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brickyards in nepal
In Nepal, where the world-renowned Himalayas are located, poverty continues to plague rural populations. The poverty rate in these regions is still around 35%. Due to a struggling agricultural industry, many are pushed to the cities, where they find jobs in less than desirable work conditions, such as the brickyards of Kathmandu.

The Brickyards in Nepal

During half the year, from late fall to early spring, laborers build thousands of bricks from the clay deposits found in Kathmandu. Many of the laborers are children, teenagers, women, and even the elderly. Whole families move into the brickyards in order to make a few dollars. The work is physically demanding and becomes dangerous near the kilns, where smokestacks bake the bricks and spew toxic chemicals into the air.

An estimated 750 brick factories are in operation in Nepal, but only a little over half of them are registered with the government. Due to lack of funds to enforce child labor laws, brickyards around Nepal still employ approximately 13,530 children in Kathmandu valley. Even more unfortunate, most families depend on their children to work in order to cover all of their expenses.

The Economic Angle

Several economic factors keep both the brickyards in operation and the families in bonded labor. First, construction remains one of the largest industries in Nepal, contributing NPR $55121 Million in 2018 to Nepal’s GDP. Brickyards in Nepal directly fuel this industry, and the government lacks legislative potency in order to reform brickyards’ working conditions. Second, middlemen often entice families to labor in brickyards with the false promise of good pay to get them through a dry season in the job market. In reality, families receive low pay for their work, which makes them unable to pay off their debts and forces them to stay in the brickyard, for years or possibly even generations.

Breaking the Cycle

The brickyards in Nepal present a raw picture of the cycle of poverty that still exists worldwide and exposes the structures and factors that keep families in economic bondage. While hopes of alleviating the situation seem dire, there are a variety of ways that nonprofit and activist organizations are mobilizing to alleviate the suffering in the brickyards in Nepal:

  1. Humanitarian: Ceramic Water Filter Solution is a company whose mission is to bring safe water home. One of their projects started in 2015 and 2016, has been to provide clean water to families working in brickyards in Nepal, where water is scarce. They provide many ways to volunteer, donate, and support their work on their website:
  2. Medical: Terres des Hommes collaborate with local partners to establish healthcare camps to provide aid, particularly to women and children. They have set up facilities in 20 brickyards in the districts of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. This initiative supports workers by monitoring children’s diets and checking on workplace health conditions. To help with these programs in Nepal, there are a variety of options for people to donate and to volunteer on their website.
  3. Technical: For brickyard owners, one initiative, the Global Fairness’s Better Brick Nepal (BBN) program, could, at a minimum, improve the working conditions of their brickyards. The program aims at providing technical assistance to make brickmaking safer and more efficient. In 2017, the BBN project has extended to 40 kilns in 14 districts. Ultimately, those who have started the BBN hope to enforce standards that brickyard owners must comply with in order to operate profitable businesses.
  4. Political: A research and activist group, BloodBricks seeks to end the “modern slavery-climate change nexus” of the construction industry in countries like Cambodia, Nepal, and Pakistan. Their studies trace the injustice of the “booming” construction industry in these countries and seek to fight these issues through further advocacy and discussion.

Deep-Rooted Issues

There are many different ways organizations are placing pressure on the system of brickyards in Nepal. While the issue is complex, involving deep-rooted economic and political structures, this situation is worth fighting, as one way to combat poverty and suffering in Nepal. Additionally, solving this issue has broader implications for economic bondage in brickyards in other countries and bringing this issue to light has wide impacts in terms of advocacy and awareness.

Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about living conditions in equatorial guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. While Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s largest oil producers it also faces many challenges associated with living conditions. Living conditions are poor, due to problems ranging from corrupt politics to low education rates. These 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea shed light on the major issues the country faces.

10 Facts about Living Conditions in Equatorial Guinea

  1. The same president since 1979: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been in power for over 37 years and is currently the worlds longest running non-Royal head of state. Opposition to his office has cited the governments use of intimidation and irregular procedures to remain in power. When his son Teodorin was accused of laundering money by the French government, Mbasogo appointed Teodorin as Vice President and accused the French of violating draconian government laws. Some rights organizations have accused Mbasogo and his predecessors as some of the worst abusers of human rights in Africa.
  2. Highest per capita growth rate in Africa, one of the lowest Human Development Indexes: Equatorial Guinea makes most of its income through oil and is one of the highest oil producers in Sub- Saharan Africa. However, it ranks 141 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index, its HDI currently is 0.591. The country’s per capita gross national income was $21,056 in 2014, giving Equatorial Guinea the biggest difference between per capita wealth and human development score in the world.
  3. Few basic services and malnutrition: In 2011 it was found that about half of Equatorial Guinea’s population had access to clean water. Twenty-Six percent of children suffered from malnutrition, and their growth was considered stunted. The country also has some of the lowest vaccinations in the world, with 25 percent of children unvaccinated.
  4. Low Education rates: Equatorial Guinea has some of the lowest education rates in the world, and even those in school do not remain for long. According to UNICEF, as of 2016, A staggering 42 percent of children do not attend primary school, making the country’s rates the seventh lowest in the world. To compound the issue, only half of the students in these primary schools finish or graduate.
  5. Agricultural Economy: Even though Equatorial Guinea makes most of its revenue through Petroleum, 71 percent of the population is agricultural. Some are subsistence farmers, who clear land by burning away other plant life in order to grow the crops that sustain them. Cocoa still remains a significant export, as it has been since before the country became an independent country in 1968.
  6. Large Youth Population: About 60 percent of the population of Equatorial Guinea is under the age of 25. Because of the pervasiveness of the oil-industry, job creation in other sectors of the economy is very limited.  Many young people are having trouble entering the market as they do not have the skills needed because of the low education rates in the country.
  7. Roads and Infrastructure: In the early 2000s,  less than a sixth of the roads in the country were paved. In some islands like Bioko, the systems are of a higher standard. Using tar as pavement, the city can better accommodate traffic. The country also does not benefit from a single railway or track. In the 1980s, multiple ports were modernized to accommodate the country’s increasing commerce.
  8. No Private Media: One of the most pressing of the 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea is that all media outlets there are closely controlled by the government. There are no privately owned or independent papers or websites. As such, it is impossible to criticize the president or the security forces in the country. This, of course, makes it hard for word of Equatorial Guinea’s issues to reach other countries. However, it has been found the internet is being used for people to speak out against the government. The country had about 181,000 internet users out of its 1.2 million population.
  9. Plans to move forward: The World Bank’s presence in Equatorial Guinea has helped it move forward. The country’s economic plan, Horizon 2020, which will develop the country’s economic, national, and social standing, is being partly overseen by The World Bank. The Bank is providing technical services to strengthen the government’s public investment management systems. The first phase of Equatorial Guinea’s improvement plan was completed in 2012 and dubbed a success by the World Bank.
  10. No longer a “Least Developed Country”: In June of 2017, Guinea graduated from its status as an LDC or Least Developed country. Its national income is growing rapidly, and in recent years the infant mortality rate of the country has fallen by 43 percent.

Overall, there is hope on the horizon for Equatorial Guinea. Despite years of problems and issues, many which still remain, the country has seen improvement from many of its sectors. Most importantly, the country is now getting attention from multiple aid groups, who are doing what they can to improve conditions there. With support and attention, perhaps the worse of these 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea can be nothing but history.

Owen Zinkweg
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Developing Countries
In the modern world having efficient energy infrastructure is vital for a country to find social and economic success. Lack of a proper energy infrastructure is one of the major factors that can hinder a developing country’s economic development. Many countries in the developing world at this moment are suffering from frequent power outages and insufficient power supply access, which are having negative consequences for their populations.

There is a misconception around the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources. The erroneous view contends that renewable energy sources are an expensive luxury only affordable to developed countries. In reality, the proper implementation of renewable energy sources in developing countries could reduce their dependence on natural gas and oil, and investments in renewable energy technologies would be more cost-effective than fossil fuels.

The Effects of Energy Poverty

Lack of access to a reliable energy source and energy services is commonly known as energy poverty, which affects more than 1 billion people in the world. Energy provides all of the basic necessities for human beings. Energy is utilized to provide human needs such as lighting, heat and proper water services. Indeed, there is a proven link between many of the markers of poverty, such as illiteracy, infant mortality, lower life expectancy and higher fertility rates, and only having access to inadequate energy services. This doesn’t surprise politicians, as modern public services and businesses, such as health care, education and communications are dependent on energy to properly function. Doctors need proper lighting to operate, vaccinations and blood cannot be properly stored without a cooling system, and medical equipment, such as X-rays need power to operate.

Benefits of Alternative Power Sources

Adoption and installation of renewable energy sources can offer numerous benefits for a country. Most forms of renewable energy are usually more cost-effective than fossil fuels. Renewable energy in most circumstances comes from a domestic source and therefore reduces the cost of foreign imports. Typically, the fuel for the energy usually comes in an abundance. In recent years, as the globe is seeing a major increase in renewable energy usage, a large number of jobs are being created by renewable energy advances.

Advances in technology related to solar power are becoming increasingly efficient in function. Solar technology is seeing a persistent increase in energy output efficiency and is easily capable of functioning in a variety of locales. Solar energy is viable because many developing countries are located in regions where access to the sun’s rays is optimal and are applicable to both homes and villages. Solar power can also help countries gain energy independence, meaning countries can reduce or eliminate dependence on energy imports. A reduction of energy imports can be extremely cost-effective as demonstrated by the Ukraine which has saved $3 billion on energy imports from Russia by going solar.

Wind power is one of the most cost-effective power sources available because it is sold at a fixed price and its fuel is free, making it vital for developing countries. Wind is a local source of energy with an abundant supply that is inexhaustible. In the developed world wind energy is creating an abundance of jobs with 100,000 people being employed in the United States by the U.S. wind sector. With unemployment being a major cause of poverty in many developing countries, the adoption of wind power could create a large number of jobs for these countries.

New Renewable Technology

As the market for renewable energy continues to grow, innovation has lead to the birth of new technology that generates energy through alternative means.

In the 21st century, smart grids are becoming increasingly common in the developing world. They are of vital use because of their cost efficiency, reliability and ability to manage energy consumption. Currently, developing countries such as China, India and Brazil have been world leaders in smart grid design and usage. Over the past 20 years, the number of photovoltaics (PV) installed has increased so significantly that it is now the third most important renewable energy source behind hydro and wind power. Solar PV systems are viable because they can operate for long periods of time with minimal maintenance making operating costs low after the initial installment.

Current Implementation of Renewable Energy and Future Progress

Renewable energy is already making a positive mark in the developing world with many developing countries already using renewable energy sources. As of now, Kenya is the world’s leader in the number of solar energy systems per capita with more than 30,000 PVs sold in Kenya each year. Countries such as Costa Rica and Brazil use renewable energy as their primary energy sources. Renewable energy accounts for 85 percent of Brazil’s energy supply and 90 percent of Costa Rica’s energy supply.

Proper investment in renewable energy can assist countries in providing adequate energy services to their populations. With the jobs it creates and the positive contributions renewable energy has to a nation’s energy infrastructure, developing countries could utilize it to alleviate poverty within their societies.

– Randall Costa
Photo: Flickr

Helping the Kurds of Turkey
Scattered throughout the mountainous regions of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia, the Kurds are known as one of the largest ethnic groups without a state. Totaling about 35 million, 20 million of these Kurds live in Turkey, making it the largest Kurdish population within a state’s borders. Despite the significant size of the Kurdish population in Turkey, most  people in the U.S. and abroad don’t actually know what’s going on and how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are helping the Kurds of Turkey.

Surviving War

Since 1984, Turkish authorities and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) have been interlocked in a gruesome conflict. Labeled as a terrorist group by most of the international community, the PKK has engaged in terrorist and guerrilla tactics in the hopes of establishing a free Kurdistan in southern Turkey. In response, Turkish forces have unleashed a brutal and destructive counter-terrorism campaign in the South.

In 2016, 653 security officers, 460 PKK militants, 52 civilians and 139 youth of unknown affiliation died from clashes.

Basic human rights — such as minority rights, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom from torture — have been frequently violated by Turkish forces; which can be found here on the U.S. State Dept’s page.

Bolstering Economics

In 2015, it is estimated that between 15 percent (official Turkish government numbers) and 40 percent (private estimates) of the population in Kurdish-majority areas are unemployed. In fact, a study by the International Terrorism and Transnational Crime Research Center found that 4 out of every 5 PKK militants were unemployed at their time of recruitment.

As of 2015, about 1 in 3 people living in Turkey below the poverty line come from the southeastern provinces. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2016, 9 out of 10 of the poorest cities in Turkey reside in its southeastern provinces. This has resulted in the average daily income of $7 for people living in Kurdish-dominated cities.

The Turkish government attempted to re-finance the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) by pumping money into projects — such as dams, irrigation, agriculture and power plants — that focus on rebuilding war-torn infrastructure.

However, according to the Ministry of the Economy, two-thirds of the $309 billion went to already developed regions, such as Istanbul and Ankara, while the southeastern provinces only received a mere 5 percent of the total funds.

Improving Education

The largest city in the southern provinces, Diyarbakir, teachers’ union reported in 2008 that class sizes were up to 60 students per teacher with little to no funding for textbooks, facilities or classroom materials.

Moreover, most of Kurdish students grow up speaking only their native Kurdish language; however, the Turkish government only allows the use of Turkish as the official language in schools. Therefore, many teachers experience language barriers while trying to educate and teach.

While around 800,000 students graduated from the Diyarbakir region, only about half had employment readily available, and around 0.1 percent went on to a university.

It is clear that the people of southeastern Turkey (primarily Kurds) are suffering from severe disparities in education, employment, security and infrastructure compared to the rest of Turkey. While the Turkish government has implemented projects on paper, actually turning funds and promises into solutions have not shown much progress in helping the Kurds of Turkey.

The Path to Peace: The Kurdish Project

One of the most well-known NGOs helping the Kurds in Turkey is the Kurdish Project. It was created by Farhad “Fred” Khosravi, a Kurdish-American entrepreneur, with the help of other NGOs, the Kurdish-American community and San Francisco tech groups. The Kurdish Project is a cultural-education initiative that aims at raising awareness of the Kurdish people, their culture and their struggles.

Through education and awareness, the members of the project hope to bring peace and stability to the Middle East by sponsoring local and international NGOs that focus on helping the Kurds.

Lobby for Change

Keep in mind, Turkey and the U.S. share a strong relationship and partnership in Middle Eastern affairs. So, emailing, calling and meeting with representatives in support of helping the Kurds of Turkey could go a long way to pressuring the Turkish state to change its methods.

Change shouldn’t be thought of as too far way in this situation. In fact, Erdogan himself stated that: “If we solve this problem [the conflict with the PKK], then investments can boom.”

Although he has frequently leaned toward brutal crackdowns in the southeastern provinces, economic aid, not military force, is recommended by the Washington Institute. If security forces are applied to more constructive projects, such as rebuilding infrastructure and protecting civilians, then the Turkish government can make significant headway to bringing peace within its borders.

After all, rebuilding the southern provinces will not only be helping the Kurds of Turkey, but also the rest of the Turkish state as peace and prosperity overcome conflict and poverty.

Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in IranWith a population of more than 79 million people, Iran is a large country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkmenistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Armenia. Sadly, of the millions of citizens in this country, 18.7 percent live below the poverty line. There are many causes of poverty in Iran, but two major causes have caused a crisis in the country during the last several years.

Unemployment
Iran’s economy began to struggle in 2014 when a subsidy program adjusted the prices of fuel, the country’s largest export. In 2015, the economy somewhat improved in the first half of the calendar year and the oil and fuel sector prospered. Meanwhile, unemployment in other job sectors increased. By 2016, the unemployment rate reached a three-year high of 12.7 percent, though labor participation increased from around 35 percent to about 40 percent since 2014. An unemployment gender gap was noted in 2016 as well, as unemployment rates for men and women were 21.8 and 10.4 percent respectively.

In 2014, however, Iran saw the height of the unemployment crisis when the rate of unemployed women was estimated to be 46 percent and youth unemployment was twice that of general unemployment.

Additionally, the standard monthly income for families averaging five people per household is about $600, which is considered significantly below the poverty line. In 2014, Parliament’s Plan and Budget Committee announced that 15 million Iranians were living below the poverty line, or 20 percent of the population, and seven million of those people did not have access to any services that might offer them support or assistance.

Internal Corruption
In 2014, news broke that a merchant with close ties to the Iranian government facilitated many oil and gold transactions through the Turkish People’s Bank and embezzled a significant amount of money, putting the country into serious debt. Later, many other fraudulent investors were reported to be active in the oil industry, and though over $1 billion in debt was reported, the guilty were not punished. Between 2013 and 2014, 4,000 cases of embezzlement and theft were reported, most of them being cases of illegally importing luxury cars, hidden monopolies and smuggling, to name a few, but no names of the guilty parties were ever disclosed.

In 2014, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani took office with the determination to develop an effective strategy to reduce poverty for Iranians. Rouhani established a three-part policy to assist the most vulnerable populations and curb inflation, which ended two years of negative growth. Officials under the Rouhani administration provided food aid to about seven million citizens in poverty. Though many aid projects under the administration were criticized for potentially adding to the budget deficit, such policies and programs seek to give immediate help to those living in absolute poverty, and the administration continues to fight for the poor and make food security its number one priority.

These causes of poverty in Iran have led to justified tension and fear among the public and the government that conditions and employment rates will deteriorate further if changes to the subsidy program do not go into effect, and if eliminating government corruption is not made a higher priority. Those changes are key to improving Iranian lives.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Flickr

Tackling Poverty Together: Canada’s Poverty Reduction StrategyThe government of Canada is showing its commitment to fighting poverty by developing and implementing Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Canada’s focus on a modern approach to the problem of poverty should be an example to many other countries.

Overview of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

Approximately five million Canadians currently live in poverty, and poverty costs Canada between $72 and $84 billion each year. Canada has an opportunity to improve the quality of life of its citizens and also stimulate its economy through the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy included three initial steps:

  1. Consulting with Canadians in every area of the country on the issue of poverty
  2. Creating a Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty that includes a combination of experts as well as people who have experienced poverty themselves.
  3. Conducting the Tackling Poverty Together project— a research project that will look at six different communities across Canada.

Consulting Canadians on Poverty

The first step in Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was to consult people from all areas of the country and all walks of life. This phase included a combination of meetings with local governments as well as online forums and town halls so that all Canadian citizens were given an opportunity to be heard. The use of online tools to engage more people in the conversation is a great example of leveraging modern technology to help find solutions for complex problems like poverty.

Establishing an Advisory Committee

Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy includes an advisory board of 17 leaders from academia, business and beyond. The advisory group also includes members that have experienced poverty themselves. This is an important reminder that any decision-making body should include those who have lived experience with the topic being considered. The advisory board will discuss issues pertaining to poverty and give advice to the Canadian government.

Conducting Research

The Canadian government has also conducted a case-study in six different communities across Canada to look at what can be done to lift people out of poverty. The final report made key conclusions about what Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy needs to focus on moving forward. Many other countries can learn from Canada’s findings. The conclusions were as follows:

  1. There is a strong and ongoing need for federal government support to help Canadians get out of poverty.
  2. The Canada Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement are making a big difference.
  3. The federal government offers other important programs that could be helping, but very few people are aware of them.
  4. Many people cannot access the support they need because of how some programs are designed and delivered.
  5. Canadians were unanimous that there is a need for more support in different areas, and by different levels of government, to help people overcome poverty.

An Innovative Way Forward In the Fight Against Poverty

Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy should be an example to the world on how to create a cohesive, modern and organized strategy for fighting poverty. However, poverty is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Powerful governments like that of the United States and organizations like the United Nations have the opportunity to aid the reduction of global poverty. One way they can do this is by making sure developing countries have the resources they need to implement their own poverty reduction strategies.

– Aaron Childree

Photo: Flickr

Challenges and Solutions in Reducing the Poverty Rate in St. Kitts and NevisSt. Kitts and Nevis is not one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean. No exact statistics on the exact poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis exist, but it is clear that the country both has ongoing struggles and that solutions to many of its problems do exist.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis is youth unemployment and underemployment. Some of the costs of this are hard to quantify, such as the feeling of self-esteem one gains from being employed.

Childhood education is free in St. Kitts and Nevis, but the additional costs associated with it can be prohibitive. Teachers in St. Kitts and Nevis have been known to hold antagonistic attitudes towards the poor. In many cases, impoverished parents of children have to work two or three jobs to provide for their families.

Health problems related to unhealthy lifestyles are widespread in St. Kitts and Nevis, such as obesity, hypertension and depression. This, in turn, puts a strain on the country’s healthcare system and economy.

It is not unheard of for citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to procure healthcare and education abroad. In fact, many low-income families in the country are supported by migrants living abroad and sending money home.

Another contributor to the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis is one that threatens all Caribbean nations: natural disasters, particularly hurricanes. The collapse of the sugar industry has led to soil erosion, a result of diverting runoff rainwater to sugar fields through pipes.

Alarmingly, violent crime, which can be both symptomatic of and contribute to poverty, has risen in the very recent past. There were 103 reported homicides in 2006-2010, compared to 42 from 2001-2005, a 160 percent increase.

Despite the obvious challenges that lay ahead, there are several steps being taken to reduce the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis. The country is in the process of reforming the various antiquated departments that would be concerned with a rise in violent crime. Effective mobilization of resources to inform the public about bad health choices could make a huge difference. Currently, the government is investing in more training for medical professionals.

St. Kitts and Nevis face a number of very real challenges in alleviating poverty. But most of these challenges have been identified and none are insurmountable. In the coming years, with proper action, the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis can be reduced.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Innovations Against PovertyEven with active funding partners, some development agencies may fall short if lacking internal infrastructure. While funding is certainly an important aspect of achieving sustainable development goals, it may be just as important to ensure that the strategists and support for development projects are up to date and relevant. SNV: Smart Development Works is a nonprofit that works toward providing such resources through an expansive network of professionals in a variety of different sectors. SNV works with policy experts, local governments, private business and institutes of higher learning to provide lasting differences in extremely poor communities.

SNV was founded in the Netherlands in the mid-’60s and has since established itself in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Expertise in sectors relating to agriculture, energy, water, sanitation and health have helped solve problems locally and provide sustainable solutions to poverty. SNV is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency and managed in partnership with BoP Innovation Center and Inclusive Business Sweden.

SNV has several projects on the ground and one in particular worth noting. Innovations Against Poverty is working in the private sector to develop products and services that can aid in fighting global poverty. This particular mission has focused its efforts on younger demographics as well as women in order to empower groups to shift gender and age paradigms. Companies can apply for the Innovations Against Poverty program to get funding that incentivizes innovation, entrepreneurship and consumption of goods and services in their communities.

Innovations Against Poverty was created with the idea that the private sector is a powerful mechanism for creating jobs and increasing incomes while also providing necessary goods and services to a community. Low-income markets in impoverished communities contain business opportunities that can be sustainably exploited with adequate startup funds and resources. Innovations Against Poverty exists to stimulate development where it otherwise would not exist, with financial support ranging from $60,000 to $200,000. Innovations Against Poverty gains a non-reimbursable capital return and provides advisory support for its investors. This support includes training and coaching from international experts. The program also narrows its support to cases that are not seen as “risk free”, thereby investing in businesses that may not receive support in most cases.

Innovations Against Poverty has registered over 1300 companies since its inception and is expected to grow. These innovative solution investments have primarily been made in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia, with a focus in the agriculture and energy sectors. With continued success, Innovations Against Poverty can foster development in more countries all over the world.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Advancement in Developing CountriesMore countries are becoming developed, according to the 2016 Human Development Report done by the U.N. Development program. People are living longer, there are more social service programs and more children are enrolled in school. There is still more progress to be made in developing countries but, more than ever before, more countries are making significant advancements. While developing countries start to industrialize, it is important to keep in mind the environmental costs caused by more emissions in the air. To cut down on emission levels, it is important to invest in sustainable advancement in developing countries, so their economies can still grow but they can cut down on pollution at the same time.

According to CAIT Climate Data Explorer, there are a few developing countries – including Indonesia, India and Brazil – that are on the list of top 10 highest emitters of greenhouse gases. Additionally, CAIT’s 2017 report analysis shows that all developing countries contribute 60 percent of global emissions. This means that developing countries are growing industrially, but it also means there is a more negative impact on the environment that comes with this growth. In compliance with the Paris Agreement, developed countries are initiating programs to be more sustainable, so it is important to invest in sustainable practices in developing countries as well.

Sustainable advancement in developing countries is not hard to achieve. For example, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project by ClimateWorks is a global collaboration program that identifies problems of carbon emissions and finds solutions, while still sustaining economic growth. Research done by the World Resource Institute shows that 21 countries have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by using sustainable practices, while still maintaining economic growth.

Knowing how beneficial sustainability can be for economic growth as well as for the environment, the U.N. has adopted Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. These goals are aimed at increasing human prosperity by giving access to education and equal rights, but balancing this with sustainable practices that will protect our planet. By combating these two issues at once, programs such as the Sustainable Development Goals will help developing countries prosper.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Spain

Spain is best described as the land of Picasso and Gaudí by art lovers and home to Real Madrid and Barcelona by football fans across the world. Spain is a great tourist destination, thanks to its unique culture which includes the great dance form of flamenco, the celebration of La Tomatina and the famous bullfighting.

However, Spain has always struggled economically compared to other European states. The early 2000s saw a great change, as Spain became one of the strongest economies in the EU. Foreign direct investment tripled from 1990 to 2000. Unfortunately, the financial crisis of 2008 hit Spain the hardest of any country in the eurozone, as it had relied heavily on property and the construction sector. The unemployment rate increased dramatically and banks failed.

In 2012, the poverty rate in Spain was estimated at 21.1 percent. Today, Spain has recovered from the recession and is growing fast, but issues still linger. Most of the work available is of low quality, wages remain low and the unemployment rate is still at 18 percent, and almost 40 percent for youths, while strikes and job insecurity are still very common. These issues most impact families with children. According to UNICEF, 40 percent of children in Spain are living in poverty, which is the third-highest in the EU.

The reduction in spending on healthcare and education as austerity measures have had a negative long-term impact. Social protection policies are not focusing on children and their sustainable future. The gap in social protection for children and people over 65 is the highest in Europe. Spain also has the biggest wealth gap in Europe, with the middle-class disappearing and wealth concentrated in the hands of very few.

The good news is that the last three years have seen impressive growth in Spain’s economy. The government has outlined several solutions to decrease the poverty rate in Spain:

  1. New labor market reforms offer subsidies to firms hiring the young, women and long-term unemployed.
  2. Ensuring adequate income in old age and boosting private pension schemes that guarantee less risk of poverty among the old.
  3. Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship through friendly policies.
  4. Investing in early childhood education and care as well as providing vocational training for youths.
  5. Overhauling the tax and transfer system.

As the country works to revive its economy, it is key to prioritize reducing the poverty rate in Spain. To make that happen, all its policies must be directed towards inclusiveness and concerning the existing inequalities.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr