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Poverty in Nauru
Located 4,000 km from Sydney, Australia is the smallest island in the world, expanding out 21 square kilometers — this is Nauru. What was once the wealthiest nation on the planet is now in shambles. The country thrived on agriculture and phosphate mining; however, now that all of the phosphate resources were stripped from the island, what remains is a wasteland.

Because of the staggering descent into poverty in Nauru, which is desperate for money, the nation has traded in the phosphate business for migrants. In 2001, Nauru entered into an agreement with Australia in which Nauru would hold refugees trying to enter Australia in return for foreign aid.

How did the wealthiest nation become desperate for foreign aid? After seizing independence from Britain in 1968, the nation’s inhabitants grew extremely wealthy from exporting phosphate. On top of that, the government revoked taxes and gave its inhabitants monthly stipends.

This way of governing provided the people with no incentive to find jobs, start businesses or provide for the economy. The money that was propagated eroded in corruption and poorly executed distribution of investments. By 1980, all the phosphate was basically depleted from the island. Poverty in Nauru increased from there. Now, 80 percent of the island is covered in limestone pinnacles, making it uninhabitable and utterly useless.

Mining in Nauru not only destroyed the land, but also the coastal waters as it has been contaminated due to phosphate runoff. Not only is there poverty in Nauru, but also a serious health crisis. A nation that had once cultivated the land for fresh crops and fished, is now home to some of the most obese and sick people.

In 2007, the World Health Organization Report recounted 94.5 percent of Nauru’s inhabitants as being overweight and 71.7 as being obese. The life expectancy in Nauru is around 50, and Type II diabetes is more prevalent there than in any other place in the world. Most of the population now lives off of prefabricated food shipped from Australia.

Nauru has become dependent on foreign aid mainly from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. A Sydney University geosciences professor by the name of John Connell expressed his belief that the only long-run solution to this crisis is a complete relocation of Nauru’s inhabitants.

However, as of now, the nation is getting some of its income from selling passports to foreign nationals and taking in refugees other countries refuse. In hopes to help with the poverty in Nauru, in 2001, Australia set up the Nauru detention center and provided many of the nation’s inhabitants with jobs. In 2012, Australia set up a second facility, which sparked hope in hearts of the inhabitants — a hope for a better future.

Now that asylums are in high demand due to the excessive numbers of refugees, Nauru’s facilities have been in full swing; however, poverty in Nauru is still very much prevalent. Although it may seem like a dead end, it appears that Australia still insists on using Nauru’s detention center because it is refusing to admit more refugees. This nation’s unusual and destructive past has steered Nauru into an impasse, but the future of the small island still remains unclear.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

environmentally friendly business
A group of friends envisioned an environmentally friendly business. They combined one friend’s knowledge of tree planting with the world’s desire for apparel, which is how Tentree was formed.

For every item purchased from the clothing line, 10 trees are planted. In an article published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the company measures its success not on profits but by how many trees they have planted.

Tentree’s website includes an interactive map which displays where the trees have been planted all over the world. As of September 2016, the company has planted 9,382,290 trees. The following is a list of countries and its respective number of trees planted:

  • Madagascar – 4,936,830
  • Senegal – 1,395,500
  • Nepal – 1,463,290
  • Ethiopia – 724,140
  • India – 135,800
  • Malawi – 225,000
  • Kenya – 149,540
  • Canada – 57,780
  • Haiti – 278,560
  • Cambodia – 10,290
  • United States – 5,000


The website includes information on what individual consumers’ trees accomplish for the world and community. Some important contributions made by trees that are highlighted include lifting water out of the soil, providing food for the local population, supplying oxygen to breathe and removing carbon dioxide from the air.

A village in Madagascar, Mahabana, has seen the largest number of trees planted and the greatest improvement from the program. Tentree started a project in the village with 40 people working to plant trees.

In an interview with Now This, Kalen Emsley, one of the co-founders of the company reports that the project has grown to over 450 people working full time, completely supported by Tentree.

The restoration of the ecosystem of mangrove trees has lead to a return in wildlife, a rebounding fishing industry and people have been able to start selling fruit.

According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Tentree planted 7,000 trees in the Lac La Ronge Provincial Park along with the government in the province after forest fires ravaged parts of Saskatchewan.

The forest fires burned parts of the park in 2015. Tentree announced their plans to help replant trees at the Saskatchewan Fashion Week. They shipped donations of clothing people who were evacuated in the Fort McMurray wildfire this summer and are beginning to make plans for replanting in that area.

Tentree hopes their environmentally friendly business goes beyond helping the environment. They work with local and global nonprofit organizations to ensure prime results like WeForest, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Eden Reforestation, American Forests and Trees for the Future. They hire people from the local communities to grow, tend and plant the trees.

As stated on the Tentree website: “Every consumer that purchases a Tentree branded piece of clothing is showing their dedication to the values our team shares: environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and the hope for a brighter future.” Tentree hopes to make a lasting community, both locally and globally, with their environmentally friendly business of clothing and tree planting.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

Poor water quality in Indonesia

Climate change, poor urban infrastructure and pollution resulting from rapid urban development and environmental destruction have led to poor water quality in Indonesia.

Although Indonesia enjoys 21 percent of the total freshwater available in the Asia-Pacific region, nearly one out of two Indonesians lack access to safe water, and more than 70 percent of the population rely on potentially contaminated sources.

Poor water quality in Indonesia is directly related to a life of poverty, as poor individuals are unable to afford clean drinking solutions.

To combat poverty and improve the lives of individuals, USAID has partnered with local governments and civil society organizations to weaken the agents of poor water quality in Indonesia by strengthening biodiversity and climate change resilience.

Climate Change

Climate change threatens to disrupt seasonal variations and thus water quality in Indonesia. The dry season may become more arid which would drive water demand, and the rainy season may condense higher precipitation levels into shorter periods, increasing the possibility of heavy flooding while decreasing the ability to capture and store water.

Increased flood conditions and rainfall facilitate the spread of disease in areas where the population lacks access to clean water and sanitation.

USAID works with the Indonesian government to help the most vulnerable areas of Indonesia become more resilient to climate change effects. The agency builds local government and civil society organizational capacity to understand the effects of climate change and to implement climate change solutions in agriculture, water and natural resources management.

More than 13,000 people have been trained in climate change adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction. As a result, USAID has worked with more than 360 communities to develop action plans addressing the impacts of climate change, which in effect improves the poor water quality in Indonesia.

Environmental Destruction

Environmental destruction associated with unmanaged development and deforestation has left many parts of Indonesia extremely vulnerable to landslides, tsunamis and floods.

An environmental disaster furthers the cycle of poverty in Indonesia as individuals are left with even fewer resources than before. The country has lost around 72 percent of its forest cover over the last 50 years.

Large barren hillside areas and the underlying soils, both subject to heavy precipitation, greatly increase the likelihood and severity of floods. When flooding does occur, urban infrastructure is quickly overwhelmed which leads to sewage spillover and further contamination.

To combat environmental destruction and improve water quality in Indonesia, USAID works to conserve and strengthen biodiversity in Indonesia. The agency does so by building capacity in national and local government bodies and associated civil society actors, and by entering partnerships, to promote and strengthen sustainable land-use practices and management in four provinces.

Projects developed by USAID focus on conserving large swaths of lowland and peat forest with high concentrations of biodiversity.

Pollution

Indonesia has become a pollution hotspot due to its economic development and rapid urbanization. Waste from commercial and industrial processes is increasingly making its way into both groundwater and surface supplies affecting water quality in Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesia’s urban slums particularly lack wastewater treatment to combat the growing pollution.

The basic sanitation infrastructure necessary to prevent human excrement from contaminating water supplies is virtually nonexistent. Households simply dispose their domestic waste directly to a river body.

Since many Indonesians are poor and have no access to piped water, they use river water for drinking, bathing and washing. Around 53 percent of the population obtains water from sources contaminated by raw sewage, which greatly increases human susceptibility to water-related diseases.

To improve the poor water quality in Indonesia by combating the effects of pollution, USAID has facilitated access to clean water for more than 2 million people and basic sanitation to more than 200,000 people.

These actions have built one more step for individuals in Indonesia to walk out of poverty, as their low income does not inhibit them from enjoying clean drinking water.

Alexis Pierce

Photo: Pixabay

Effects of Poverty on Society Violence
Issues like hunger, illness, and poor sanitation are all causes and effects of poverty. That is to say, that not having food means being poor, but being poor also means being unable to afford food or  clean water. The effects of poverty are often interrelated so that one problem rarely occurs alone. Bad sanitation makes one susceptible to diseases, and hunger and lack of clean water makes one even more vulnerable to diseases. Impoverished countries and communities often suffer from discrimination and end up caught in a cycle of poverty.

 

Effects of Poverty on Society

 

The vicious cycle of poverty means that lifelong barriers and troubles are passed on from one generation to the next. Unemployment and low incomes create an environment where children are unable to attend school. Children must often work to provide an income for their family. As for children who are able to go to school, many fail to see how hard work can improve their lives as they see their parents struggle at every day tasks. Other plagues accompanying poverty include:

  • Crippling accidents as a result of unsafe work environments—consider the recent building collapse in Bangladesh.
  • Poor housing—a long-lasting cause of diseases.
  • Water and food related diseases that occur simply because the poor cannot afford “safe” foods.

Ultimately, poverty is a major cause of social tensions and threatens to divide a nation because of income inequality. This occurs when the wealth of a country is poorly distributed among its citizens—when a tiny minority has a majority of the money. Wealthy or developed countries maintain stability because of the presence of a middle class. However, even Western countries are gradually losing their middle class. As a result there has been an increased number of riots and clashes. For society, poverty is a very dangerous factor that can destabilize an entire country. The Arab Spring is a great example of how revolts can start because of few job opportunities and high poverty levels.

 

Child Poverty

 

The number of children affected by poverty has been increasing since the 1960s. Children are those with the least amount choice and ability to change their circumstances. There is very little they can do to help their families, nor should they have to. Usually by the age of six they can be enrolled in child labor. Nearly all the potential effects of poverty impact the lives of children—poor infrastructure, unemployment, malnutrition, domestic violence, child labor, and disease. Simply analyzing the effects of child poverty on education in developed countries alone reveal some disturbing statistics:

  • Children from poor backgrounds lag behind at all stages of education.
  • By the age of three, poorer children are estimated to be nine months behind children from wealthier backgrounds.
  • By the end of primary school, students receiving free school meals are estimated to be about three terms behind their peers.
  • By 14, this gap increases to over five terms.
  • By 16, children receiving free school meals are about 1.7 grade points below their more affluent peers’ average GPA.

 

Effects of Poverty and Violence

 

The effect of poverty on terrorism is not as straightforward as the media often perceives it to be. Poverty fuels terrorism by creating a state of misery and frustration that pushes people to join terrorist organizations. But more research shows, it is more complicated.

Of course, some terrorists come from poor countries with high unemployment, and terrorist organizations often provide higher salaries than other jobs. But terrorism may not be a direct effect of poverty. So what is the source of frustration and anger?

Studies show that countries with weak governments, fragile institutions, and limited civil rights are a great environment to nurture the production of terrorist activity. Countries undergoing difficult transitions—i.e. from authoritarian to democratic regime—often encounter political instability with the blurring of certain rules and laws.

These periods of profound change come with a transformation of social order, values, and methods of governing that many people may find distressing and unsettling. Therefore, stabilizing and empowering political institutions is a crucial part of fighting against the dangerous consequences of poverty.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: Poverties.org, CPAG, UK Government

Poverty_Agriculture Olam International
Agri-business firm Olam International has pledged to help eradicate global poverty and mitigate climate change impacts that threaten food security.

Olam International is a world-leading firm operating in 70 countries, supplying food and raw materials to over 16,200 customers worldwide. Its business model is based on ensuring that profitable growth is achieved in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.

The agri-business knows its responsibility to the earth, as changing weather patterns are affecting crops and communities. The organization realizes that climate change will threaten food security by creating less than ideal conditions for optimal food production, thus threatening the world’s chances to end global poverty.

According to Olam, “Ensuring we and our 4 million farmer suppliers, the vast majority of whom are smallholders in emerging markets, are implementing mitigation and adaptation measures to achieve the 2°C goal is therefore integral to our strategy.” In addition, the company has adopted four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.

“Based on our configuration of assets and our capabilities across the 70 countries that we operate in, we have chosen four of the SDG Goals where we believe we can create a real impact,” said Sunny Verghese, the chief executive of Olam, at the U.N.’s High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Olam is prioritizing mitigating climate change through multiple goals: reducing GHG emissions from their farming and processing operations, adapting their own farming operations to build in climate resilience, encouraging farmer suppliers and logistics providers to improve their GHG emissions intensity and collaborating at a sector level to speed up implementation of climate-smart practices.

Olam will accomplish these goals through public, private and plural society partnership. Verghese said at the debate that a U.N.-to-private-sector partnership is key to successfully implementing the SDGs.

Verghese went on to say, “If after all of this hard work and overwhelming effort, if we are not going to be leaving a better place for our children, what is the point of it all?”

Kerri Whelan

Photo: Flickr

CityLinks
USAID has implemented a CityLinks program, which enables officials in developing countries to connect with their U.S. counterparts and collaborate on sustainable solutions for their cities. As part of the program, USAID has partnered La Cieba, Honduras with Somerville, Massachusetts to share practices on adapting to climate change.

The partnership was decided at a conference in Somerville where Oscar Montes, Director of the Municipal Office of Environment in La Cieba and Somerville’s Director of Sustainability and Environment Office Oliver Sellers-Garcia discussed the issues their cities currently face.

During the event, Montes explained that an increase in storms, shrinking coastlines and intensifying floods are impacting an already vulnerable city. He also shared satellite images of La Cieba’s eroded coastline, mothers carrying children on their shoulders through flooded streets, houses crumbling into the ocean and shopkeepers using buckets to empty water out of their markets.

“Oscar says that the hardest hit parts of La Ceiba are those in the urban center, where most of the population lives in the flood zone,” Sellers-Garcia said at the conference, USAID reports. “When there are flash floods from the nearby rivers and streams, the neighborhood groups notify the city. Guys, this is something we can actually learn from La Ceiba and start doing here.”

Somerville’s director of Capital Projects and Planning, Rob King also explained to Montes how Somerville is adapting to the increase in rainfall which causes the sewer systems to be overwhelmed with sewage and results in storm water runoff that gets dumped into local bodies of water.

King suggested that La Cieba put holding tanks underground as they have done in Somerville. While the solution is expensive, it will temporarily capture storm water that would otherwise flood the city’s sewage system. Plant and grass filled mediums in the roadways would also work, but would create less room for pedestrians, King said.

Though both Montes and King know there are no easy answers, this partnering through USAID is helping to increase resilience and prepare communities for climate change.

Kerri Whelan

Sources: USAID, ICMA
Photo: Wikipedia

Breakthrough Energy CoalitionParis hosted the global climate conference with heads of government and businesses in attendance. This was the 21st conference of this kind, and many maintain that it was the most productive thanks to Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

At the climate event, known as COP-21, Gates announced his plan to help address climate change. It is a collection of some of the most influential entrepreneurs, and it is known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

The group includes well-known business leaders such as Richard Branson, Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos.

The coalition, led by Gates, pledges to work in tandem with national governments to increase funding for clean energy research. They will also invest in risky clean energy projects that have a long return on investment but a high potential for success.

Many of the ideas coming from existing clean energy research and development are too insecure for traditional investors. They do not want to put money into an idea that might never make it to the market. This difficult journey from innovative idea to commercial product is known as the “valley of death,” and Gates’s coalition plans to bridge it.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in those risky ideas and be patient with the returns. Gates cites flow batteries and solar paint as two such existing products that need private sector investment. If successful, solar paint could transform any surface into a solar panel.

A crucial component of this plan is national governments. The research and development for clean energy technology must start with the government because only they have the mandate and resources to do so. Business alone cannot lead the charge.

Furthermore, government-funded programs have successfully created whole new industries that from space, defense and medical research. Gates’s coalition believes governments are key to creating the clean energy industries of the future.

In association with Gates’ announcement, President Obama and leaders around the world pledged to increase public-sector spending for research and development in clean energy. This pledge, in combination with Gates’, will constitute the biggest investment in clean energy in history.

The public sector initiative is known as Mission Innovation, including 20 nations. Each participating country agrees to double its existing funding for clean energy technology within the next five years.

This pledge will increase the budget of the 20 nations to $20 billion for clean energy. These new funds will go to research and development, and the creation of new ideas and technologies.

Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will then use their business acumen to wisely invest in technology that has the greatest potential. With patient and consistent investment, the products will bypass the “valley of death.”

These historic investments from government and businesses reflect the urgency for action. Both realize the impact climate change can have on their respect areas. It can cause unrest and war for governments, and a loss of profits for businesses.

The developing world, though, has the most to lose. Man-made climate change is primarily caused by industrialization from the developed world, but affects the developed world in a greater magnitude. This harsh irony will be reduced with the teaming up of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovations.

Clean energy will allow the developing world to grow and avoid the ravages of climate change. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will not only address climate change, but also fight poverty.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mashable, The Guardian
Photo: Here & Now

HomeBioGasAround three billion people in rural areas still utilize simple stoves that require burning wood, crop refuse or coal. These resources create dangerous air pollution, causing over 3.8 million premature deaths annually. The HomeBioGas startup aims to change this.

HomeBioGas, an organic renewable energy system created by an Israeli startup, aims to reduce the death toll in rural areas while at the same time helping farmers and families reduce their carbon footprint.

The machine safely converts food waste and animal manure into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. The machine serves as a sustainable tool for urban and rural families living off the grid.

According to the company’s website, the 88-pound machine starts by adding a bacteria to a combination of waste and water, which triggers a fermentation process. The reaction then produces a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, which can be used as energy.

The system can break down up to six liters of food waste, including meat and dairy. It can also dissolve 15 liters of animal manure, yielding about three hours worth of cooking gas and about 10 liters of liquid fertilizer. Families then can use the resulting gas to cook around three meals a day.

One of the few problems with HomeBioGas, however, is its dependency on warm temperatures. Under 64°F (17°C), the system will decrease its productivity, and it will cease to function at 32°F (0°C).

After a year, though, users eliminate one ton of organic waste, as well as decreasing toxic emissions going into the atmosphere.

Oshik Efrati, CEO of HomeBioGas, told Reuters that the system “will be available to everyone [who] needs it in the developing world.”

The company has already dispensed systems to underserved locations in order to cut back reliance on other types of fuel.

In the summer of 2014, Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection bought and installed multiple units at Umm Batin, a Bedouin village without access to clean energy and garbage removal.

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Energy and Mining, aiming to reduce the impoverished population’s overdependence on wood, recently signed a contract with HomeBioGas to purchase 50 biodigesters.

The pilot program’s prior success in the two countries, led their governments have decided to purchase even more biodigesters to combat poverty in these locations.

John Gilmore

Sources: Huffington Post, Israel 21c, IndieGoGo
Photo: EcoWatch

Poverty FreeEmerge Poverty Free is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by enabling communities to take control of their own needs.

In partnership with a local organization, Sustainable Investments and Development Initiatives (SIDI), Emerge Poverty Free has begun a project in Mwanza, Tanzania to empower hundreds of fisher-women through economic and environmental conservation projects.

Tanzania is known as one of the world’s least developed rural countries, where 40 percent of the adult population earns less than 1.25 USD per day.

The goals of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza project are to enable women to become self-sustainable while also improving the environment of Lake Victoria that is threatened by pollution and excessive fishing.

To reach these goals, 250 women from the Kabusuli village of the Sengerema District in Mwanza have been trained in fish farming and healthcare. The group hopes to plant 10,000 trees along the Lake Victoria shore at the end of the project.

These trees will eventually be used to provide local families with wood for cooking and building materials to reduce deforestation.

Though a fairly new project, Emerge Poverty Free reports that women involved in the group have already doubled their daily incomes by selling fish within their communities during the past 10 months.

According to Aneta Dodo, secretary of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza, the group has planted 6,000 trees, created five fish ponds for domestic use and local sale that have brought high profits — and a portion of the money earned by these women funded school tuition for 30 local children.

“We have gained a lot of expertise in finance issues, fishing, environmental conservation and we are able to do most things by ourselves without having to depend on men,” she said.

Dodo reports that the group was able to secure low-interest rate loans after the group started a saving and credit facility in their village of Kabusuli.

Despite these successes, the women of Tanzania still face many economic challenges — girls have higher education drop-out rates than young men and have limited access to medical care and employment, according to Emerge Poverty Free.

Group member Asha Malando does not see these statistics as an end-all and believes that women are still capable of empowering themselves by becoming involved in community projects.

“The government cannot do everything for us. We just have to use some of these organizations well so we can develop ourselves.”

Coleta Masesla, a female fisher in Tanzania, is now able to run her own food kiosk that provides income for her children’s education and home essentials like food and clothing.

“These women have become great role models in their community as they have proved that everything is possible. Most of them had lost hope but right now they are the ones running their families. We at Emerge Poverty Free are pleased by the attitude they have shown toward lifting themselves out of poverty,” stated Jeremey Horner, Emerge Poverty Free CEO.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Emerge Poverty Free 1, Emerge Poverty Free 2, IPP Media, The Daily News
Photo: Flickr

 Carbon_Credits
The city of Lagos is working to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases emitted from their landfills using a state-of-the-art composting facility. This facility is dramatically reducing the volume of waste ending up in landfills by 10-20 percent.

It is Nigeria’s first composting project to be registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), earning the nation carbon credits that can be cashed with the World Bank.

Carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets, are becoming a fresh incentive for countries to become more environmentally sustainable.

As a financial instrument representing a tonne of CO2 (carbon dioxide) or CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent gases) removed or reduced from the atmosphere, the greener a nation’s industries are, the more financial carbon credits the nation will amount.

Since Nigeria’s industrial and commercial centers are home to more than 17 million, Lagos City’s population is expected to grow steadily to more than 21 million by the end of 2015, bringing an increased amount of unsorted waste.

Unfortunately, the city already has a problem with its landfill management practices, including poorly regulated methane emissions.

Still in the phase of its first verification, the project is expected to have approximately 30,000 carbon credits issued by the end of 2015. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the project. While operating at maximum capacity, the compost facility can process 1,500 metric tons of mainly organic waste per day. It has been projected that over the course of the next 10 years, greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 253,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year as a result.

That translates to a lot of money through carbon credits for the Nigerian government to work on other sustainable development throughout the nation, benefiting all levels of society. But the monetary benefits of the carbon credits project are intended to stretch beyond the government, and trickle down in particular to the industrial and agricultural working classes.

In the industrial sector, the project is anticipated to create approximately 90 jobs at landfills throughout the city. In the agricultural sector, the byproduct of composting organic waste in landfills is extremely nutrient-rich soil. This soil is cheaper and more environmentally sound than the chemical fertilizer alternative that Nigerian farmers currently have available to them.

This increase in organic farming has been proven to improve soil quality and crop yields, increasing the productivity and profitability of farming throughout the region. As harvests improve and stabilize, there is a strengthening of national food security and increase in the region’s sustainable development.

Claire Colby

Sources: Carbon Planet, World Bank
Photo: Pixabay