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Poverty in Mexico

Poverty in Mexico, and crime as a result of that poverty, are well-known problems. In Mexico, there is a rising level of violence as well as stagnant wages and declining purchasing power.

In 2014, 53.2 percent of the country lived below the national poverty line by the broadest measure of poverty. This means they lack sufficient income to meet basic needs including food, health, education, clothes, housing, transport and more.

On average, Mexican laborers worked a total of 2,246 hours in 2015, the most of the 35 members countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, those workers earned on average a total of only $14,867, the lowest in the OECD.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Mexico received $338 million in aid that was broadly classified as economic development and military assistance in 2015.

The amount of foreign aid to Mexico varies each year but it has been about 0.7 percent of overall U.S. foreign aid since 2010. Overall foreign aid represents about 1 percent of the federal budget.

There are several initiatives that address poverty and seek to help those living in poverty in Mexico. Three organizations running initiatives like these are:

  1. Freedom from Hunger
  2. Un Techo para mi País (TECHO)
  3. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Freedom from Hunger

Freedom from Hunger uses microfinance as a self-assist support tool to help the poor reduce the day-to-day uncertainties of cash management. It also promotes the delivery of integrated financial services to increase economic and food security of the poor in Mexico and Central America, especially for women and girls.

Freedom from Hunger also developed and promoted “value-added” or “integrated” microfinance programs that pair financial services with education and health protection.

The education programs engage women during microfinance meetings with practical skills to promote better health, nutrition, business and money management through the use of dialogue, story, song, demonstrations and pictures.

The organization has six specially designed e-learning courses to build the skills of microfinance institutions and to create a frontline group who can provide better financial training to their clients.

TECHO

TECHO is a youth led non-profit organization present in Latin America and the Caribbean. They seek to overcome poverty in slums through the collaborative work of youth volunteers with families living in extreme poverty in Mexico.

TECHO aims to have society as a whole recognize poverty as a priority and actively work toward overcoming it, doing so through three strategic objectives:

  1. The promotion of community development in slums to drive thousands of families to generate solutions to their own problems. 
  2. Social awareness and action, with emphasis on having committed volunteers and involving different social entities.
  3. Political advocacy that promotes structural changes to decrease poverty. 

ECLAC

ECLAC, also known in Spanish as CEPAL, is a U.N. regional commission encouraging economic cooperation. It works toward economic, social and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also reinforces economic ties to other countries and nations around the world.

With efforts toward eliminating poverty in Mexico, there can be a pathway toward a stronger, flourishing country.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor and officially known as The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a sovereign state made up of a small cluster of islands in maritime Southeast Asia. After gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Timor-Leste struggled through a quarter of a century under occupation, mass conflict and United Nations transition before finally being granted full independence in 2002.

As a result of the struggle Timor-Leste faced while gaining independence, the country was left with little infrastructure, an unstable economy and widespread poverty. Due to the country’s high instability, Timor-Leste is one of the most malnourished countries in the world. This results in a lack of food security, lack of hygiene and sanitation and an increase in poverty.

Despite receiving an abundance of humanitarian and transition relief since gaining its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste is still considered one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. However, in the past five years, there has been a resurgence in the success of humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste. The main donor to Timor-Leste is the nation of Australia.

In 2014, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) began sending regular humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste. HART is a small aid organization originally founded by the United Kingdom but has since branched out into Australia and the United States. The aid organization focuses on working with communities in conflict zones, post-war zones or areas were people are exploited for cultural or political reasons.

On World Food Day 2014, HART released a detailed briefing on malnutrition and its consequences in Timor-Leste, such as high infant and child mortality rates. Shortly after releasing this briefing, HART worked with its partner, HAIM Health, to create programs and teaching centers to better educate the Timorese on proper nutrition. Programs focus on understanding nutrition, a balanced diet, preparing and cooking food and healthy sanitation practices. HAIM Health also follows up with the families enrolled in its education programs and has an 80 percent success rate of children gaining or sustaining weight.

Humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste does not stop with HART and HAIM Health. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian government signed the East Timor Strategic Planning Agreement for Development in 2011, which establishes a shared vision of economic stability and growth between Australia and Timor-Leste. Since the signing of this agreement, Timor-Leste has seen many improvements in its development and further success toward a stable economy. In 2017-18 alone, Australia is expected to give approximately $96 million in humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste.

Thanks to Australia’s humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste, the Timorese have already seen positive results, including more than 40,000 people being provided the education and skill set needed to join the growing workforce. Also, over 21 thousand people now have access to clean water and hygiene programs and over 90 percent of primary schools now have a new and innovative curriculum, geared toward giving the students the skills they need to succeed.

Despite these improvements from humanitarian aid to Timor-Leste, the country still has a lot of room for improvement. The poverty rate in 2014 was 41.8 percent, which is still very high. With this groundwork laid, the Timorese will be able to build a brighter and more stable future.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to JordanJordan is a Middle Eastern region tucked in between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan in many different ways.

  1. Foreign aid boosts American exports.
    USAID provides assistance for medium to small-scale enterprises, employing up to 75 percent of Jordan’s workforce. As a result of funding business development since 2006, tens of thousands of jobs have been created, yielding $1 billion in new investment. Since then, exports from Jordan to the U.S. have increased by almost $50 million.
  1. Trade with Jordan supports jobs in the U.S.
    The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan in a multitude of ways, but it also benefits from trade. Jordan currently ranks sixty-seventh among the largest U.S. trading partners. The U.S. and Jordan entered a Free Trade Agreement in 2001, eventually eliminating business tariffs for bilateral trade in goods and services, a huge benefit for U.S. companies. According to the latest data, U.S. exports of goods and services to Jordan supported an estimated 11,000 American jobs in the year 2015.
  1. Jordan is a peace broker in the Middle East.
    Nestled in the heart of the Arab Spring, Jordan is a voice for moderation, peace and reform in the Middle East, a region saturated with turmoil. Jordan’s central geographic position creates pressure on the Jordanian government for economic and democratic reform. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan by strengthening the Middle Eastern nation’s political and economic processes, which in turn counters terrorist groups such as ISIL and promotes the Middle East peace process.
  1. Jordan assists with the refugee crisis.
    Jordan is a haven for many Syrian and Iraqi refugees. U.S. aid supports a bilateral relationship by helping Jordan temporarily absorb over 635,000 Syrian refugees and 52,000 Iraqi refugees. The influx of refugees is a challenge for the Jordanian government, but with a strong agenda for political and economic reform, and with the help of U.S. aid, Jordan serves as a partner with the U.S. in addressing the Syrian refugee conflict.
  1. Foreign Aid increases American influence and interests.
    The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan because it helps boost international leadership. Foreign aid puts America on an influential level in international politics. When U.S. foreign aid is promoting a region, it boosts American interests. The Middle East faces a complex regional conflict, which affects American soil with terrorism and refugee crises. By contributing to humanitarian aid and development, American interests hold more power.

Assistance to the Middle East and North Africa has been a highly debated topic in the United States, particularly in the recent past with President Trump’s administration’s proposed 2018 budget cut targeting international aid. In truth, there are many ways the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan greatly.

– Alex Galante

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

humanitarian aid to Equatorial GuineaLocated in Central Africa, Equatorial Guinea is a small country that consists of the islands of Bioko and a mainland region where its largest city, Bata, resides. It has a population of about 1.2 million. Per capita, it is the richest country in Africa, with a GDP that ranks forty-third in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity.

However, this massive wealth is distributed unevenly, and while it may be one of the region’s most powerful oil producers, very few benefit from the oil riches. Its authoritarian government has a streak of terrible human rights abuses, such as human trafficking. Furthermore, because less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water, it often appears as if no significant changes are coming about from humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea.

However, this does not mean that there are no groups undertaking vast projects with hopes of improving the country. For example, in 2016 the African Development Bank Group approved a grant of $3.04 million to strengthen the economic connections of Central African countries. This project allowed the creation of a bridge over the Ntem river which will link Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. By reducing transport costs and times, it positively improves the economic ability and is a successful example of humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea.

Economic projects are a significant form of success in humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea. For example, in 2009 the African Development Bank Group signed a loan and grant agreement in the country worth up to $70 million. $40 million was used to finance a program to train young workers in middle and senior management in different regions.

With another $15 million, Equatorial Guinea supported the development of healthcare, which particularly benefited pregnant women and children under five years of age. By increasing productivity in all sectors, Equatorial Guinea hopes to improve economic growth which will hopefully improve human development and stability.

In 2006, another program, the Social Needs Fund, focused on addressing infrastructure for the poor. While resources may exist to alleviate poverty, there were few mechanisms to implement these resources. Funded by USAID, it assisted the government to improve social planning and investments, specifically for programs in the Ministry of Health, Education and Women’s Affairs. By focusing on different ministries, USAID was able to examine expenditures and monitor budgets to create more effective programs in each sector.

With continued efforts and foreign support, Equatorial Guinea continues to improve gradually. Development projects have helped push economic growth and have created a more stable and equal society in which the poor can navigate with greater ability.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian aid to Montenegro
Humanitarian aid to Montenegro has been extremely helpful to the country’s growth, thanks in part to assistance from the United States Embassy in Montenegro and organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme. The country of Montenegro continues to grow and progress in positive ways with the help of the United States Embassy, as well as organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

 

The Role of the U.S. Embassy

The United States Embassy in Montenegro has been essential in giving humanitarian aid to Montenegro in the following ways:

  • The U.S. Embassy opened the Education U.S.A. Center which offers support to all those who would like to study in the U.S. Currently more than 120 Montenegrin students are studying at U.S. universities.
  • Since 2006, the U.S. Embassy supported almost 130 projects worth nearly $1.9 million to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights and to strengthen civil society in Montenegro.
  • Over the past 10 years, almost 400 Montenegrins experienced U.S. culture through one of the nation’s professional or educational exchange programs.
  • More than 50 American companies operate in Montenegro. The U.S. interest in doing business in Montenegro is constantly on the rise, especially after Montenegro’s invitation to join the NATO Alliance.
  • The top six U.S. investors have invested over $300 million in Montenegro since its independence. An additional $300 million of investment is in the pipeline from U.S. companies operating in the tourism, telecommunications and energy sectors.

The UNDP has also provided, and continue to provide, crucial humanitarian aid to Montenegro that helps the country in their economy and in the betterment of the overall livelihood of the Montenegro people.

 

The United Nations Development Program

The UNDP has a few different humanitarian aid projects in Montenegro that have been a great benefit to the country. One of their projects supports anti-discrimination and gender equality policies. The purpose of the project is to contribute to the protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights and equal opportunities in Montenegro. So far, the project has empowered female members of parliamentary political parties through the advancement of their knowledge and skills in the areas of gender equality and women’s political activism. The effort has also provided trainings that “aim to enhance political engagement of women.”

 

Sustainability

Another UNDP project in Montenegro is geared towards strengthening sustainability of protected areas. That project’s purpose is to develop institutional capacities to design, plan and manage a more representative system of protected areas. The project has already accomplished a few of its goals such as designing an environmental information system for the Environmental Protection Agency of Montenegro, helping improve legal framework for functioning of National Parks by supporting amendments to the Law on National Parks and supporting the establishment of educational programmes in protected area management and rural development, with emphases on financial planning and management of protected areas.

 

The World Bank

The World Bank also deserves a worthy mention in its provision of humanitarian aid to Montenegro. Last year, the organization approved a $14 million loan to Montenegro for the country’s Revenue Administration Reform Project. The objective of that project is to improve the effectiveness of operational functions of Montenegro’s Tax Administration and to reduce the compliance costs for corporate taxpayers.

With the continued assistance from the U.S. Embassy as well as the UNDP and the World Bank, Montenegro will continue to positively progress.

– Kennisha L. Crawford

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to Cote d'IvoireCote d’Ivoire is known to be one of the more prosperous West African countries; its cocoa production and strong ties to France allow for widespread export and trade. However, as with many African nations, Cote d’Ivoire is also known for its recent political upheaval.

In the early 2000s, a military coup took place which resulted in Laurent Gbagbo obtaining office, instigating a civil war between government supporters and dissidents in the region. With this civil war beginning, Cote d’Ivoire’s import/export business faltered, and with the economic and political unrest in the region, the success of humanitarian aid to Cote d’Ivoire has yet to fully be understood.

In terms of positive outcomes, the most obvious success of humanitarian aid to Cote d’Ivoire is the recent completion of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the region. On June 30, 2017, the U.N. successfully removed peacekeeping forces from Cote d’Ivoire. According to a brief which took place on February 8, 2017, the U.N. considered the peacekeeping efforts an overwhelming success.

Included in the list of positive impacts the U.N. made in the region are revised legislative elections, a re-drafted constitution which improves the quality of life for women and children and a dramatic decrease in the amount of human rights violations taking place in the area. The U.N.’s peacekeeping efforts have truly worked to stabilize the country.

Another source of success in humanitarian aid to Cote d’Ivoire is the growth of nonprofit work in the region. In 2014 and 2015 Ebola broke out in West Africa. With the effects of political unrest still plaguing the country, aid and access to medical care and Ebola preventatives were hindered. The European Commission has addressed this issue by allocating more than €119 million to Cote d’Ivoire to aid in the recovery process after the disease swept the nation.

Similarly, the rate of maternal mortality in Cote d’Ivoire is cause for concern. According to the EC, there are several humanitarian projects working within the country, such as a hospital in the Tonkpi region offering more overarching services for new mothers and their children, including infant vaccinations, postpartum follow-ups and continued infant medical care, in an attempt to lower mortality rates.

The Partnership for Transition program through the EC has helped collect medical supplies to distribute to hospitals and clinics in Cote d’Ivoire. From 2012 to 2014, more than 26 cargo planes full of medical supplies flew to Cote d’Ivoire. In each plane were cesarean section kits, anesthesia kits and basic pharmaceutical supplies. These were distributed between 17 different regional clinics and have helped maintain the goal of free and accessible healthcare that the government desired.

The successes of humanitarian aid to Cote d’Ivoire that have been mentioned here do not even scratch the surface. Nonprofit organizations are helping to build food security, agricultural sustainability and civil services, and others within the nation are working to maintain a healthy and functioning government. While this aid will most likely remain necessary for the foreseeable future, Cote d’Ivoire has grown much more stable with the help of international humanitarian aid in both the social and the political arenas.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe
U.S. citizens share a common misconception in attitudes towards foreign aid. Contrary to popular belief, the United States government spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance. Of the countries receiving this less than 1 percent, Zimbabwe relies on the United States the most heavily as its number one foreign aid provider.

With improvements in HIV/AIDS prevention and economic growth, the benefits Zimbabwe reaps from foreign aid are more apparent than what the United States gets out of the deal. Oftentimes the successes in aid-receiving countries get the focus, but the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in different, less measurable ways.

 

Bilateral Economic Relations

For the fiscal year of 2018, the United States is targeted to provide almost $150 million in funds to Zimbabwe. Why provide so much money to a country navigating a rather turbulent period of governance and recovering from years of economic decline?

By providing funds to Zimbabwe, the United States is working to promote Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. This provides opportunities for trade and investments that will benefit the economies of both Zimbabwe and the United States. As Zimbabwe’s economy continues to grow and prosper with the funds the United States provides, business opportunities in Zimbabwe will open up and allow U.S. citizens to take advantage of those opportunities.

 

International Cooperation

In addition to benefiting economically, by providing funds, the United States promotes positive international relations and thus benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe. The United States and Zimbabwe are members of many of the same international organizations. Both countries are members of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

As the world enters an age of increased international interaction and communication, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe and many other countries by cultivating relationships with other international players.

 

National Security

From a national security standpoint, politically and economically stable countries are less likely to go to war or engage in any type of international conflict. Military leaders have seen firsthand how addressing poverty and disease in countries benefits the United States.

Zimbabwe is currently in an uncertain political period. In November 2017, Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years in office. After a week of military occupation, Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power and is serving as president until elections in August 2018.

The United States hopes to allocate its 2018 funds to programs that advocate government transparency, enhance political participation and create an active civil society. These sorts of programs have the potential to create a sense of political stability that contributes to the security of both citizens from Zimbabwe and the United States.

One of the critiques of foreign aid is that the U.S. sends money that is chewed up by corrupt governments. This is not the case. In Zimbabwe, the United States works directly with a variety of NGOs and community leaders.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in many different ways encompassed by a variety of sectors. The economy, international relations, and national security are all improved by providing foreign assistance.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: IRIN

https://borgenproject.org/poverty-angola-causes-updates-statistics/humanitarian aid to AngolaAngola is in southern Africa, bordered by Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. As of today, Angola continues to suffer from the repercussions of a civil war that lasted more than three decades. The local economy and the infrastructure are inadequate and unstable, and the majority of people residing in Angola live in poverty, with difficulty sustaining their livelihoods. Their difficulties also include malnutrition, illiteracy, high infant mortality rates and a lack of healthcare and quality education. This is why it is essential to ensure the success of humanitarian aid to Angola.

People in Need (PiN) is an organization that has been supporting Angola for more than 10 years. PiN is a Czech nonprofit and non-governmental group that provides humanitarian assistance through long-term development projects as well as educational and human rights programs. Their mission to help Angola began with setting up aid in Bié, which was one of the provinces most affected by the war and destitution.

In the early stages of PiN’s humanitarian aid to Angola, they focused on restoring and improving elementary education, while also working on developing agricultural markets in more rural areas to help crop production and economic development. The most important goal for PiN is to enable the people of Angola to provide for themselves and take control of their livelihoods.

In September 2017, PiN began working in Huambo and Huíla. The focus in these provinces was to address health issues involving mothers and children, water access, nutrition and sanitation. In doing all of this, PiN has helped upwards of 875,000 people living in Angola. This includes helping 37,000 children escape malnutrition, building 14 schools and four centers for education, developing over 10,000 toilets and providing training and tools for more than 3,000 farmers. They are able to do this so efficiently because PiN involves the communities in all of their projects and also works with local authorities in Angola.

Not only does PiN help with long-term aid, they also work with Angola in emergency situations. A specific example includes providing sanitation, hygiene and drinking water for citizens in the north, where over 33,000 people are seeking refuge from ongoing violence in the bordering country of Congo.

One of the most important goals that PiN has had is to help local children gain access to a quality education. In addition to building new schools, PiN also focuses on giving the staff at the schools specialized training, which more than 1,850 teachers have participated in. Also, 25,000 teaching materials were distributed in order to better help the teachers give the children a quality education. And because a large portion of the adult population is illiterate, PiN also focuses on assisting that part of the population to reduce illiteracy. By implementing these tactics, PiN has taught around 450,000 children and 1,2000 illiterate adults to read, write and do basic mathematics.

This is just one example of successful humanitarian aid to Angola. Assistance like this is essential for nations like Angola to survive such harsh living conditions. PiN has helped thousands of children and adults have a better quality of life through better sanitation, education, agriculture and infrastructure. It is aid like this that allows people to thrive in difficult places.

– McCall Robison

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian aid to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a southeastern country in Europe bordered by Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea. The nation’s neighboring countries have had refugee crises, and so numerous members of the refugee populations have trickled into Bulgaria for assistance; this influx has then contributed to Bulgaria’s own refugee crises and lack of resources. Due to this pressing issue, the success of humanitarian aid to Bulgaria is essential, especially in areas where refugees need urgent aid.

 

EU Provides Aid to Bulgaria’s Refugee Crisis

In 2013, the refugee crisis in Bulgaria reached exceptionally problematic levels. With the start of the still-ongoing Syrian civil war in 2011, refugees would often flee to European countries, including Bulgaria; the European Union (EU) then provided technical and financial assistance to help these countries manage their respective refugee situations. The purpose of this aid was to help refugees and provide them with protection.

This assistance included the gathering of a technical team to be dispatched to Bulgaria to build a State Agency for Refugees, which would make the refugee process more accurate and easily executed. This aid would additionally help speed up the process of granting refugee status.

 

Humanitarian Groups and Poland Send Aid to Bulgaria

In 2014, the refugee crisis was still in full effect; but thankfully, humanitarian groups and Poland stepped in to help. Urgent aid was distributed to the refugees located in shelters in Southern Bulgaria, and Poland provided 22 tons of clothing items and food at one of the largest refugee camps in Harmanli.

With Bulgaria being one of the European Union’s poorest nations ( 7.3 million inhabitants), Bulgaria was unprepared to deal with such a refugee crisis. Its asylum system was left extremely vulnerable, and out of 11,600 Syrian refugees, 60 percent of them were cramped into Bulgarian regions. So, the success of humanitarian aid to Bulgaria from humanitarian groups and Poland served as instrumental components in handling current crises.

 

The First Bulgarian Food Bank

One of the long-term projects that has served as a significant source of humanitarian aid for Bulgaria is the creation of the First Bulgarian Food Bank — an organization heavily organized by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). The project was started in 2011 and continues to be a long-term endeavor that still helps Bulgaria today. The Food Bank works as an organization as well as a foundation to create and implement humanitarian projects in Bulgaria; their main purpose is to distribute food to people in need.

 

Donations With Radically Important Impacts

The ADRA also has volunteers that help the organization distribute large amounts of food to multiple regions of Bulgaria. The people in these areas include struggling families, orphanages and nursing homes; in 2012, the ADRA opened a key distribution point in Sofia — the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The ADRA provides people with disabilities as well as struggling citizens and elderly people with food depending on donated food levels. In 2013, ADRA helped the First Bulgarian Food Bank distribute 15 tons of food to the people of Bulgaria.

With poverty and refugee crises running rampant, the success of humanitarian aid to Bulgaria is essential for not only the nation but also the European region at large. Assistance and programs such as the ones mentioned are just a few of the ways that Bulgaria can continue to provide for its people.

McCall Robison 

Photo: Pixabay

humanitarian aid to the solomon islandsConsisting of hundreds of small islands and home to roughly 600,000 people, the Solomon Islands face an array of climate-related and social issues that have caught the world’s attention. Countries and organizations are currently sending humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands to transform the island chain into a safer place to live.

As islands in the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands are constantly threatened by the some of the worst that weather and climate change have to offer: cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes and extensive flooding. In response to this, organizations like the Asian Development Bank have worked to create disaster-resilient infrastructure, including structures and roadways. Its Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Improvement Program aims to improve transport infrastructure and maintain roadways so that they will be fully accessible year-round.

A vital piece of creating consistently accessible roadways in the Solomon Islands is ensuring that all roads are climate-resilient, which is the goal by 2030, according to the Asian Development Bank. By improving transport conditions, the Asian Development Bank hopes to boost the local agriculture industry and reveal new economic opportunities for those living in rural areas.

Natural disasters in the Solomon Islands can have devastating effects. With its ranking of sixth on the World Risk Report’s disaster exposure rating, reducing these effects should be a top priority. Without the implementation of communication technologies to warn civilians of imminent threats, disasters can cause an exponentially higher level of destruction and death than what could have been avoided.

According to ABC International Development, the Solomon Islands Media Assistance Scheme (SOLMAS) was a project that worked to implement a stronger communications program. Funded by the Australian government, SOLMAS helped the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation upgrade its transmission infrastructure to expand the broadcasting audience. By increasing the audience and reaching out to rural areas, disaster awareness and preparedness have improved drastically.

Also reaching out to citizens in rural areas is the World Bank, who implemented the Rural Development Program (RDP). According to the World Bank, less than 20 percent of people in rural areas have access to electricity, falling to below 5 percent in the outer islands. Sanitation also presents an alarming statistic, with only 15 percent having access to flush toilets. Beginning in 2008, RDP supplies grants to in-need communities. More than 300 projects have been completed, positively impacting about 50 percent of the rural population, or 225,000 people. Projects providing humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands have spanned water access, electricity and education to road maintenance. As of 2013, the rural area’s access to clean water doubled and more than 50 percent of farmers changed their agricultural practices following advice from the project.

Despite the lack of adequate infrastructure, rural areas are not the only region to receive humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands. According to the United Nations Human Settlements Program, open public spaces are a rare commodity in urban areas with overcrowded cities. UNHabitat is currently working to improve conditions in the capital city of Honiara by developing a sustainable plan to maintain public spaces. The project, Participatory Slum Upgrading Program, cost about $100,000.

Humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands has been proven to improve living conditions in the islands and is essential to creating sustainable infrastructure. By upgrading sanitation, access to water and transport infrastructure, economic opportunities will continue to open.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Wikimedia Commons