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Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is seeing an uptick in development with projects planned in numerous sectors across the country. Recognized as one of West Africa’s least developed nations, Burkina Faso has been plagued in recent years by droughts and military coups.

Primarily known as a hub for gold reserves, Burkina Faso has become attractive to investment in recent years by private sector companies contributing to the enhanced forms of solar power, cotton and other agro-economic development poles. The investment announced in recent weeks comes from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has decided to invest approximately $910 million in Burkina Faso over the next five years.

The project, targeted towards the power and agricultural sectors, has been praised by numerous high-level politicians, who claim that such an investment would reap large profits and be beneficial towards the Country Strategy Document (DSP).

The Burkinabe government elaborated on the collaboration between both parties by stating that such an agreement is designed to “reduce the large disparity between urban and rural regions in relation to the power sector, through improving electrical appliances, as well as supporting the agricultural sector in order to reduce poverty in rural areas”.

Other models of development have taken different forms in terms of education outreach in order to target children who lack the appropriate resources in school. The company, Longhorn Publishers, which is promoting its digital publications across the continent, is mainly targeting primary school computerization programs.

Such investments are critical for the progression in the economic situation in Burkina Faso. The approach towards refinement in both the agricultural and power sectors aims at reducing inequalities. With the increasing engagement in both the public and private sectors, the government will also look towards community-based self-help programs that will be working towards reducing global poverty.

Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Funding and Support Key to Fighting Hunger in GrenadaThe Caribbean Island of Grenada, also known as the Spice Island, is one of the smallest independent countries in the Western Hemisphere. As its name suggests, it is the world’s second-largest producer of nutmeg and also a significant producer of mace, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Hunger in Grenada is a very real issue, with the depth of hunger being reported at 250 in 2008, measured in kilocalories per person per day. In addition to this, the Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) have reported that approximately 26 percent of the population in Grenada is undernourished. The FNS also provided information in the form of FNS Need Index Scores, which has more severe problems earning higher scores. They ranked access to food to be at 75, compared to the regional average of 43. The agricultural production gap ranked 44, compared to a regional average of 50 and vulnerability was ranked 59, compared to the regional average of 45.

Despite these figures being somewhat disconcerting, there are already means being undertaken to end hunger in Grenada. This is highlighted by the Hunger-Free Initiative in Grenada by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO). The project is a follow-up to the aforementioned FNS report and its goal is to develop and implement a Zero Hunger Challenge program. They aim to accomplish this by ensuring synergies and partnerships with stakeholders, governmental institutions and donors and by facilitating coordination with other projects, programs and activities from the FAO, the government and other partner agencies.

Another way to help is by increasing funding for the FNS and other relief groups. The amount that is publicly invested into FNS aid equates to $80 per rural capita, with the national average being $134. The sources of funding come completely in the form of public investment, with none being the result of private investors.

By supporting relief organizations like the FAO and the FNS, as well as increasing funding, we can help end the fight against hunger in Grenada. The changes have already led to Ghana becoming the first Sub-Saharan African country to cut the number of people who suffer from hunger in half, which provides a successful model for making the same changes in Grenada.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced the names of some Grand Challenges Explorations Round 18 grant winners. Researchers from all over the world received $100,000 to develop ideas that can change the world. Out of four categories, one such idea is the Design New Solutions to Data Integration for Malaria Elimination. Among the recipients for this category is Dr. Helder Nakaya and his malaria GPS mapping idea.

Dr. Nakaya holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and is an expert in systems vaccinology. His lab uses computational systems biology to study the root of infectious diseases. Additionally, he works as both an assistant professor at the University of São Paulo’s School of Pharmaceutical Science and as an adjunct professor at the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology.

His idea is to extract the location history file on mobile phones to determine the geographic location of infection along with if the area is a breeding site for malaria. While it’s standard for doctors to ask patients to retrace their steps, the mosquito bite could’ve occurred at any point between 10-15 days prior to the symptoms appearing.

This information can easily slip the mind of anyone, especially for someone enduring the effects of malaria. However, the perfect recall of mobile devices proves extremely useful in fixing this human issue.

Security is a concern, but those fears are easily allayed. The file necessary for this project only tracks the phone’s physical location. Photos, texts, call logs, contacts and all other sensitive information is stored separately and will not be examined. Dr. Nakaya and his team assure patients that submitting the file is up to them and anonymous.

If the malaria GPS mapping project goes well, Dr. Nakaya and his team of scientists could receive up to $1 million dollars in additional funding. Other researchers hope to broaden the program to detect breeding grounds for other infectious diseases and viruses (such as Zika, chikungunya and dengue).

Another possible scenario is that Dr. Nakaya develops an app that updates in real time. It could help citizens navigate around hotspots and let city halls know where to disperse public agents to deal with the breeding grounds. In other words, this idea could (again) revolutionize the healthcare industry.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr

5 Things That Will Happen When The US Cuts Funding to the UNFPA
In the late afternoon of Apr. 3 2017, the U.S. Department of State announced that it would end funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The international agency is focused on child health, family planning, maternal health and maternal mortality rates in more than 150 countries. Its mission statement states that it aims to ensure every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

A statement by the Department of State, dated April 4, said it was withholding $32.5 million in funding for the fiscal year 2017 because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” U.N. officials have warned the U.S. that cutting funding for this particular agency could cause catastrophe. Here are five things that could happen when the U.S. completely removes itself from funding the UNFPA.

  1. Less Protection Preventing Delivery-related Deaths
    The only maternity ward for pregnant Syrian refugee women who have crossed the border into Jordan, at the Za’atari Refugee Camp, is funded by the UNFPA. U.S. funding supports half of that clinic’s budget, meaning that when the U.S. cuts funding to the UNFPA, the maternity ward may no longer be able to support as many women. It might even lose children, something that has never happened before in this ward.
  2. Less Funding towards the AIDS Information Center
    Joshua Wamboga, executive director of Uganda Network of Aids Service Organization, said UNFPA has been directly funding the activities of the Aids Information Center. He warned that when the U.S. cuts funding to the UNFPA, a number of activities run by AIC will stall. This will put many vulnerable Ugandan lives at risk.
  3. Defunding Sexual Education Programs
    UNFPA also funds a group called Abriendo Oportunidades. UNFPA gave the organization a $100,000 grant in 2004 to open. The organization hires young indigenous women in rural areas, training them to become mentors who teach girls aged eight to 18 about their bodies and sexual and reproductive rights. In the communities that these women teach, menstruation is thought to be a sign of illness or impending death. The organization has reached 14,000 girls in hundreds of Guatemalan communities.

  4. Cut in Funding Programs Designed to Encourage Female Access to Education
    In 2012, the cost per girl per hour of education was $1.02. When the U.S. cuts funding to the UNFPA, it will have an immediate effect on this organization’s reach and efficiency and will make it so that Abriendo Oportunidades will need to significantly reduce its implementation or seek supplemental funding in a disadvantaged environment.The UNFPA provides aid for more than 150 countries, most of which do not receive direct aid from the U.S. Reduction in its budget will translate to fewer resources for country-level programming, which in turn will not only restrict further progress in these areas but could cause countries to lose their momentum and jeopardize the achievements made so far.
  5. Possible Reduction in Life-saving Birthing Kits
    The UNFPA has saved countless lives with birthing kits given to women in emergency situations. These include a clean tarp to lay down on, a clean tool to cut the umbilical cord and simple, basic supplies that reduce the risk of infections that can kill. When the U.S. cuts funding to the UNFPA, the production and assembly of these kits will decrease, putting many children and their mothers at risk. These kits have decreased maternal mortality rates.

Although most of the effects of the U.S. cutting funding from the UNFPA are negative, the UNFPA plans to continue with most of its programs. It has programs in more than 80 countries focused on equality and women’s rights that will continue to teach young boys and their fathers. It has investments going to midwifery that will yield a 16-fold return on investment. UNFPA teaches political leaders worldwide that sex education is important in their countries. And although the U.S. cut funding to UNFPA, the rest of the U.N. did not, and the U.N. will continue to fund one of its most important programs.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr


The Trump administration released its proposed 2018 federal budget on Thursday, March 16th, outlining significant cuts to U.N. funding and to the State Department.

The announcement of the 2018 federal budget comes just after the U.N. announced that the world is facing “the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, with 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria facing starvation and famine.” The proposed budget cuts would have a large impact on foreign aid and U.N. programs, which in turn would have a significant impact of the current crisis. The U.S. contributes more to the U.N. than any other country. The proposed cuts would reduce the $10 billion annual U.N. budget by nearly half.

While military and defense funding would rise under the 2018 budget, the State Department and USAID funding would decrease by 29 percent. This readjustment of the State Department’s budget would require the U.S. to refocus “economic and development aid to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the U.S.,” which will inevitably have a huge impact on many across the globe.

Many people within the Trump administration have spoken about the U.S. spending too much money on people elsewhere in the world, and the proposed budget is putting America first. These cuts would reduce development banks like the World Bank, reduce educational and cultural exchange programs, and get rid of prevention programs for climate change such as the Global Climate Change Initiative and the U.N. Green Climate Fund.

Cuts to U.N. funding could be detrimental to the environment, global poverty, and the variety of other programs that the U.N. coordinates. Rosiland Jordan, Al Jazeera U.N. correspondent, said, “Diplomats are telling us that there’s no single other country or even group of countries that could make up for the shortfall.”

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Rural Indian Farmers British Asian TrustPrince Charles is not only royalty, he is also the founder and president of the British Asian Trust (BAT). And on Feb. 3, 2016, he announced a new fund designed to improve the lives of small Indian farmers at the BAT’s annual fundraising gala in London.

Like many farmers in developing countries, rural Indian farmers are caught in a poverty trap. They make just enough money to survive but not enough money to invest in productivity-raising methods and equipment. Without access to affordable loans, they are unable to improve their lives for themselves and their families.

Prince Charles understands their plight and hopes to reverse their situation. At the gala, he said, “These smaller holder farmers often realize only a small proportion of the value of their products and can get caught in a poverty trap with no obvious way out. By making real inroads into helping the [agricultural] sector upscale, the fund will increase productivity in a sustainable way and make a staggering difference to so many lives.”

According to a 2012-2013 Report on Employment and Unemployment Survey by the Indian government, the majority of rural Indian households rely on agriculture as their means of employment. Furthermore, nearly half are self-employed. By giving them the means to invest in themselves, Prince Charles hopes he can change the face of poverty in the Indian countryside.

History provides a reason to be optimistic about Prince Charles’ goals. Prior to the 1980s, Chinese farmers were also caught in a poverty trap. By privatizing collective farms and encouraging an open market, Chinese farmers could make more money than they needed to feed themselves. They invested this extra money into increasing their agricultural productivity. Little by little, the Chinese economy grew and then exploded into the powerhouse economy of China today.

The BAT also announced another fund dedicated to skills training in Pakistan. This will be its “largest-ever fund” — and the BAT will work alongside the Aman Foundation to bring knowledge and skills to the country’s most disadvantaged people.

To raise money for this project and for South Asian communities in general, the BAT will also begin a public fundraising drive with the UK Department for International Development (DiFD). The goal is to raise £3 million and the DiFD will match donations given by the public.

This will be the first time that the British Asian Trust appeals to the public on a national basis. While the BAT has raised millions for South Asian nations over the last nine years, all proceeds have come from private and corporate donations. At this year’s gala, for example, over £900,000 was raised for charity. Numerous celebrities attended, including British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Prince Charles and his British Asian Trust have ambitious plans for the year, such as starting a new fund in India, a new fund in Pakistan and its first-ever public fundraising drive. If they succeed, they’ll bring Indian farmers out of poverty, give Pakistani people much-needed skills and raise money and awareness for South Asia’s most vulnerable.

Dennis Sawyers

Sources: Government of India, Ministry of Labor and Employment, International Business Times, NDTV
Photo: Wikimedia

school2
A proper education is often regarded as the gateway to success and esteem, particularly for impoverished students who lack close social connections with esteemed individuals or a family legacy of wealth to fall back on. However, achieving a proper education necessitates educational facilities to provide adequate funding and a successful allocation of resources to students. Oftentimes, the communities that need adequate educational institutions the most are the very same communities that are most deficient in them.

As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the United States’ Department of Education has allocated a total budget of $24.8 billion for the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 5.7 percent of its GNP. However, accounting for pensions and service costs, the actual operating budget is $19.8 billion. The operating budget must pay for standardized tests, transportation, safety, school meals, supplies, and school utilities, just to name a few conditions necessary to maintain an educational institution.

On the other hand, Kenya allocated approximately 6.7 percent of its GNP on education in 2010. Although this percentage ranks higher than the percentage of GNP that the U.S. puts forth towards education, Kenya still retains a lower GNP and thus provides less overall educational funds. This inadequacy in resources has significant implications on the number of Kenyans who are able to achieve an adequate education.

For instance, in the U.S., roughly 75 percent of the population, the highest percentage within the last four decades, graduates from high school. In contrast, a whopping 60 percent of residents are unable to attend secondary school, perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy and reliance. Although the dropout rate is high for all Kenyans, it disproportionately affects young girls who are trapped into early marriages and motherhood. Oftentimes, Kenyan children are unable to pay school tuition, which includes covering the cost of supplies and uniforms, and are forced to stay home to support their family.

Furthermore, in Kenya, the majority of educational funds, approximately 80 percent are given towards tertiary education, which typically only individuals from more-advantaged backgrounds are able to achieve in the first place. There is great speculation that the Kenyan education system may be improved by shifting the allocation of funds towards lower-tier education enabling less advantaged students to obtain an adequate education and break through poverty. Unless resources are not only expanded but also allocated properly, this discrepancy in educational achievement will continue to exist not only in Kenya but worldwide.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: NYC Department of Education, Global Education Fund, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Nation Master
Photo: Vintage 3D

Cote-d'Ivoire-cashew-smuggling
For arable countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the money made on agricultural exports is often invaluable. It can strengthen a government’s budget, benefit farmers who harvest the crops, and improve the overall the standard of living. When this source of money is removed, however, development can slow down for lack of funds.

In Cote d’Ivoire, the increasing importance of cashew exports is undermined by rampant smuggling. A United Nations panel estimated that in 2011, 150,000 tons of cashews were smuggled from Côte d’Ivoire, a trend that is unlikely to change unless foreign purchasers of the nuts crack down on smuggling practices.

Why do Ivorian cashew farmers smuggle cashews? Farmers are often unable to find desirable export prices on raw, unprocessed cashews, and instead sell to neighboring Ghana. Cashews are usually smuggled alongside cocoa, cotton, and coffee on an elaborate smuggling route through the northern and southern borders.

The export loss is staggering. The U.N. estimated that in 2011 alone Côte d’Ivoire lost US $130 million from its national economy and $3 million in fiscal revenue. The U.N. Panel asserted that the money gained from smuggling practices may be used by groups to purchase weaponry illegally, and stated that it was aware that the smuggling of cocoa to Ghana was in a number of cases escorted directly by Ivorian military forces.

Economists pinpoint the reason for low export prices as the low processing capacity for the six main nut processing factories. Less than one percent of the country’s cashews are processed, meaning shelled and sometimes roasted, in-country. Raw cashews net a lower market price. When farmers are unable to legally export their crop for the price they want, they turn to buyers in Ghana. Ultimately, this practice widens the funding gap for Ivorian infrastructure and development projects, growing obstacles to a more stable economy. Ultimately, for this country plagued with political instability and an unstable economy, the revenue created by legal cashew exports could help the country address its biggest challenges.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: African Development Bank Group, IRIN News, IRIN News
Photo: Jerry’s Nut House

London Hunger Summit
The London Hunger Summit this year encouraged global leaders to take a stand on global hunger and poverty and make a difference. As a result, by the end of the day $4 billion of funding had been secured to go towards ending hunger and malnutrition across the world. The Summit was a global accomplishment, with donations coming from businesses, governments, charities, and foundations in many countries.

The money will be distributed to several different causes, and some countries specified where they would like their donations to be spent. For example, Australia asked that their $40 million donation go towards improving nutrition in the Pacific Ocean area, and the British company Del Agua’s $670 million donation will be spent throughout the following years on providing clean drinking water in Rwanda.

However, even though raising $4 billion is a huge accomplishment, the U.K. can still improve to do even more for the world’s poor by more closely monitoring donations to determine where they are most needed. Some donors are not as transparent as they should be when they give back, so the U.K. doesn’t have the best data to learn where those donations are going and how much is actually making it to the people who need help. By monitoring how much money is given and which areas are receiving the help, the U.K. can decide which areas still need assistance, therefore maximizing efficiency and helping the most people possible.

Katie Brockman

Source Huffington Post, The Guardian

millenium-development-goals-value
Not all of them will be met, but that does not mean that they have not been effective. The deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire at the end of this year, and certain goals, like universal primary education and reducing maternal mortality by 75%, won’t be achieved. But the progress towards these goals is undeniable, and, while it may be hard to quantify, these gains likely would not have occurred without the MDGs.

The goals have effectively highlighted certain issues. The U.N.’s developmental outline was embraced by a multitude of countries upon its release in September of 2011. As such, it has been a focus of the international policy and development strategies of many countries, as well as providing a yardstick against which to measure progress.

While progress can be attributed to many diverse factors, including individual countries’ economic growth or political stability, one area where the impact of the MDGs is clearly perceptible is in foreign aid. Global aid reached $128 billion in 2009, twice that of a decade earlier. The majority of that aid is going to the world’s poorest countries, particularly for organizations including the Global Health Initiative, the Global Climate Initiative, and Feed the Future.

These initiatives, as well as all other aid and funding aimed at reaching the Millennium Goals, have already reached millions of people globally. And already in the works is a framework for a new set of development goals, to supplant the current MDG’s. For the long term, the impact of the Millennium Development Goals has only just begun.

– David Wilson

Sources: Christian Science Monitor
Photo: Oxfam