinery in southeast China’s Guangdong Province, Nanhai which will process around 400,000 barrels of extra-heavy crude oil from Venezuela’s land. The mission of this project is to increase the amount of oil output and exports.
  3. Venezuela spent 9,576 million on imports in 2015. China and Venezuela have begun to build an industrial plant in Anaco, Venezuela whose purpose will be to produce seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals that are normally imported to help reduce the amount of money spent on imports.
  4. China is also a major investor in Venezuela’s new food supply distribution network Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP). Venezuela’s food supply has taken a major hit since the economy’s decline. The decline of the country’s food supply has reached a point of crisis where basic food needs are not obtainable. The CLAP project will work to get food to Venezuelan residents. In addition, CLAP will serve as a way to regulate food distribution from house to house in order to ensure a proper amount of food for each family. CLAP representatives carry essential food and products to households. This system is meant to prioritize the needs of families and has already made deliveries to 504,000 families.
  5. Venezuela has launched a mining project called Arco Minero del Orinoco. Companies in China will be involved in the project. Two of the groups working with this project are China CAMC Engineering Co. and the Yankuang Group. Arco Minero is located in the northern part of Venezuela and is a prime spot for mining gold, diamonds, coltan, copper, iron and bauxite. The exploitation of these minerals will be a stepping stone in the quantification and certification of mineral reserves. As a result, mining will be a more widespread way to raise exports.

China has provided massive assistance to Venezuela over the years in an effort to help the country’s economy. With this new set of agreements, the trade partners will work together to make Venezuela’s economy more prominent. These five development projects in Venezuela are a start in the strengthening of Venezuela’s oil industry, economy and relationship with China.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in TajikistanA former member of the Soviet-bloc, modern-day Tajikistan, unfortunately, answers to the calling card of poorest country in Eurasia. In 2012, the U.N. Population Fund found that 50 percent of Tajiks live in poverty and the economic downturn has only worsened in Eurasia since this figure was published. High rates of food insecurity also beset Tajikistan, due to its mountainous terrain, harsh winters and scarcity of arable land.

An incredible 93 percent of Tajikistan’s territory is covered by some of the tallest mountains in the world. This fact alone is a significant contributing factor to many of the obstacles to development that currently beset Tajikistan. In addition to high rates of food insecurity, other contributing factors include lack of a reliable power supply, limited transport connectivity and low levels of private investment.

Because the Tajik economy is highly dependent on remittances from migrant workers, the country is especially vulnerable to the regional economic hardships. The World Bank estimated that remittances constituted more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP in 2012. Russia and Kazakhstan have been the favored destinations of Tajik migratory workers since the mid-2000s and the remittances received from migrant workers in these countries have lifted many Tajik families out of poverty. Over the course of 2015, however, remittances from workers in Russia fell dramatically, which had the effect of contributing to a decline in the value of the Tajik currency by almost 17 percent relative to the dollar, since January 2015.

Amidst the troubling economic hardships facing many Tajiks today are several aid programs and development projects that are working to keep hope alive in this country. Here are five of the most salient development projects in Tajikistan:

  1. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Tajikistan Partnership Strategy seeks to help the Tajik government “achieve sustained and inclusive growth that is less susceptible to external shocks and create higher-paying jobs” through three key initiatives: infrastructure investments and urban and transport development; investment in climate reforms, technical and vocational education and training for the purposes of economic diversification; and enhancing water resource management and climate change adaptation, targeting poorer regions in order to improve food security. These strategic objectives were implemented in 2016 and have a target completion date of 2020.
  2. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sees Tajikistan as a “linchpin” for regional security in Eurasia and has dedicated a significant amount of resources, with the goal of increasing the country’s security and stability. To combat food insecurity, USAID includes Tajikistan in its Feed the Future initiative, which addresses the root causes of hunger through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. USAID has additionally worked to bolster the Tajik economy by assisting in the evolution of a regional electricity market.
  3. In an effort to foster economic recovery, The World Bank has dramatically increased its lending commitments to Tajikistan, from $10 million in 2016 to $226 million in 2017. Additionally, The World Bank implemented a Social Safety Net Strengthening Project in 2011, which aims to “improve the capacity of Tajikistan to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor.”
  4. Founded by the hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has operated in all regions of Tajikistan since 1992 and currently employs over 3,500 Tajik people. AKDN “supports the establishment of programs and institutions that allow the Government, private sector and civil society to play complementary roles” towards the goal of fostering prosperity and development in Tajikistan.
  5. The European Union (EU) has invested in development projects in Tajikistan since the formation of their partnership in 1991. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU’s development support for Tajikistan will focus on the health (€62 million), education (€75 million) and rural development (€110 million) sectors.

The current economic downturn has exacerbated Tajikistan’s struggle to overcome its numerous obstacles to security and stability, but these five development projects in Tajikistan provide hope for a more prosperous future.

– Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

The Launch of the European Fund for Sustainable DevelopmentThis past September, the European Union launched the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), a tool to support investment in the countries bordering Europe as well as Africa at large. The goal of the EFSD is to create stability through economic development, which may reduce the flow of displaced people across borders.

In many ways, the rationale behind the EFSD is similar to the one underlying the push for humanitarian safe zones by American politicians across the spectrum, from senators Tim Kaine and John McCain to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The goal of both is to shore up economic and aid resources for those who need them most, while stemming the tides of refugees that have sparked political tumult in both Europe and America.

But, while safe zones seem most suited to war-torn countries like Syria, the EFSD can potentially have a much wider reach in terms of where and how it can help.

The EFSD aims to use “public funding as a guarantee to attract public and private investment to create real jobs,” in the words of European Commission President Jean-Paul Juncker. Devex reports that this involves underwriting loans and guarantees by trusted financial institutions to any entity, public or private, that invests in development in Africa or the countries bordering Europe.

Lawmaker Claude Turmes of Luxembourg called the EFSD the “best EU initiate ever.” Its €4.1 billion in spending until 2020 is expected to generate €44 billion in investments. According to the joint website of the European Council and the Council of the European Union, that number could be doubled if member states match EU donations.

That money can have a big impact. The ONE Campaign reports that foreign direct investment in Africa is by far the lowest of any region. Just three cents of every dollar of global foreign direct investment went to the continent in 2016, and most of those funds went to resource-rich countries.

Accordingly, some worry that an EFSD focused more on reducing refugee traffic than investing in development will continue to funnel money to resource-rich countries bordering Europe, like Morocco and Tunisia, while neglecting more remote nations like Mali and Chad, which present riskier investments. ONE recommends that fragile states be made a priority when the EFSD Strategic and Operational Boards meet to set investment windows.

Sustainable development in Africa and other nations bordering Europe is only possible if funding is allocated strategically yet fairly. Energy investment stands to electrify the region, as investors feel secure enough to put their money into projects like wind farms and solar panels. Hopefully, the increased wealth will both build more stable societies and reduce the need for refugee migration.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Montenegro

A Mediterranean nation located in the Balkan peninsula, Montenegro is a country with an average poverty rate of approximately 8.6 percent. The economy in the nation relies heavily upon energy industries, but it is considered to be one of the most inefficient users of energy and water. Although the country integrated into the European Union (EU) in 2012, which promoted the introduction of more rural and agricultural development and maintenance, environmental and economic strife still remain rampant.

Here are three main causes of poverty in Montenegro:

  1. Political and Economic Crises
    Wars in Montenegro, coupled with international isolation, has led to a decline in production levels in recent years. Between 1987 and 1992, the collapse of the Yugoslav federation directly implicated the nation in a series of conflicts—namely, the Bosnian and Serbian wars—that held serious ramifications for the economic opportunities in the country. As a direct product of conflict in the region, the GDP as of 2002 was approximately 63 percent of its 1989 rate. Reciprocally, unemployment skyrocketed by approximately 50 percent, and exports reduced by 65 percent. Although some improvement has been made since the start of the war, the long-lasting ramifications of the conflict linger as an ever-present reminder of the impact that the war had on the region.
  2. Energy Inefficiency
    Because it remains highly dependent on energy intensive industries, increasing resource prices contribute to the main causes of poverty in Montenegro. Due to a lack of information, awareness and financial means, the nation has not been able to make the transition toward renewable, efficient energy sources. As a result, they have continued to rely upon extremely expensive resources, limiting their capability to expand their economic resources.
  3. Ethnic Differentiation
    A 2005 study conducted by Christian Bodewig and Akshay Sethi shows that the majority of those living in poverty in Montenegro are within the Roma population. Both income and non-income determinants, such as social isolation, limited access to education and “othering,” contribute tremendously to this socioeconomic disparity.

The nation has recently been progressing in terms of its poverty reduction. Developing the success of their original Montenegro Institutional Development and Agriculture Strengthening Project (MIDAS), for example, the World Bank provided Montenegro with $3.5 million to assist the restoration of rural areas.

Still, though, the causes of poverty in Montenegro maintain a hold over the country’s economic development, limiting the opportunities, growth and progress that the country can undergo. It therefore is necessary for world powers to provide assistance to Montenegro to help combat some of these significantly influential contributors to poverty in order to ensure that the problems stemming from them do not metastasize.

Emily Chazen

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in UruguayWithin the past few decades, Uruguay—a small country with a population of about 3 million—has managed to reduce its moderate poverty rate from 25.5 percent in 1989 to 12.4 percent in 2012, and the extreme poverty rate from 3.3 percent to 0.5 percent over the same period. Because of the great reduction of poverty in Uruguay, the nation’s Human Development Index ranking is ever increasing, and it is seeing longer life expectancy and greater birth rates.

However, despite improved conditions for citizens of Uruguay, there is still anxiety among community members due to a long embedded history of fluctuations in the economy and government that have contributed to poverty-like phases for many. The last 40 years have been illustrated by a slow-moving economy, one that is not quick to adapt to change, but with moments of remarkable growth. Uruguay is uniquely addressing its poverty issues, some with successful outcomes and others with less positive consequences. Here are three ways poverty in Uruguay is being tackled.

  1. Economy
    Uruguay has been relatively successful in ramping up economic development, which has seemed to keep up with globalization. Gross Domestic Product increases in the late 80s have been able to sustain Uruguay through some economic downturns in recent history. This, coupled with social reform, is keeping extreme poverty low.
  2. Social Integration
    Uruguay still experiences marginalization and social disintegration, but has taken initiatives in the last few decades to bring these issues to public view. It has been argued that education is a key element is bringing many different demographics of people together and enabling students and families to take charge of their lives. From the early 90s to the present, referendums have been drafted regarding education and social reform as well as being a topic for political platforms.
  3. The Work Force
    Women have become more of a present figure in the job market, having the highest rate of participation in labor in Latin America. While the amount of active workers is higher than it has ever been, Uruguay still has relatively high unemployment rates. However, the Uruguay legal system is working toward slimming the gap between wage discrimination and job security rights among its citizens.

While Uruguayans are working toward a more stable economy and social reforms, there is clearly still some way to go. But, despite slow moving and small-scale changes, Uruguay is a positive example of poverty reduction efforts and there is growing hope for change in the South American nation.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr