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Role of STEM in Developing CountriesScience, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are important for building and maintaining the development of any successful country. From the medical scientists, who develop treatments for diseases, to the civil engineers, who design and build a nation’s infrastructure, every aspect of human life is based on the discoveries and developments of scientists and engineers. The importance of STEM today should not be underestimated as its role is becoming increasingly significant in the future. The technology produced today is altering people’s lives at a rate faster than ever before. Consequently, it is vital for countries seeking to reduce their poverty levels to adopt new scientific research and technology. In doing so, these countries can improve their economy, health care system and infrastructure. As this impacts all aspects of society, the role of STEM in developing countries is of significant importance.

STEM and Economic Progress

STEM education fosters a skill set that stresses critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. This type of skill set encourages innovation among those who possess it. Similarly, a country’s economic development and stability are dependent on its ability to invent and develop new products. Technological innovation in the modern age is only obtainable through the expertise of specialists with knowledge of recent STEM research. Therefore, the role of STEM in developing countries is important because a country’s economy is completely dependent on new developments from technology and science.

Overall, the economic performance of metropolises with higher STEM-oriented economies is superior to those with lower STEM-oriented economies. Within these metropolises, there is lower unemployment, higher incomes, higher patents per worker (a sign of innovation), and higher imports and exports of gross domestic products. According to many experts, this holds true at a national level as well. The world’s most successful countries tend to efficiently utilize the most recent scientific developments and technologies.

In recent years, there is a major increase in the number of science and engineering degrees earned in India. India now has the largest number of STEM graduates in the world, putting the country on the right track for economic development. This has led to widespread innovation in India and a consistent increase in its gross domestic product. The role of STEM in developing countries can thus improve its economy. As of early 2019, India has seen an increase of 7.7 percent in its total GDP.

STEM and Health Care

Over the past 50 years, the Western world has made remarkable progress in medical science. With new breakthroughs developed through vaccinations and treatment, many serious diseases in developing countries are now curable. Common causes of death for children in developing countries are diseases such as malaria, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia. These diseases cause a large death toll in developing countries, but they have been largely eradicated from developed countries through proper vaccinations. As a result, these diseases take a large toll on the children of developing countries. In developing countries, a high percentage of the population is under 15 years of age. As such, it is important to prevent diseases that affect children under 15.

Lately, Brazil has seen an epidemic level of yellow fever which has resulted in numerous deaths. Brazil has addressed this by implementing a mass immunization campaign. In particular, this program will deliver vaccines to around 23.8 million Brazilian citizens in 69 different municipalities. The role of STEM in developing countries with preventable diseases will be vital to improving health and life expectancy rates.

Engineering and Infrastructure

Engineers build, create and design machines and public works to address needs and improve quality of life. Engineers construct and maintain a nation’s infrastructure, such as its fundamental facilities and systems. This includes roads, waterways, electrical grids, bridges, tunnels and sewers. Infrastructure is vital to a country, as it enables, maintains and enhances societal living conditions.

Subsequently, poor infrastructure can seriously hinder a nation’s economic development. This is the case in many African countries. Africa controls only 1 percent of the global manufacturing market despite accounting for 15 percent of the world’s total population. Ultimately, poor infrastructure, such as transportation, communications and energy, stunts a country’s ability to control a larger share of the national market.

Afghanistan has improved its energy infrastructure, using a large portion of the assistance received from the U.S. Through this effort, they have been able to reduce electricity loss from 60 percent to 35 percent. Consequently, they have improved long term sustainability and created a reliable energy system for their citizens. The role of STEM in developing countries is important on a large scale, improving infrastructure to impact their citizens’ daily lives.

STEM and the Future of the World

Societies seeking new scientific knowledge and encouraging creative and technological innovations will be able to properly utilize new technologies, increase productivity, and experience long term sustained economic growth. The developing societies that succeed will be able to improve the living standards of its population. As our world becomes more interconnected, countries prioritizing STEM education and research will make significant advances in alleviating poverty and sustaining economic, cultural and societal growth. Undoubtedly, the role of STEM in developing countries is of significant importance, just as it is in our modern world.

Randall Costa
Photo: Flickr

opportunity in African slums
Kenya is known as a contrasting country where there is a large gap between the economic and social classes. About half of the 44 million people who live in the African country live well below the poverty line. This makes necessities like clean water and health care seem like luxuries.

