France’s Inflation Relief
Similar to other European countries, the French parliament recently passed a series of bills to help citizens cope with the effects of high inflation that the Russia-Ukraine War caused. In addition to France’s inflation relief package, its energy supply system and international deals further protect its citizens from the direst effects of the energy crisis.

The €20 Billion Reform Package

In early August 2022, the French parliament passed a €20 billion package to offset the cost of the living crisis that the rising inflation caused as part of the PLFR, the 2022 amending finance bill. The bill includes:

  • Increasing welfare payments and pensions by 4%
  • Increasing fuel rebates from €0.18 a liter to €0.30 a liter from September to October
  • Increasing the coefficient used to calculate civil servants’ salaries
  • Prompting private companies to provide employees with tax-free bonuses of up to €6,000.

France’s inflation relief package continues measures the government took early in the year to cope with rising gas and electricity prices. Along with reducing electricity and fuel taxes, the government provided 5.8 million lower-income households with a one-off payment of €100. Separately, the government also called for energy sobriety measures to reduce business and individual energy consumption.

Subsidy measures and one-off payments, however, are also common in other western nations. The U.K. announced more generous one-off payments for pensioners and disabled people along with an energy bill discount for every household. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates the U.K.’s reforms will cost about £19 billion (about $22 billion), similar to France’s spending.

Yet, the average British household will likely see their bills triple in size compared to last year while French bills will stay relatively the same. What differentiates France’s inflation relief is the government’s regulation of electricity supply.

France’s Shelter from the Energy Crisis

According to calculations by Bruegel, a Brussels-based think-tank, France will spend about €50 billion to protect its citizens from the effects of the energy crisis by 2030. France is the third greatest spender in Europe after Germany and Italy, which Bruegel estimated will spend €60.2 billion and €49.2 billion, respectively.

In addition to the €20 billion 2022 PLFR, the government demanded that EDF, the 85% state-owned monopoly energy supplier, augment its number of discounted electricity offers in January. As a result, the brunt of the crisis hit EDF rather than the citizens. The discounts and state subsidies greatly shelter French households from the energy crisis.

France’s inflation relief method contrasts with Britain’s, where Ofgem, an energy regulator, determines price caps to protect consumers while maintaining supplier profit margins. The British model encourages using renewable energy and nuclear power by putting cheaper sources at the forefront of supply. Still, it fails to protect its users when the price of wholesale gas increases. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War, British gas costs increased more than six times. As the energy suppliers are not state-owned, consumers and suppliers are compelled to pay more. The government has not yet announced energy subsidies.

International Ties

As part of the European Union, France also follows reforms taken within the bloc, which saw the euro hit a record 8.6% inflation rate. By March 2023, the EU aims to reduce gas consumption by 15%, which amounts to about a third of the gas it imported from Russia in 2021.

France also took steps to diversify its supply. Along with temporarily re-opening a coal power plant in Saint-Avold to generate electricity, France will send Germany and Belgium excess gas. In exchange, the neighboring states will supply up to 70% of France’s electricity.

As Russia completely cut off natural gas supplies for the nation in June, France switched to energy suppliers from Norway, the United States, the Gulf and Algeria. Furthermore, Emmanuel Macron chose to go to the United Arab Emirates for his first presidential visit after his re-election. The resulting strategic energy cooperation agreement secured fuel and gas supplies for the western nation and re-established relations with the UAE.

The Impact of Combined Efforts

France’s inflation relief follows a multi-lateral approach. International agreements, state intervention in energy supply, and welfare measures combine to tackle the process from multiple angles. As a result, citizens do not suffer the most significant effects of rising energy. The reforms especially shelter lower economic classes, which feel the cost of living crisis the most strongly and present a step forwards in addressing the most salient issue for French voters.

Elena Sofia Massacesi
Photo: Flickr

France-Africa RelationsIn 2019, Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio declared that France is “impoverishing African countries” through its commercial and security ties, prompting an inquiry into how current French-Africa relations impact poverty in Africa. As France’s role in Africa dwindles and French President Emmanuel Macron reassesses French-Africa relations, it is essential to explore the impact of French policies on the African people.

History of France-Africa Relations

After the invasion of Algiers in 1830, France initiated more than a century of colonialism in Africa, subjugating millions of Africans to French rule. French colonization changed the shape of African militaries, economies and politics. Most colonies achieved independence during the 1960s. However, France still “detained a sphere of influence in these regions.”

In the post-independence period, French relations with its former colonies became known by the term “Françafrique,” a portmanteau of France and Afrique (the French word for Africa). This term encompasses the economic, political and military relations between Paris and its former African colonies. However, during the 1990s, the idea of Françafrique faced challenges in France. Activists revealed “African emissaries traveling to France with suitcases full of cash seeking, regardless of who won the election, to cement French politicians’ loyalty and support for certain African heads of state,” according to Global Voices.

Nowadays, French attitude and policy shifts may signify an end of Françafrique, as France transitions from neocolonialism to a desire to build mutually beneficial relationships with African nations.

Emmanuel Macron’s New Direction on Africa

President Macron aimed to start a new chapter of France-Africa relations after his speech in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in November 2017. Macron expressed his desire to establish more equal partnerships with African nations in his speech.

In October 2021, the President held firm to this policy shift at the New Africa-France Summit, where he worked with African leaders to redefine France-Africa relations.

In his attempt to revolutionize French influence in Africa, the French President has made unprecedented advances by recognizing France’s negative role in Africa, declaring that colonialism was a “grave mistake,” according to Economist Intelligence.

Economic Dependency

Despite Macron’s hopes, forging an equal partnership between France and Africa is challenging, as France created and controls a relevant African currency: the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) franc.

The CFA franc is a regional currency used by nations in the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States. Created in the colonial era, France ensured its use in its sub-Saharan colonies, guaranteeing the fixed rate of CFA franc with the French franc and now with the Euro, according to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Togolese economist Kako Nubukpo criticized the CFA franc because the Central European Bank, instead of a centralized African bank, determines the financial policies that impact this currency, according to Global Voices. France requires African nations to hold 50% to 65% of its foreign reserves in France’s central bank to “guarantee the convertibility of the CFA at a fixed exchange rate,” Global Voices stated.

Additionally, Senegalese economist Ndong Samba Sylla noted that former French colonies that did not have the CFA franc—specifically, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia—are now “stronger economically than any user of CFA franc,” Global Voices reports.

Military-Driven Security in Africa

Africa also depends on the French military and aid to defend national security, promote political stability and curb threats of terrorism and extremism.

In 2014, France began a military operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane, sending 3,000 troops to combat terrorism and maintain regional stability, according to Brookings. France’s military-driven efforts to combat terrorism and instability in Africa are not the most effective, especially since military involvement failed to prevent coups d’état in Chad and Mali, according to Carnegie Endowment.

French Foreign International Development Aid to Africa

Unlike military engagement, French foreign aid is generally well received in Africa, as France remains a top contributor of support for the continent. France has expanded its foreign assistance recently, increasing its international development budget to 0.55% of its GDP. Paris plans to continue this course of increased aid with a 0.7% aid target by 2025.

French foreign aid contributes to humanitarian assistance and economic, social and political development programs. These projects could improve the lives of Africans by cultivating new job opportunities and spurring further economic and technological advancement. One example is the development of a commuter rail line in Nairobi, Kenya, funded by the French government’s contribution of €3 billion.

Targeted foreign aid offers the chance for France to advance meaningful development in Africa while also advancing its diplomatic goals of strengthening French-Africa relations.

Poverty in Africa

According to the World Bank, extreme poverty in Africa fell from 54% in 1990 to 41% in 2015. Despite this seemingly sharp drop in poverty rates, “the number of poor people in Africa has actually increased from 278 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015.”

Targeted foreign assistance from France may promote job growth, counteracting poverty. For instance, France initiated a project called Choose Africa, giving €2.5 billion to invest in new African businesses, according to France Diplomacy. This project and other French international development projects in Africa could successfully challenge poverty.

Outside of the French government, many nongovernmental organizations fight poverty on the ground, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Commonly known as Doctors Without Borders in English, MSF is an NGO of French origin focusing on providing medical assistance to those in need. Working in more than 70 countries in 2021, MSF brings health care programs across the globe, with much of their work centered on impoverished Africans.

Even though France-Africa relations remain complex, French foreign aid, coupled with the work of NGOs like MSF and other foreign powers, contributes to the enduring battle to tackle poverty in Africa.

– Michael Cardamone
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in France
After a two-week campaign against Marine Le Pen, the French people re-elected Emmanuel Macron as their president on April 24, 2022, for another five-year mandate. The man who many often call the “president of the rich” has to deal with a country that is experiencing more and more inequalities today. After a first mandate in which Macron had to deal with the yellow vests or “Gilets Jaunes” movements requesting economic and social justice, France experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Poverty in France has become central to its people, whose main concern is their purchasing power amidst rising inflation. In fact, France’s inflation rate was 4.5% in March 2022.

Poverty in France

Although many know France for how it funds education, health care services and retirement pensions, the pandemic has had an impact on the French people. COVID hit parttime workers and workers in the informal economy especially hard. Additionally, many students were ineligible for state support during the pandemic, and many migrants and clandestine workers were only able to obtain support from NGOs.

The Fight Against Poverty in France Over the Last Five Years

In order to answer the needs and requests of the French people, the French government took different measures to adapt to each crisis the country was going through. Back in 2018, Macron first began with a $9.3 billion plan to fight the poverty in which nine million people in France are living.

Macron’s philosophy has always been to allow people to get out of poverty through work. Hence, Macron’s government decreased income tax and distributed a €100 bonus to low-income workers. The government adopted the “no matter the cost policy” to support businesses that the pandemic affected, thus protecting as many jobs as possible starting with the medical professionals who benefited from a €9 billion salary increase.

What About the Next Five Years?

Despite the fact that the populist class voted for Marine Le Pen, Macron has plans to continue his fight against poverty in France. The first measure Macron promised upon re-election was to provide “food cheques” to the people who cannot afford high-quality, local food.

With the ongoing war in Ukraine and the rise in prices of gas, Macron authorized subsidies for energy bills. However, the main measure of his program is to provide work and employment for people so they can get out of poverty. For that to happen, Macron is encouraging employers to recruit employees by adopting “pro-businesses reforms.”

After efforts to alleviate poverty over the last five years, the country is more in need of more reforms to fight poverty. The recently re-elected president has already started to implement some reforms and has work to do to please the important part of France’s population that is against his policies and is seeing its purchasing power diminish every day.

– Youssef Yazbek
Photo: Flickr

COVIS-19 vaccine distribution
Vaccines for the COVID-19 virus are emerging at an increasing rate around the world. The COVID-19 vaccine distribution is a primary challenge for political leaders. Ensuring that everyone has access to vaccines is imperative to achieving global recovery. In many countries, COVID-19 cases are still at large. National leaders put individual national laws in place to fight against the rising numbers. Though they have helped lower those rates, the number of cases has not yet begun to level out. The vaccines that nations have currently distributed should curb those numbers further. This will allow vaccinated individuals to resume their pre-pandemic daily routines slowly.

Inequal COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Some countries have priority access to vaccines, which is largely due to national wealth. This leads to poorer nations not having the ability to purchase vaccines. To combat this for the betterment of global health, France, in particular, has begun to put forth ideas and efforts with the intent to help such nations gain access to vaccines.

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed that richer countries ought to transfer roughly 3-5% of their vaccines to countries in need. According to an interview with the Financial Times, he said, “This would have no impact on the rhythm of vaccine strategies (in rich countries). It won’t delay it by a single day given the way we use our doses.” According to Macron, German Chancellor Angela Markel has no problems with the initiative, and he hopes to convince the United States to share their vaccines as well.

African leaders have put forth the request for 13 million doses of vaccinations to help its population. The leaders plan to give a large portion of those to caretakers, allowing them to help patients in need. Currently, COVAX will be making accessible vaccinations available to African countries. However, the countries will use the vaccine only for emergencies. Thus, the calls for more vaccines are important.

France’s Plan for Vaccine Distribution

To help fight for better COVID-19 vaccine distribution in African countries, France has established a designated four-part plan to help affected communities efficiently. These steps include support of African healthcare systems, aiding African research and supporting humanitarian and economic efforts. The goal is for France to support various healthcare systems to ensure that patients and citizens receive the best treatment until a vaccine can be distributed. Until these countries have proper access to vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) will work with the financing they received from wealthier governments.

Many other countries worldwide are also working to help one another receive the help needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese scientists developed a vaccine that is currently in use in Hungary and Serbia. Beijing and Russia are selling and donating their own vaccines to nations abroad. If the number of cooperations increases in the upcoming months, there will be more vaccines available worldwide. Since the virus can still spread with mutations from other parts of the world, this is also crucial to rich nations’ national security.

– Seren Dere
Photo: Flickr

Z EventEven though the world is more connected than ever, poverty remains a large problem as many people are left behind. Fortunately, people are using the internet as a platform for change, resulting in unprecedented awareness of global poverty. One example of this is Z Event, a French charity project hosted annually on the live streaming website Twitch. Z Event started with just two people wanting global change. The video gaming event is shattering world records while raising millions of dollars for charity.

Twitch Live Stream Platform

Z Event would not be possible without the rise of the Twitch platform. Twitch is a website that people can use for live streaming. This means that whatever viewers are watching is happening in real-time. This creates a new world of interactivity. While Twitch was originally created for live streaming video games, the website has now expanded into other genres like art, music and chess. Twitch now has a massive following, with more than 140 million monthly users.

It was only a matter of time before content creators used Twitch as a platform to raise money for charity. In July 2013, Summer Games Done Quick raised $257,181 for Doctors Without Borders in a charity stream on Twitch. As Twitch started growing in popularity, charity streams became even more popular. In 2019, Twitch streamer “DrLupo” raised more than $2.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 24 hours.

Video Gaming: Z Event

With the success of charity streams in the past and the increasing global presence of Twitch, the time was right for Z Event. In March 2016, a charity stream called “Avengers Project” raised €170,000 for Save the Children. The goal of the project was to gather every popular French streamer to raise awareness for certain issues. While the project began small, the annual event grew considerably. In 2017, the now named “Z Event” raised €500,000. Z Event is the annual charity event by French streamers ZeratoR and Dach. As the project grew larger, more popular French streamers joined the event. In 2020, 41 Twitch streamers participated in the event.

Video Gaming for a Cause

While each individual streamer is popular on their own, their platform increases exponentially when combined. In 2020, the event had an average of 248,000 viewers with a peak of nearly 700,000 viewers. This large amount of awareness led to large sums of money raised for charity. In 2019, Z Event hit the world record for the most money raised in a charity stream on Twitch — more than €3.5 million. In 2020, Z Event shattered its own record, raising more than €5.7 million, which is approximately $6.7 million.

Each year, the event raises money for a different cause. The money raised in 2019 was for the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches diseases. In 2020, Z Event raised money for Amnesty International, an organization focused on global human rights.

Video Gamers Uniting for Charity

These efforts have been applauded by many. Mark Hamill supported Z Event on Twitter and President of France, Emmanuel Macron has also commended the project.

While poverty remains a problem in the world today, the growing platform of the internet, along with websites like Twitch, shows significant promise. Millions of dollars have been raised for charity to fight poverty. France’s Z Event shows that when people come together, the impact is substantial.

– Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

France’s Foreign Aid
France is a country in Western Europe that people know for its wines and its medieval art. France is a generous donor of foreign aid, which is the voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another. This aid can take several forms, including money, military assistance and natural resources. The purpose of foreign aid is to provide humanitarian relief and support to other nations. In addition, it is a strategic way to elevate national security and garner assistance in return from other countries in time of need. France is the fifth-largest donor country in the world. In 2019, the country allocated $12.2 billion to foreign aid. Here are five facts about France’s foreign aid.

5 Facts About France’s Foreign Aid

  1. France has prioritized five areas of development. International stability and climate change are some of the most important of the government’s priorities, along with global education, health and gender equality. France aligns these priorities with several strategies, such as the gender equality strategy for 2018 to 2022, which will allow it to approach and contribute to overall global progress.
  2. France emphasizes support for priority countries. France provides at least 50% of its allocated foreign aid funds to 19 countries that are mostly in Northern and Central Africa. These countries include Ethiopia, Chad, Haiti and Senegal. These funds primarily go to addressing climate disruption and promoting economic development.
  3. France distributes a large amount of its aid in the form of loans. In comparison to other donors, France’s foreign aid policy accounts for more than twice the average amount of loans as exhibited by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The DAC’s Peer Review of France recommended in 2018 that the country increase the number of grants it gives while decreasing its dependency on loans.
  4. France intends to increase its foreign aid budget. Currently, France allocates 0.44% of its gross national income (GNI) to foreign aid. The country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has set a goal of attributing 0.55% of the GNI to foreign aid by 2022. This would increase the budget from its current amount, $12.2 billion, to over $15 billion, allocating nearly $3 billion extra to France’s foreign aid.
  5. France ranks highly for foreign aid donations in several categories. The country ranks second among the top 23 donors for aid to education, and it ranks the highest for donations to the environmental sector and general budgetary support. France’s commitment to funding these sectors in foreign aid ensures its progression on a global scale, improving educational attainment and environmental conservation for the country’s donor recipients.

France is a highly successful nation in terms of providing foreign aid. Through this, France is able to contribute to global environmental preservation, human development and gender equality, economic development and peace and stability. Nations receiving aid benefit from these improvements, along with economic growth and poverty reduction. France has committed itself to further developing its foreign aid policy and increasing the budget to offer further support.

– Natasha Cornelissen
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in France
Nearly 9 million people in France, about 14% of the population, live under the poverty line, defined as 60% of the median income. However, the large total number does not necessarily mean destitution. Under the same criterion, the poverty rate in France is lower than that in many other developed countries. Moreover, France has long been active in reducing poverty at national, European and global levels, and many other countries have drawn lessons from various exemplary innovations in poverty eradication in France. 

France and the UN

In 1989, France proposed the resolution 1989/10 to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of the United Nations, requesting to give particular attention to extreme poverty and exclusion from society. It was the first time that the commission raised extreme poverty as an independent issue, and the adoption of the resolution marked the starting-point of the U.N.’s work on extreme poverty and human rights.

From then on, every year, France presented a resolution on extreme poverty to the HRC. In 2012, France presented a resolution together with 39 other countries and had it adopted as The Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. The document sets out the principles that form the basis for all poverty reduction and eradication policies, such as rights of the child, equality between men and women, transparency and access to information, etc.

Over decades of international solidarity policies, the number of people in extreme poverty around the world has successfully dropped by more than half since 1990. In 2015, the U.N. set the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of 2030, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger in every corner of the globe. Following this universal call, France’s main aim is to adopt national and international policies to remedy current situations of extreme poverty and inequality.

Governmental Anti-poverty Plan

In September 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron — though people sometimes criticize him as a “president of the rich” — announced an €8 billion national anti-poverty plan. The new plan focused on helping the young from poor families and dealing with unemployment and introduced various innovations in poverty eradication in France. Macron announced compulsory school or vocational training for all until the age of 18 and free breakfast at primary school for the poorest students as well as subsidized school lunches for €1 each. He also granted funding to open new daycare centers and other extra crèche places in the most deprived regions in France, in order to help new mothers return to work. The government promised to reform the social benefits system and to extend completely free healthcare to several million more people.

By the beginning of 2020, the French government had allocated €1.9 million to the Red Cross and other welfare organizations in Mayotte, one of the poorest of all the 101 French départements.

Fourth World People’s University

A French priest, Joseph Wresinski, founded the ATD Fourth World organization in France in 1957, aiming toward the eradication of global poverty. Fifteen years later, the organization established the Fourth World People’s University that provides people living in poverty with opportunities to participate in political and public life as well as in the production of first-hand knowledge of fighting against poverty. In regular meetings and dialogues, people in extreme poverty share opinions and experience with others who work in solidarity with them, and they together work for a more inclusive world. Since then, having their voice heard, people have benefited from People’s Universities in eight regions throughout France and in a dozen other countries.

In 2019, some 100 participants of the European Fourth World People’s Unversity gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels and met with European deputies and various European institutions. They delivered the messages from the poor and discussed how the E.U. can address poverty, by stressing the impact of family-related policies on people living in poverty and working on indicators of poverty.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP)

On October 17, 1987, Wresinski gathered 100,000 people on the Human Rights and Liberties Plaza in Paris and launched the first commemoration to the victims of poverty and hunger. In 1992, in memory of the death of the humanist priest, the United Nations instituted the date of October 17 as the official annual International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, to help the people living in extreme poverty fight actively and to make their voices heard. For the IDEP of 2018, France and Burkina Faso organized a conference at the U.N. in New York, delivering speeches from ambassadors, activists as well as people living in extreme poverty, to advocate the U.N. goal of eradicating extreme poverty for everyone, everywhere.

Throughout the years, the world has witnessed many regional anti-poverty movements and innovations in poverty eradication in France become international. It is time for other affluent countries to learn the experience and take up more global responsibilities to reach the 2030 goal of the eradication of extreme poverty.

– Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Martinique's Pesticide Poisoning
From 1972 to 1993, Martinique used the pesticide chlordecone in banana plantations to eliminate the weevil, a type of beetle that was infesting the lands. Mainland France banned the use of this extremely toxic pesticide. However, the French government still authorized its use in the French West islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The chemical contaminated over 20,000 hectares of land between both islands. The world finally banned chlordecone production in 2009. However, it was too late to reverse the health damages Martinique’s pesticide poisoning left on the people of Martinique and the environment.

For almost five decades, the people of this island have been dealing with serious public health issues that chlordecone caused. Some of the issues include prostate cancer, nervous system disorders, high rates of premature births and exposure through breast milk. There is no viable decontamination method. In addition, traces of the pesticide will likely remain in the soil for at least 700 years. Martinique’s pesticide poisoning will come under control once the French government provides the funding for research that will allow a deeper understanding of the situation.

The People of Martinique

Ninety-two percent of the citizens on this island have tested positive for chlordecone poisoning. Contamination has reached the water and food supply, livestock and even marine life. This slow poisoning has caused many mothers to have premature babies. As a result, premature births are four times higher than the national average in Martinique. The contamination also affects the island’s men. Martinique has one of the highest prostate cancer rates in the world with 577 new cases reported in 2018.

The pesticide is also affecting the children of Martinique. Nineteen percent of children tested for chlordecone exceeded the toxic dose. Contaminated and breastfeeding mothers are unintentionally poisoning their children through their milk. As the kids grow older, dietary exposure to chlordecone continues. This will increase their chances of developing cancer later on in life.

The Economy of Martinique

Because chlordecone poisoning has reached the waters surrounding Martinique, fishermen are having trouble staying in business. Thirty-three percent of coastal waters surrounding the island has a ban on fishing to prevent more citizens from eating poisoned food. Although this ban has kept the citizens safe, many families who rely on fishing to make a living are now struggling financially. The French government is providing some aid to these families. However, reports indicate that only 50 out of 506 fishermen received any aid. Depression and suicide are common within the fishing communities in Martinique.

Chemical contamination is also hurting the island’s exports. Martinique can no longer export much of the foods grown on the island to mainland France due to its lack of safety. This has not only hurt the economy but has also caused an uproar and a call for justice for the people of Martinique. France has banned the contaminated food. However, many in Martinique only have contaminated food. Many of the island’s citizens find this unfair. People started protests and campaigns in an attempt to get the attention of the French government. In September 2019, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, made a pledge to increase the budget for food controls of contaminated lands.

The Solutions for Martinique’s Pesticide Poisoning

Despite the lack of action by the French government, the farmers of Martinique have started to search for alternative solutions. Many of them are starting to grow their crops above land by using trees. Chlordecone is unable to travel through tree trunks which means that any crop that grows through trees will be chlordecone free. Lab testing has confirmed the lack of the toxic chemical in their crops. They are able to provide the people of Martinique with safe foods.

Along with growing food above land, farmers have started using alternative substances such as aldicarb, isophenphos, phenamiphos, cadusaphos and terbuphos which has stopped further spread of the toxic pesticide.

Despite these solutions, one of the biggest ways that the French government can help the people of Martinique is by providing the funding for research that will help them better understand chlordecone’s movement through the soil and water. Without this research, providing successful solutions will be impossible, and the people of Martinique will continue to suffer. Along with this, the government should also implement education to the population on how they can minimize their exposure to the toxic pesticide. Because the French government has ignored this issue for so long, the lack of understanding over how the pesticide threatens the environment and human health is unsettling and gaining knowledge should be the first step in solving Martinique’s pesticide poisoning. The French government has the funding and power to give the people of Martinique the quality of life they deserve.

– Jannette Aguirre
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

the fight to end AIDSOn June 21, President Emmanuel Macron presented Elton John with the highest decoration in France, the Legion of Honour, at the Champs Élysées. It was given during France’s Fête de la Musique in recognition of John’s notable mark on the music industry. The musician’s speech, however, did not focus on his own artistic abilities or the celebration. Rather, John concentrated on the global maladies plaguing the world’s impoverished countries.

In particular, John highlighted the fight to end AIDS as an issue of “great importance.” He further vowed to join Macron in his effort to help those suffering from the illness and prevent it from spreading. In order to achieve this goal, the two have called upon the world’s youth and political leaders to replenish the donation given to the Global Fund.

What is the Global Fund?

The Global Fund is an international organization that aims to strengthen health systems. To do so, the organization focuses on locating and treating individuals with AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Over 100 countries have received aid from the Global Fund since its establishment in 2002.

Macron is affiliated with this organization as France is both a founding member and a top financial contributor. Many of the countries who receive aid from the Global Fund were once colonies of the French Empire. To date, France has given more than $4.2 billion in donations to the organization since 2002.

Global Fund Accomplishments

The three diseases, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, affect the same population. The organization thus allocates funds in proportion to the amount of population affected in each receiving country. In the past, countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have received the most aid.

The Global Fund has an impressive list of achievements. Since 2002, it has saved 27 million individuals through treatment and prevention methods. Moreover, these accomplishments highlight the efficiency of the organization. In 2017, 17.5 million people were treated with antiretroviral therapy for HIV, 5 million were treated for tuberculosis and 197 million were provided mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. By 2030, the Global Funds hopes to end all three epidemics.

Using Influence to do Good

France has proven to be dedicated to both the Global Fund and the fight to end AIDS. Next October, France will host the organization’s conference in Lyon. In anticipation of the upcoming event, Macron and John have called to raise $14 billion in funding over the next three years.

These ambitious goals become more attainable as awareness increases. John’s speech and Macron’s mobilization in the fight to end AIDS incentivizes the French community. If AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, are to be terminated by 2030, they will require acute attention and enthusiasm on the part of those fighting to these diseases.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr