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Fighting Poverty
Bettering the world seems like a broad concept to discuss or even think about, and that’s because it is. There are many ways to improve the way people live, whether it’s picking up trash or volunteering at a local food kitchen. The opportunities appear limitless, but narrowing them down is a great place to start the journey. Specifically, fighting poverty can be one goal to set in mind which has plenty of jumping-off points. Below are just a few ideas, organizations and nonprofits anyone can participate in if they want to lend a hand to the greater good.

Donating

When imagining charity or volunteer work, the very first thought is often donation. It can be a simple and easy way of fighting poverty. The best part is the donor gets to pick the charity, and thus, the effect they wish to make. For instance, if someone wants to improve access to water in underdeveloped nations, they could donate to The Thirst Project. This nonprofit is an organization that aims to provide water to impoverished nations.

While this is one example of providing aid, there are plenty of other companies with different focuses that could always use the aid. Additionally, the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; other companies accept food, clothes, toys, household items—anything that might be useful to a family or person in need.

Volunteering Locally

Donating is easy, but volunteering is fun. Volunteer work is available in nearly every part of the globe in some shape or form. As a result, these opportunities can vary depending on the season, location and amount of time one would like to spend. For instance, local foods banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs pop up all over the world. They allow the volunteer to get involved directly by providing food to those who can’t afford it otherwise. These projects can provide nourishment in various ways, from full and hot meals to canned goods or groceries.

Volunteers usually find work as laborers within the location, often in the form of food servers. The most popular name associated with food banks is Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit which is a direct purveyor to these food banks. The company also helps to organize the volunteers by guiding them toward local locations through the Feeding America website. The work is a well-appreciated way of fighting poverty, as one full belly is a step closer to improving an underprivileged life.

Volunteering Globally

While volunteering locally is wonderful, it’s often more rewarding if it’s taken out of the locale and put into the global frame of work. It might require more time and effort, but it can have an even greater impact. By sending volunteers to countries in need, nonprofit organizations improve community development through infrastructure construction, meal programs and health centers. Common names of the industry include UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders—just to name a few. These organizations run on donations and governmental funding, which allows them to have a larger global stance and allows volunteers to have the bigger role of direct involvement and assistance. This is seen with Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals to areas in need.

From a single dollar to a single brick, every ounce of effort helps a cause. While these are just a few ideas to launch a career of good deeds, there are plenty more out there. Searching the internet, local communities and simply listening to the concerns of others can lead anyone to a great opportunity. Anyone and everyone can—and should—take a moment to explore their place in bettering the world and find a way to fight poverty.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Pixabay

Solar Power in the Fight Against PovertyHunger, lack of education, conflict, disease, war; these human calamities have a common factor: poverty. One word to define a worldwide phenomenon which unfortunately hits 2.8 billion people on earth, or near half of the total entire population.

So, what are the solutions to fight this burden? Investment, innovation, technology and education are all viable options. But more and more multinational companies, associations and even simple citizens are now engaged in the fight against poverty, using a very special tool: solar power. As a source of renewable energy that is good for the environment, solar power can also help people get out of poverty by giving them access to electricity.

Today, most inhabitants of developing countries rely more on kerosene than on electricity for their basic needs such as household lighting. This is not only because the cost of electricity is extremely high, as the poorest people in the world pay 40 times more for the same energy services, but also because, most of the time, the nearest outlets are located miles away from where poverty is striking.

Because of this poor resource distribution, 15 percent of the global population still lives without access to electricity, and it is this inequality that solar power is attempting to balance by giving people easier access to electricity, information and education. For example, in Bangalore in India, families using solar panels can save $100 a year, money they tend to invest in their children’s education.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri’s CEO, a leading company in solar power in emerging markets in Africa, “a child spends an extra [two] hours per day doing homework if he has electricity.” But giving people access to electricity, and thus to information and education, is only one advantage this form of energy has to offer developing countries.

First, using solar power requires only one natural resource: the sun. This free, nonpolluting and unlimited
generator makes solar power one of the most environmentally friendly energies in the world. Furthermore, green energy is reliable and cheaper in the long run than kerosene or generators. It is also safer and easier to preserve in case of natural disasters, as solar panels are detachable and can be put indoors.

Helping in both the fight against poverty and climate change, solar power seems to be the perfect solution for those who still don’t have access to electricity. But there is much more at stake here: every year, more than four million people are killed by indoor air pollution, more than AIDS and malaria combined. Developing clean energy is, now, a matter of life or death.

As concluded Justin Guay, associate director of Sierra Club’s International Climate Program, “Just providing a few hours of solar lighting alone improves the human condition.”

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr

Africa_poverty_foundationThe Mulago Foundation fights poverty by finding and funding organizations that focus on the basic needs of those who live in extremely poor conditions. Organizations range from livelihood support to assistance with energy or health issues.

In order to qualify for funding, the organizations must be equipped with scalable solutions and demonstrate the ability to deliver, reflecting Mulago as a successful foundation that continues to improve the lives of the impoverished.

Henry Arnhold created the Mulago Foundation to carry out his brother’s life work, Rainer Arnhold, after his death in 1993. Rainer Arnhold was an inveterate traveler as well as a physician and philanthropist committed to improving the well-being of vulnerable individuals.

His philosophy has been carried throughout each of Mulago’s endeavors. The foundation is entirely funded by the Arnhold family and seeks no return on investments from the organizations it supports.

The Mulago Foundation has assisted organizations like the BOMA Project, located primarily in Northern Kenya. BOMA focuses on assisting impoverished women living in low-productivity lands that are isolated from the modern economy.

By funding this organization, Mulago and BOMA have worked to double the incomes of women in this area, helping them to build their resiliency against the economic issues that accompany droughts and poverty. The hope is that these successes will continue and increase drastically in the coming years.

The main focus of Mulago is impact. The Mulago Foundation succeeds in its mission to greatly impact impoverished citizens around the world by seeking out organizations with the similar missions.

While the Foundation would like to support all organizations trying to make a difference, the funding is meant for those who have well-defined plans for the future. Impact must be real and clearly measurable. By supporting successful organizations, Mulago is able to further the impact that they have on fighting poverty.

One Acre Funds is an organization in Eastern Africa that has received funding from Mulago and the impact it has reached is certainly measurable. This organization provides significantly poor farmers with the training, materials and access to markets that they need to create a sustainable living.

In less than five years, One Acre Funds went from zero farmers to 30,000. That is the type of impact that the Mulago Foundation seeks from the organizations it supports. One Acre Funds now functions like a high-performance business thanks to Mulago’s assistance.

Amanda Panella

Photo: Flickr

Zambian Women
Women in Kabwe, Zambia’s central province are establishing clubs and associations to help fight poverty. Through these organizations, Zambian women are educated on aid programs available and encouraged to take advantage of them.

Kabwe is a rural province with an 80 percent poverty rate. Women are especially vulnerable to poverty because of the tradition of gender inequality.

In the Mumbwa district of Kabwe, the Tandabale Wakamana Club has 20 female members who work to improve the quality of life and agriculture. Together they grow maize, groundnuts, and keep livestock.

Rhoda Kakoma, a member of the Tandabale Wakamana Club, said: “Through our club, I now own goats. I keep chickens and I also make fritters and the money I raise I am able to send my children to school. I have now managed to build a house which I have roofed.”

According to Mumbwa community development officer Abel Mwape, women are empowering one another in areas such as agriculture, weaving, tailoring, and rearing animals. These clubs help women find markets so they can sell their produce to make for profits.

In the Itezhi tezhi clubs have encouraged women to get involved in peanut butter making, basket weaving, and netting to sell in the markets.

The clubs are also making women aware of the Food Security Pack (FSF) which is a safety net program for farming households; particularly aiding households headed by women, children, and disabled persons.

Women are also connected to the Social Cash Transfer which provides women involved in agriculture with cash incentives in order to maintain their farms and livelihoods.

“Empowering rural women, therefore, remains cardinal to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities,” said Engwase Mwale, the executive director for Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC). “This is largely because women are the bedrock of our families, and indeed society at large.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Dailymail, MCDMCH, IDS
Photo: Dailymail

Youth_Unemployment
According to The Guardian, “youth unemployment is a global issue,” as young people account for approximately 40 percent of the world’s unemployed. Of note, 90 percent of this demographic live in developing countries, such as South Africa.

Not surprisingly, one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals seeks to address this global issue by “substantially [reducing] the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training” by 2020.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have already started to make a difference for unemployed youth in South Africa, where the youth unemployment rate stands at a staggering 50 percent. PPPs are working to provide young workers with government funded education, internship opportunities and technical services.

PPPs run projects between the private sector and the government, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and the private sector, or a combination of all three.

Zambian Youth Benefit

In Zambia for example, a PPP comprised of Unicef, Barclays and the Zambian government provided free courses focused on enterprise, entrepreneurship and communication skills.

According to The Guardian, Ernest Daka, a 22-year-old Zambian unemployed youth turned entrepreneur, credits a business and financial literacy course offered by this PPP as his motivation to become a self-starter.

Daka learned how to apply for a startup loan from a microfinance institution to purchase 50 chicks, a chicken coop, feed and charcoal.

The young entrepreneur began raising chickens after he learned more about local food supply and demand during the PPP course. Daka hired his brother as an employee and plans to package his chicken and eggs for grocery and restaurant sale in the future.

He has since repaid his loan in full and was able to pay for his brother’s school fees using profits from his business.

New Funding for PPPs

In 2014, the African Development Bank Group (AFDB) approved the financing of 48 new private sector operations with an investment of UA 1.59 billion. According to the AFDB, PPPs are one of the best ways for countries to foster development via power transport, water and sanitation and telecommunications.

As the desire for greater efficiency and better services grows, the availability of public financing resources diminishes. The South African government continues to promotes PPPs to make up for this lack of funding, improve the business environment and reduce the youth unemployment rate.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: African Development Bank Group, The Guardian, UN
Photo: Flickr

Women’s_World_Banking
Women’s World Banking raises money to provide women with the resources and tools needed to become successful entrepreneurs in their respective regions.

The organization operates primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but has left footprints in other regions, such as the Middle East and Western Europe.

Women’s World Banking recognizes that although many women globally use their earnings to give back to their families and communities, the demographic continues to be underserved and underrepresented.

Once the group determines the tools needed to empower successful female entrepreneurs, they network with financial institutions to guide women through the business startup process.

Women’s World Banking consists of an executive team, staff members, fellows and a board of directors, all of whom help keep the organization afloat. These individuals have dedicated themselves to the development of innovated products, micro-insurance programs and enterprises.

The team helps women develop credit, savings and insurance programs that fit their needs. Through research and on-the-job experience, the organization also creates innovative methods that they share with hardworking women throughout the world.

This year, roughly 530,000 women have accessed tools and resources provided by Women’s World Banking, with the total participants each year totaling over one million. Eighty-five percent of people participating in their leadership programs each year are young women looking to make a living for themselves and their families.

For more than 35 years, Women’s World Banking has created and networked with more than 38 organizations dedicated to empowering women throughout these regions, leaving a worldwide impact on the state of poverty found within predominantly female areas.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Womens World Banking, Microfinance Gateway, Friends of Women`s World Banking
Photo: Flickr

fighting_poverty
This year, more than 800,000 people have entered the EU from the Middle East and Africa. Recently, EU leaders met in Malta to discuss the handling of the migrant crisis.

EU leaders decided to institute a €1.8 billion fund for African countries to tackle problems that contribute to the refugee crisis, such as a lack of economic opportunity, climatic shock and ethnic conflict. This action supplements the U.N.’s decision to give $53 million in emergency aid to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad and Sudan.

By funding development assistance programs in Africa, EU leaders are taking proactive measures to improve the livelihoods of people in their home countries. However, as attention continues to be given to the refugee crisis, donors are focusing more on providing humanitarian aid to refugees after they have left their home countries. While both humanitarian aid and development assistance are critical, one cause should not eclipse the other.

When funding for development assistance is diverted to humanitarian aid, money does not go to the root causes of the current crisis. Migrants from Africa are fleeing climatic shocks, ethnic conflict and a lack of opportunity for making a livelihood.

Implementing development assistance programs to support the African people within their communities, as the European Commission voted to do, could help reduce the number of migrants in the future. Thus, development financing serves as a proactive measure with strong long-term payoffs.

In order to make a substantial difference in the long run for the millions of people at risk for displacement due to conflict, climate change or a lack of opportunity, fighting poverty and development financing could not be more important. As people in destination countries for migrants continue to consider options for addressing the crisis, it is critical to consider the underlying causes of the problem.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: BBC, CERF, The Guardian
Photo: Google Images

millennium_development_goalsIn the year 2000, world leaders agreed upon the Millennium Development Goals to address extreme poverty.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.”

Now that 2015 is coming to an end, the world is evaluating the success of the MDGs. While the overall targets were not met, significant progress has been made toward achieving several of the stated goals.

The official report declares, “The 15-year effort to achieve the eight aspirational goals set out in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 was largely successful across the globe, while acknowledging shortfalls that remain. The data and analysis presented in the report show that with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will, even the poorest can make progress.”

In terms of fighting poverty, the MDGs produced the largest and most successful anti-poverty movement so far in the world’s history. With every country focused on the effort, the results have been impressive and inspirational.

For example, looking closer at the goal of education: “Primary school enrollment figures have shown an impressive rise, but the goal of achieving universal primary education has just been missed, with the net enrollment rate increasing from 83 percent in 2000 to 91 percent this year,” according to The Guardian.

Each target area received similar improvements. But the biggest result that has come from the MDGs is a determination to succeed in ensuring sustainability for future generations of the world’s citizens. Since the conclusion of the MDGs, countries have regrouped and pushed on into phase two: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN has caught hold of the vision and is pressing forward. “The United Nations is… defining Sustainable Development Goals as part a new sustainable development agenda that must finish the job and leave no one behind.”

Katherine Martin

Sources: UNDP 1, UNDP 2, The Guardian, UN
Photo: Pixabay

Richest_Man_in_China
China’s rich men have been passionate about philanthropy. In the latest Hurun Report, China’s FORBES list, Ma Yun (Jack Ma), the richest man in China, is also the country’s most generous person.

Ma Yun is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of highly successful internet-based businesses. In 2014, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated net worth of $29.7 billion, he was listed as the richest man in China and the 18th richest person in the world.

In 2014, Ma Yun donated 14.5 billion RMB to the improvement of the environment, medicine and health care, as well as education and culture. Thus, it’s the first time in China that the richest guy is also the most generous one.

Recently, donation for philanthropies has been popular among China’s wealthy businessmen. Cai Chongxin, the second largest shareholder in Alibaba Group donated 6.2 billion RMB to philanthropies and thus become the top philanthropist in the region of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

The new record of the donated funding has been reached recently. The donation made by the first 100 philanthropists on the Hurun Report of Philanthropy has increased 264 percent compared with that in the last year.

Except Ma Yun, the rest of the philanthropists on the list have donated 8.6 percent more than last year on average. The level of being nominated for the list has increased 1 million RMB than last year. On the list, there are 71 newly nominated philanthropists.

Most philanthropists donated to the educational area, which occupied 27 percent in all the philanthropic donations. The second popular area that people donated was social charity. At the same time, disaster relief and poverty alleviation are also the main donated areas.

In 2014, Ma Yun and Cai Chongxin established two charitable trust funds based on their share holdings in Alibaba Group. After the Initial Public Offering, these two charitable trust funds are worth over $2 billion.

According to Ma, these two trust funds will be dedicated to pollution control and medical industry in China.

“I want to live in a world with bluer sky, cleaner water and better health care. I concern a lot about the environment, medical care and education in China, but only concerning can’t help. I’m passionate about contributing into and solving those problems.” Said Ma, a founder of charitable trust funds.

The establishment of two charitable trust funds made Ma Yun and Cai Chongxin known among worldwide famous philanthropists. In the press conference, Ma Yun received congratulations from many celebrated philanthropists, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg.

“Their donations set the new standard for the philanthropy in China, and other businessmen and business leaders are very likely to follow them.” Said Bloomberg.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: Sina, Hurun Report, Financial Times China
Photo: Wikimedia

China Pledges to Fight Extreme Poverty
China is pledging support to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit September 25-27.

For the first time, China is launching an assisting fund for developing countries with an initial investment of $2 billion. China’s goal is to give a total of $12 billion by 2030.

“This is [a] major break with the past,” said Steve Tsang, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Nottingham. “It’s the first time China is putting a large amount money toward international development.”

Over the years, world leaders including the United States, have criticized China for not taking responsibility as a nation with the world’s second largest economy. The country also overcame poverty in the last few decades, with the poverty rate declining from 61 percent in 1990 to just 4 percent today – the sharpest reduction in poverty by any nation.

On a global scale, 14 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty today compared to 47 percent in 1990. This statistic represents the only target to be achieved under the Millennial Development Goals launched in 2000.

Some goals that will not be met by the end of 2015 include reducing child mortality and reducing childbirth deaths by two-thirds.

Countries that are still far behind in stopping poverty include India and sub-Saharan Africa, a divided nation that has the largest share of people living in extreme poverty worldwide.

In the past, China has contributed to helping extreme poverty in Africa, but the nation put their own strategic twist on their “humanitarian” efforts, wanting to expand their access to oil and gas.

Now, China is turning over a new leaf, letting the world know that the Chinese Government and China’s President Xi Jinping are jumping on the important bandwagon and showing their support.

With China’s renewed support, the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals seem more attainable.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report
Photo: Wikimedia