With limited opportunity in African slums, many fall ill from lack of sanitation and clean water, as well as food shortages. Others are unable to attend school and are either pushed into violence or become victims of it.

Kennedy Odede – A Ray of Hope

Kennedy Odede was born in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa. Here, Odede and many of his friends and neighbors were subjected to violence, severe gender inequality and a constant feeling of hopelessness stemming from a lack of opportunity. Despite his extreme impoverished conditions, Odede remained hopeful for not only a better future for himself and his birthplace of Kibera but for all the slums of Africa.

As he continued his education and eventually migrated to the U.S., Odede became inspired by visionaries of change, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Like these influential men, Odede wanted to better the world for the vulnerable population.

In Kenya in 2004, Odede bought a soccer ball for 20 cents and taught people in his area the sport. Upon bringing people together to play, the Kenyan native was able to create open discussions about the pressing issues within the community of Kibera. Those included issues such as food security and gender-based violence. They started discussing ways to create opportunity in African slums.

Shining Hope for Communities

After meeting his wife, Jessica Posner, Odede’s initiatives branched out into a grassroots organization called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).  It was founded in 2009. This nonprofit organization devised a plan to integrate programs for girls’ education and community forums to raise awareness about gender-based violence. SHOFCO’s mission statement pays homage to the mindset of Odede’s visionary inspirations. It reads “Empower communities to transform urban poverty to urban promise.”

SHOFCO set up an aerial network of pipes that brought access to clean water. It was an effort to help decrease Kenya’s alarming child mortality rate. SHOFCO has also set up several health clinics, including 6 in Odede’s home neighborhood of Kibera, where over 165,000 patients were served in 2017. Clinical services were desperately needed in Kibera with HIV and other diseases being endemically prominent.

According to SHOFCO’s annual report, in 2017 the organization helped provide free education and health services to nearly 220,000 people across Kenyan slums. Thus, along with health reform in Africa, the organization continues its initiatives to better education and transform the lives of people.

Educational Programs to Create Better Opportunity in African Slums

The Los Angeles based couple’s organization continued to transform urban poverty and create better opportunity in African slums through their educational programs. SHOFCO’s School-2-School program partners with schools across the United States to support efforts and raise awareness for SHOFCO’s free schooling for girls in Kenya.

This partnership has helped 45 percent of Kenyan girls enrolled in the free schooling program achieve A’s in Kenya’s primary education certification exam. Schools enrolled in the program received a B+ average on the same exam. Both Odede and his wife believe that providing young girls with education is important to fighting poverty as it creates female leaders and speaks for the need to fight for women’s rights.

SHOFCO now runs two schools, one in Kibera the other in Mathare. The schools teach 519 girls from pre-kindergarten up to eighth grade. Aside from traditional academic subjects, students focus on leadership skills and learn about Kenya’s government. This was Odede’s idea to make people realize the need to create more opportunities in African slums.

SHOFCO’s annual budget of $7 million is currently made up of donations and grants from both the U.S. and Kenya. Odede and his wife hope this budget will go well beyond $10 million by 2021. That would allow the organization to create more schools and also continue its efforts in addressing Kenya’s health and water security issues. SHOFCO’s model for lifting urban slums like Kibera out of poverty serves as a guide to how industrialized countries can help create opportunity in African slums.

– Haley Newlin
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

Anganwadi Workers in India
Anganwadi is a child and health care system in India, initiated by the government to promote nutrition, education and health care to its citizens, particularly in rural areas. Anganwadi workers in India are the first point of contact between organized health care and the poor people in rural India. The responsibilities of these workers include caring for the health and well being of nursing women, children and socioeconomically deprived groups.

The Anganwadi Workers

There are over one million Anganwadi centers in India with 2 million workers, benefiting over 70 million people. Each worker is responsible for the well-being of around 1,000 people in villages across India. The workers are from the community they operate in and thus have an intimate understanding of the issues surrounding patients. They are able to gain the trust of the patients and are thus able to provide for their needs.

This workforce includes mostly women and is regarded as an acceptable and effective means of employment for women in rural areas. Nursing women and children are comfortable being treated by these workers and find it easier to seek help. The workers participate in rudimentary training and skills to care for the people in their village.

The workers are often the only source of help for villagers and thus allow more people to gain access to health care. Rural India suffers from issues such as overpopulation, lack of sanitation and illiteracy, and these workers are able to ease the overburdened health care system of the country.

Benefits for the Children

Anganwadi centers also serve as free-of-cost preschool centers for children in the area. These centers also organize immunization programs for children and provide information on how to attain adequate nutrition. The mission of the organization is to remove malnutrition in India by 2022. The successes of polio and leprosy eradication programs in the country owe a great deal to the efforts of the Anganwadi workers.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development provides different types of training for workers, including classroom training. Some workers receive up to 3 months of training. Workers are also provided with refresher training from time to time. This ensures that workers have some understanding of health care and social development of children and are able to provide assistance to families.

Educational and Environmental Role

There has been a recent focus on sanitation measures that include providing drinking water, promoting personal hygiene practices and establishing practices of environmental sanitation. This provides people with tools to care for themselves and their environment. Workers provide advice on preventing open defecation, unhygienic food preparation and unsanitary living.

Anganwadi centers also organize workshops to empower adolescent girls through education, skill development and personal hygiene. By promoting literacy and nutrition, the centers are providing resources to young girls to develop themselves personally and professionally. This is also a means to reduce child marriages by providing skills to be economically and socially empowered.

Workers also utilize technology such as smartphones to create a database of residents of the village and schedule home visits for those who are immobile. Technology is also used to track activities, attendance and growth. This is also a good way to track progress and keep workers accountable.

Despite their helpful service, Anganwadi workers in India are severely underpaid. The government of India has provided greater incentives and salary to these workers so they are able to provide for themselves adequately.

Anganwadi workers in India provide the systematically oppressed with access to health care, education and sanitation facilities. This allows for an improvement in the quality of life of Indians and provides many women with employment opportunities. Continuous work of this organization will benefit the country in its goal of eradicating poverty.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr

10. Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Poland
Poland’s future is in jeopardy. More specifically, the future of Poland’s youth is in jeopardy. While the country is dealing with difficult poverty issues, the youth of Poland face uncertainty in job perspective. Detailed in this list of the top 10 facts about poverty in Poland are the contributing factors to today’s crisis, as well as possible improvement in the future based on the projected increase of foreign aid to Poland.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Poland

  1. The CIA World Factbook estimates that 17 percent of Poland’s population is under the poverty line. The World Data Group defines the poverty line as earning anything below $1.90 per day. Poland’s total population is 37.95 million people, which means that there are 6.4 million people in poverty. To put this into perspective, that is the number of people that currently live in Indiana.
  2. According to the World Bank Data, unemployment in Poland is around 14 percent and among the young population, it is 25 percent. This level of unemployment was reached in small towns like Tarnobrzeg due to leaders prioritizing failed tourist attractions over the actual sources of employment and money. For example, the leaders of Tarnobrzeg shut down their mines to replace them with an artificial lake. The lake was only able to be used during the two warmest months of the year, hurting the town’s economy badly.
  3. While the average salary of Polish citizens is at an all-time high (around $963), the minimum wage is less than half of the average. Average rent across Poland ranges from $272 to $816.
  4. Many citizens give a large chunk of their paycheck to heating companies to stay warm during Poland’s harsh winters, resulting in a lesser amount of money to meet other survival needs. The average cost of heating in Poland is $180.
  5. Young people in Poland struggle to keep long-lasting employment because many agencies use temporary work. In the World Bank Data coverage of poverty in Poland, the story states that 27 percent of the young population faces “junk contracts” that do not help their living situations. “Junk contracts” are temporary contracts for workers that do not offer a stable income, a source of long-term financial stability or any health benefits. These job prospects are so terrible that around one million people between the ages of 15 and 24 travel abroad to earn higher wages. Between 2009 and 2011, only 40.3 percent of temporary workers were able to get permanent jobs, according to the Social Diagnosis survey.
  6. Education is becoming the important focus for young people in Poland. Despite 80 percent of the youth population attending schools that lead to higher education, future employers are uninterested in these dedicated students and fail to train them instead. Social Europe’s report on youth unemployment in Poland claims that less than 23 percent of Polish companies cooperated with a school or a center for practical training.
  7. World Bank Data claims that Poland’s economy grew 81 percent between 1990 and 2010. However, the wage gaps between the wealthy and those below the poverty line also grew. Scientific Research Journal found that “rising income inequalities were exacerbated as Poland’s economy grew and private ownership expanded”.
  8. Approximately 35 percent of children under the age of 17 rely on government assistance. Not only that, but World Socialist Web reports that 3 percent of families with more than one child cannot afford to feed all members of the family. The Polish government only plans on allowing approximately $220 million in government funding each year until 2020.
  9. In 2015, World Bank Data released a report claiming that spending programs in support of low-income families in Poland are well targeted and that they mostly benefit low-income households. While this is a great start, Poland must expand its assistance to the poor. World Bank Data stated that a solution to this problem would be for the government to investigate the causes of this high poverty level and start there. Some government assistance programs realize that this is an important step and have suggested the implementation of a family cash bonus entitled Rodzina 500+. This step will also look into how to restructure the system so that low-income families are the first to receive support.
  10. According to USAID, the U.S. gave Poland approximately $13 million in 2016. However, a large portion of the funding is going towards the military. The amount of aid going to Poland has substantially dropped in the last 15 years. On average, the U.S. gave between $50 million and $80 million until 2015. In 2016, $11 million went to military aid and a grand total of $6,400 went to maternal and child health.

Poland’s poverty crisis is not quite at a catastrophic level. The people are surviving and the government is acknowledging the crisis. These top 10 facts about poverty in Poland attempt to show the spectrum of issues and possible solutions for Poland. Poland’s government, as well as the U.S.’s foreign aid system, can help the underprivileged and prevent this situation from worsening.

– Miranda Garbaciak

Photo: Flickr

The Shoe That Grows
Sometimes, the simplest invention can change millions of lives. That’s the goal of The Shoe That Grows, a sandal invented by Kenton Lee. These shoes can adjust its size, allowing children in impoverished nations to grow up without having to go barefoot. The shoes, which come in catch-all Small and Large sizes, can grow five sizes and last at least 5 years.

The Power of a Pair of Shoes

According to The Shoe That Grows, “There are over 300 million children who do not have shoes. And countless more with shoes that do not fit.” Children without shoes are susceptible to injuries and parasites that infect humans through our feet. Rachel Garton of Buckner International Shoes for Orphan Souls says, “Just by putting a pair of shoes on a child, we can increase their health by 50 percent.”

From physical improvement to being able to participate in a society, shoes can improve:

  • Quality of life
  • Prevent injury of disease
  • Help with healing for those with chronic foot conditions
  • Offer support for inadequate arches or excess pronation
  • Express one’s self
  • Enable a person to work in hazardous conditions
  • Help land that coveted job.

Over 1.5 billion people suffer from soil-transmitted diseases worldwide. Most notable in the susceptibility are the impoverished children who simply cannot afford shoes. Without shoes, children are especially vulnerable to soil-transmitted diseases and parasites that can cause illness and even death.

Dangers of Bare Feet

Improper sanitization along with the lack of foot protection can lead to parasitic worms being able to bore itself into a foot in a corkscrew-like manner. Severe illness would then follow after a hookworm infection with anemia being the biggest health concern.

While the hookworm epidemic is no longer a concern in the U.S. today, the need for proper footwear is still critical as a way of reducing the risk of certain parasitic diseases and foot infections in third world countries.

According to the Global Partnership for Education, an estimated 69 million primary-school-age boys and girls are not in school. This is due to a varying range of variables from poverty to disease. These factors however go hand-in-hand when children do not have the financial capabilities to afford proper footwear to protect their feet from life-hindering diseases.

Children who get sick miss school, can’t help their families and ultimately, suffer needlessly. Moreover, many countries require school uniforms which definitely include shoes, and since children’s feet grow so quickly, they often outgrow donated shoes within a year, leaving them once again exposed to illness and disease.

Shoes and Foot Development

Shoes not only help our feet to heal but can also aid in support and stability of our foot. Not all feet are perfect, so properly fitting shoes can help align your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back to correct gait and improve posture. It is important to also note that poorly-fitted shoes can have a negative impact on your foot health, but accounting for the foot length and width can help prevent any foot development disorders.

Additionally, growth spurts in children are rapid so proper and regular foot measurements are important; replacement of worn-out shoes is necessary to maintain optimal foot conditions and protection for your feet.

In addition, without supportive shoes, unnecessary impact and stress on areas of the feet and knees not made for shock absorption/pressure can eventually lead to increased back, knee and foot pain.

Small to Large: Sizes and Impact

Through his innovation of The Shoe That Grows, Kenton Lee has seen how small things have the power to make a big impact. Since its beginning, The Shoe That Grows has distributed over 120,000 pairs in 91 countries.

Through its parent charity organization, Because International, The Shoe That Grows works with nonprofits, churches, individuals and organizations serving kids in need. The business covers the cost of the shoes through donations and fundraisers, and after shoes are then packed and sent to groups before they travel.

Lee now tells his story to audiences who are eager to make a difference at home, work, and in their local and global communities. He not only inspires others through his speeches, but he lives out practical compassion everyday through his full-time work with his nonprofit organization. Lee serves as a model and inspiration for us all.

– Richard Zarrilli, Jr.
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Guangzhou
Guangzhou, Guangdong province’s capital and the third largest city in China, is known as the factory of the world. Skyscrapers and trade fairs bring beauty to the city as Guangzhou edges out competitive cities and sets itself up to become China’s technology leader by 2020.

Guangzhou wasn’t always this successful; in fact, it was once a rural area of China where poverty hit hard. As a matter of fact, all of China was once recognized as one of the poorest countries in the world to live in, and the city of Guangzhou wasn’t exempt to this status. To understand the evolution of poverty in Guangzhou, one should examine poverty in China as a whole. Let’s discuss the top 10 facts about poverty in Guangzhou.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Guangzhou

  1. The majority of the empty-nest senior citizens live in poverty in Guangzhou. Seventy percent of them are females between the ages of 50 and 60 as well as over the age 70.
  2. Homelessness is a byproduct of poverty; 2.41 million people are homeless in Guangzhou, with a majority of them being male.
  3. There are an estimated 138 “urban villages” (slums) in Guangzhou where a large majority of the poor reside. Most of the residents are migrants, farmers who’ve lost their land and other impoverished groups. Guangzhou has garnered the nickname ‘Slum City’ due to these populations.
  4. There are currently one million children fending for themselves in China. According to a study done by the Guangzhou Children Protection Center, 48 percent of the children living alone on the streets are children running away from poverty-related family problems and abuse.
  5. Poverty plays a large part in the education gap between rural and urban children. In fact, 60 percent of students in rural China fail to continue their education past high school. Guangzhou made attempts at education reform, but the impact has not been sustainable for kids in rural areas. There are still more than 60 million children left behind in rural schools.
  6. In 2016, parasitic diseases of poverty hit mainland China, with a high rate of infections occurring in expectant mothers and children. Cancer patients and individuals who possessed compromised immune systems were infected by water-borne diseases like toxoplasmosis and giardiasis. In Guangzhou, people are encouraged to drink bottled water to protect themselves from health risks such as these.
  7. Of the 1.37 billion people living in China, 56 million are people living in poverty in rural areas; 2.8 million people live in rural areas of Guangzhou.
  8. Guangzhou called for a limit to its population growth by 2020 as overpopulation is one of the leading causes of poverty in rural areas. In the late 1980s, China instituted the one-child policy to regulate population growth in the country with hopes of stabilizing the economy. Due to this legislation, 400 million births were claimed to have been averted.
  9. Since the 1980s, 800 million people have risen from poverty in China. This decrease in impoverished individuals is due to the country investing in its economy by training its people for skill and knowledge-based sectors. Despite its growing population, Guangzhou currently has one of the fastest growing economies with labor demands supplying jobs to impoverished people in rural areas as well as migrants.
  10. The extreme poverty rate in China is set to fall below one percent by the close of 2018 through sustainable development efforts. Guangzhou is on track to do its part, as it is considered a unique economic development area in China, specializing in transportation, industrialism and trade.

Steps Towards Poverty Alleviation

China as a whole has made significant strides in ending poverty. Once one of the poorest countries on the globe, with more than 500 million people living in poverty, China has found ways to eradicate this debilitating occurrence.

With Guangzhou as the epicenter of trade and economic development, China is now on track to meet its target—less than one percent living in impoverishment. A decrease in poverty in Guangzhou should follow suit, but only will time will tell.

– Naomi C. Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

The READ ActAccording to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), nearly 263 million children and youth around the world are without an education. Of all of the regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the most detrimental number of children out of school – over a fifth of children between the ages of six to 11 and about one-third of children between the ages of 12 to 14. As the children grow older, the rates continue to worsen – almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of 15 to 17 are not receiving an education. The READ Act is a big step forward in the fight to change these numbers.

The Necessity of the READ Act

The UIS and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report show that in Nigeria alone, 8.7 million children who are supposed to be in primary school are not. In Sudan, it is 2.7 million children and in Ethiopia, it is 2.1 million children. These children are not given the chance to thrive and challenge themselves and it is out of their hands due to the vast global poverty they are encompassed in.

Statistics such as this emphasize the importance of laws such as the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act. This act was signed into law in 2017, and it is this law that is providing these 263 million children (130 million of whom are girls) hope for a deserved and promising education.

Bringing the READ Act into Reality

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) first introduced the READ Act into Congress. Both Rep. Lowey and Rep. Reichert are important contributors to the passing of this bill, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The main causes as to why these 263 million children do not have access to education are conflict and political instability. This law aims to provide education to the children who are in these situations, while simultaneously aiming to improve the overall quality of education. Rep. Reichert commented to World Vision, “By giving young people in impoverished regions the tools to read and write, we will put them down a positive path where they are better able to care for themselves, the needs of their families and their communities.”

The READ Act came about as an idea: what if the United States could make a significant difference by ensuring that every child has an equal and fair opportunity for a safe, quality education? After 13 years of constant due diligence and advocates contacting Congress over 1500 times, today there is widespread global success from this act.

How the READ Act Will Help

UNICEF reports that the READ Act of 2017 “will be tasked with developing a strategy to work with partner countries and organizations to promote basic education in developing countries.” The READ Act creates programs that also promote education as a foundation for economic growth. The act not only recognizes the importance of children having access to a quality education, it emphasizes that the act will create a chain reaction in communities by providing more jobs which will aid in diminishing poverty.

Rep. Lowey stated, “Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write – it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.” The READ Act, in providing millions of children around the globe with an education, is generously increasing the chance for these children to find jobs and build stable lives one day as they get older.

It is because of American citizens’ insistence that Congress take action that the READ Act has become an applicable law. More importantly, it is because of the citizens’ efforts that millions of children around the world now have new opportunities open for them and a brighter, more hopeful future to look forward to.

– Angelina Gillispie

To find out more about the past successes of our advocacy work and our current legislative priorities in Congress, head over to our Legislation page.

Photo: Flickr

effects of poverty

Poverty stretches across the globe affecting almost half of the world’s population. Its effects reach deeper. Uniquely connected to different causes, the effects of poverty are revolving—one result leads to another source leads to another consequence. To fully understand the effects of poverty, the causes have to be rooted out to develop strategies to end hunger and starvation for good. Let’s discuss some of the top effects of poverty.

Poor Health

Globally, millions suffer from poverty-related health conditions as infectious diseases ravage the lives of an estimated 14 million people a year and are of the top effects of poverty. These diseases are contracted through sources like contaminated water, the absence of water and sanitation, and lack of access to proper healthcare. The list is broad and long. Here are the top diseases commonly linked to poverty.

  • Malaria: Malaria is urbanely referred to as the poor man’s disease, as more than a million people living in poverty die from it each year. Caused by a parasite, malaria is contracted through mosquito bites. Most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria affects the lives of many in 97 countries worldwide.
  • Tuberculosis: Often referred to as TB, tuberculosis is a bacteria-borne disease. The bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, targets the lungs. It also affects the kidneys, brain, and spine. When discussing the effects of TB worldwide, it must be broken down by burden—high burden TB and low burden TB—all of which has to do with the number of cases that impact a country. High burden TB affects more than 22 countries, as low burden TB accounts for 10 cases per 100,000 people in a geographical location.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This infection attacks the immune system and is contracted by contact with certain fluids in the body. If HIV is left untreated, certain infections and diseases can take over the body and cause a person to develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency syndrome). Thirty-six million people in the world have HIV/AIDS. In countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, one in five adults live with HIV or AIDS.

Continuing the fight against poverty through economic expansion will help eliminate poverty-related illnesses and raise the value of health in poor communities.

Crime

There’s an old adage that says, “If a man don’t work, he don’t eat.” That’s not the case for a large number people living in poverty. Lack of economic opportunity leads to impoverishment which then leads to crime.

Global unemployment is at a high point. One hundred ninety-two million people around the world are jobless. In some parts of the world, mainly poor parts, unemployment standings will drive this number higher. In a study done on youth in the Caribbean, it was determined that joblessness fueled criminal activity in those aged 15 through 24.

Because of the struggles in the Caribbean job market, the murder rates are higher there than in any other region in the world. The crime rate affects 6.8 percent of the Caribbean population against the world average of 4.5 percent, calculating the global rate per 100,000 people.

People who live below the poverty line and don’t have access to sufficient economic opportunity, live by any dangerous means necessary.

Lack of Education

There is a direct correlation between low academic performance and poverty. Children who are exposed to extreme levels of poverty have difficulty with cognitive development, speech, and managing stress, which leads to adverse behavior.

In the country of Niger—the most illiterate nation in the world—only 15 percent of adults have the ability to read and write. Eritrea follows on the heels of Niger: with a population of 6 million, the average person only achieves four years of school.

In these poor locations, young adults and children have to leave school to work to help provide additional income for their families. Other children don’t have access to education due to decent schools being too far for them to travel to. On the other hand, schools nearby don’t have enough materials and resources to properly educate children. The conditions of the schools are just as poor as the children’s living conditions.

Where there’s poverty, there’s lack of education, joblessness, and poor health. The key to destroying the top effects of poverty is to attack the causes. More funding is needed for programs such as Child Fund International—a program that brings resources to children in poor communities. The International Economic Development Council supports economic developers by helping them create, retain, and expand jobs in their communities. And then there are the international efforts of the World Health Organization that fights to bring vaccinations and health-related resources to impoverished communities suffering from the infectious diseases of poverty. With these efforts along with other strategies, we can continue making strides to end the effects of poverty. 

– Naomi C. Kellogg 

Photo: Flickr

Women empowerment and employment in India
India has certainly made substantial progress in recent decades, but the country has a long way to go when it comes to women empowerment. According to a World Bank report, India ranks 120th among 131 nations in women workforce. Improving women empowerment and employment in India are very important steps in achieving a poverty-free country.

Education

India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries in female literacy rates. Forty eight percent of females in India have attended till 5th standard, out of which only 15 percent of females who attended second standard are literate.

India falls short in female literacy rates in comparison to neighboring states like Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh; fortunately, though, the government is taking significant actions. To provide better education for the women, especially for the tagged “below poverty-level” families, the government has made concession packages on free books, uniforms, clothing and midday meals.

An article from the a 2016 Economic Times article states that “32 educational institutes have been built in villages of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.” Things cannot change in one go, but efforts are being made to increase women literacy rates, which are crucial to women empowerment and employment in India.

Domestic Violence

India is not the only nation with frequent stories of domestic violence — it happens all around the world. The only feature that sets India apart from other countries is that most women in India suffer in silence. According to a study done by ICRW, 52 percent of women have experienced violence in their entire lifetime, and 60 percent of men admitted acting violently against their partners.

The rate of reported incidents have increased in 2013 than 2003 and reporting is higher in areas where women are more educated and vocal. Varsha Sharma, senior police officer in Crime Against Women cell in Delhi said, “it’s a good thing that the number of cases is consistently rising because it means that women are refusing to suffer in silence.”

Employment

The Labor Force participation rate has declined from 42 percent (1993-94) to 31 percent (2011-12). Nearly 20 million Indian women quit work between 2011/12 and May 2014. The predictable reasons for this occurrence have always been patriarchy, marriage, motherhood, late nighttime schedules and security.

The female participation rates have been dropping since 2005, despite having 42 percent of women graduates per graduating cycle. As article from Hindustan Times says, “Women want to work but there are not enough jobs being created.”

According to BBC news, another possible reason for this drop in employment could be the recent expansion of secondary education; that is, women opting to continue studies rather than join work. At the same time, getting a higher education also does not ensure that women will eventually go to work.

Ela Bhatt, Indian Co-operative organizer and activist, states a very important fact: “Employment is empowering. It helps women to develop their identity and when they become organized they build up courage and confidence to talk to the police, the courts, banks or their husbands as equals.”

Gender Equality

India ranks fifth among all the nations in regard to skewed ratio of girls to boys. Gender discrimination begins at a very young age and starts, in fact, right from the beginning because of cultural preference for having a son rather than a daughter.

USAID, India and its partners are promoting programs of gender equality in the fields of food security, clean energy and environment, education, sanitation and health care. The outcome of these efforts was that 2.5 million girls and boys received equal attention and opportunity in classrooms.

India may be significantly behind in growth prospects with two thirds of women not working, so improving women empowerment and employment in India is very important to acquiring a more prosperous nation.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr