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Poverty In SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities globally. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself but also from indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs. Now, men and women are facing numerous difficulties while trying to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries, such as the United States, the U.K. or Japan, have been able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. Poverty in Spain was among some of Europe’s highest rates even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the citizens of Spain, who had already suffered from poverty, are now met with another obstacle. However, those experiencing poverty in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, facemasks or other necessities to those in need. 

Growing Poverty Rates

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Spain, 26.1% of people were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” and 5.4% of people experienced “severe material deprivation” in 2018. The National Institute of Statistics also reported that 55.2% of people faced varying degrees of difficulty making ends meet that same year. Although these figures only include adults, children are not excluded from poverty’s reach.

Children in Spain seem to be more vulnerable to poverty than adults. A 2017 report from the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) found that the child population in Spain has unacceptably high rates in the indicators of poverty. One of the report’s most jarring statistics concerning the child population in Spain is that 31.3% of children were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion.” However, these children all experience poverty differently.

Among the children facing poverty in Spain, the 2016 EAPN report identified that 10.8% experienced severe poverty and 6.5% endure severe material deprivation. In 2018, poverty rates for children in Spain hardly budged. The National Institute of Statistics reported that 29.5% of children were still at risk in 2018, and 6.5% were still experiencing severe material deprivation. 

Unemployment Factors In

Although numerous factors are involved with these statistics, the country’s unemployment rate definitely contributes to poverty’s overwhelming presence in Spain. The Center for Sociological Research (CIS) conducted a study in Jan. of 2020 that showed most Spanish citizens consider unemployment and economic problems as the most critical issues in their country. 

The people’s concern about Spain’s economy is legitimate, considering what the statistical analysis shows. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate in Spain was 13.78%. This was two times the rate of the EU. In particular, young people in Spain showed notable unemployment rates. The National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in that same quarter.

Charities and Social Organizations Step in Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected virtually every person in the world in its wake. However, those in poverty have been suffering prior to the virus; in fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made survival in poverty more challenging. As such, charities and social organizations in Spain have been rallying behind those in need to soften the pandemic’s effects. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis:

  1. Cáritas: The Spanish Episcopal Conference instituted Cáritas in 1947. Cáritas Española’s objective is to carry out the charitable and social action of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19. It includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided during the pandemic include facemask-making workshops, granting hotel rooms for the homeless and providing disinfection services for assisted living homes. 
  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) was founded in 1996 to combat hunger and poverty by reducing food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families in Spain who cannot easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.
  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The Alberto y Elena Cortina Foundation is a Spanish non-profit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute a large portion of fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets after Spain announced a state of emergency.

Looking Ahead

Travel Restrictions have stymied most volunteering and social work interventions, but there are many ways to fight against poverty from home. People who have access to the Internet and a few dollars to spare can significantly contribute to organizations in Spain. Quarantine orders and social distancing have separated people physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. Although thousands of miles might separate countries, people can still reach out to those in need by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that are working on the front lines toward a better future.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

poverty in the bahamas

While many Americans flock to the Bahamas for relaxing beach vacations, these tourists may not think about the economic hardships faced by their island hosts. Here are seven facts about the condition of poverty in the Bahamas:

  1. The poverty rate in the Bahamas currently sits at 12.5 percent. In 2001, the poverty rate was 9.3 percent. In 2014, the poverty line in the Bahamas stood at $4,247 compared to $2,863 as recorded in 2001.
  2. The current poverty rate is the highest for those in the under-20 demographic. Chairman of Citizens for Justice Bishop Walter Hanchell explained this statistic to The Freeport News, saying many recent high school graduates have trouble finding work as they lack the necessary skills.
  3. Unemployment contributes a great deal to poverty in the Bahamas. In 2013, unemployment was recorded at 16.2 percent and has gone down to 15.4 percent according to the 2014 Labor Force Survey. Bahamian scholar Rochelle R. Dean shared her thoughts on unemployment with Tribune242, saying, “the Bahamas has the resources, tools and labour force to reduce the unemployment rate, but lacks the vision and ambition to do so.”
  4. According to the Household Expenditure Survey, larger families are more likely to be in poverty, with 32 percent of households with seven or more members living below the poverty line.
  5. Haitians living in the Bahamas have the highest rate of poverty at 37.69 percent, although Haitians represent only 7.48 percent of the Bahamian population. The poverty rates among the islands in the Bahamas vary greatly: poverty rates are the highest within the Family Islands and lowest in Grand Bahama.
  6. Households led by women are more likely to face poverty in the Bahamas (9.7 percent) than households led by men (7.9 percent). According to the Nassau Guardian, women represent slightly more of the poor population at 51.83 percent.
  7. In 2012, 10,000 people received financial aid from the Bahamian government, an astounding increase from the 3,000 people in 2004.

Although multiple leaders in the Bahamas are at odds about how to improve the economy, all agree that something must be done, soon. With increasing poverty and unemployment rates, the citizens and leaders of the Bahamas must find a way to come together to improve these conditions.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Tunisia

In June 2016, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) online magazine announced that the organization has approved a four-year, $2.9 billion loan program to help alleviate poverty in Tunisia.

Continued Struggles Post-Revolution

This news may come as a shock to some people. The IMF gave financial assistance in the form of a Stand-By Arrangement following the 2010 Tunisian Revolution, and the North African country is considered to be one of the few successes that emerged from the Arab Spring.

While Tunisia has come a long way both politically and economically, the country is still plagued by high unemployment and a lagging private sector.

According to IMF Survey, 15 percent of Tunisia’s population and 35 percent of its youth, are unemployed, contributing greatly to poverty in Tunisia. Civil society representatives, speaking with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim during his visit in May, claimed that only 27 percent of the country has access to finance due to strict rules on foreign transactions.

Joblessness and lack of opportunities has produced lackluster economic growth and low government approval ratings. The World Bank reported that only twenty percent of young Tunisians in urban areas trust the government. The figure is ten percent for the countryside.

Regional disparities are also a problem; while the national unemployment rate is high, it is even higher in regions far from the coast. In southwest Tunisia, 26.1 percent of people were unemployed in 2015, according to Tunisia’s National Statistics Institute.

Where unemployment goes, poverty follows. A 2014 World Bank report revealed that the poverty rate in central Tunisia was four times higher than the national average; as high as 30 percent in certain areas.

All of these factors combine to produce a significant number of disgruntled youth that extremist groups seek to recruit.

IMF to Counter Terrorism

According to a Voice of America article published on June 6, 2016, over 7,000 people in the country have become fighters for the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. The reason, cited by many, is that the government has failed to integrate a youth population that is in a process of soul-searching, following the democratic uprising of 2010 that lasted into 2011.

In order curb this terrorist threat, which has major security implications for the region and the world at large, economic development and poverty reduction are key. The new IMF program aims to do exactly that.

In an interview with IMF Survey, IMF Mission Chief for Tunisia Amine Mati stated that by injecting more money, the $2.9 billion loan would help maintain the overall stability of the country’s economy.

As civil society representatives and young Tunisian entrepreneurs have made clear, labor market, private sector and structural reforms are also needed. According to Mati, the program will also assist government efforts in creating a more dynamic economy and ensuring growth is distributed across the country.

Tunisia has great potential. Its democratic government is committed to solving the country’s problems. Foreign aid will help accelerate the progress already made in reducing poverty in Tunisia.

Philip Katz

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Jamaica Poverty rate
Jamaica has struggled with poverty, unemployment and crime for the past half century, but the nation has recently seen ambitious government economic policies bear fruit. Discussed below are the leading facts about poverty in Jamaica and their implications.

8 Facts about Poverty in Jamaica

  1. Jamaica is not in extreme poverty and is regarded as a middle income country. For comparison, Jamaica has about 1/20th the GDP per capita of the United States, but a four-times-higher GDP per capita than the nearby country Haiti.
  2. Since the 1970s and 80s, Jamaica has experienced serious problems with poverty and unemployment. Through the 90s, unemployment remained around 15 percent, with poverty above 25 percent. The unemployment rate is currently 14 percent and poverty is 16 percent.
  3. A serious hindrance to Jamaica’s development has been slow rates of economic growth. In the past 30 years, Jamaica has had an average annual GDP growth rate of less than one percent. The slow growth rate is a major cause of persistent poverty in Jamaica.
  4. Relationships between Jamaican officials and crime groups cause widespread corruption, which results in many of Jamaica’s problems. The corruption not only hurts law abiding Jamaican citizens, but makes foreign investors far more hesitant to get involved in Jamaican industry.
  5. Public education in Jamaica is not entirely free. There is a registration fee and other school expenses that are not covered by the government. As a result, many of the nation’s most poor children are not able to attend school.
  6. Jamaica jumped 27 places in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, as the Jamaican government has improved its credit rating and decreased the national debt. It is hoped that the improved ranking will increase investment and alleviate poverty in Jamaica.
  7. The World Bank has a positive outlook for Jamaica’s economy, with forecasts of the country’s GDP growth rate climbing to over two percent in 2017.
  8. The Jamaican Government is currently working with the UNDP and the European Union to alleviate poverty on both a macro and micro level. Poverty alleviation and achievement of Millennium Development Goals remains a top priority for the Jamaican government.

Despite Jamaica’s history of poverty and some ongoing problems, economic forecasts for the country remain optimistic. It is possible that Jamaica will experience an economic resurgence and alleviate problems of unemployment and poverty in coming years.

John English

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in South Africa

South Africa is a nation with a very deep and turbulent history. Since the official end of apartheid in 1994, the country has been struggling to combat entrenched poverty and inequalities. In order to further understand the issues, here are six facts about poverty in South Africa:

  1. South Africa is a middle-income nation with some highly developed economic sectors. For instance, South Africa’s stock exchange, JSE, is the largest in Africa and top 20 worldwide. Since 2000, South Africa has shown decreasing poverty and a decreasing wealth gap.
  2. The country nonetheless still suffers from serious poverty and unemployment, with 25 to 30 percent of the workforce unemployed. According to the U.S. government, around 36 percent of the population is living in poverty.
  3. The Statistics South Africa defines poverty with three categories: the food poverty line, the lower bound poverty line and the upper bound poverty line. About 20 percent of the population lives below the food poverty line, meaning they cannot afford food that meets a minimum calorie intake.
  4. South Africa’s poverty is rooted in economic disparities. Much of the nation’s wealth, as it is a moderately wealthy nation, is concentrated in the hands of few, particularly those who controlled wealth in apartheid times. Between 60 and 65 percent of the wealth in South Africa is concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 10 percent of the nation. Comparatively, 40 to 45 percent of wealth in the U.S is controlled by the highest 10 percent.
  5. Poverty in South Africa has actually been declining since the mid 2000s. As a result of doubled per capita health spending and the building of 1.5 million free homes, among other government initiatives, over 2 million South Africans have climbed out of extreme poverty since 2006.
  6. In addition to the increased government spending, the United Nations Development Program has been working with the South African agencies to redress South Africans who were forced off of their land during apartheid. This land restitution initiative will help decrease South Africa’s wealth gap.

While poverty in South Africa is still a large problem, the recent government and international initiatives have had a dramatic effect on poverty reduction and economic redistribution.

John English

Photo: Flickr