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Facts About Poverty In Eritrea

Eritrea is a small northeastern country in Africa, surrounded by the larger Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. It is home to nearly 5.4 million individuals, of which, about 65 percent live in poverty. Eritrea‘s harsh history coupled with its low rates of development has contributed to the poor economic conditions that oppress so many. This article will provide nine facts about poverty in Eritrea which will give reason to the concerns raised by international organizations.

9 Facts About Poverty in Eritrea

  1. A tumultuous history with Ethiopia: After a 30-year war with Ethiopia, Eritrea finally gained independence in 1991. It was not until 1993, however, that this separation was legitimized. Eritrean citizens were historically neglected under Ethiopian rule. Many were deprived of their nation’s resources and abandoned on the pathway to development.
  2. Cultural superstitions prevent sanitary practices: According to UNICEF, persistent cultural beliefs hinder many Eritreans from collecting clean water, washing their hands and disposing of animal products properly. Many believe that evil spirits are attached to certain animal parts while other customs prohibit the use of latrines during certain hours of the day.
  3. Limited access to clean water for rural Eritreans: Very few villages in rural Eritrea have access to clean water. In fact, as of 2015, only 48.6 percent of the rural population had access to improved water sources compared to 93.1 percent in urban areas. As a result, many drink from the same water source as animals. In addition, many communities do not have a local latrine due to a lack of financial resources. Sewage systems also contaminate water sources that would otherwise be feasible options. These issues can lead to numerous diseases such as schitosmiasis, giardriasis and diarrhea.
  4. Challenges in agriculture: While nearly 80 percent of the Eritrean population works in agriculture, this sector only makes up about 13 percent of the nation’s GDP. Landscapes in Eritrea are naturally rocky and dry. This makes farming a difficult task even in the best weather conditions. During the most fruitful periods, domestic agriculture production still only feeds 60 to 70 percent of the population.
  5. Susceptibility to drought: When drought does strike northeast Africa, Eritrea is one of the countries that experiences the greatest blow. Months can pass in the Horn of Africa without rainfall and these episodes are frequent and recurrent. This results in food shortages and increased rates of malnourishment among children. Statistics show that malnutrition has been increasing throughout Eritrea as nearly 22,700 children under the age of 5 suffer from the condition. Plans have already been crafted as an acknowledgment of the crisis, one being the African Development Bank’s Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood Programme for 2015-2021. For this, the Eritrean government has agreed to reserve $17 million to administer solutions for drought effects in rural communities.
  6. Many children are out of school: Public education in Eritrea is inconsistent across the nation. Children living in rural areas or with nomadic families do not have access to quality education like those living in urban regions. Overall, 27.7 percent of Eritrean children do not attend school.
  7. Low HDI: Recently, GDP in Eritrea has been growing. This can be attributed to the recent cultivation of the Bisha mine, which has contributed a considerable amount of zinc, gold and copper to the international economy. Even so, Eritrea’s Human Development Index is only at 0.351. The country is far behind other sub-Saharan nations, whose average is calculated at 0.475.
  8. Violence at the southern border: The central government has created large holes in the federal deficit in its preoccupation with Ethiopia. While the countries officially separated in 1993, discontent with the line of demarcation has left them in a state of “no war, no peace.” The Eritrean government sees the stalemate with Ethiopia as a primary concern, and the military forces needed to guard their territory has occupied most of the nation’s resources.
  9. High rates of migration: These realities listed above have encouraged much of the Eritrean population to flee the country. Eritrea is the African country with the highest number of migrants. Furthermore, the journey to Europe is a dangerous one, as the pathway through the central Mediterranean is highly laborious.

Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

 

 

roasted crickets
If the rise of Entomo Farms is any indication, the world is about to undergo a food revolution. The Bellevue, Washington-based company produces roasted crickets and cricket flour for human consumption. The crickets are sustainably raised and highly nutritious, containing 13 grams of protein per serving (1/3 cup). The insects also provide high amounts of calcium and iron, along with vitamin B12. Many industry experts believe that the nutritious nature of these insects can help to significantly reduce malnourishment worldwide.

Cricket Production

Most of the production of these crickets occurs at Entomo Farms’ private farm in Norwood, Ontario (the biggest cricket farming facility in North America). The crickets are farmed efficiently and sustainably. They are allowed to roam freely in dark, warm “cricket condos,” which simulate their natural habitat. The crickets are harvested only at the end of their life cycle, which lasts about six weeks. This ensures that the crickets are produced humanely, which is an integral aspect of Entomo Farms’ approach to cricket farming.

Roasted Crickets and Cricket Powder

Once they are farmed, the crickets are prepared in a special facility. They are rinsed thoroughly to remove bacteria and then broken up into two groups: some are roasted in the oven, intended to be eaten whole, and others are placed into a food processing machine, in which they are ground into a fine powder. This powder will be sold as “cricket flour” and is intended to be used as a nutritious supplement to regular flour. The flour can also be used in smoothies and protein shakes.

Investments and Impact

Entomo’s production network is quite vast: they ship their crickets around the world, to locations like South Africa and Australia. In addition, they are currently working on getting more of their products into large supermarkets. All of this points to massive growth in the near future – in fact, the entire insect production industry is expected to undergo a 24 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) increase from 2019 to 2030.

As a result, Entomo recently received a large investment from Canadian food company Maple Leaf Farms. When asked about the transaction, Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in a statement that his company “sees a long-term role in this form of protein delivery, both for animal and human consumption”. This investment bodes well for both companies, as production will be able to be scaled, and profits will likely increase. Once this occurs, Entomo Farms’ products will be able to make their way into the homes of the world’s poor, providing individuals and families alike with key nutrients.

Changing the World

Cricket production holds immense potential in changing how developing world eats. The protein and vitamins in the roasted crickets and cricket powder provide a nutritious boost to meals that many individuals in poverty sorely need. In addition, the environmentally friendly nature of cricket production is quite promising. Everything said, there is no doubt that Entomo Farms is changing the world for the better.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Refugee Food AssistanceFor more than 60 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development has upheld its commitment to end global poverty, providing desperately needed refugee food assistance today. USAID works in more than 100 countries. It primarily provides humanitarian assistance, promotes global health and supports global stability. All around the world, more than 25 million people face refugee crises. And among these 25 million people, more than half are young children.

Food Assistance

USAID assists refugees by providing emergency refugee food assistance to 25 countries. In particular, USAID’s food assistance reaches Lebanon, Jordan, Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and Bangladesh. One of the world’s biggest refugee camps lies in the southeastern corner of Bangladesh, in Cox’s Bazar. There, an estimated 868,000 Rohingya refugees seek safe haven. In order to escape western Myanmar, refugees must travel on foot through forests and turbulent waters. Often times, refugees do not have enough food for the trip and witness the deaths of loved ones. By the end of this journey, many refugees have nowhere to live and no source of living. Fortunately, USAID’s programs offer assistance.

Furthermore, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and the United Nations’ World Food Programme partnered to assist those seeking peace, who lack a home and food. USAID and WFP provide packs of high-energy biscuits as meal replacements for arriving refugees. Moreover, USAID gives WFP resources to buy rice from Bangladesh’s national rice reserve. However, it takes time to distribute food to refugee camps. USAID even supports CARE International, which provides U.S. imported food to Cox’s Bazar.

Relief Tactics

Altogether, USAID programs lay out plans for permanent and stable recoveries using four types of relief tactics. Firstly, USAID provides locally and regionally purchased food, which is more quickly accessible than imported food. Secondly, if local food is unavailable, USAID provides U.S.-grown food. Thirdly, if imported food distorts local prices, USAID offers paper or electronic food vouchers. These vouchers allow refugees to purchase local food and support local communities. Fourthly, if more flexible solutions are required, USAID supplies cash, mobile or debit card transfers.

Beyond relief tactics, USAID helps improve global stability. Every year, USAID assists more than 40 to 50 million people worldwide with emergency food assistance. In 2018 alone, USAID gave more than $690 million to help refugees around the world. Overall, numerous countries benefit from USAID. By providing refugee food assistance, USAID plays a huge role in helping millions living in extreme poverty.

Fita Mesui
Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture techniques are the key to successful development Sustainable agriculture techniques increase the profitability and health of farmlands. The easiest sustainable agriculture techniques are crop rotation and reduced usage of pesticides. This is because the quality of the soil is key to the health of plants and consequently people. Sustainable agriculture techniques are the key to the successful and sustainable development of economies around the world. It can benefit both small and large economies.

According to the UN, agriculture is the largest employer in the world. The industry provides employment to 40 percent of the world’s population. However, on average 1 in 4 children suffer from stunted growth around the world due to undernourishment. In fact, poor nutrition kills up to 3.1 million children each year. People in the developing world are more likely to be affected by malnutrition due to food insecurity.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a sustainable agricultural technique that is both easy to explain but difficult to understand. To fully grasp how it works and understand its benefits, one must understand soil composition. According to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an average soil composition is 45 percent minerals, 20-30 percent air, 20-30 percent water and 5 percent organic material. Water helps to hydrate the plant and circulate the minerals and organic material that feed the plant. Air allows room for the seeds to grow when planted.

Crop rotation involves planting different crops during different seasons every year. Crops such as corn or wheat are nitrogen-demanding and pull much of it from the soil. If they are planted year after year, they drain the soil of its fertility. Therefore, in the following year it is important to plant crops such as legumes. They demand less nitrogen and sometimes even help replace the lost nitrogen. The process continues depending on the farm’s specific soil composition. The time at which different crops are planted may be different for each farm.

Reduce Usage of Pesticides

One might be tempted to say that fertilizers and pesticides are necessary as they are used to increase crop yield. But heavy use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers increases water pollution which can harm humans and other animals and plants. It can also degrade the soil quality over time.

A sustainable farming technique that can be used to reduce a farm’s reliance on pesticides is to stop using pesticides altogether. A study published in a peer-reviewed journal, Nature Plants, claims that in 77 percent of the farms investigated, there was no correlation between increased profitability and high pesticide usage. They estimate that many farms could reduce their pesticide usage by 42 percent and see no difference in their crop yield. Pesticides are not only harmful but are also expensive; reducing use of pesticides can help save money. With so much of the world’s population relying on agriculture as their main source of income, every little bit of money saved counts.

Farmer Field School Approach

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations began a program in 1989 called Farmer Field School Approach. This program has been developing with practice and continued implementation. It has helped educate over 180,000 farmers in East Africa alone about the benefits of sustainable agricultural techniques and how to implement it on their farms.

Farmers who participate in these classes then go on to educate their neighbors. This is where the real impact happens. It has resulted in more sustainable farms. In the end, sustainable agriculture techniques lead to healthier farms, healthier people and a healthier economy.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

 

High-Tech Solution to PovertyElectric-powered food: it sounds too good to be true. And for now, it probably is. But, according to Business Insider, Finnish scientists with the Food From Electricity project earlier this year synthesized a nutrient-rich protein using only water, electricity, carbon dioxide and microbes. The high-tech solution to poverty is reportedly nutritious enough to serve as a meal, being 50 percent (or more) protein and 25 percent carbohydrates. It is a promising step, but the process must be much more efficient before it can be adopted on a grand scale.

This research is the result of a collaboration between the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). VTT scientist Juha-Pekka Pitkänen has affirmed that, in practice, “all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine.” As this method does not require a location with the appropriate temperatures or soil type for agriculture, desert conditions will have no effect on its viability.

Business Insider theorizes two possible ways the technology might be used: to provide food for starving people in areas inhospitable to traditional agriculture and to reduce the demand for food livestock and the crops necessary to sustain it.

The second manner of use would bring down global emissions of greenhouse gases, a large portion of which the livestock industry is directly responsible for. Studies show that poorer countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, not least because they lack the financial means to combat those effects. Poorer nations are disproportionately in low-lying areas vulnerable to sea level rises. The nation of Kiribati, spread out over many island reefs and atolls in the Pacific, is a good example of a place already wrestling with less fertile soil and frequent flooding.

As a high-tech solution to poverty, food from electricity has a long way to go. LUT reports that producing one gram of protein in this manner currently takes about two weeks. As researchers model and adjust the process to allow the microbes to grow better, the hope is that the total time required will be reduced. At the same time, researchers want to produce larger quantities of the protein so as to pilot a commercialization effort and eventually develop the process into a compact product for mass production and distribution.

Aside from addressing general poverty, food from electricity has the rare potential to address climate change from both sides of the equation, tackling it at its source while mitigating its impoverishing effects. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops in the future.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Google

Climate Change A military coup has worsened Mali’s national security, amplifying the impact climate change has had on the country and its people. Conflict erupted in northern Mali in 2012. The violence of the proceeding five years has since destroyed the nation’s land, diminishing the abilities local farmers have to grow vegetation.

Since 2012, Mali has witnessed a wave of poor harvests, pushing a food crisis upon the country. Hostile physical and environmental circumstances have forced about 475,000 people from their homes to neighboring countries, and those who remain in Mali face food shortages and security threats. With 25 percent of families moderately to severely food insecure, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) estimates that 270,000 people face starvation.

Two thirds of Mali is a desert or semi-desert that experiences long yearly periods of drought. Furthermore, the Sahara Desert is expanding southward at a rate of 48 km per year. Climate change has significantly decreased the amount of rainfall, dropping by 30 percent since 1998. Consequently, Mali is also suffering from water scarcity. Only three-fifths of Malians have access to safe drinking water and only about one-third have proper sanitation.

The water shortage has weakened Mali’s agricultural activities, taking an immense toll on its citizens. Agriculture employs 90 percent of the country’s rural population and 70 per cent of Mali’s entire labor force. Cotton, gold and livestock make up 80 to 90 percent of total export earnings.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working on generating food security, particularly between harvests. The organization built a total of 3,966 environmental assets such as ponds, dams, and canals to help alleviate Mali’s lack of water. Technical and economic assistance have been provided for local farmers, broadening Mali’s market and strengthening the agricultural sector.  WFP has also begun providing nutrition support for pregnant women, nursing mothers, underweight children and children under five suffering from chronic and moderate-to-acute malnutrition. Further assistance from organizations like WFP is necessary to lift Mali‘s people from the harsh grips of military conflict and climate change.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Google

Hunger in Guernsey
The small island of Guernsey, tucked away in the English channel, has an economy built on financial services, tourism and agriculture. However, with a decline in manufacturing and horticulture, the island has to rely on the financial services.

With 87 percent of the economy coming from services, the unemployment has remained at 1.2 percent, with an accompanying unknown percentage of those living below the poverty line. Due to other unknown data, there is no current percentage of those living in hunger in Guernsey.

Further, in 2011, it was reported that for Guernsey residents to maintain a minimum standard of living, residents need a 20-30 percent higher income, and this rises to 40 percent for older residents. The same goes for necessities such as electricity. Guernsey natives could spend upwards of $240 a month on garbage, water, heating and electricity alone for an 85-square-meter apartment. Even with a milder climate, natives still spend approximately 36 percent more on food and drink than U.K. residents.

However, even with higher costs on food, due to the decline in agriculture, residents are still able to maintain a sufficient lifestyle, and there have been no recent reports of a spike in hunger rates, depth of hunger or malnutrition prevalence.

Although there is no current data on the number of those living in hunger in Guernsey, with the economy supported by financial services and the island’s continued ability to send aid to countries in need like South Sudan, it can be inferred that hunger in Guernsey is not an immediate or existing problem.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Pixabay


Iceland, a small island nation located in the North Atlantic northwest of the United Kingdom, went bankrupt in 2008 when global financial markets collapsed. Since then, the economy has recovered, but many factors affect its food-related economy. Here are 10 impacts on food and hunger in Iceland.

  1. Natural disasters have a tremendous impact on Iceland’s food security. As a result of the April 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, for instance, hundreds of acres of local farmland were coated in four inches of ash.
  2. Food poverty among Icelandic children, measured by the inability to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish or a vegetable equivalent every second day, was 6 percent in 2012.
  3. Depth of hunger is measured by the energy deficit in undernourished people using kilocalories. In Somalia, for example, the deficit is 490 kilocalories a day. In Iceland, the deficit is 130 kilocalories a day.
  4. High global food prices and the devaluation of Iceland’s currency following its bankruptcy weakened food security.
  5. Fears that the European Union would negatively impact food security in Iceland is among the reasons it dropped its bid to join. Among those who lobbied hardest against joining the EU were Iceland’s farmers, who used “food security” terminology to accentuate the need for more local food production.
  6. Though fishing accounts for 40 percent of its exports, Iceland produces just half of its people’s nutritional needs and relies on imports.
  7. After declaring sovereign bankruptcy in 2008, Iceland turned to its fishing industry to help it recover. Unfortunately, the price of fish fell 40 percent in some markets due to the global recession.
  8. Most of Europe has over-fished local waters, but not Iceland. It has an abundant supply. Unfortunately, fishing companies that had invested in domestic banking are now heavily in debt. What’s worse, recession in important markets weakened demand.
  9. The success of Iceland’s economy is heavily dependent upon other economies. That, coupled with its relative isolation, means that food shortages could result from disruptions in importing or exporting.
  10. Icelandic households are unprepared for food shortages. A 2011 survey indicated that most have a supply that would last for just a week. The situation is not much better for food suppliers. Their stores would be depleted in less than a month.

As these impacts on food and hunger in Iceland indicate, food poverty is not only a problem in the developing world, and it continues to have a disproportionate impact on children. In addition, even countries with plenty of food to export can be dependent on food imports and what it takes to produce food. What may be more, when talking about impacts on food and hunger in Iceland, is the effect of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions.

Laurie Gold

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Brazil
The cost of living in any country is a direct result of inflation and the economy. As of June 2017, $1 USD is equivalent to 3.31 Brazilian real. The cost of living in Brazil does not seem to be high for everyday products such as fruit, bread and eggs when compared to prices in the United States. The costs tend to differ more when it comes to mortgage rates, and gasoline and other imports.

Brazilian cities were more expensive in 2011 than cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Berlin, Miami, Abu Dhabi and Luxembourg. The inflation rate was 6.5 percent, while the rate in the U.S. was 3 percent. The real should have become cheaper, not more expensive. This caused the cost of living in Brazil to rise.

By 2016, the economic situation had not changed much. Brazil, which had been the fifth-largest world economy when it won the Olympics, dropped to the ninth-largest economy after a significant decline in its gross domestic project. It went into its worst recession since the 1930s.

High taxes, poor infrastructure and low labor productivity have contributed to what is known as “Custo Brasil” (“Brazil cost” in English)­­– which refers to the increased costs associated with doing business in Brazil. It is likely that these costs directly impact the cost of living in Brazil.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was expected to add to the economy while bringing Brazil out of the recession. With an influx of tourist’s spending money, the demand and supply for products should have increased.

More than 400,000 tourists came in for the Olympics and spent about 425 real per day; those 760,000 Brazilians who attended spent an average of 310 real per day. In total, the Olympics generated over $100 million USD in tourism revenue alone, based on the exchange rate as of August 2016.

Although the total amount of revenue generated remains unknown, companies spent more for the 2016 Rio Olympics than they did in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. Between the revenue from tourism and sponsors, Brazil’s official inflation rate ended 2016 at its lowest level since 2013.

The central bank expects the cost of living to decelerate, with significant decreases having already occurred in the past few months. Brazil is expected to end 2017 with inflation below its target for the first time since 2009.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Panama
Known for its 48-mile canal connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean, Panama receives over a million visitors each year. Panama’s beautiful beaches, ecotourism and international festivals can seduce many tourists into making Panama their home rather than a vacation spot. For those who entertain the thought of Panama as their permanent home, it is important to know the cost of living in Panama as well as what it’s like to live there.

Panama has a relatively low cost of living, which can range from $1,120 to $8,000 per month for two people, while the average middle-class salary in Panama is estimated at $1,200 per month. These costs fluctuate depending on what region or city you are going to be living in Panama.

The unemployment rate in Panama is 4.5 percent. The labor force in Panama is made up of 1.78 million people; a large majority of the population works in services while the rest works in agriculture and industry. The standard work week in Panama is 48 hours, which is 8 hours more than a full-time work week here in the United States.

While the cost of living in Panama is low, migrants should know much more about Panama before making the decision to move there. For example, while Panama’s crime rate compared to other Central American countries is relatively low; however, it is still high compared to most of the United States. Panama, Colon, Herrera and Chiriqui are among the provinces with the largest cities which had the highest overall crime rate. There has been a pattern of decreasing crime in Panama. Homicide, armed robberies and petty theft rates have all continuously fallen.

Moving from the United States to Panama may come as a huge shock when you realize that Panama’s population is only four million. Approximately one-third of Panama’s population lives in Panama City or the immediate area around it. Panama City is packed with nightlife, shopping areas. The rest of the areas in Panama provide a quiet and relaxed life which provides quicker access to Panama’s nature.

There are many things to consider and know about Panama before turning your yearly vacation into a forever home. While Panama may be very appealing to the eye and its beautiful attractions may coerce someone into a quick move, the cost of living in Panama may be a deciding factor.

Danyel Harrigan

Photo: Flickr