Posts

Eggs & Bread in London

Based in Walthamstow in East London, Eggs & Bread is a cafe like no other. It boasts “the smallest menu on Wood Street” that includes boiled eggs, jam, porridge, tea and coffee. Eggs & Bread in London is a “pay what you like” cafe, whereby those who overpay for a cup of tea and a boiled egg allow the less well-off to eat for free, or pay a reduced rate for breakfast. A report written by U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on extreme poverty and human rights stipulated that homelessness is on the rise in London, austerity being the main cause. ​

Austerity is a Mindset

“Austerity is a mindset, which is now fully reflected in how the government operates,” Alston reports. The evidence seen on the report points to the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering. Because of this, people have been relying more on food banks and charities for their next meal, which makes Eggs & Bread in London even more special.​

Thirty-seven percent of all children, 24 percent of all working-age adults and 19 percent of all pensioners live in poverty. While the poverty rate fell over the last few years, the depth of poverty increased.

London, the Capital of Poverty

London remains the capital of poverty in the United Kingdom. Another factor that adds to this is the high rents paid by half of all households who rent their homes. Those who rent from a private landlord have long faced high rents. More recently, housing association and council tenants have seen their rents go up rapidly. This is also due to wealth inequality, predominant in London.

Wealth inequality, which is higher than income inequality, increased over the years. Wealth for someone just in the top 10 percent is now 295 times higher than someone in the bottom 10 percent. In 2010–12 it was 160 times higher, a significant increase.​

As inequality in the capital rises whilst wages stagnate and many are forced to food banks to feed themselves and their families, social ventures like Eggs & Bread in London become ever more vital. As Eggs & Bread’s website states, “Everyone’s welcome, no matter if you are a city broker or simply broke.”

These sorts of cafes existed before, such as the Brixton Pound and The People’s Fridge, but the sheer amount of attention Eggs & Bread has had bodes well for its success, and will hopefully inspire other like-minded projects. With an estimated 28 percent of Londoners living in poverty, Eggs & Bread aims to balance out the inequality seen so often in big cities.

If one wants to pay, the donation box is discreetly placed next to where one puts the dirty plates. If one can afford to put something in the box, one can also pay for the breakfast of others who might not be able to pay. As Eggs & Bread in London states, “Everyone deserves a good start to the day.” ​

– Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in Nigeria
Nigeria, a country located on the western coast of Africa, makes up to 47 percent of the population of Africa. With the rising amount of people surrounding the area, there has been a vast amount of poverty overtaking the country. Recently, the economic growth of Nigeria has risen due to many factors such as its production of oil. However, no matter how much the economy grows, poverty continues to rise as well due to the inequality between the poor and rich.

Economic Growth

In 2018, the oil and gas sector allowed the economic growth in Nigeria to grow 1.9 percent higher than the previous year when it only grew to 0.8 percent. Although that is where more of the growth is, the oil sector does not have physical bodies working to ensure that the industry continues to grow. This leaves no growth in the stock of jobs, leaving the unemployment rate to rise to 2.7 percent since the end of 2017. Many hope that the new Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will promote economic resilience and strengthen growth.

ERGP

ERGP projects that there will a growth rate of 4.5 percent in 2019, but within the first quarter, there was only a growth of 2.01 percent. Charles Robertson, the global head of the research at Renaissance Captial, believes that ERGP’s 4.5 percent target was not unrealistic, especially since Nigeria was unable to meet those projections. Because most of the country’s economic growth comes from oil, there have not been many other non-oil jobs that have made a lot of profit.

The plan not only focuses on the rate of economic growth but also makes predictions that the unemployment rate will decrease to 12.9 percent. With the lack of available jobs, there has been little to no change in this rate as well. Many of the individuals that do have jobs, however, are earning up to $1.25 or less per day, which is not enough to pay for one household.

Inequality

As the economic growth in Nigeria grows, so does the gap between the poor and the rich. With the poor as the bottom 23 percent, the gap between the two has widened to 16 percent. A lot of the high-paying jobs are looking for people that have received high-quality degrees. If one does not have the money to pay for a good education, then they automatically miss out on the job opportunities that are out there. This means, that the children that come from rich families are the only ones that will be able to get the best jobs in the market.

The current government has been running a cash transfer program that provides 5,000 nairas to each household per month, which is approximately $14. This amount is not enough to relieve any household expenses because “less than 1 percent of poor people are benefiting.” Without any increase in money for each household, one cannot do much to decrease poverty.

Although there is economic growth in Nigeria, poverty is still on the rise. Many countries have faced this problem with trying to break the balance between the two and found it has not helped to decrease poverty as much. Hopefully, as the ERGP continues, it will help make changes.

Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr

Regional Inequality
China’s regional inequality has historically been an issue. It is common for developed countries to have regional wealth and income disparity between rural and urban areas. Enormous wealth inequality exists between rural and urban regions of China with 90 percent of all poverty being rural poverty.

The Current State of Regional Inequality in China

Along with China’s regional poverty, an educational disparity has widened within China. The government has supported and subsidized education in urban centers but neglected to invest in opportunities for rural education. Since the 1950s, rural attendance at the Universities of Tsinghua and Peking has declined from over 50 percent to less than 20 percent in 2005 despite the rural population making up the majority of China’s population at that time. The lack of educational opportunities in rural communities in China has fed into the downward spiral of stagnation for such regions, as an educated populace is a crucial asset for creating economic growth.

Previous Efforts to Combat Regional Inequality in China

Recently, the Chinese government has recognized the need to address the growing problem of China’s regional inequality and has enacted a series of relatively new but ambitious policies to tackle the crisis.

China proposed the first of these in 1999. The Great Western Development Strategy is a $1 trillion (Chinese Yuan) development plan that aims at investing in development and growth in the inland Western Regions of the country. The plan slowly began in the early 2000s with spending on infrastructure projects in the west.

One of the most major projects was the construction of the West-East gas pipeline which began in 2002 and ended in 2005. This was a very ambitious project that created numerous jobs and revenue for the west while also benefitting the east coast. Other energy initiatives focused largely on the creation of hydropower plants throughout the region. Other infrastructure projects have focused on transportation. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Southern Xinjiang Railway finished in the mid-2000s as a part of the strategy. These new railways employed many people and improved transportation substantially in their respective regions.

The Great Western Development Strategy also hopes to entice foreign investments in the region. The primary strategies for this objective are environmental conservation and improvement in educational opportunities. The plan has waived tuition fees for compulsory education in west China in hopes of improving the overall education of its citizens. Huge ecological conservation policies, such as Returning Grazing Land to Grassland seek to convert vast swaths of farmland into natural grasslands, as well as protect and expand forestry.

Recent Efforts to Combat Regional Inequality in China

The Northeast Revitalization Plan aims to rebuild traditional industries in the northeast, but with added economic and environmental regulations. The plan has also abolished taxes on agricultural workers and farmers, hoping this policy will be favorable towards the regions declining agricultural industry.

The new proposal, the Rise of Central China Plan, focusses on improving China’s agricultural heartland. Many often refer to Central China as “China’s Breadbasket.” The region has experienced only a fraction of the growth that coastal regions have undergone. As of 2002, the region’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was only 75 percent the national average. The Rise of Central China Plan will promote investment in advancements in agricultural techniques and technology with the hopes of increasing farming efficiency and creating larger yields in the region.

This is especially important for China as the issue of food security has risen for the highly populated nation. The Rise of Central China Plan also focuses on the development of transportation infrastructure in central China. A huge reason for central China’s economic stagnation has been lack of sufficient transportation, which has stifled its growth despite the region’s abundance of natural resources such as coal and its massive population.

Regional inequality in China has deep roots in past policies. The rural-urban divide has prompted a wave of bold new reforms aimed at combatting rural poverty and though the effort has just begun, these programs are showing promising results.

Karl Haider
Photo: Flickr

girls' education
Girls’ education is proving to be an important factor in improving a developing nation’s quality of life. Educational equality is not only a lucrative asset to a nation’s economy, but also reduces rates of child malnutrition, and decreases the wage gap found between men and women in many developing countries. These facts about girls’ education will help to illustrate the global situation regarding women in the classroom.

Knowledge is a lifelong skill that brings empowerment, and education is a gift that keeps on giving. Improvements to girls’ education will provide a country with a more knowledgeable workforce, healthier families, less early-life pregnancies and lower wage gaps between men and women.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Developing Countries 

  1. Girls’ education affects a nation’s economy. According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), when girls receive an education, they increase their ability to gain access to higher-paying jobs. This benefits their family’s income, adds to a nation’s economy and increases a woman’s involvement in politics. Investing in girls’ education provides a boost to a developing country’s progress, and acts as a catalyst for gender equality on multiple levels.
  2. Provided with an education, girls are more likely to earn a higher income later in life, increasing their family’s overall quality of life. Globally, if all girls received a primary education, then 1.7 million children would be rescued from poverty-induced malnutrition. In addition, if all girls worldwide received a secondary education, 12.2 million children could avoid malnutrition and stunted growth.
  3. In 2013, UNESCO reported that nearly 25 percent of all girls in developing countries had not completed primary school; in addition,  women encompass two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world. 
  4. Education equality has been on the rise in many countries. Thanks to the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) efforts, the total number of girls enrolled in school worldwide increased by 38 million from 2002 to 2015.  
  5. Many factors play into the educational inequalities in numerous developing countries. In India, for instance, for every 100 boys not enrolled in primary school there are 426 girls. Poverty is often the primary reason for this discrepancy. When families struggle to send multiple children to class, male children are often prioritized. Many girls in developing countries are oppressed by traditional gender roles that marginalize a female’s role in society.
  6. Each completed year of secondary school increases a woman’s income by twenty-five percent.
  7. Girl’s education can prevent childhood pregnancies. For each year that a girl in a developing nation is in school, her first child is delayed by 10 months. Pregnancy in childhood can prevent a girl from receiving an education, and decreases the chances of her child suffering from malnutrition and disease.
  8. All women worldwide receiving a secondary education would prevent 3 million child deaths.
  9. Girls’ education reduces the gender gap found in the workplace of many developing countries. In fact, UNESCO found that Pakistani women with a primary education made 51 percent of what their male counterparts made. This number increased to 70 percent when a woman completed secondary education.
  10. In Somalia, 95 percent of girls ages 7-16 have never been to school. This is the highest instance of educational inequality found worldwide. This statistic affects girls later in life, where Somali women ages 17-22 receive four months of schooling on average for their entire life.

Future of Progress 

By providing women with the chance to better themselves academically, our global community is made all the richer. With the number of girls enrolling in school increasing every year, gender equality in developing countries worldwide is becoming a reality.

Jason Crosby

Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Islands are located in the northwest of the Pacific Ocean, with a land area of just 181 square kilometers and a population of just over 74,000. While some organizations have promoted women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands since its independence in 1986, the progress of legal rights for girls and women has not been significant.

For the past 30 years, the Marshall Islands has had few female senators. In the country’s 2015 elections, three women won seats, taking up 9 percent of the total 33 members in parliament. In January 2016, Hilda Heine won the presidential election to become the first female president of the Marshall Islands.

Though the nation did ratify the U.N.’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2006, the Marshall Islands has no current legislation on any issues related to domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual harassment or sex tourism. Furthermore, there is no minimum sentence for sexual violence.

Due to the insufficiency of the law, violence against women in this nation is not unusual. A report by Women United Together Marshall Islands has shown that 51 percent of women experience domestic violence, while more than half of the population generally agrees that it is normal to commit violence against women in marital relationships, according to U.N. Women.

On the other hand, as a crucial metric on women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands, gender parity and equality in education has some good news. Literacy rates among male and female youth are above 98 percent at present. A 2015 national review on education in the Marshall Islands reported that girls perform better than boys on all tests except for science in grade three.

However, the gender pay gap and inequality in employment still call for more attention to women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands. Statistics have shown that the male and female unemployment rates are, respectively, 28 percent and 37 percent. Annual wages of women are $3000 less than those of men in the same occupations. Potential discrimination in job markets frequently restrict women from earning credits or managing businesses, which affects their economic independence.

Another concern is related to women’s health and environmental issues. Due to a shortage of fruits and vegetables, more than half of women in the Marshall Islands have obesity or risk factors for related diseases. Teenage marriage, adolescent pregnancy and mortality for children under five in this nation still remain high compared to the global average, despite significant decreases in the past few decades.

Founded in 1987, a nonprofit organization named Women Union Together Marshall Islands serves as the leading voice for eradicating violence against women in the nation. Several other U.N. organizations have also dedicated efforts to promoting gender equality in the Marshall Islands.

Significant progress on women’s empowerment in Marshall Island has been achieved. Political leaders play a strong role in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women. However, further efforts to improve the status of women are still challenging and necessary.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr

Poverty and Inequality in Bolivia
In 2009, poverty and inequality in Bolivia were some of the highest in South America. Extreme poverty rates were roughly 40 percent and the poorest 10 percent received only 0.5 percent of the total national income.

There was a sharp turnaround between 2004 and 2014, according to the World Bank. Economic growth averaged 4.9 percent annually, moderate poverty rates dropped from 59 to 39 percent, and inequality plummeted. Poverty and inequality in Bolivia began to wane.

 

Fighting Poverty and Inequality in Bolivia

 

It was not until 2006, a year after the election of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, that government commitment to economic growth and poverty reduction began to drastically improve. Morales increased spending on health, education, and poverty reduction programs by 45 percent between 2005 and 2006.

On July 22nd, 2017, President Evo Morales declared Bolivia completely independent from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Spurring this independence are the improvements achieved by Morales’s government. Since his election, inflation has run below four percent each year, basic consumption goods have been at a surplus, extreme poverty has fallen to 17 percent and the richest 10 percent of the country, which used to earn 128 times more than the poorest, now only earns about 38 times as much.

What’s more, as Francisco Toro writes, “Bolivia was running budget surpluses every year between 2006 and 2014. This allowed it to draw down the public sector’s debt, which fell from 83 percent of GDP in 2003 to just 26 percent in 2014, even as Bolivia built up its international reserves dramatically, from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $15.1 billion at the end of the boom in 2014.”

Much of this had to do with the burgeoning natural resources in the country. Export revenue, in the decade following the appointment of Morales, grew by six percent contributing to the impressive reduction of poverty an inequality in Bolivia.

Independence from the World Bank and IMF marks a new era for Bolivia. Its unprecedented economic improvements and reduction of poverty and inequality are a victory for the fight against poverty. The question is, will the world follow suit?

Joseph Dover

Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in Paraguay
Paraguay is a South American country, located between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Similar to its neighbors, Paraguay has experienced significant economic growth over the past decade, mostly due to its agricultural industry. Despite this, hunger in Paraguay continues to be an ongoing issue, due to a lack of equal wealth distribution.

Paraguay produces enough food for 60 million people, yet 10 percent of its population of seven million is plagued by chronic hunger or malnourishment. This staggering statistic is the result of how the land is proportioned. Of the total agricultural land in Paraguay, 94 percent is used for exports, while only six percent is devoted to domestic food production.

On paper, this would seem an easy fix to hunger in Paraguay: re-appropriate the land to increase the production of food for the citizens. However, it is estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of the land in Paraguay is owned by the top two to three percent, who have a vested interest in maximizing profits, and thus use as much of that agricultural land for exports as possible.

This agricultural development model has also resulted in Paraguay having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. In addition, this aggressive use of agriculture for high export rates results in an excessive use of pesticides, which are not only detrimental to the environment but negatively influence human health.

Despite the rise in economic productivity, the “new money” is reaching very few hands, and the families in rural areas are paying the price. Eighteen percent of the rural population of Paraguay is living in a state of extreme poverty, and in indigenous communities, the number is much larger at 57 percent. Even more disheartening is that 17 percent of children under five are malnourished, which leads to stunted growth, among other health issues.

If hunger in Paraguay is going to be properly addressed, the Paraguayan government has to step in to address the corruption as well as the income and land inequality.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in China
Poverty in China may soon be a reality of the past. Last year, China relocated 2.49 million people from poverty-stricken areas to developed communities. By the end of this year, leaders plan to relocate 3.4 million.

This goal comes on the heels of China’s ambitious strategy to eradicate poverty in the nation by 2020. At first glance, this plan appears impossible: today, there are still around 45 million in China who live below the poverty line, where they are often left without clean water, power or roads. In regards to the population as a whole, this tallies up to one in 10 persons. There is also significant inequality between genders and regions, which places further hurdles for the government to tackle poverty.

However, if any country can face the odds and overcome, China has the best track record.

China has brought more citizens out of poverty than any other country. Between 1990 and 2010, the government increased the per capita income by tenfold, from $200 to $5,000, which brought China into the category of middle-income countries. This accomplishment stands as the reason why the number of people affected by global poverty decreased by more than three-quarters. Presently, the Chinese government has nearly eradicated urban poverty by paying subsidies to its citizens within cities and increasing the minimum income by $700. By the end of 2016, relocation projects occurred in 22 provinces, for which authorities are seeking out employment and social security for those impacted.

Apart from relocation, another aspect China may need to consider while making these significant changes is their fight against air pollution. Currently, poor air quality is killing around 4,000 people each day. While taking the citizens out of poverty in China, equitable growth must be sustained in a manner that cuts back on air pollution, rather than maintain or increase it.

Regardless, after last year’s mass relocation and China’s assertion to end poverty, it would be hard to doubt the success of their relocating 3.4 million people into better living conditions.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

what causes global poverty
As governments, aid workers and activists search for solutions to the urgent problem of widespread poverty and seek to combat its many negative effects, there is a need to identify the causes of poverty in order to create sustainable change. Understanding what causes global poverty is a crucial part of the process of devising and implementing effective solutions.

Most analysts would agree that there is no single root cause of all poverty everywhere throughout human history. However, even taking into account the individual histories and circumstances of particular countries and regions, there are significant trends in the causes of poverty.

 

Top 5 Causes of Poverty

 

  1. History
    Many of the poorest nations in the world were former colonies from which slaves and resources had been systematically extracted for the benefit of colonizing countries. Although there are notable exceptions (Australia, Canada and the U.S. being perhaps the most prominent), for most of these former colonies, colonialism and its legacies have helped create the conditions that prevent many people from accessing land, capital, education and other resources that allow people to support themselves adequately. In these nations, poverty is one legacy of a troubled history involving conquest.
  2. War & political instability
    Whatever the causes of war and political upheaval, it is clear that safety, stability and security are essential for subsistence and, beyond that, economic prosperity and growth. Without these basics, natural resources cannot be harnessed individually or collectively, and no amount of education, talent or technological know-how will allow people to work and reap the benefits of their labor. Laws are needed to protect rights, property and investments, and without legal protections, farmers, would-be entrepreneurs and business owners cannot safely invest in a country’s economy. It is a telling sign that the poorest countries in the world have all experienced civil war and serious political upheaval at some point in the 20th century, and many of them have weak governments that cannot or do not protect people against violence.
  3. National Debt
    Many poor countries carry significant debt due to loans from wealthier nations and international financial institutions. Poorer nations owe an average of $2.30 in debt for every $1 received in grant aid. In addition, structural adjustment policies by organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund often require poorer nations to open their markets to outside business and investors, thereby increasing competition with local businesses and, many argue, undermining the potential development of local economies. In recent years, calls for debt reduction and forgiveness have been increasing, as activists see this as a key means of reducing poverty. The United Nations has also made it a priority to examine how economic structural adjustment policies can be designed to place less pressure on vulnerable populations.
  4. Discrimination and social inequality
    Poverty and inequality are two different things, but inequality can feed widespread poverty by barring groups with lower social status from accessing the tools and resources to support themselves. According to the United Nations Social Policy and Development Division, “inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty.” The U.N. and many aid groups also point out that gender discrimination has been a significant factor in holding many women and children around the world in poverty.
  5. Vulnerability to natural disasters
    In regions of the world that are already less wealthy, recurrent or occasional catastrophic natural disasters can pose a significant obstacle to eradicating poverty. The effects of flooding in Bangladesh, drought in the Horn of Africa and the 2005 earthquake in Haiti are examples of the ways in which vulnerability to natural disasters can be devastating to affected countries. In each of these cases, already impoverished people became refugees within their own countries, losing whatever little they had, being forced out of their living spaces and becoming almost completely dependent on others for survival. According to the World Bank, two years after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, the debt burden of local fishermen had doubled. The Solomon Islands experienced an earthquake and tsunami in 2007 and the losses from that disaster equaled 95 percent of the national budget. Without foreign aid, governments in these countries would have been unable to meet the needs of their people.

These are only five causes of poverty. They are both external and internal causes; both man-made and natural. Just as there is no single cause of poverty, there is no single solution. Nevertheless, understanding the ways in which complex forces like these interact to create and sustain the conditions of widespread global poverty is a vital step toward combating poverty around the world.

– Délice Williams

Source: Global Issues, USCCB, World Bank