introvert's guide to fighting global povertyThere is a common misconception that activism with a physical presence, like attending protests or lobbying, is the only kind that can make a difference. While these are effective ways to influence legislation, there are many other ways to create change and contribute to the fight against global poverty. An ordinary individual can play a role in creating global change by taking action online, without ever needing to leave their home. An introvert’s guide to fighting global poverty shows that anyone can contribute to addressing global issues regardless of personality type.

Fighting Poverty by Influencing Legislation

One of the most effective ways to help in the fight against poverty is to influence legislation. While lobbying is an effective way to do this, most U.S. congresspersons give their constituents the option to contact them by calling or emailing their offices. With the option to contact Congress in this way, constituents can voice their concerns easily and effectively.

Grassroot efforts such as calling and emailing Congress as well as advocacy helped pass integral pieces of legislation such as the Global Fragility Act and the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act. For an easy way to contact Congress about poverty-based legislation, interested persons can access a pre-filled email template from The Borgen Project.

Fighting Poverty Through Apps

Apps and social media movements can also be very effective tools in the fight against poverty. The World Food Programme (WFP) recognizes this and has created various apps through which users can help mitigate hunger in their spare time. With the Freerice app, users can earn rice for those in need just by answering trivia questions. The app earnings are supported by “in-house sponsors.” According to the WFP, Freerice has raised and donated 210 billion grains of rice since 2010.

Additionally, the WFP has created an app called ShareTheMeal. The meal donation app aims to improve food security throughout the world. With a click of a button, an ordinary individual can contribute to a day’s worth of meals for a child at the cost of just $0.80. Through ShareTheMeal, more than 115 million meals have been provided to those in need as of July 16, 2021.

Knowing the Facts

While it may not seem like the most effective form of activism, one of the easiest ways to spread awareness about an issue is to talk about it within one’s social network. But, in order to effectively discuss global issues, an individual should familiarize themself with the facts.

Some of the most well-known humanitarian organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization, offer educational resources about hunger, health and poverty. To expand awareness into one’s social network, it is important to know these facts and statistics.

Every year, the WHO publishes a World Health Statistics report. In the 2021 report, the WHO describes the connection between exacerbated poverty and COVID-19 as well as the way that diseases like tuberculosis can impact poverty due to a lack of healthcare.

By understanding the nuances of global poverty, one can become a more informed advocate for a global issue, increasing the power of influence and the likelihood of persuading friends and family to support legislation.

Looking Forward: Advocacy, Education and Mobilization

With these methods in mind, one of the most effective ways to be an activist from home is to mobilize within one’s own social network. By ensuring that friends and family are also advocating for a cause, one can effectively create a much larger web of support for a cause.

An introvert’s guide to fighting global poverty shows that there are vast ways to support global issues without needing to step out of one’s comfort zone. Whether one is voicing support for particular pieces of legislation or whether an individual uses one of the many apps that help alleviate hunger, garnering more supporters will ultimately help sustain a grassroots effort and fight global poverty.

– Samuel Weinmann
Photo: Unsplash

While it may not always seem like it, the services provided by the U.S. government are vast and exceptional. For example, Americans do not have to panic over the possibility of waste runoff contaminating their water or having to dispose of their week’s worth of garbage by themselves. For services like these, Americans usually have government-sponsored help that is reliable and guaranteed. However, what is typical in the U.S. is not the norm for developing countries. This is particularly the case in Uganda, where poor waste management leads to poor public health in Kampala.

High Cost of Waste Management

Creating sustainable and effective waste management systems is incredibly expensive. According to the World Bank, efficient waste management services can require 20% to 50% of a government’s budget. This makes such services frequently unattainable for municipalities in developing countries. Indeed, this is exactly the problem posed by waste management in Kampala, Uganda.

On the outskirts of Kampala is the Kiteezi landfill. Opened in 1996, the landfill was intended to last until 2010, but it is still in use today. Not only has the landfill been used far past its capacity, but due to rapid urbanization, the city has generated substantially more waste than originally projected. This has culminated in a dire state of public health in Kampala.

Waste Management and Public Health in Kampala

The lack of residential services in Uganda only serves to exacerbate this problem. Kampala, like many cities, is not homogenous. There are a wide variety of infrastructure accommodations, socio-economic conditions and community engagements involved in municipal services. Poor road conditions can make it difficult for collection trucks to pass through living areas. A lack of communication regarding sanctioned dumping sites can lead to confusion and improper disposal practices, such as burning waste or piling it in an area where the waste will not be collected or sanitized.

What are the repercussions of all of this? Firstly, it can degrade residents’ quality of life. Seeing and smelling waste build up is enormously unpleasant. Additionally, that waste buildup can have serious public health consequences. The burning of garbage can produce methane, exacerbating climate change. Waste sites are the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos, which, for countries riddled with malaria, can make exposure to infectious disease much more likely. Rain can allow waste to flow into water sources and contaminate food sources, making illnesses like cholera and bacterial infections more prevalent. Ultimately, poor waste management in Kampala is a public health hazard.

Building a New Landfill

Currently, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is negotiating with investors to build a new landfill and work with the city to revamp waste management services with private contractors to improve public health in Kampala. This agreement will cap the Kiteezi landfill, create a new landfill with the city’s needs in mind and allow Kampala to utilize recycling processes to generate revenue for the municipality. This type of agreement is known as a public-private partnership (PPP).

PPPs are a popular way to get better services to more people, as these agreements allow municipalities to delegate certain services to companies that have the resources and experience to implement them. The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act, passed by Congress in December 2019, supports the use of PPPs to combat similar issues. This legislation utilizes the resources and expertise of both local and U.S. governmental agencies, as well as private-sector health institutions, to combat debilitating ailments such as malaria and dengue fever in developing countries. Public health in Kampala, as well as in other similarly situated cities, relies on measures like the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act.

Much-Needed Funding

However, treating these diseases after their infliction is not the only way public health can be bettered in developing cities. Indeed, the best solution to public health crises is to cut off these ailments at their sources, which in many countries requires proper waste management and sanitation. According to The World Bank, investment in infrastructure, education and citizen engagement is the best path to making waste management sustainable and safe.

Whether this investment is through private contractors partnering with developing governments or urging the U.S. to increase its funding for international health projects, cities like Kampala need solutions to manage waste effectively to ensure the safety and health of their citizens.

Cecilia Payne
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of diseases such as Dengue fever, rabies, hookworm and sleeping sickness that collectively affect more than one billion people around the globe. These diseases are crippling, but very often preventable and treatable. The world stands to gain a great deal from even moderate investment into fighting neglected tropical diseases.

Impact of NTDs

Neglected tropical diseases are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. They disproportionately affect the world’s poor and make it even harder for these people to climb out of poverty.

These diseases collectively kill hundreds of thousands of people each year and they significantly harm hundreds of millions more. NTDs can lead to sickness, deformities and even blindness. Infected children are also at risk of malnutrition and stunted growth.

These symptoms cause more than personal suffering; they also threaten the long-term development of entire communities. Adults afflicted by these diseases are often unable to work or care for their families and may become socially isolated. Affected children are often unable to regularly attend school to learn the skills they need to help themselves and their communities.

Taken together, the effects of neglected tropical diseases add up to billions of dollars in lost productivity. Those losses are hard to absorb for these already-impoverished areas.

Effectiveness of Treatments

The good news is that fighting neglected tropical diseases is easier, cheaper and more efficient than dealing with many other widespread health issues. These diseases are preventable and some, like river blindness, are treatable with currently available drugs.

Since several of these diseases are often concentrated in a single area, effective treatment of one often helps with others as well. Several of the most effective drugs are also available for free as donations from their developers. It is likely that half a billion people suffering from these diseases could be treated for less than $400 million.

With this in mind, there is a very real chance that the impact of neglected tropical diseases could be severely reduced within a generation. The World Health Organization even has a goal to completely eradicate two or more by 2020. To achieve this goal, though, it is likely that the international community will have to make a greater commitment to cooperate in fighting neglected tropical diseases.

U.S. Response to Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases

In recent years, U.S. efforts to support researching and treating neglected tropical diseases have amounted to little more than treading water. Congress has had to renew support for existing research centers on a yearly basis since long-term authorization ended in 2009. This may be changing soon, however.

In November, the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act was sent out of committee to be considered by the full House of Representatives. While it is still in a relatively early stage, the bill has already been cosponsored by representatives from both parties.  

If implemented, the bill would protect current research funding and keep Congress more directly informed about neglected tropical diseases. It would also shift U.S. policy into directly supporting the international effort against them. Specifically, U.S. representatives at the U.N. and World Bank would be instructed to promote researching, monitoring and fighting neglected tropical diseases.

While the bill does not allocate a great deal of money for the problem (the CBO estimates that the bill will cost only $14 million over five years), the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act would be the first step in years toward more directly involving the U.S. in this crucial global health issue. With continued U.S. and international efforts, these diseases may no longer be so neglected.

– Josh Henreckson
Photo: Flickr