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Health Care in Ghana The West African nation of Ghana is a vibrant country filled with natural beauty and rich culture. However, like many of its neighbors in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana suffers from a high poverty rate and lack of access to adequate health care. In fact, according to the Ghana Statistical Service, 23 percent of the total population lives in poverty and approximately 2.4 million Ghanaians are living in “extreme poverty.” That being said, many organizations and groups — both national and global — are working to improve health care in Ghana.

Malaria in Ghana

A disease transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes, malaria is a common concern throughout much of West Africa, including Ghana where it is the number one cause of death. In fact, according to the WHO’s most recent World Malaria Report, nearly 4.4 million confirmed malaria cases were reported in Ghana in 2018 — accounting for approximately 15 percent of the country’s total population.

All that in mind, many NGOs, as well as international government leaders, have taken up the mantle to eliminate malaria in Ghana. This includes leadership from the United States under the President’s Malaria Initiative or PMI which lays out comprehensive plans for Ghana to achieve its goal of successfully combating malaria.

With a proposed FY 2019 budget of $26 million, the PMI will ramp up its malaria control interventions including the distribution of vital commodities to the most at-risk citizens. For instance, the PMI aims to ensure that intermittent preventative treatment of pregnant women (IPTp) is more readily accessible for Ghanaian women. Progress has been made, too, as net use of IPTp by pregnant Ghanaian women has risen from 43 percent to 50 percent since 2016. This is just one example of the many ways in which PMI is positively contributing to the reduction and elimination of malaria in Ghana.

National Health Care System

National leaders are also doing their part to positively impact health care in Ghana. In 2003, the government made a huge step toward universal health coverage for its citizens by launching the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). As of 2017, the percentage of the population enrolled in the scheme declined to 35 percent from 41 percent two years prior. However, 73 percent of those enrolled renewed their membership and “persons below the age of 18 years and the informal sector workers had significantly higher numbers of enrolment than any other member group,” according to the Global Health Research and Policy.

It is difficult to truly understand Ghana’s health issues without considering firsthand perspectives. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Dr. Enoch Darko, an emergency medicine physician who graduated from the University of Ghana Medical School, commented on some of the health issues that have plagued Ghana in recent decades. “A lot of problems that most third world countries, including Ghana, deal with are parasitic diseases such as malaria and gastroenteritis. Though health issues like diabetes and hypertension still remain in countries around the world, and even the United States, the difference is that some diseases that have been eradicated in Western countries still remain in countries like Ghana,” Darko said. “Many people in Ghana simply do not see a doctor for routine checkups like in the United States. Rather, most people will only go to see a doctor when they are feeling sick. As a result, lesser symptoms may go unchecked, thus contributing to the prevalence and spread of disease and infection. Combined with the fact that many Ghanaians in rural communities may not have sufficient money to afford treatment or medicine, this becomes a cycle for poor or sick Ghanaians.”

That said, it is hoped that with continued support from international players as well as government intervention, the country can continue to make strides in addressing health care for its citizens.

Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

 

Private Sector in Poverty Reduction
Poverty and world hunger stand on the docket of extinction, for the first time in human history. Even just one generation ago, this acknowledgment would seem absurd. The United Nations advocates that the world can meet the unimaginable goal of eradicating world hunger by 2030.

To achieve this goal, it would take between $170 and $190 billion a year from the U.S. to take everyone out of extreme poverty in the next two or three decades. Just to put that number in perspective, as the largest bilateral donor, the U.S. allocates roughly $49 billion to foreign funds every year to 96 percent of the globe. This article will look at the role of the private sector in poverty reduction.

Advantages of Private Sector in Poverty Reduction

Directing focus on the magnitude of the nation’s role in poverty reduction must be noted, considering only 1 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, the question arises if there is a cheaper, quicker way to fast-track the eradication of extreme poverty. What about the private sector?

The role of the private sector in poverty reduction is that it naturally brings to the table what governments and nongovernmental organizations do not. Federal funds can only cover so much with a $49 billion a year budget. Some of the most transformative investments in poor regions around the globe come from private lenders.

Most U.S. money goes to direct assistance, like world health programs, providing aid packages and doing the heavy lifting for broad-based long-term economic development. The private sector can help stimulate poor economies. Private business contributes a different model to aid and public resources. They can provide jobs, goods and services sometimes more effectively than agencies can do alone.

Developing Countries Opportunities

Developing countries offer business opportunities unheard of in the developed world. The potential for market growth in underdeveloped regions is monumental. Social entrepreneurs likewise are more flexible in carrying out the demands of poverty because they can develop new cross-sector models out of competition, without being tied to the orthodoxies of foreign aid.

Take for example infrastructure in the developing world. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that it will take $2 trillion a year to fix the world’s infrastructure needs, especially in the developing world where billions of people lack access to safe water, electricity, roads and other basic services.

While often the domain of governments, poor countries cannot support the immense costs of upgrading infrastructure. Infrastructure is essential to eradicating poverty. To escape low-income agricultural dependency, countries need infrastructure projects to communicate, process and transport quality goods. The private sector can work at a much larger scale enabling investments in energy and transportation infrastructure that administer long-term benefits to the economy for local entrepreneurs to take advantage of.

In theory, by solving insurmountable problems in developing countries economies, the role of the private sector in poverty reduction is improving value chains. The private sector and entrepreneurship play a fundamental role in innovation, improving business standards and job creation without development goals as their primary agenda.

Things to Consider when Investing

Private companies can provide lending to update infrastructure projects as Chinese companies have done in Africa. However, there are negative aspects of foreign funding as well. While the inflow of investments does help locals and spark economic growth, these are debts to be repaid to commercial outsiders. For example, several Chinese infrastructure investments have helped support corrupt and undemocratic regimes and only compounded local problems. Not to mention this activity supports an extractive business model.

Infrastructure and jobs help immensely, but the private sector needs to share its wealth capacity with the developing world. Since 2000, the poorest half of the world has received just 1 percent of the increase in total wealth, while the wealthiest 1 percent of the world received over 50 percent of the total wealth. Wealth tends to stay in the hands of the wealthy people. Businesses need to keep in mind that the most valuable asset for then is their labor force. Better paid skilled jobs are keys to growth anywhere.

Foreign direct investment grew from under $50 billion in 1990 to almost $500 billion in 2011. For the first time in 2013, foreign direct investment in developing countries exceeded investment in developed countries. At the same time, commercial lending and remittances have grown significantly.

GDP growth has been high for the last decade in developing countries. But the growth in jobs has not been enough to transition from an agricultural economy to a high productivity economy. Stimulating these economies to help in that transition is key to transitioning. The role of the private sector is that it must be relevant to the poor. Their intervention can be life-changing in guiding the poor to the path to prosperity, remembering that their labor force may be the main assets they possess.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Unsplash

10 Facts About Hunger In BangladeshBangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries; as home to over 160 million people in an area the size of Illinois. Since the country first garnered international attention, it has made great progress in human development, namely in the areas of literacy and life expectancy. But economic inequality has increased and approximately 32 percent, i.e. 50 million people still live in extreme poverty.

Compounded by inadequate arable land and recurrent natural disasters, Bangladesh has struggled immensely with food insecurity. Despite tripling its rice production, decreasing infant mortality rates, and programs combating malnutrition, 60 million people are still hungry even today. 

List of Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh has the highest rate of underweight children in South Asia. One in two children below 5 years are chronically undernourished or stunted, and 14 percent suffer from acute undernutrition or wasting. WHO estimates that two in three deaths under the age of five are caused by undernutrition.
  2. Out of the 50 million people who lack food security in Bangladesh, less than half have access to food safety net programs. Food programs have a successful impact, however, poor coverage, targeting and administration have impacted effectiveness.
  3. Food insecurity and malnutrition among the vulnerable populations are high. These are further impacted by seasonality and the price of available foods. The two lean seasons in Bangladesh worsen food insecurity, reduce food availability as well as employment opportunities particularly for the rural poor.
  4. Food insecurity in Bangladesh stems from extreme poverty due to underemployment and unemployment, inadequate land access for cultivation, social exclusion and natural disasters. In these vulnerable, poor populations, women and children are most affected by malnutrition and undernutrition.
  5. Approximately 24 percent of women are underweight and 13 percent are short in stature, significantly increasing the likelihood that their children will be stunted.
  6. About 25 percent of children’s diets meet dietary variety standards where a minimum of four out of seven food groups are consumed on a daily basis.
  7. Sacrifices in food consumption for the sake of feeding children, particularly in times of scarcity, is highly gender biased. In most cases, it is an adult woman who must make a sacrifice. Disproportionate poverty faced by women and children comes as a result of discrimination and traditions of exclusion, thereby leaving them the most vulnerable.
  8. In wealthy households, 26 percent of children below 5 years are stunted and 12 percent are wasted. Undernutrition then is not just a symptom of poverty. Poverty has declined remarkably since the year 2010, dropping from 49 percent to roughly 25 percent in 2016. Yet hunger still persists.
  9. Micronutrient deficiencies lead to ‘hidden hunger‘. Of note, 50 percent of the salt produced in Bangladesh is not adequately iodized, rice dominates the diet and its low nutrient density likely contributes to the high rates of zinc deficiency.
  10. Environmental disasters if ignored could increase food insecurity. In addition to natural disasters that flood farms and cause rural unemployment, the lack of education and training in sustainable agricultural methods have caused soil degradation that impacts rice production.

Since the year 2000, hunger has been cut by nearly half in Bangladesh. Experts site economic growth, improved agricultural productivity, access to markets for farmers and social safety nets for the most vulnerable as ways to end hunger. Bangladesh’s success in these areas, especially rice production, has helped cut hunger in half.

Yet these 10 facts about hunger in Bangladesh illustrate how several key challenges still remain as millions continue to battle undernutrition, transient food insecurity and hidden hunger every single day.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Flickr

ten facts about poverty in AzerbaijanAzerbaijan is the country located in the South Caucuses at the crossroad between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Humans have settled in this area in the Stone Age, and throughout the history, the country location was ideal for trade and commerce. Today, Azerbaijan, from the perspective of the capital city of Baku, has transformed itself into a polished country of luxury with glass skyscrapers and trendy malls. The country even began hosting a Formula One Grand Prix in 2017 and the European Games in 2015. But behind the glitz and glamour of the freshly paved streets of Baku, the country still deals with poverty. Here are ten facts about poverty in Azerbaijan.

  1. Azerbaijan was hit by a major economic shock in 2015 and 2016. In a study done for the Government of Azerbaijan in 2015, the GDP of the nation was decreased from 74.19 billion USD in 2014 to 34.9 billion USD in 2015. Understanding this fact is integral to understanding the poverty in the country, as in one year span the income per capita in the nation fell from $5,359.70 to $2,808.
  2. In 2017 the World Bank noted that Azerbaijan only experienced a “very modest recovery” from the recession that occurred in 2015-16. The country fell short in increasing the nominal average wage and the minimum cost of living enough to offset higher prices. The World Bank stated that poverty likely increased in 2017.
  3. The Asian Development Bank reported that in 2016 5.9 percent of the Azerbaijan population lived below the national poverty line, which is good compared to the neighbor countries Georgia and Armenia that had 21.3 percent and 29.4 percent of their populations, respectively, below the national poverty line in 2016.
  4. The Bank also reported that in 2016, 5 percent of the country’s population was unemployed. This is low compared with higher numbers in Armenia (18.4 percent) and Georgia (11.8 percent).
  5. In 2001 the State Statistical Committee of Azerbaijan estimated that 49 percent of the population was below the national poverty line. This fact is a good illustration of the rapid decline in poverty that Azerbaijan has experienced during the 2000s.
  6. People living in rural areas have lower income. In a report done by the State Statistical Committee of Azerbaijan in 2017, rural households achieved monthly income per capita of 151 USD, compared to 163 USD achieved in urban households.
  7. The number of households without access to a water was decreased from 37.6 percent in 2002 to 11.3 percent in 2018. In the same time, the percentage of the population connected to the sewage system increased from 86 percent in 2002 to 98.2 percent in 2018. These two figures reflect the macroeconomic trend of massive reduction in material deprivation in the country in recent decades.
  8. Internet access rose sharply from just 16.6 percent of household’s having internet access in 2005 to 77.2 percent in 2016.
  9. The number of graduates from higher education institutions increased in the country from 24,488 in 2000 to 37,506 in 2017, a figure that is extremely well for an economy that is trying to reduce its reliance on oil exports.
  10. Economic growth forecast of the country in 2018 expressed in GDP is projected to be 2.0%. This was reported by Azerbaijani news source in 2018. IMF increased this number for a GDP growth from 1.2% to 2.0%. This is an encouraging sign for an economy that suffered recent hardship and perhaps a realignment on the multi-decade long trend which has seen Azerbaijan experience much less material deprivation.

These ten facts about poverty in Azerbaijan show that the country stands at both a physical crossroad and at a metaphorical one. Extreme poverty in the country has been drastically reduced, but a continuance of the country’s economic dependence on oil makes the country susceptible to the economic crashes, similar to the one that happened in 2015, and the potential for poverty increase again. The country must decide how to diversify its economy and carry out its progress further into the future.

– William Carlos Menchaca
Photo: Google

Poverty Line Breakdown
Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, showing that poverty remains a top global issue. Every country has a poverty line, which is the level of personal or family income below which one is considered poor by government standards. While there are a handful of countries with extreme poverty, there are others that have maintained the poverty line within their country.

Poverty Rates

According to the Huffington Post, factoring poverty rates is a mixture of art and science. When coming up with a country’s poverty line, the measurement of wealth and distribution has to coincide with the cost of living rates or price purchase parity adjustments. In other words, someone who may be perceived as poor in the United States can be considered wealthy in another country. The global quantification of extreme poverty is categorized differently than middle- and upper-income countries.

Countries with the Highest Poverty Line

  • The Dominican Republic of Congo: Despite the most recent decrease in DRC’s poverty rate, 71 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2012, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations has estimated that 2.3 million people living in the DRC are poor and living in refugee camps. Due to the detrimental political corruption, the people of DRC continue to suffer for minimal necessities. The nutritional statistics of DRC are extremely low and health conditions are severe. Stunting, wasting, immunization coverage, drinking water conditions and diseases are just a few examples of matters that need to be taken seriously to solve these conditions.
  • The Central African Republic: As of 2008, the poverty rate for the Central African Republic stood at 66.3 percent and not much has changed. Although this is a healthy decrease from 84.3 percent in 1992, a majority of the countries’ population lives on less than $1.90 per day. To many, the Central African Republic may appear to be the land of diamonds, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. With a low population count of five million people, most of them are living without food, sanitation and decent housing. Every year, the Central African Republic only brings in $750. The Central African Republic’s issues reside from civil conflict, diseases and lack of infrastructure for schools and jobs. With minimal annual income, jobs are scarce and in high demand.

Countries with the Lowest Poverty Line

  • Finland: With a low poverty rate of 5.5 percent, Finland has one of the lowest poverty lines in decades, although the risk of poverty for many residing in Finland is the highest it’s ever been. There’s a secret to Finland’s success story: employment, education and parenting take priority. In addition, Finland is committed to improving education and healthcare. It is generous with welfare and possesses a low infant mortality rate, good school test scores and an extremely low poverty rate. Finland is considered the second happiest country on earth, falling second to the United States.
  • The Czech Republic: About 9.7 percent of the Czech Republic’s population live below the poverty line. Of all the European Union member states, Czech has the lowest amount of people threatened by poverty. In comparison to the average rate of 17 percent for the eurozone, Czech is doing pretty well for itself. Czech’s high-income economy is primarily based on the revenue it receives from its auto industry. This still remains its largest single industry, accounting for 24 percent of Czech’s product manufacturing. Czech’s wealth is due to its successful trading system.

Poverty lines will continue to be a global issue until countries ally to reduce the gap in socioeconomic status. Without the rich, there would be no poor. Even within impoverished areas of the world, there are different levels of poverty and what one can afford. Unity and prioritizing citizen’s needs is a necessity to promote change in poverty lines.

 – Kayla Sellers 

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access In Samoa
In the past few years, Samoa has seen the emergence of a new banking system with a focus on credit access. This comes after years of financial hardship and a shrinking economy. According to a 2016 report, no new loans had been issued in Samoa in roughly five years. Major financial cornerstones like the Bank of Hawaii had backed out of the country.  In desperation, and on the margins of the mainstream economy, Samoa adopted a public banking system.

The Landscape of Samoa’s Credit Sector

The financial services sector in Samoa encompasses a wide range but is mostly limited to urban areas. The industry has four major commercial banks: two foreign banks and two regional banks. However, the domestic credit market is controlled by Public Financial Institutions. Samoa National Provident Fund holds 22.6 percent of the market; another key player, The Development Bank of Samoa, holds a 10.3 percent share. Much of the success of credit access in Samoa can be attributed to the Central Bank of Samoa. It acts as a regulator and has enforced progressive strategies that have expanded financial services and inclusion.

However, 49 percent of Samoans are outside of the formal financial market. Public constraint has often been attributed to a cash-heavy informal economic sector and inadequate access to distribution points throughout Samoa. The World Bank and The International Finance Corporation have identified Samoa as a struggling credit environment, but policy improvements seek to target these issues.

Somoa’s First Credit Bureau

In 2015, Samoa launched its first Credit Bureau financed by The International Finance Corporation. Its intention was to bring efficiency and transparency to the money-lending market. This was a milestone for Samoa’s financial system, which was historically reliant on cash. It helped many different parties by providing confidence to lenders as borrowers built up their credit profiles. The Credit Bureau was fundamental in establishing a credit infrastructure in Samoa. Backed by the Data Bureau and the largest financial firms in Samoa, technological advancements such as cloud storage and information sharing among banks allowed credit footings to grow. The new technologies meant that lenders could deliver financial services at significantly lower costs to expand credit access to broader segments of the economy.

Expanded Credit Access

Domestic credit to businesses has grown by roughly 60 percent since the mid-1980s. The Strategy For The Development of Samoa, intended for the years 2016 to 2019, outlined plans to increase inclusivity to vulnerable groups and help end all poverty in the region.

Supported by the public domestic credit market, economic resilience accompanies private sector investment and development initiatives to expand credit access. Agriculture and fisheries are especially important to Samoa’s rural economic growth and development. The Development Bank of Samoa finances agriculture through the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Program and Agribusiness Development Program. The Agribusiness Programs, Development Bank and Business Enterprise Center provide increased technical and financial support services for small business development.

Positive Results

Samoa has already left the list of the most undeveloped countries and is on its way to sustainable economic growth. With the continued implementation of credit and financial services aimed at the most vulnerable populations, Samoa has seen growth in per capita GDP of roughly $6,000 USD in 2017, up nearly $500 USD since 2015. 

While extreme poverty does not afflict the region, 20 percent of the Somoa’s population lives under the poverty line and struggles to obtain secure employment. The majority of this population lives in rural areas, lacking access to the resources available in urban areas. With the addition of these financial services aimed at reaching underserved communities and the larger rural economy, many industries are growing and the country is opening new doors for its people. As credit access in Samoa continues to spread, the economy and individual prosperity will also blossom.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Flickr

poverty reduction
Almost half of the world’s population lives in poverty, defined as having under $2.50 per day. Even more striking, more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, which means having under $1.25 per day on disposal. Most concerning, there are over 1 billion children exposed to substandard living conditions.

Several international organizations, such as the IMF, World Bank, and UN, work with governments and other organizations in the world’s poorest countries on daily basis. Their common mission is poverty reduction in poor countries and, ultimately, to end all forms of poverty once and for all.

However, what are the actions currently being implemented? Where can further attention and action be allocated to effectively alleviate poverty?

International Organizations and Governments

The weakest links are evidently countries that lack abundant natural resources, such as sub-Saharan African countries. These countries, such as Cameroon, Benin, and Angola, are home to the poorest people and their governments are unable to raise tax revenues or foster financial resource mobilization. Development of these countries could be achieved through a set of resources such as private investments and development financing.

Coordination with governments to address issues directly linked to the poorest of their population is vital. The Bolsa Familia program in Brazil exemplifies this notion, as the program has established a direct cash transfer to the poorest families. Over 48 million families are enrolled and this has led to extreme poverty dropping from 20.4 million in 2003 to 11.9 million in 2009. That is a staggering 8.5 million people who have been lifted from the severe poverty.

Facets of Poverty – Basic Needs

Typically, poverty is associated with one’s financial situation. Nonetheless, there are several other facets to poverty that must be addressed if extreme poverty, and eventually poverty altogether, is to be eradicated. Of these basic needs, five stand out in poverty reduction in poor countries:

  1. Quality education
  2. Access to healthcare
  3. Water and sanitation
  4. Economic/financial security
  5. Child participation

Improving the well-being of the world’s poor enables them to break the cycle of poverty. Providing a greater home environment and adequate nutrition fosters the success of children in school and of adults in training, which boosts their economic position. One example is Colombia, where education can be the gate key to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty and promoting economic growth on all cylinders.

On Data

In an increasingly data-driven world, developing countries can greatly improve their data on poverty, and by doing so, clearly identify where the poorest citizens live and what their exact needs are. In this way, they can allocate their resources effectively. Crucial improvements include the monitoring of different facets of poverty other than income, while encompassing more dimensions to the problem (social, economic, etc.).

There is much work to be done to resolve the unfortunate effects of poverty. However, solving the persistent problem requires striking straight to the roots.

Collaboration between international organizations, governments and other groups, updating and improving data as well as providing basic needs are all must-do’s in the fight against poverty reduction in poor countries.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura

Photo: Google

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Reduces PovertyChildren account for nearly half of the world’s poor and arguably suffer the most because of it. Limited access to education, drinking water, food and opportunity are all symptoms of poverty that make it difficult for impoverished children to thrive. Unfortunately, only one-third of the world’s poorest children are covered by social protection from their governments. Therefore, it is essential for nongovernmental organizations and charities to help provide aid, investment and infrastructure that can help lift these children out of poverty. Several organizations have already helped uplift over one billion people out of poverty, many of these being children, in the last 20 years; one of these organizations is the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

What Is the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation?

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world and incorporates a multi-faceted investment strategy to improve the environments in which impoverished children live. The Foundation diversifies its $4.7 billion worth of assets into investments to help improve climate, education, access to food and child survival in developing countries. CIFF was founded in 2002 by Jamie Cooper-Hohn and hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn and has grown from its headquarters in London to include offices in New Delhi India and Nairobi Kenya.

How Does CIFF Reduce Poverty?

As the fund has expanded its operations, it has provided lifesaving and poverty-reducing initiatives for poor children in developing countries. In 2013, CIFF pledged to donate $787 million over seven years to tackle global malnutrition. This was part of a total pledge of $4.1 billion toward reducing malnutrition announced at the Nutrition for Growth summit in London. A study by the Lancet medical journal found that malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million under-five child deaths yearly or 45 percent of all under-five deaths. Reducing malnutrition saves lives, improves health and accelerates development in countries by providing a future for millions of children.

The fund has coupled this tremendous effort, with more targeted approaches toward various crises that have devastated impoverished children in affected countries. In 2014, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation gave $120 million to international health programs, increasing the number of children receiving antiretroviral therapy, funding deworming initiatives and combating the Ebola crisis in West Africa. These programs have helped save millions of lives.

Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are common in tropical areas and specifically affect children in low-income areas who lack adequate access to sanitation. Worms contribute to the malnutrition of children in developing nations that kill millions each year. The $50 million donation to national deworming programs by CIFF will help establish the necessary healthcare and sanitation infrastructure that can help protect these vulnerable children. Furthermore, CIFF’s $50 million contribution to increasing access to antiretroviral therapy will help save the lives of the over 120,000 impoverished children who die from AIDS each year while its $20 million towards the Ebola outbreak in West Africa helped end the crisis.

CIFF continues to expand access to life-saving healthcare for poor children in developing nations. Recently, it has bolstered these efforts by supporting initiatives to protect children in developing nations from exploitation that bars them from access to an education that could lift them out of poverty. An estimated 25 percent of people trapped in slavery are children. CIFF has already pledged $18.3 million to protect children worldwide. This funding is going toward strengthing law enforcement systems, ensuring swift prosecutions of offenders, stopping the demand for products of child labor and campaigning to instill change.

These programs funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation reduce poverty by freeing impoverished children from the bounds that keep them from rising out of poverty. Good health, human rights and access to education are now within reach for millions of children because of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

Sack Farming in KenyaAs of 2015, 153 million African citizens reported being impacted by food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as a state of living where one is unable or has limited access to obtain consistent, nutritionally valued food to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Current Issues in Africa

The average per capita income of sub-Saharan African is approximately three times lower than that of the rest of the world. One of the main sources of income in Africa is agriculture which can easily be impacted by the quality of soil, a stable water source, temperature and use of fertilizer.

That being said, in areas such as Kenya, 42 percent of the population (44 million people) live below the poverty line. Agriculture is one of the top sources of income and a major boon to the nation’s economy. In fact, it gives work to 70 percent of the workforce and contributes to 25 percent of Kenya’s annual gross domestic product.

Kibera, Nairobi, one of Kenya’s largest slums, suffers from a lack of resources such as water, land space and labor. With a consistent rising population (4.1 percent annually in Nairobi), more food is needed to sustain life. An upcoming technique to combat this problem, being implemented not only in Kenya but in surrounding nations such as Uganda, is sack farming.

Combating Food Scarcity with Sack Farming

Sack farming is the process of utilizing ordinary scrap sacks as the foundation for producing crops such as potatoes, carrots and spinach. By implementing sack farming in Kenya, food insecurity throughout the country can be tackled. All that is needed for this form of planting is the sack, manure, soil, small stones for drainage and the desired seeds.

Beginning with the necessary equipment, sacks of any size and texture can be used, from burlap encasings to plastic bags. Fertilizer can be made from composted food and waste. As for labor, the younger communities in Kenya have stepped up to take responsibility.

Effects of Sack Farming in Kenya

Depending on the size of the sacks, one sack has the ability to grow up to 45 seedlings. In terms of income, if a household is able to afford three sacks with 30 seedlings each, the production would be substantial. This would increase the household’s income, therefore increasing the ability to purchase other products ranging from electricity to eggs and milk.

Sack farming in Kenya has the ability to produce crops such as spinach, lettuce, beets, arugula, potatoes, carrots and onions. Not only does this impact the economy, but families will finally be able to have access to a stable food source. This means fewer chances of developing nutritional deficiencies, especially in younger children.

Sack farming in Kenya is a more convenient and realistic way of feeding one’s family and community, especially when living in a rural or slum area. The process is an inexpensive, simple way to produce nutritious foods, combating the issue of food insecurity in areas throughout Africa.

– Jessica Ramtahal
Photo: Flickr

social justice and economic justice
There is an enduring and powerful relationship between social justice and economic justice. Social justice has many definitions. 
The most common definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.”

The definitions that are most applicable to alleviating poverty, however, are:

  • The idea that every person should have equal rights to basic liberties and needs, and inequalities should be arranged to the greatest benefit for those considered lowest in society.
  • From the Huffington Post: “…promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exists when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights and a fair allocation of community resources.”

However, the current functioning of global society violates each of these definitions almost completely, and therefore expresses the lack of and need for social justice in all areas of the world, especially developing nations.

The United Nations Development Programme reports shocking statistics from poverty elimination research, detailing that as of 2000, there were 323 million people living on less than $1 a day, 185 million people who were undernourished and 273 million people without access to improved water sources in sub-Saharan Africa, the most impoverished region overall.

These harrowing numbers from sub-Saharan Africa were accompanied by information stating that 44 million primary age children were not in school, 23 million primary age girls were not in school, five million children under five years old were dying each year and 299 million people were without access to adequate sanitation. These statistics demonstrate that simple economic failure and injustice is not an isolated issue, but rather closely parallelled by social failure and injustice as well.

In contrast, the statistics from central and eastern Europe are staggeringly different. Only 21 million people were living on less than on $1 a day, only 33 million people were undernourished, only 29 million people were without access to improved water sources, only three million primary age children were not in school, only one million primary age girls were not in school, less than a million children under five years old were dying each year and an insignificant amount of people were without access to adequate sanitation as of 2000, so low that it was not even reported numerically.

As can be clearly seen, there is a direct correlation between social justice and economic justice, and a very large gap between developed nations and impoverished countries. The more economically impoverished a nation remains, the more social injustice thrives and prevails. The greater the poverty, the fewer people are given fair and equal access to basic needs and rights.  

To start fighting such global, national and statistical chasms and deprivations, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have started targeting social justice, specifically to help achieve the goals of:

  • Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  • Promoting gender equality and empowering women
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability

The hope is that the new information and educational awareness of the relationship between social justice and economic justice will kickstart the alleviation of poverty by focusing on the social injustices in each region and developing country to foster a new approach for decreasing poverty overall.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Wikimedia Commons