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World Bank Renewable ResourcesA new World Bank program has been launched to help developing countries map and collect data of their renewable energy potential. The Renewable Energy Mapping Program is coordinated and financed by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program. A four-year budget of $11.6 million has been allocated to the program. The program will begin helping 9 developing countries, one of those countries being Pakistan.

Currently, about one-third of Pakistan’s population does not have access to electricity, yet Pakistan has abundant renewable resources including solar energy, wind, hydropower and biomass. These renewable resources are not being fully utilized because of the lack of credible data. The existing maps are not complete and do not identify specific sites for resource development. This new program will identify the areas that have the greatest potential for resource development.

“The importance of this resource mapping [for Pakistan] cannot be overstated,” says Arif Alauddin, former CEO of Pakistan’s Alternative Energy Development Board. “There is a need to shift to domestic renewable energy resources.”

According to the SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework report, renewable energy made up only 1.6 percent of total final energy consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 1.8 percent in Southern Asia as of 2010. In addition to their environmental benefits, renewable resources will create new jobs, improve the country’s energy security and access, and allow the country to transition to a more sustainable energy sector. This new program will provide governments and private companies the foundation they need to develop resources such as solar, wind and hydropower.

– Catherine Ulrich

Sources: AllAfrica, World Bank
Photo: Energy Advisor

literacy-and-malnutrition
A recent study by the organization Save the Children indicates that there is a direct  link between childhood malnutrition and literacy. The Food for Thought study followed 3,000 children in Ethiopia, India, Vietnam and Peru throughout their lives and interviewed them at key points to determine their educational abilities, confidence, hopes and aspirations. The results indicated that children malnourished from an early age are severely hindered in their ability to learn. In comparison to their healthy counterparts, malnourished children score 7% lower on math tests, are 19% less likely to be able to read a simple sentence at eight years old, are 12% less likely to be able to write a simple sentence, and are 13% less likely to be in the appropriate grade for their age at school.

The adverse effects of malnutrition carry over into later life, affecting a person’s chances for success. The Save the Children study showed that malnourished children are 20% less successful in later life, which could prove to be a barrier to ending global poverty, and a hindrance to economic growth.

A quarter of the world’s children are estimated to be malnourished, and that number is not expected to improve if more funding is not delegated to the cause. Currently, just 0.3% of global development spending funds nutrition programs.  On June 8 the G8 global nutrition summit in London will give attending leaders and leading authors a chance to address the issue of childhood malnutrition. Julia Donaldson, a bestselling author of children’s books, is urging world leaders to give attention to childhood malnutrition and its effects on literacy:  “The devastating impact of malnutrition shouldn’t be underestimated,” Donaldson says. “It stunts a child’s development, sapping the strength of their minds as well of their body, depriving them of the chance to be able to read or write a simple sentence.  Leaders attending this summit have a golden opportunity to stop this. They must invest more funding to tackle malnutrition if we are to stop a global literacy famine.”

– Kira Maixner
Source BBC , Save the Children
Photo VOA News

Azerbaijan MDG Progress
Azerbaijan is a country of 9.5 million people in Southwestern Asia, surrounded by the Caspian Sea, Iran, Russia, and the European Caucasus mountain range. For a country with a name many Americans could not pronounce, let alone place on a map, Azerbaijan has made huge strides towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the UN and World Bank.

Public and private supporters have rallied to “slash poverty, hunger and disease by 2015.” Private partnership has included the oil and gas industries. Revenues from these industries have been used to achieve significant economic growth and progress towards the MDGs. Diversification of this landlocked country is the next step in continuing progress. The “Azerbaijan 2020: vision of the future” details a plan to increase non-oil exports and decrease poverty. This plan develops the concept of growth based on the available natural and human resources in the country. The goals of the plan are:

• “sustainable economic growth;
• “social prosperity;
• “effective state governance;
• “rule of law;
• “complete exercise of all human rights and freedoms;
• “reach a development stage characterized with an active status of civil society in the country’s public life.”

The World Bank identified areas of progress: poverty reduction, basic education, and HIV infection. Because of the significant strides, the UN has included Azerbaijan in the group of 100 countries to define goals for post-2015 development. Areas specific to Azerbaijan include inclusive economic growth, new jobs, and regional development. Development of Human Capital should continue to be spotlighted, according to the World Bank.

The goal of achieving the MDGs and fulfilling the “Azerbaijan 2020: vision of the future” plan is to be an economic and politically competitive force. “From the standpoint of economic development, Azerbaijan will advance from being a regional leader to become a highly competitive participant in the system of international economic relations.”

Katherine Zobre

Sources: Azernews
Photo: Azernews

Business Process Outsourcing & Global Poverty

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has long been regarded by Americans solely as a process that takes away internal jobs and substitutes them for jobs overseas. However, the process could be doing a lot more to combat global poverty as well as boost the US economy than can be seen on the surface.

While working for Global Catalyst Partners, a man named Michael Chertok was able to see the results of BPO firsthand. He was given the task of creating jobs for the poor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and throughout the years, has given the opportunity of experience and greater education to more than 500 youth from the area. Many have been able to obtain university degrees and go on to professional jobs, earning “over five times more than the average high school graduate in Cambodia”.

BPO has also had an effect in other places, like the Philippines, which posted a 6.6% GDP growth in 2012. The Philippines look to remain one of the fastest-growing countries, facilitated in the most part by investments and economic aid from other countries. This economic development not only benefits the countries themselves but also those that invested in them.

Providing aid in order to lift regions out of poverty feeds back into the cycle by providing new consumer markets for investors to take advantage of. So, the more aid invested in other developing countries and impoverished areas, the greater the return in terms of new markets and a dramatic decrease in global poverty.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: Huffington Post
Photo: Donny Brook

India_children_global_poverty_world_hunger_food_aid_international_affairs_department_of_state_foreign_economy_opt

Habitat for Humanity publishes a list of 25 things everyone should know about poverty in America and around the world. Below are 10 items from their list.

1. There are different definitions of poverty.
To define poverty, it is necessary to define what constitutes basic needs. Basic needs may be defined as narrowly as those things necessary for survival, or as broadly as the prevailing standard of living in the community. Thus, poverty in one area or part of the world may have quite a different meaning than in another area or part of the world. In the United States, poverty thresholds are determined by taking the cost of a minimum adequate diet for families of different sizes and multiplying that cost by three to allow for other expenses.

2. There is more to being poor than not having money.
“Poverty is not just about money: lack of access to essential resources goes beyond financial hardship to affect people’s health, education, security and opportunities for political participation. …While economic growth is essential to lifting people out of poverty, this alone is not enough.”—United Nations Development Programme Annual Report 2008

3. People still die from being poor.
More than 26,000 children under age 5 die each day, mostly from preventable causes. More than one-third of all child deaths occur within the first 28 days of life.—UNICEF, “State of the World’s Children,” 2008

4. Poverty directly affects many, many people every single day.
Some 1.2 billion people around the world live on less than a dollar a day, while almost 850 million people—almost three times the entire population of the United States—go hungry every night.—United Nations Development Programme Annual Report 2008

5. Women often face more challenges than men in overcoming poverty.
Women who become single heads of households, particularly in Africa, are significantly more vulnerable,because in many countries in the region they can access land only through husbands or fathers. Where women’s land ownership is relationship-based, they risk losing access to land after widowhood, divorce, desertion or male migration, which can lead to destitution.—United Nations’ Centre for Human Settlements, “State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009”

6. Yet women are an important part of the solution.
“Women have proven to be the best poverty fighters. Experience and studies have shown that they use the profits from their businesses to send their children to school, improve their families’ living conditions and nutrition, and expand their businesses.”—The Grameen Foundation

7. Poor people pay back loans.
The repayment rate for microfinance loans, a development strategy in which very poor people are loaned small amounts of money to incrementally improve their lives, is between 95 and 98 percent. In fact, it is higher than the repayment rate of student loans and credit card debts in the United States.—The Grameen Foundation

8. Defeating poverty creates dignity.
Marrie Gessesse, a mother of eight in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, used microfinance loans to buy goats and cultivate fruits and vegetables for income. Eventually, she was able to send her children to school. “No one used to consider me before,” she says. “When they saw that I was becoming autonomous, people started to respect me. Now they have elected me member of the administrative council and the women’s association.”—International Fund for Agricultural Development

9. Poverty is a moral issue.
Almost 9 million children are internally displaced because of armed conflict. Roughly 1.8 million children are trapped in the commercial sex trade, and the annual revenue generated from human trafficking is $9.5 billion.—UNICEF, 2007

10. Poverty is not inevitable.
In 1960, roughly 20 million newborns did not live to see their fifth birthday; by 2006, the most recent year for which firm estimates are available, the annual number of child deaths globally fell below 10 million, to 9.7 million, for the first time since records began.—UNICEF, “State of the World’s Children,” 2008.

– Délice Williams

Source: Habitat
Photo: Bargate

Cassava Beer_opt
When people think about Africa, breathtaking savannas teaming with migratory wildlife is generally the first thought that comes to mind. What doesn’t come to mind, however, is a robust micro-brewing industry that utilizes the fermentation properties of the locally sourced cassava plant. In an attempt to challenge previously held notions regarding beer brewing in Africa, production of Impala brand cassava beer is helping to usher in new economic opportunities for Ghanaian farmers.

Thanks to the investment of brewer SABMiller, Impala beer – brewed from the cassava plant – was recently launched in Ghana. How does cassava beer help economic development in Africa? Until recently, cassava farming had been dismissed as an economic failure due to the high costs associated with transferring and processing the root-like product.

Enter innovative DATCO engineers and their ingenious development of a mobile cassava processing unit that enables cassava harvesting to be economically feasible. So for those rural cassava farmers previously hampered by transportation constraints, the new processing units and subsequent production of cassava beer will help to bolster demand for their crops, leading to greater economic gains.

In regards to SABMiller’s investment in cassava beer and the economic benefits to local farmers, Accra Brewery Director Adjoba Kyiamah noted that though more than 70% of Ghanaian farms, most of which grow cassava, are 3 hectares or smaller, there is a current annual surplus of around 40%.

The economic possibilities that stem from both the production and sales of Impala brand cassava beer are nothing less that astonishing, and underpins the business sustainability currently lacking from many developing countries. Remarked SABMiller Director Mark Bowman, “The idea here then is to try and create a win-win proposition, where we have a strong group of farmers contracted to producing grains for us of whatever form.”

Brian Turner

Source: How we Made it in Africa
Photo: Hanna Clark Steinman

3 Ways Fashion Design Is Encouraging Economic Development in Africa
Everyone loves to wear clothes that accomplish more than the utilitarian purpose of covering the body. From the posh window displays on Rodeo Drive to the highly rated network programs like Project Runway and Fashion Star, people love to wear clothes that are both artistically-creative and well-fitting. The same is true for many developing countries in Africa, where extremely talented fashion designers are looking to sell their products both at home and abroad. These African designers highlight the opportunities that fashion has created for many individuals living in poverty stricken areas. Here are 3 ways that fashion design encourages economic development in Africa.

1. It encourages entrepreneurship – For many business-minded entrepreneurs trying to overcome severe financial constraints, fashion design encourages economic development in Africa by allowing anyone with an eye for fashion an opportunity to generate income both locally and – via the internet – internationally. The market for well-designed clothes is unique based upon the simple fact that despite a global economic slowdown, consumers will always have a need for clothes. Furthermore, if a particular market for clothing is lower than usual, innovative entrepreneurs can take advantage of previously untapped overseas and emerging markets as a means of increasing sales.

2. It stimulates the local economy – For Malawian designer Lilly Alfonso, her company Lillies Creations employs 7 people from a region currently plagued with severe currency devaluation and financial strain. Fashion design encourages economic development in Africa through the employment of talented tailors, textile artists, aspiring models, and support staff necessary for the operation of large design studios; along with the resulting sales opportunities for local fabric retailers and production facilities. Fashion designers help to bolster African economies by the infusion of capital both from the sales and expansion of their small businesses into new markets.

3. It serves as a sustainable business model – Fashion design encourages economic development in Africa due to the inherent sustainability of the clothing and apparel industry. Through the local farmers providing the raw materials, the weavers who construct the fabrics, and the merchants who sell the fabrics in local markets, fashion is an industry that employs many people whose entire economic well being is contingent upon the quarterly sales of the designers. The sustainability of fashion design allows for most of the profits and accompanying investments to go back into the community, along with the eco-friendly methods of cultivation practiced by many African farmers.

In regards to how fashion design encourages economic development in Africa, designer Lilly Alfonso optimistically advises “if you know that you can do it, don’t stop it.”

Brian Turner
Source: BBC

Mato Grosso_opt
The country of Brazil, long known for its biologically-diverse rainforests and unique ecosystems, has been practicing the method of double cropping – or planting two crops per year instead of one – as a means of intensifying the amount of agricultural goods grown in a given area. Recently, much research has been centered on the state of Mato Grosso, known for its heavy use of the double cropping method and position as the undisputed hub of Brazil’s agricultural production area. The data gleaned thus far in regards to economic benefits have been nothing less than astounding, as there is mounting evidence that double cropping encourages economic development in Brazil.

Researchers at Brown University have been conducting extensive research into the GDP, educational infrastructure, and public sanitation of Mato Grossso in order to take a closer look at the ramifications of the agricultural program known as double cropping. Surprisingly, they found that the large production of soybean, cotton, and corn from the area resulted in huge economic opportunities for the residents of the Mato Grosso area. How are they linked? Double cropping encourages economic development in Brazil primarily due to the huge amounts of labor required to harvest, transport, and process the crops grown in area, leading to the low unemployment and high local investment absent from area’s that employ the single cropping method.

In regards to exactly how double cropping encourages economic development in Brazil, Associate Professor at Brown University Leah VanWey noted that the industry has created thousands of jobs, also noting that, “In the long run there isn’t much money in just growing things and selling them, but processing allows the local area and workers to retain more of the per-unit cost of the final product.”

Exiting new methods of agricultural development are being implemented and assessed across the globe, leading to innovative ways of encouraging growth and ameliorating local poverty levels. Furthermore, recent evidence showing that double cropping encourages economic development in Brazil should serve as a reason for continued support of agricultural aid agencies such as the FAO.

– Brian Turner

Source: Science Daily
Photo: Terra Project

Colon Misses Out on Panama's Economic Growth
The Panama Canal is framed by Panama’s two largest cities. At one end is Panama City, a vibrant, bustling metropolitan center that is currently experiencing some of Latin America’s greatest growth. At the Canal’s other end, just forty miles away, lies the city of Colon, where potable water, electricity, structurally sound buildings, and meaningful work are all in short supply for the city’s 220,000 residents.

Panama has had an average economic growth of nine percent every year for the last five years. This is due in large part to foreign investment and development in Panama City, where Central America’s first subway is currently under construction. The tallest building in Latin America, a 70-story Trump hotel and condominium, is not out of place among newly constructed skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants.

But Colon has not enjoyed the same booming industrial and commercial development. The city has the largest duty-free trade zone in the Western hemisphere, which has long been a point of contention between residents and developers. Recent development within the zone has benefited businesses there, but not the city at large. The duty-free zone caused social unrest last year when Panama’s president passed a law allowing sale of land in and near the zone. Residents feared this would displace them from their homes and hurt their incomes. Several were killed in the protests.

The economic inequality between Colon and Panama City stems in part from racial segregation and discrimination. Racism is a long-standing problem in many Latin American countries, and Panama is no exception. Those with light skin are often viewed more favorably than those with dark skin in terms of wealth, attractiveness, and ability.

Colon is predominantly black, while Panama City has a larger percentage of European descendants. Many believe that racial discrimination has played a role in Colon’s economic depression.

The stark disparity between Panama City and Colon is an example of the unequal economic growth occurring all over the world. In many places, wealth remains concentrated where it is already abundant, while the poor remain poor, and grow poorer. Correcting this imbalance will require a multifaceted, in-depth, strategic approach that the world’s poor are unable to implement themselves. Therefore, those who have the means to do so are responsible for working to make humane living conditions and economic security realities for every person on the planet.

Kat Henrichs

Source: NY Times
Photo: AP

Economic Forum on South Sudan to be Hosted by U.S.
In two weeks, the United States will host an Economic Partners Forum for South Sudan in Washington, D.C. The U.S., along with representatives from the U.K., Norway, and the European Union will gather to discuss economic issues and possible solutions for South Sudan.

Important organizations, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund will also be in attendance and will collaborate with the other governments present in finding solutions for South Sudan’s economic issues. Challenges that plague the new nation include the need to diversify the country’s economy to promote “sustainable long-term growth.” The oil shutdown in the country has also worsened the economic climate within the last year.

The government partners and financial organizations in attendance at the Economic Forum will work with the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to implement any recommendations that are made and will “offer support for sound government policy-making.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID