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Poverty in SlovakiaThe country of Slovakia is located in central Europe and borders The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Austria. Slovakia has a deep-rooted history in Europe. Slovakia was originally a part of Czechia and had the name of Czechoslovakia. While allying with Nazi Germany, the Slovakian government became independent. After the war, however, Czechia and Slovakia became one country once again until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In 1993, the two countries peacefully agreed to separate and become two independent countries.

The current population of Slovakia is 5.4 million and 80.7% is Slovik. Slovakia does not have a high percentage of migrants, with only 0.2 migrants per 1,000 persons. Also, less than one-eighth of the population lives in poverty. Although poverty is not as severe in Slovakia as in other countries, poverty affects certain demographics more heavily. Here are four facts about poverty in Slovakia.

4 Facts About Poverty in Slovakia

  1. The Poverty Rate: In 2016, 3.30% of people in the Slovak Republic were living on less than $5.50 a day, a decline from their highest poverty rate in 2004, when 5.30% of people lived on less than $5.50 a day. The rate fluctuates between a 0.1% and 0.8% increase or decrease each year.
  2. Minorities: The majority of the Slovak ethnic group residing in Slovakia experience the luxuries of living in the country. These luxuries include access to clean water, comfortable living conditions, access to health care and sanitized environments. Although many Slovaks have these luxuries, minority groups such as the Romani people experience higher poverty rates on average. Poverty in Slovakia directly affects the Romani people, the third-largest minority group. The majority of these communities do not have access to running water, electricity or a proper system for waste disposal. The children within this group are more likely to drop out of secondary school, experience trafficking (prostitution or forced labor) and not receive necessary health care.
  3. Access to Clean Water: As of 2017, 99.79% of people have access to clean water. Compared to the rest of the world, Slovakia ranks 17th for clean water access. The fewest amount of people had access to clean water in the year 2000, with 7.82% of the population not having access to clean water. The rate continues to steadily rise every year.
  4. Housing: Habitat for Humanity partnered with the Environmental Training Project and started a program to build housing for poor communities in 2004. So far, this project has served more than 1,000 families in Eastern Slovakia. To begin construction, the program assisted families in taking out microloans and it provided construction training to families to develop skills. In addition to construction skills, families learned how to manage their finances and take out microloans in the future.

These four facts about poverty in Slovakia show that it has a low poverty rate in comparison to other countries. Access to clean water and other human necessities are available for some; however, poverty in Slovakia disproportionately affects minority groups. These groups do not have the same access to essential human needs and it affects their everyday lives. There is hope, however, because organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and The Environmental Training Project, are working to provide necessary resources for developing communities.

– Brooke Young
Photo: Flickr

Homeless Children in Ethiopia Ethiopia, especially in its capital city of Addis Ababa, is experiencing a growing homelessness crisis. Young adults and children leave the countryside to try and find work and education in the country’s urban areas, but the cost of living and housing is often unaffordable. Here are seven facts about homeless children in Ethiopia.

7 Facts about Homeless Children in Ethiopia

  1. Forty-two percent of Addis Ababa’s homeless population is under the age of 18. An official survey in 2010 counted 12,000 homeless children in Addis Ababa alone but some NGOs have estimated that the number is much higher.
  2. Family problems are cited as one of the main reasons that children leave their homes and end up living on the streets. Approximately 46% of street children in Ethiopia live with people other than their birth parents because of death, divorce, or separation.
  3. Residential shelters exist for homeless children in Ethiopia, but they must pay their way into them and continue to make money in order to stay there. Shelters are small and fit fewer than 20 children at once. For about 20 birr (57 cents in USD) children can pay to have meals and a bed for a night. One particular shelter, Hold My Hand, has been serving at-risk homeless boys by providing them food at Addis’s largest school, Bole, or by reuniting them with lost family members. Though the shelter’s capacity is small, they have been able to reunite five families with their lost sons and continue to feed children through the Bole Project.
  4. Homeless children in Ethiopia are often exploited. Human trafficking networks have a large presence in the country’s crime rings, and often young girls that are experiencing homelessness in Ethiopia fall victim to these syndicates. Once in Addis Ababa, these girls are forced into slavery-like working conditions in domestic service. Close to 400,000 humans were trapped in slavery in 2016. Retrak Ethiopia helps businesses learn more about the people they employ and then tries to rescue homeless children in Ethiopia from human trafficking.
  5. Many homeless children experience addiction or substance abuse. Glue-sniffing is a popular form of drug abuse among homeless children in Ethiopia because the substance is inexpensive and easy to obtain on the street. Street children sniff glue in order to try and ease the pain of hunger and exposure to the elements.
  6. Ethiopia’s government does not offer any type of public funding for homeless children and has instead relied on a heavy police presence to try and contain the growing crisis in cities. One method used by the police is apprehending children and forcing them back to their hometowns, but this effort has been largely unsuccessful.
  7. Ethiopia’s newest prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has charted a new path for the way the country addresses its growing homeless youth population. His new stance is the “Children on the streets have a right to live” which is a far cry from mottos of the past like the one in 2017 that emphasized “Cleaning Addis Ababa’s streets of children.” Now, Ethiopia’s government involves more conversations with on-the-ground NGOs. Habitat for Humanity has opened an Ethiopian chapter to try and rebuild old housing units and provide new ones for the country’s homeless population. Sanitation services in Ethiopia are unavailable in 80% of urban areas, so Habitat focuses on creating communal points of access for water distribution and hygienic purposes in cities like Addis Ababa.

-Grace May
Photo: Flickr

housing conditions in India
Good quality, secure housing is one of the major end goals for many societies aiming to ease global poverty and ensure the provision of basic needs amongst economically backward groups. Out of the 7.8 billion of the world’s population, 150 million people are homeless and 1.6 billion lack adequate housing. In fact, India alone accounts for 1.8 million people of the world’s homeless. Data shows that 78 million people in the country do not meet their needs for decent housing. Furthermore, 52% of the country’s homeless live in urban areas, which emphasizes the severity of the problem. With 17% of the world’s slum dwellers living in India, the government revealed that the country’s slum population now exceeds the entire population of Britain. Here is some information about housing conditions in India.

Problems with Housing Conditions in India

For ages, the poorer communities in India heavily depended on mud or unburnt walls with bamboo or grass roof housing. However, these elements are not the most stable or safe building materials. According to the Population Research Bureau, nearly 110 million Indian households live in houses with mud floors and walls. This accounts for 72% of rural households. Mud walls are not the safest option in a tropical country like India, with monsoons stretching on for months. Bamboo and dried grass roofs pose a potential fire hazard, especially since most rural households depend on fire lanterns as a source of light and open fire stoves for cooking.

The Rise of Pucca Houses

Improving housing conditions of India’s economically backward citizens has long been high on the Indian Government’s priority list. Over the years, several governments, both state and central, have produced various housing schemes. These housing schemes aim to provide pucca houses for the poor. Pucca houses are stable houses comprising of materials such as burnt brick or cement.

Indira Awas Yojana began in 1996 and was one of the first major housing schemes with large-scale goals. The scheme aimed to provide pucca houses for people from lower castes like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also non-SC/STs below the poverty line. Renamed as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin, the scheme works on the objective of housing for all by 2022. The scheme provides a 25 square meter pucca house with basic amenities to all its beneficiaries. As of March 2020, the scheme sanctioned 14,159,830 houses to the country’s poor.

Private Organizations

Additionally, many private organizations play a major role in alleviating poor housing conditions of the economically backward sections in India. Habitat for Humanity’s ShelterTech Accelerator program is one such program that is providing aid to for-profit business model startups. It is also giving aid to entrepreneurs focusing on developing solutions that aid low-cost housing. The year-long program supports the selected startups by giving them access to a network of over 300 startup founders, equity-free grants and seed funds up to 7.5 million INR. Another company investing in low-cost homes for low-income households, Brick Eagle, detects the limits of how much government schemes can provide. The company aims to build houses that are priced at 5-10 lakh INR. This price makes the houses more accessible for the economically weaker sections of India.

A Better Future on the Horizon

Housing conditions in India are improving slowly, but surely. The percentage of pucca houses has risen from 55% in 2011 to 71% in 2016. Ultimately, it is safe to say that the efforts of the government and private organizations are paying off as the housing conditions slowly change for the better in India.

– Reshma Beesetty 
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in El Salvador
In 2001, a major earthquake struck El Salvador leaving many helpless and on the streets. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America despite having a dense population of 6 million people. Now, homelessness in El Salvador is at an all-time high. Currently, over 40% of the population live in run-down homes with dirt for floors. This roughly translates to upwards of 2 million people living in disheveled and decrepit homes. Luckily, there are organizations working towards rebuilding El Salvador.

3 Organizations Combatting Homelessness in El Salvador

  1. Habitat for Humanity: Through two large-scale community projects, Habitat for Humanity has helped homelessness in El Salvador by building homes and making improvements to current houses. Juntos Construyendo mi Casa (Building my House Together), is a project that primarily focuses on constructing new homes for those who are currently in inadequate living situations. It also helps to improve existing homes by replacing dirt floors with tile or wooden flooring. Its second project, Construyendo Empoderamiento con Mujeres (Building Empowerment with Women), works on building new homes while also teaching women about their rights. This project teaches women to perform in jobs typical for males, thus providing career opportunities as well. Around 97,760 Salvadorans have received help through Habitat for Humanity’s programs.
  2. New Story Charity: In 2018, New Story Charity printed its first 3D house in Austin, Texas in under 24 hours. New Story partnered with the robotics construction company, ICON. Together, they began working to expand this construction to countries that need it most, such as El Salvador. Currently, a 3D house costs around $10,000, but New Story Charity’s goal is to reduce that price to $4,000. New Story is raising $1 million to be able to begin the construction of more homes. Though the introduction of 3D homes is new, New Story Charity has constructed over 850 non-3D homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico and Bolivia. 3D homes in Tabasco, Mexico have already created an entire community of these low-cost homes. In the upcoming years, New Story Charity will begin bringing 3D homes to El Salvador. Through the development of 3D homes, homelessness in El Salvador could drastically reduce.
  3. La Carpa: Tim Ross and Erica Olson founded La Carpa, meaning “The Tent,” in the summer of 2018. Though being a Christian based organization, Ross welcomes any religious backgrounds. La Carpa provides food for many of the homeless in the community. It began with distributing coffee, food and water, but is now expanding to creating hospitality houses with the hopes of building a better and closer community. On average, 30 people visit La Carpa daily to receive coffee and a meal. La Carpa aims at not only provide food and housing to the most vulnerable but also friendship and a sense of belonging.

Though El Salvador faced great destruction in the past, it is working towards rebuilding. Through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, New Story Charity and La Carpa, homelessness in El Salvador is reducing and many of the displaced are moving off the streets and into homes.

– Erin Henderson 
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in BrazilThough major improvements have stimulated Brazil’s economy over the past few decades, the country still faces a major poverty deficit. While the country does have one of the top 10 economies in the world, poverty in Brazil is still a major issue. The percentage of the population that lives beneath the poverty line struggles to make it from one day to the next. Four components that influence poverty in Brazil are the pertinent numbers, the unemployment situation, the influence on housing and the current global lockdown’s impact.

The Numbers

With over 200 million citizens, Brazil has the fifth largest population in the world. While the poverty rate is now impressively less than 10%, 16 million Brazilians still live unsustainable lives.

Many of the families living in poverty do not have access to education, clothing, clean water, food or fuel. Kim Lango, a humanitarian who has spent a number of years helping to relieve poverty in Brazil, told The Borgen Project in an interview that “We once drove a Pre-Med student home one evening only to discover his home only had three walls….” On their way to the house, Lango passed by dead and wounded people on the streets who were waiting for an ambulance that would only come if the family had sufficient funds.

According to a Getulio Vargas Foundation study, an alarming gap exists between the wealthy and poor, and it is increasing. Marcelo Silva de Sousa and Víctor Caivano state that Brazil ranks with the “most unequal nations in a broader region where the gap between rich and poor is notorious.” During the seven years of the study, the richest Brazilians increased their income by over 8%. However, the income of the poorest population decreased an entire 14%.

The gap shows Brazil’s drastic inequality. In fact, only 10% of Brazil’s citizens earn half of the income in the country.

Lango gave her perspective on some of the reasons for this gap. She first stated that “lack of access to adequate education[…] creates a vicious cycle.” Those living in unsafe and inadequate places often find themselves stuck there due to the rigor and expense of the education system. Lango also said that discrimination plays a significant role in this gap and that many consider poor people unsafe and ones they should not connect with.

While the poverty rates are startling, Lango offers hope: “the most beautiful acts of overcoming will always be from Brazilians helping their own people.”

The government has a welfare program devoted to alleviating poverty. The Family Grant, known as the Bolsa Família, offers a monthly allowance to families in poverty.

Unemployment

Another of the components that influence poverty in Brazil is unemployment. When a major recession hit between 2014 and 2016, the unemployment rate hit 13% and emerged as a major issue contributing to poverty in Brazil. While the unemployment rate had improved somewhat since then, it had yet to recover enough to significantly impact the poverty in Brazil.

Unfortunately, in 2019, Brazil’s unemployment increased to a 12.4% unemployment rate, leaving millions of Brazilians out of work and desperately searching for the means to make money. Still, the available jobs often have an informal and inconsistent nature.

According to Mark S. Langevin, Director of Brazil Works, Brazil has reached a “historic and dismal record” of citizens not contributing to the workforce. Langevin stated that the number is over 65 million.

Housing

Because of extreme poverty, many Brazilians do not have access to proper shelter, or even shelter at all. In fact, according to Habitat for Humanity, over 50 million people in Brazil do not have adequate housing. The country requires 6 to 8 million new houses to sufficiently shelter its people.

Habitat for Humanity is working to develop proper housing for those living in the slums. Due to the successful implementation of their programs, Habitat for Humanity is currently working on over 1,500 houses in Pernambuco, one of Brazil’s states.

A report determined that the 2010 census revealed that over 5% of Brazilians live in makeshift settlements called favelas. Brazilians often build favelas using materials that they scavenged. Moreover, these homes often do not have appropriate water access.

The government has been working since 1993 to improve these conditions. During that year, 20% of Brazil’s population lived in favelas, so the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro developed a program to help improve the housing and road access for those who lacked sufficiency in those areas. The program, the Favela-Bairro project, also funded social programs for children.

While some are making efforts to improve the conditions, the poor housing situation remains prevalent.

The Current Lockdown’s Impact

The last of the components that influence poverty in Brazil includes COVID-19’s impact on the country. With the current global lockdown due to Covid-19, poverty in Brazil could increase drastically. There are over 30 million informal workers who have unprotected jobs that the lockdown now threatens.

The lockdown has come at an unfortunate moment due to social program cuts that came as a result of the recession in 2014. During that time, many workers became sporadically self-employed, which severely weakened the economy.

Humanitarian groups have had to scramble to increase food programs. One of these groups, a Catholic relief group called Caritas, has oriented its focus entirely to providing food.

While those already in poverty or unpredictable work situations are facing an uncertain future, the government has begun to respond to the issue. It adapted the emergency aid fund rules to improve worker’s lives during the shutdowns. The banks have more restrictions and there has been a loan suspension for school funds.

Though the poverty here is vicious, wonderful programs, both governmental and humanitarian, are stepping up to fight the deficit. Hopefully, continued aid and government efforts will eradicate poverty in Brazil in the future.

– Abigail Lawrence
Photo: Flickr

Housing Poverty in Cambodia
Cambodia is a country on the mainland of Southeast Asia. With influences from many different Asian cultures, as well as from France and the United States, some of the nation’s urban areas look similar to the western cities. However, the capital, Phnom Penh, is one of the few urban centers in this predominantly rural nation. Currently, there is a housing poverty epidemic and many people are lacking sufficient living conditions. Here are 10 facts about housing poverty in Cambodia.

10 Facts About Housing Poverty in Cambodia

  1. Poverty in Cambodia: Although poverty in Cambodia has decreased significantly, almost 75 percent of Cambodian people are living on less than $3 a day, which is just above the poverty line of $1.25 per day. This poverty affects both the urban and rural areas of the country, although it is more concentrated in rural areas.
  2. Urban Poverty: Many Cambodians flee impoverished rural areas of the country for urban centers, including the capital, Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, many of these migrants don’t find the wealth and better living conditions they seek. They are often unable to pay rent in the city and live beside railroad tracks in extreme poverty. These living quarters are often unsanitary and plagued with bacteria and parasites.
  3. Lack of Sanitation: Today, two million houses need critical improvement in Cambodia. Most of those living in poverty live in poor housing conditions in rural areas. According to Water Aid Cambodia, more than half of the population lives without toilets in Cambodia.
  4. Improving Sanitation: A housing survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics reported that 51.3 percent of households in 2013 did not have toilet facilities. This represented an improvement, however. In 1998, 85.5 percent of households did not have toilet facilities, and in 2008, this had only decreased to 66.3 percent of households.
  5. Habitat for Humanity: Nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has helped over 22,000 families build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. They work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, to provide housing solutions to 2.8 million people.
  6. Cambodian Children Fund: Founded in 2014, the Cambodian Children Fund (CCF) has managed to build over 360 homes for the many children and families in dire need of shelter. The CCF is now hoping to broaden its reach, building homes across Cambodia.
  7. Volunteer Building Cambodia: Volunteer Building Cambodia builds wooden Khmer style houses for the poor of Cambodia. These houses last over 15 years and each cost $3,000 to build. Volunteer Building Cambodia is based in Siem Reap, in the northwest region of the country. They operate in the most rural and impoverished areas in an effort to combat housing poverty in Cambodia.
  8. Taramana: Due to the harrowing conditions in urban areas, 37 percent of children under the age of five are malnourished. Taramana, a nonprofit organization, has chosen to focus its efforts on the children of Phnom Penh. They help provide the city’s children with proper education so they can rise above a life of poverty.
  9. World Housing: The Borgen Project recently reached out to World Housing, a nonprofit headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia that provides housing to those in need in developing countries across the globe, including Cambodia. “Since 2013, we’ve worked with Cambodian Children’s Fund to build all our communities in Cambodia and between 2013 and 2017 we’ve built and gifted 483 homes, providing housing to 2,415 people throughout Cambodia,” said Jason Valagao, the organization’s Donor Relations Manager.
  10. Girls 2 Grannies: Valagao also stated that World Housing’s latest project is called Girls 2 Grannies. This project is building a brand new community designed with girls and women aged two all the way to 102 in mind. According to Valagao, these brand new villages will include, “a library, sports field, community gardens, a pagoda and two classrooms. Each home in this community will have its own shower and toilet. The community will provide housing to approximately 200 women through the gift of 50 homes.”

While housing poverty in Cambodia remains a significant concern, many organizations are fighting to better the lives of impoverished Cambodians. Whether efforts are made through providing efficient housing or educating the youth of Phnom Penh, there is always hope when people band together to reduce widespread poverty.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Among Indigenous Peoples in Central America
Indigenous people in Central America have struggled against prejudice and a lack of visibility for hundreds of years. This struggle to maintain their place throughout the region has taken a toll on the living conditions and health among their communities. Here is more information about poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America.

Costa Rica

Approximately 1.5 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of indigenous people. They are considered among the most marginalized and economically excluded minorities in Central America. Approximately 95 percent of people living in Costa Rica have access to electricity. The majority of indigenous peoples in the country are included in the remaining five percent. Many believe this is due to a lack of attention from the government in the concerns of indigenous people and the living conditions in their communities.

A lack of education is also a problem among indigenous peoples in Costa Rica. The average indigenous child in Costa Rica receives only 3.6 years of schooling and 30 percent of the indigenous population is illiterate. In the hopes of reaching out to indigenous communities and reducing their poverty rates, the University of Costa Rica instituted a plan in 2014 to encourage admissions from indigenous peoples from across the country. By 2017, the program was involved in the mentoring of 400 indigenous high school students and saw 32 new indigenous students applying for the university.

Guatemala

Indigenous peoples make up about 40 percent of the population in Guatemala and approximately 79 percent of the indigenous population live in poverty. Forty percent of the indigenous population lives in extreme poverty. With these levels of poverty among the indigenous people, many are forced to migrate, as the poorest are threatened with violence among their communities. Ninety-five percent of those under the age of 18 who migrate from Guatemala are indigenous.

One organization working to improve the living conditions for indigenous people in Guatemala is the Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya (ODIM). ODIM, which was started with the intention to support the indigenous Maya people, focuses on providing health care and education to indigenous people in Guatemala. One program it supports is called “Healthy Mommy and Me,” which focuses on offering mothers and their young children access to health care, food and education. These efforts are benefiting 250 indigenous women and children across Guatemala.

Honduras

In Honduras, 88.7 percent of indigenous children lived in poverty in 2016. Approximately 44.7 percent of indigenous adults were unemployed. Nineteen percent of the Honduran indigenous population is illiterate, in comparison to 13 percent of the general population. Despite the wide span of indigenous peoples across Honduras, they struggle to claim ownership of land that belonged to their ancestors. Only 10 percent of indigenous people in Honduras have a government-accredited land title.

Due to the poverty indigenous people in Honduras face, many seek opportunities in more urban areas, but the cities simply don’t have the capacity to support them all. As a result, many settle just outside of the cities to be close to opportunities. There are more than 400 unofficial settlements near the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Despite the difficulties they face in living just outside of a city that has no room for them, being in urban areas does have its benefits for indigenous people. Ninety-four percent of indigenous people living in urban Honduras are literate, versus 79 percent in rural areas.

For those among the indigenous peoples in Honduras who struggle with poverty, Habitat for Humanity has put a special focus on indigenous people in its construction programs. Habitat for Humanity worked with different ethnic groups within the indigenous community to provide homes for those most in need, reaching 13,810 people throughout Honduras.

Panama

Poverty affects more than 70 percent of indigenous people in Panama. Among their communities, health problems and a lack of access to clean water are common.

In 2018, the World Bank approved a project to improve health, education, water and sanitation among 12 different indigenous groups in Panama. The Comprehensive National Plan for Indigenous Peoples of Panama aims to implement positive development in indigenous communities while protecting and maintaining the culture within those communities.

The aim of this project is to create a positive relationship between indigenous peoples and the government in Panama to further developments of their communities down the road. It is projected to assist some 200,000 people through improved living conditions and infrastructure among indigenous communities.

With poor access to an education and a certain level of prejudice fueling a wage gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people, natives globally face a unique challenge in their efforts to escape poverty. In many countries around the world, indigenous people are forgotten and often fall to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. This creates particularly difficult circumstances for indigenous peoples of regions that already have high poverty rates overall. However, people like those who work with the World Bank are working to see a reduction in poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America and see that indigenous people are not forgotten and are no longer neglected.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Criminalization of Poverty in Rio
Brazil boasts the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the entire world and a lot of these arrests occur in the most urban areas of the country like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. These cities happen to be centers of diversity and culture, but also areas of extreme wealth disparity. The criminalization of poverty in Rio demonstrates the general poverty-crime cycle, where greater economic disadvantage and higher rates of incarceration lead to each other.

The Case of Rafael Braga Vieria

In 2013, the case of Rafael Braga Vieria became a landmark for the government of Rio’s less-than-neutral approach to making arrests at the time filled with mass demonstrations. Vieria was a homeless street cleaner carrying cleaning supplies. The authorities only arrested Vieria out of the 300,000 protesting that night. He received a five-year sentence on the grounds that he could have used the supplies to make a molotov cocktail.

Article 3 of Brazil’s constitution protects against this sort of discrimination against poverty, but at the same time, there is legislation allowing for drug offenses to receive judgment based on personal circumstances. For example, if the suspect came from a certain background, authorities could legally assume that they intended the drugs for personal use.

Life in Favelas

Usually, the poorer people in the area, living in favelas or poor neighborhoods, receive the worst of this treatment. The residents become targets for drug trafficking as well as scapegoats for the law. Rio de Janeiro’s favelas hold upwards of 1 million that face discrimination from the general public. In reality, violence is not an inherent part of favelas. It is a result of the system that allows them to exist in a state of such neglect. All of this leads to violence within the community and violence on behalf of the state. For instance, the police killed upwards of 600 people in 2015 alone. Around 75 percent of these deaths were black men.

Such high incarceration rates because of the criminalization of poverty in Rio often have other economic effects on the people most affected. Those living in favelas, disproportionately black families, receive evictions from their homes without reason. Between 2009 and 2013, the government forced around 20,000 families out of their homes with no compensation. In addition, many low-income families felt the impact of having one person incarcerated for a long time, especially if the person was the wage-earner of the family. Not only does this criminalization of poverty in Rio make life more difficult in the moment, but it also opens the door for further turning towards crime and violence.

Today

The percentage of people living in poverty is rising after the boom of the 2016 Olympics. Unemployment has risen, as well as the other byproducts of poverty, but many organizations are working to make a difference in Rio. Habitat for Humanity has helped almost 20,000 families find houses outside of these favelas, but people can always do more. Investing in other aid organizations, especially local ones, would be necessary to improve living conditions, thereby decreasing the criminalization of poverty in Rio and Brazil as a whole.

Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Fiji
Despite significant progress, poverty in Fiji remains a serious problem. In 2013, almost 300,000 Fijians or 34 percent of its population lived below the national poverty line. Interestingly, of middle-income nations, Fiji’s national poverty rate trends high whereas its extreme poverty rate—which is 1.4 percent—is comparatively lower. Still, there is cautious optimism when considering the future of poverty in Fiji. After all, as a result of wide-scale efforts by both the government and various organizations, the poverty rate dropped from 40 percent in the early 2000s. In 2020, these groups continue to work towards a poverty-free future in Fiji.

5 Organizations Fighting Poverty in Fiji

  1. Caritas Australia: An originally Catholic organization that works across the Pacific, Caritas runs a variety of programs targeting the effects of poverty in Fiji. An example of one of its projects is the Tutu Rural Training Centre, where farmers learn a multitude of skills through a four-year course relating to agriculture technology. When Cyclone Evan hit in 2012—which caused $312 million of damage and killed 14 people—the center also provided plants for people to start regrowing their farms. Another program is the People’s Community Network, which works to improve the lives of squatters throughout Fiji and promote self-sufficiency. Thus far, the project has helped 500 families secure land.

  2. The World Bank: The World Bank has perhaps acted as the primary player in alleviating poverty in Fiji. The organization has provided loans to the Fijian government since the 1970s for more than 13 large-scale projects on issues such as improving transportation infrastructure and natural disaster relief. In 2019, the World Bank announced it would start loaning over $21 million annually for such projects with 0 percent interest. This money has ultimately been invaluable in helping Fiji become a more technologically advanced country and providing critical economic opportunities to Fijian people.

  3. Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS): The umbrella body of almost 500 grassroots organizations across Fiji, FCOSS has worked throughout the country connecting different groups and their projects together while coordinating with the government to ensure maximum productivity. Some of the programs that the organization embarked on to fight poverty include the Rural Women Initiative for Development & Education, which helps women obtain economic freedom, and HelpAge, which provides services to elderly individuals who the state often ignores.

  4. Peace Corps: The Peace Corps, an American volunteer organization run through the U.S. government, has worked in impoverished communities in Fiji since 1968, sending over 2,529 volunteers. These volunteers have worked on a variety of projects throughout this tenure, working primarily on conservation and resource management, teaching sanitation and safe water practices, and helping communities with economic development. These projects have proved invaluable in these poor communities. For example, in 2010, the Peace Corps conducted a large scale study and found that 87 percent of host communities saw improvement in their sanitation practices and 90 percent reported better environmental and livelihood security. Furthermore, when teaching business practices, 80 percent learned habits that helped them in their everyday lives. Clearly, the Peace Corps is providing crucial assistance in poor communities in Fiji.

  5. Habitat for Humanity Fiji: Another international organization fighting poverty in Fiji is Habitat for Humanity. The organization builds homes in Fiji where almost 140,000 people lived in poor housing conditions. Habitat for Humanity has served a large number of homes. The organization is evidently mitigating the effects of poverty in Fiji, although Fiji requires more work.

Clearly, while poverty in Fiji remains a serious problem, there are a variety of organizations leading the fight against it. With these organizations’ continued aid, poverty in Fiji will hopefully become a part of the past.

– Chace Pulley
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Lesotho

Lesotho is a small, mountainous African kingdom surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho’s population is 72 percent rural and 80 percent are engaged in the agricultural sector, which has suffered greatly due to recent droughts, climate change and failed harvests. Lesotho is classified as a lower-middle-income country; however, 57 percent of its two million residents live below the poverty line. Here are eight facts about living conditions in Lesotho to know.

8 Facts About Living Conditions in Lesotho

  1. HIV/AIDS – In 2017, 23.8 percent of adults aged 15 to 49 in Lesotho had HIV, 320,000 people were living with HIV and there were 4,900 AIDs-related deaths. NGOs such as UNAIDS, UNICEF and the WHO have been working with Lesotho’s government to fast-track HIV prevention, testing and treatment. In 2017, 80 percent of people living with HIV in Lesotho were aware of their status, 74 percent of people with HIV were on treatment and 68 percent of people on treatment were virally suppressed.
  2. Tuberculosis – Around 405 out of 100,000 people suffer from tuberculosis (TB). This is one of the highest tuberculosis rates in southern Africa. This airborne bacterial disease is a huge public health crisis in Lesotho and is seen as a co-epidemic with HIV/AIDS. The crisis has narrowed substantially from the TB rate of 695 out of 100,000 people in 2007. Progress is being made, but there is still much to improve upon in terms of public health and living conditions in Lesotho.
  3. Access to Clean Water – The Highlands Water Project raises millions of dollars annually for Lesotho by selling water to its neighboring countries, primarily South Africa. Still, around 18.2 percent of people in Lesotho do not have access to clean drinking water. Many must walk for hours just to reach water access points that may or may not be in working order. The Metolong Dam Project is a promising project to help increase clean water accessibility. When completed in 2020, it is predicted that water supply will reach 90 percent of the district Maseru and sanitation coverage will increase from 15 to 20 percent.
  4. Food Insecurity – Drought in Lesotho combined with two successive crop failures, low incomes and high costs for food left more than 709,000 people in “urgent need of food assistance” from 2016 to 2017. The food insecurity crisis worsened with a steep reduction in harvest for Lesotho’s main crops of maize, sorghum and wheat between 2017 and 2018. The World Food Programme (WFP) is helping to reduce hunger in Lesotho by supporting more than 260,000 people affected by drought with monthly food distributions and cash-based transfers during the low-yield season.
  5. Stunting – One in three children under 5 years old are stunted as a result of chronic malnutrition. Acute malnutrition is a major problem in Lesotho’s population that affects children the most. Many NGOs focus on alleviating child hunger caused by poor living conditions in Lesotho. UNICEF provided support to 1,750 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in 2017 and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) helped 2,560 families start home-based gardens with vegetables to create a stable, healthy food source. In addition, the WFP currently provides free healthy school meals to more than 250,000 children in 1,173 of Lesotho’s primary schools.
  6. Housing – Around 70 percent of Lesotho residents live in substandard housing conditions with issues ranging from overcrowding to lack of toilets. Nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity operate in Lesotho to build homes for vulnerable populations, but individuals also can have a large impact on housing and development. A winning proposal by Javed Sultan for Climate CoLab laid out the success in building affordable and climate responsive homes for the elderly in Lesotho. Innovative and cost-effective building in Lesotho has the potential to help many people in housing poverty.
  7. Sanitation – Access to proper sanitation facilities has increased every year since 1994. In 2015, 30.3 percent of the population had access to improved sanitation facilities that included flushing systems, ventilation latrine pits and composting toilets ensuring hygienic separation from human waste. In 1994 only 22.6 percent had this level of sanitation. This shows that progress is being continually made to improve this area of living conditions in Lesotho, but there still is much to accomplish.
  8. Education – In 2010, Lesotho established Free and Compulsory Primary Education by law. The net lower basic enrollment ratio increased from 82 percent in 2000 to 95 percent in 2010. Lesotho also has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, with 85 percent of people over the age of 14 being literate. The Government of Lesotho allocates 23.3 percent of its annual budget, or 9.2 percent of Lesotho’s GDP, on the education sector showing its commitment to improving its education system.

These eight facts about living conditions in Lesotho show that there are still major issues including epidemics, water, hunger and sanitation crises that need to be further addressed. However, progress is being made to improve living conditions on many fronts due to the collaboration of charitable organizations and the Government of Lesotho.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr